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How Independent Authors Bankroll Their Books With Crowd Sourcing

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99% of creating a book is writing it, but writing it is only 1% of the cost. In this new world of publishing were more than half of the new books on the market are from self-published writers, the biggest hurdle is the cost. The odd part is the cost is not in printing the book. With most publishing companies moving to a “print-on-demand” model, the writer need only pay for the proof copy; an expense of only a few dollars. Yet the real expense comes from other services needed for a decent book, such as cover art, editing, proof reading and marketing. To do a book right, an author will have to spend anywhere from $1000 to $10,000 out of their own pocket. These days most people don’t have that kind of extra cash laying around to spend on something that doesn’t have a guaranteed return.
So how is a writer to raise that kind of money; beg, borrow and steel? Well, Yes. Many have turned to a new concept of internet crowd sourcing. The idea is pretty simple. Create a web page that describes what you need money for and use the internet to get your needs to generous, like minded people who will give you what you need to succeed. Sounds great, and for some it works. So much so that a number of businesses have been created around the crowd sourcing model and promote themselves as the solution to all your funding problems. The problem is that most people don’t really understand how it works and many don’t get the financial freedom that they expect from the donations.
Crowd sourcing is actually based on Multi Level Marketing (MLM). MLM’s work on the concept of personal HOT, WARM and COLD markets. Here is how it works. You tap your hot market first, the people who would do anything for you and buy anything from you. You then convince them to convince their hot market to buy your product as well. Once that avenue is used up, you go to your warm market. Those are people who know and like you, but would need more convincing to buy and would need some incentive to market for you. Once you use all of them up you go to your cold market. These are acquaintances or people you don’t know well and give them a sales pitch to sell your product. MLM’s only work for people who start off with large Hot markets and are willing to work full time on recruiting others to work for them.
When someone creates a crowd sourcing campaign they create a web page, often a video, find some perks to give away to those who give a lot and post it all in the hopes the money will come pouring in. Yet they soon discover that 80%-95% of their funds are only going to come from people they know. That can be frustrating when the service that help you set up the web page is also taking a percentage of what you are raising.
Some campaigns can be very successful. You may have heard of the campaign from Zach Braff, of Scrubs fame, who put a campaign up on Kickstarter.com, to raise money for his movie project Wish I Was Here. It was extremely successful and he was able to make the movie he wanted outside of the corporate studio control. He was able to take advantage of his celebrity to not only attract funders, but he also got a lot of free press from the venture which turned into even more funding. Yet, most non-celebrities that use crowd sourcing never see the funds that they need.
If you decide to try and raise money for your book with crowd sourcing, here is what you need to know.
1. Put together a short, but eye catching video. The video makes your project real for people and will help to sell the idea as most won’t take the time to read a two page pitch.
2. Find a crowd sourcing site that doesn’t have a minimum funding requirement. Some sites like Kickstarter will require your campaign to raise at least what your minimum funding needs are or you will get nothing. We don’t know why they have this requirement as it doesn’t benefit them either, but they do and a lot of their campaigns never get funded. Other sites like indiegogo.com don’t put on the same restriction, but the trade off is that they also don’t have as much traffic to their site.
3. E-Mail Blast. You will need to e-mail anyone and everyone you can to direct them to your page and ask them directly to contribute.
4. Use social media. Send out links to your site from every social media site you have followers on.
5. Give stuff away. Many writers will offer to give things away to those who give a given amount, such as a signed hard cover copy of the book for a $100 donation. We even noted one writer offered to let people name characters in her next book for those who gave a large sum.
6. Don’t buy marketing for it. As soon as you post your site, you will get contacted by services offering to boost your campaign for a fee. There services may actually work to increase your sites visibility, but since most of your funds are going to come from your personal contacts, it won’t make a viable difference.
7. Follow through on your promises. The same network of people that you will use to raise funds will be the same network of people you will need to help promote your work. Get whatever you promise out on time and in good order. Good will can make a difference in your success.
8. Before doing anything, do your homework. Pick a few campaigns on different sites and watch them. Contact the authors running the campaigns to get their insights and find the format that best fits your goals.

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