Inkshares has been crowdfunding books for over a year now, during which time we’ve observed how our most successful authors have hit their funding goals. We’ve included our summary below: a six-step guide for getting a book project funded on any platform. Of course, following these steps does not guarantee your book will get funded. But it will ensure you’ve done everything in your power to connect with potential readers of your book.
Step 1: Build Community
If you’re writing a science fiction novel, for example, learn about the science fiction community and become a part of it, if you’re not already. Follow leading authors in social media. Review their books on your blog, on Amazon, or on Goodreads. Support debut novelists you admire by broadcasting their successes. Join your local science fiction book club. Visit your local bookstore and spark up a conversation with the science fiction fan on staff.
Writing may be a solitary act, but publishing is a community effort. Contribute and build meaningful relationships before expecting anything in return. Becoming a part of a community takes time. If you do everything listed above a week before starting your project on Inkshares, don’t expect anything from the community in return.
Step 2: Perfect Your Content
The readers you draw to your project page are likely inundated by content. If your project page (which serves as your home base on any crowdfunding site) has missing fields, spelling and grammar errors, or confusing run-ons, readers may quickly move on.
Write a headline that boils down your book idea into a shareable, twitter-length statement. The headline should differentiate your project from any other book that’s been written, and your author bio should prove that you’re the only person who could write it. Create a video or include images so readers know the person behind the project. Have a friend, or many friends, read your material before uploading to ensure it’s free of spelling and grammar errors.
Every reader who looks at your page is deciding whether or not your book is worth backing. Make your page as perfect as possible so readers are as excited as you are about making your book real.
Step 3: Share on Social Media
If you’re not on social media, you should be. Twitter and Facebook are a must for the writing community, but Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Goodreads can all be useful for getting word out about your project, sharing your enthusiasm, and driving potential readers to back your book.
They all also share the same pitfall: you can easily annoy your followers if you’re too aggressive. You can avoid this by keeping the updates steady but gentle. Share news that will genuinely interest your followers, like launching the project, hitting the 50 percent mark, or getting close to the funding goal. Share unique content, like photos, quotes, or personal experiences, throughout the process. Keep it relevant and authentic, and your followers will appreciate your efforts and share in kind.
Step 4: Send Personal E-mails
Before launching the project, gather the e-mail addresses of people who you expect to be your strongest supporters. Plan to e-mail them personally with updates at the start of the campaign, midway, and near the end, and give them instructions on how they can help—for example, re-tweeting your social media updates. As you gather backers for your project, keep them informed—count them as your strongest supporters.
E-mail is a great tool if the person on the other end knows you and wants to help out. Otherwise, it’s just spam. Don’t be spam.
Step 5: Pitch Online Media
Before launching your book project, research sites that are truly relevant to your project. Ideally, you’ve been reading the sites you pitch for years and know who might be interested in your project. Better yet, you have a personal connection with them that will make them likely to take an interest in your project. At launch, let them know what you’re up to and why it might be relevant to their audience. If they’re not interested or don’t respond, let it go gracefully.
Any effort to contact media outlets must be personal, thoughtful, and targeted. If you blast media outlets unrelated to your project, they will likely ignore you, potentially ignore your book if it gets published, or worse, share your misfire with their audience.
A few mentions from the right places will be better than wasting time bothering big-name blogs. If you feel like a particular media outlet is a stretch, it probably is.
Step 6: Be Creative
The steps above outline the foundation of what goes into a successful book-funding campaign, but it would be boring if each one were the same. Be creative in how to get the word out. Some of our most successful authors have created billboards, put up physical flyers in bookstores and cafés, or shared their project while participating in open mic nights. There’s no limit to what can be done to reach your readership. Spend time thinking about who your readers are, how you can engage them, and what matters to them. If done right, they’ll be your readers for the rest of your writing life.