Adventures in Crowd-funding Your Next Book
By Sylvia Binsfeld
As an author, I have had an unusual challenge to meet…in order to create my book, I first need to make a movie, and not just any type of movie, a short fantasy film, so that means, the expensive kind. The children’s picture books in the series I am working on, which started with Dorme: a Magical Dreamland Visit, will all come with a fantastical, imaginative short companion film. The book is illustrated with images taken from the film.
Writing books like this became my calling after reading about the importance of fantasy and imagination in childhood for honing cognitive, problem-solving skills and optimism later in life, and how childhood with its magical imagination is being cut short for kids by the overly adult media they are exposed to far too early in life, and by our fast-paced lives.
I sold my home to create my first labor-of-love, so this second time out, I had to think of something else to fund my rather costly endeavor, both money-wise and time-wise. I decided to try crowd-funding. You see, the little films are so expensive to create, I’m likely never to see a return. With crowd-funding that is not as big an issue, while using up all your money and selling your house is. Now it becomes mostly a huge investment in time. I had never chosen crowd-funding before, because it made me uncomfortable, but with this new insight, it became more appealing.
So what is crowd-funding? Crowd-funding started as a way for independent artists to directly call upon the public to help fund their film, book or album, and it is a glorious way around the studio or traditional publishing systems to get quality media produced…or, so I hope. My magical fantasy film, Upon a Starry Night, is currently on Indiegogo, looking for funding. Turns out the much-needed “Healthy Media” for children and families is an over-looked area that needs to fight hard for funding on Indiegogo, where Horror and Documentaries are the most funded genres.
Turns out also that crowd-funding is…well…hard. Expect to spend about two months after you launch your campaign, plus a month ahead of time, with your campaign as your main focus.
Here are a few things that can help make a crowd-funding campaign successful.
1) Choose a Crowd-Funding Platform That is Right for You. For example, Kickstarter is all-or-nothing. If you don’t make your goal in time, you don’t get any of the money you worked so hard to get. If you do make it, Kickstarter takes 5%. With Indiegogo, you can choose either the all-or-nothing funding…or flexible funding…meaning, if you meet your goal, they take 4%, and if you don’t, you still get to keep the money you earned to build other fundraising efforts; however, Indiegogo takes a whopping 9% as punishment.
2) Create a Buzz. Since you usually only have 45-to-60 days to raise all your money, build a buzz beforehand. Let your friends and acquaintances know personally and through social media about your plans. Have a pre-launch tea party…anything to get a buzz so that your campaign gets off to a fast start.
3) Have a Marketing Plan. Besides the Internet/social media, what else can you do to get the word out? Radio interviews, or newspaper interviews? Create a press release and send it out.
4) Create a Social Media List. What types of social media will you be using to get the word out throughout your campaign? There’s Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and more. I’d choose maybe four to primarily focus on.
5) Create a Pitch Video for Indiegogo, or the crowdfunding site of your choice. Personally tell people why your book or project needs to be made…what’s so special, and then ASK for what you need. My ask on my video is not strong enough, so I need to redo. If you are shy, don’t be tempted just to show images. It’s important the viewers meet you.
6) Offer Great Perks for Contributing to Your Campaign. People can donate just to donate, or they can choose from a selection of perks, depending on the size of their contribution. See how it’s set-up here on the right on my campaign. http://igg.me/at/starrynight Get creative. The more personal, the better. I offer signed copies of my previous book, or signed, hand- drawn artwork, storyboards…and, for a bigger contribution, I offer the vest Quentin Tarrantino gave me when we worked on Dance Me to the End of Love…signed by Quentin Tarrantino!
7) Spread the Word! Here’s the part that’s hard for me. It feels like harassment, so I’m doing a less intense form of this, but my friend, who had a successful crowd-funding campaign, said he blasted emails and social media posts all day long. His personal, direct “asks” garnered the best results. He always asked for two things in his emails and posts, monetary support and that the recipient spread the word!
8) Spread the Word and Ask Some More! Be diligent…and yes, you may lose some Facebook friends.
9) Keep Your Page Updated and Interesting. Add media, photos if you can.
10) Always Say Thank You! Always let every one of your contributors know how much you appreciate what they did for you.
11) Hope for some Good Luck…that always helps.
My friend who just finished his campaign was asked by another artist, “Was your campaign painful?” My friend responded, “Oh, yes!” The artist then replied…”Oh, then it must have been a success!”
The one nice thing that comes of all this is, you quickly know who your friends and supporters in life are, since as little as $5 can help…It all adds up, that’s the whole point. It’s an exchange of energy. It’s a way for us to support each other. A small amount that is barely missed individually, as part of the collective can breathe life into a beautiful film, book or other project, that otherwise would not be possible to create.
Sylvia Binsfeld is an award-winning filmmaker and the author of Dorme: A Magical Dreamland Visit. Her timed Indiegogo campaign for Upon A Starry Night can be found at: http//igg.me/at/starrynight only until Aug.8.