Does Your Project Need Funding?

Guest Blogger: Caleb Jennings Breakey (@CalebBreakey)

Imagine finding hundreds of people eager to read your book. Now—are you ready for this?—imagine those same people financially backing you to write it.

Enter the crowdsourcing awesomeness of kickstarter.com, faithfunder.com, and indiegogo.com. These sites are funding platforms for creative projects. But their concept isn’t centered on folks just shanding you money—it’s centered on connecting you with people who want exactly what you’re creating.

Like your work in progress.

SIX WEEKS, $10,000

I started my Kickstarter campaign after learning that enthusiastic backers pledged $100,000,000 to projects in 2011, a 300-percent increase from the previous year.

How amazing, I thought. People believing in what their artists believe in. Tribes supporting their advocates.

I did some digging and discovered that when the production team of Blue Like Jazz (the movie) ran out of funds, Kickstarter saved the film—to the tune of 4,495 backers raising $345,992 … of a $125,000 goal.

Below, I’m going to break down the basics of Kickstarter, then reveal some of the secrets that helped me raise $10,000 in six weeks.

THE BASICS

Here’s what you’ll do to start your Kickstarter project:

1) Make a page for your book project on Kickstarter.com (free), detailing your vision and personal investment in your Work-In-Progress. The goal here is passion, clarity, and to connect your audience to why your book must be written.

2) Launch it and spread the word via email and social media to friends, family, and complete strangers (who just might make up the largest percentage of your supporters, as was the case with my campaign).

THE SECRETS

1) Your Kickstarter campaign doesn’t begin when you launch—it begins the second you decide to do a campaign

Let people know about your Kickstarter project right away, even if it’s a year in advance. Mention it in your family newsletter or blog or just conversations with friends. This helps you stay accountable to run the campaign while also educating potential backers about the crowdsource concept.

2) Don’t wait for backers to find you—find them

Find people who want to jump on board even before you launch. This lets you gauge how much momentum your project will have out of the gate—and momentum is everything.

Even if you have a fabulous idea, few are eager to fund your project if it doesn’t already have backers. Great idea, they think, but why waste my time if it isn’t going to get funded?

That said, if you meet 30 percent of your goal, people are much more likely to jump on board. Kickstarter claims that 90 percent of their projects that reach 30 percent of their goal—succeed.

3) Use Facebook strategically

If you’re not sold out on the power of Facebook, now’s the time. I couldn’t believe how many

pledges I received from Facebook. Not from people I know well, but rather from acquaintances who read my newsfeed without my knowing.

I also highly recommend Facebook Ads. This is a bit of an art form, learning how to make your ads cost-efficient and worthwhile, but it’s worth investing a day or two Googling “Facebook Ads” or taking an online class on the subject.

4) Best tip ever: You gotta believe

If you’re serious about crowdsourcing your book, you need to believe in it. Just liking your book won’t do. You have to be able to say, with conviction: “This is my message, and I believe it will make a difference in this world.”

People don’t like backing projects just for charity. They want to birth art that will make the world a better place. Does that describe your book?

YOUR NEXT STEP

What are you waiting for? There are thousands of people out there willing to support you. Go check out kickstarter.com, faithfunder.com, or indieGoGo.com.

Have you considered crowd-sourcing your book? What burning questions do you have about the process?

Caleb Jennings Breakey is an ACFW Genesis Winner (Speculative Fiction), visionary, and author of two books with Harvest House Publishers (Following Jesus without Leaving the Church, September 2013; Falling in Love without Falling on Your Face, January 2014). He teaches at conferences throughout the country, and likes to explore the HOW of following Jesus, healing the church, and glorifying God. Check him out on Facebook, Twitter, or Youtube.

 

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  • http://marlataviano.com Marla Taviano

    Love your title. Hate that it’s 10 months from releasing.

    • http://www.calebbreakey.com/ Caleb

      Thank you, Marla! What an encouraging note to start the day. =D

  • http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    It’s an interesting concept.

    While I’d personally love to have my potential readers back my book, they’re already going to back the next one – by buying the first one.

    What it boils down to is this – do you want, and can you work with the pressure of a few thousand people who have a vested interest in your work-in-progress?

    You get out there and sell the idea to backers, and you’re tied to something large and heavy – the expectations of your backers. If you don’t produce what they THINK they’re going to see, the Buzz will kill you.

    So, no thanks. I’d rather have freedom.

    • http://www.calebbreakey.com/ Caleb Jennings Breakey

      I see your point, Andrew. There’s pressure involved, for sure.

      If the person running the campaign is a great idea person who can’t follow through, then I definitely agree with your assessment. But if he can connect readers to the why of his book and has the tools of the trade to deliver? Time for a leap of faith. Time to “ship,” as Seth Godin says. Truth is: Art guarantees that we won’t meet everyone’s expectations.

      Having the opportunity to have a few thousand people with a vested interest in your work-in-progress is a privilege and responsibility many would pay big money for. This is why I think the pressure is a good thing. Because—whether folks are backing your book through a crowdsourcing site or not—if you don’t produce something that exceeds expectations, the buzz (or lack thereof) will kill you anyway.

      To make it in publishing these days, I think writers MUST take risks and apply pressure. How else will we ever, as Jerry Jenkins says, “Be the one”?

      • http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

        Please pass the crow…no, just a little salt. Thanks.

        With the right approach this can be a very useful tool – not so much for the money, but for the implied buy-in that backers choose to take.

        Their vested interest is in helping what the already support become a success, I didn’t see that.

        How’s the crow tasting? Oh, fine, but those feathers keep getting stuck between my teeth,

        • http://www.calebbreakey.com/ Caleb Jennings Breakey

          Can I join the feast? I eat crow at least twice a day! =D

  • http://www.bookrambler.com Janette Currie

    Unbound Books in the UK is a similar kind of crowd-sourcing for book projects. I’m a member of the writers’ collective called ’26′ and was invited to contribute to the pan-national project 26 Treasures, which culminated in an illustrated anthology published with Unbound. It’s a beautiful book [if I do say so] with contributions from esteemed UK writers and poets and best-selling authors, such as James Robertson, Gillian Clarke, Paul Muldoon, Sara Sheridan, and Alexander McCall Smith – and other writers, like me, with my first poem ‘the old boy’ in the Scottish section. I doubt if the book could have been published in the normal way. Through Unbound it was funded by readers who subscribed prior to publication. It now sells through museums and galleries – as well as on Amazon and Unbound.
    Below is a link to their website where you can find details about how to pitch your book idea and also details about 26 Treasures: The Book.
    http://unbound.co.uk/

    • http://www.calebbreakey.com/ Caleb Jennings Breakey

      Cool stuff, Janette. Thanks for sharing!

  • http://kenthinksaloud.wordpress.com Ken Ford-Powell

    Glad you wrote that Janette because I was going to ask about what’s available for British people. I’ve looked at Kickstarter before and was saddened to see that it is for Americans only. Are there any other similar project fundraising sites that are international (or at least British for us UK bods!)

  • Roxanne Sherwood Gray

    This is fascinating! My techno-geek 16-year-old told me of a website where people invest in the video game industry, but I’d never heard of Kickstarter for publishing. Thanks so much!

    And I’m totally buying your books!

    • http://www.calebbreakey.com/ Caleb Jennings Breakey

      Thanks, Roxanne! I wonder if Kickstarter is the site that funded those video games. I’ve seen lots of gaming campaigns make hundreds of thousands on Kickstarter.

      Tell your son I’m with him in gaming spirit! =D

  • http://www.strokecaregiving.com Connie Foster

    I have thought about it — and DID IT. Launched a project 4 days ago on Indiegogo. We are 28% funded with 27 days left. Anxious to see if we meet or exceed our goal. I’ve learned much through the process and have pushed through much self-doubt to make this happen. My advice to others? Do as Caleb says — start educating folks early. I’ve had several folks visit the site then ask me “how can I get a copy of your book?” Crowd funding is a new concept for most of my folks, so I’m having to educate as I go. So, Caleb is right on — start educating family and friends early.

    If you’d like to visit my project, go to:

    http://www.indiegogo.com/the-readyville-mill

    Caleb, I’d love to hear what you consider are the strengths and weaknesses of our project.

    Thanks for this post. Just wish I had read it 6 months ago:)

    Connie Foster

    • http://www.CreativityUntamed.com J. M. Tompkins

      This is awesome, good luck!!

    • http://www.calebbreakey.com/ Caleb Jennings Breakey

      NICELY DONE, CONNIE!

      Your project summary is concise and your rewards clear. I LOVE the pictures, too, and how they tie in with the story. These are clear strengths.

      What I’d love to see in addition to your page is an expanded bio and—one of the true difference-makers—a video. I can’t remember the numbers off the top of my head, but Kickstarter says that projects with video get funded far more than those with no video. And the video DOESN’T have to be fancy. Potential backers just like seeing a face and real passion and real vision.

      Whadda think? Thanks for sharing, Connie!

      • http://www.strokecaregiving.com Connie Foster

        Caleb — THANK YOU — Your reply alerted me that my video had once again dropped off Indiegogo. This has happened twice now for some unknown reason. The video is there (for now:) if you get a chance to check it out.

        And thanks for suggesting the bio, an important piece I totally overlooked. I’ve posted a short one for now but will give it some additional thought.

        Thanks again for your time, and a special thanks for the heads up regarding my missing video!

  • http://www.sally-apokedak.com/index.htm sally apokedak

    Great post.

    Caleb, I haven’t been on Kicksatarter much but I’ve checked it several times a year. It seems to me that the books that get funded are more often nonfiction than fiction. Do you think I’m seeing this correctly? Since people can get plenty of novels elsewhere, how would an author convince people to fund a novel on Kickstarter? Any tips for that?

    Maybe indieGoGo is the answer to that. I’ve never heard of indieGoGo or Faithfunder. Thanks for the links to those!

    • http://www.calebbreakey.com/ Caleb Jennings Breakey

      Hey Sally,

      I totally get your observation. But, you know what? I’ve seen plenty of fiction projects get funded too.

      It’s easier to run a campaign for a non-fiction book because it’s not as challenging to connect potential backers to the why. But, as a fiction writer myself, I think crowdsourcing is a GREAT avenue for novels. Because it forces you to go beyond just plot. It forces you to go beyond just character. You have to dig deeper and discover what aspect of humanity you’re going to EXPLORE. You have to be able to tell your reader, “Here is my great question about life. You ever wondered the same? Let’s go on a journey together and see what we discover.”

      THAT is fiction worth reading. And fiction worth reading is fiction worth funding.

      Have a great one, Sally!

  • http://aboutproximity.com Lisa (@aboutproximity)

    Your books look great! Can’t wait to read them.

    Thank you for sharing this. I was just thinking about that concept this week and whether it was viable for writers. Where I live many community garden programs have been funded through kickstarter. It a great concept.

    • http://www.calebbreakey.com/ Caleb Jennings Breakey

      Thank you, Lisa—that’s so encouraging! =D

  • Jeanne

    Caleb, I’d never heard of this concept before for books. Thanks for sharing the how-to’s of utilizing Kickstarter. Very interesting! I may have missed this in the reading, or been too obtuse to pick up on it, but is this more for people going the self-pub route?

    Your books sound great!

    • http://www.calebbreakey.com/ Caleb Jennings Breakey

      Thanks, Jeanne!

      Well, you might call this the self-pub route because, yes, you’ll have to get the books printed somehow. But I like to look at it differently. I look at crowdsourcing sites not as self-publishing, but as reader-focused publishing. Because, through sites like Kickstarter, you are able to pinpoint readers who are intimately connected to your work. Readers who believe in the message so much that, just like you, they’re willing to INVEST in it. That’s reader-focused writing. That’s reader-focused publishing.

      • Jeanne

        Thanks for taking the time to answer my question. :) I appreciate your explanation and your passion. It’s refreshing to see! :)

  • http://davidatodd.com David Todd

    In general I’m uncomfortable with the concept of relying on other people’s money for anything I do. More power to ya, Caleb.

    • http://www.calebbreakey.com/ Caleb Jennings Breakey

      I hear you, David. Totally.

      Here’s a question worth considering though: Are you comfortable with people ever paying you for your work? I would submit that, when you can answer “yes,” is when you should run a campaign.

      Grace n’ Peace, Brother!

  • http://www.kristenlnelson.com Kristen Nelson

    Hi Caleb! Wonderful info, thank you for sharing! I have been considering crowdfunding and have been doing some research on the sites you listed. I have some book ideas in mind for the future. I do have a question – what do you think about crowd funding a website/blog? God has inspired a great vision for my blog (blog.notalonemom.com) Can a website be treated as a creative project to receive crowd funding in your opinion? Appreciate your feedback. Look forward to your book – it looks amazing! Blessings! Kristen.

    • http://www.calebbreakey.com/ Caleb Jennings Breakey

      Hey Kristen,

      YES! I’ve seen several online newspapers/blogs start up via Kickstarter. It’s definitely something you should consider.

      Thanks for commenting!

  • http://www.CreativityUntamed.com J. M. Tompkins

    Thank you, for this post. Not only did I flag it (in my e-mail) for future projects, but already this morning I met a poet who has been told his writing style is too old for print. I read his poetry, it’s beautiful and raw. So I already had an opportunity to share this post with another. There is always hope, you must fight for yourself and keep pushing forward. There is always a way!

    • http://www.calebbreakey.com/ Caleb Jennings Breakey

      Thank you, J.M.! I really appreciate that and I’m stoked that you shared it with a friend!

  • Neil Larkins

    Hmm. Interesting. I started following Kickstarter some three years ago and through its weekly email updates discovered that it accepted self-help/teaching book/dvd/film/video/etc. projects. I haven’t done the research to prove otherwise, but I think fiction book projects would be iffy with Kickstarter. You have to submit your idea to their board for approval and to my memory can’t say if they do or don’t accept a fiction book project, which I think the majority of those here have. Wouldn’t hurt to give it a try. What’s the worst they could do but say no? You can always check the others. Appreciate your bringing this to our attention and congrats on your success thus far.

  • n

    Don’t forget that the moneys you raise through these crowdsourcing sites count as taxable income. I’ve scoured the Kickstarter site for explicit disclosures of this potential gotcha and even contacted them by e-mail to clarify it, but they’re really vague on this heading, probably because they don’t want to discourage potential projects.

    Part of the moneys raised also go to Amazon Payments, which Kickstarter mandates as its money handler.

    • http://www.calebbreakey.com/ Caleb Jennings Breakey

      Great point. Kickstarter takes a 5 percent cut and Amazon a 3-5 percent cut.

  • http://myquirkycity.wordpress.com Heather

    Wow, so interesting, because I just heard of an amazing kickstarter book for girls called Goldieblox yesterday and looked at the website. Its such a cool phenomenon. I would like to offer that from that author’s platform, she also offered book-related clothing to some of her sponsors, like a t-shirt that said “more than just a princess” with gears and the like. She had a whole platform geared to raise money for her project. And I was impressed enough to recommend it to several people I know, who then bought it.

    • http://www.calebbreakey.com/ Caleb Jennings Breakey

      Love it! Thanks for sharing, Heather.

  • http://www.jameslrubart.com James L. Rubart

    You’re a rock star, my friend!

    Can’t wait for the vids.

    • http://www.calebbreakey.com/ Caleb Jennings Breakey

      Jim Rubart called me a rockstar!

      *Runs to Book of Awesomeness, writes Jim’s quote, faints.*

  • Terri Weldon

    Caleb – love the concept. Thanks for your willingness to share.

    • http://www.calebbreakey.com/ Caleb Jennings Breakey

      You bet, Terri. Thanks for reading!

  • Neil Larkins

    Doh! Neil’s note to self: Engage brain before putting mouth (or in this case, keyboard) in gear. All I had to do was hit Kickstarters site and click on “publishing” to see that all types of book projects are accepted, many of them obviously fiction. Don’t pay any attention to the man behind the curtain, folks. (I will ask this, though, because I’m confused. With all your books already accepted by Harvest House for publishing, what do you need the money for? Are they expecting you to do all the publicity or is the dvd in addition to the publishing agreement. Is this to buy your copies for your own distribution..or what? Need clarification.)

    • http://www.calebbreakey.com/ Caleb Jennings Breakey

      Hey Neil,

      I REALLY wanted to connect to my audience visually. That’s why I started a campaign to create a DVD Series—to complement the book. All the money raised is going to pay for a videographer/editor, equipment, and rewards. Harvest isn’t financially involved (though one of the rewards is to pitch your book to the senior editor at Harvest!).

  • http://fredrendoncom Fred Rendon Jr

    Would you like to help me get more attention to the book I wrote for Veterans with PTSD? I found a program which helped me get rid of PTSD. I call my book Echoes of PTSD it is on Amazon. I have tried to talk to many people including the ladies who were on CBS talking about the difficulties of PTSD. They said they are too busy dealing with PTSD to want to do anything about it. Isn’t that a good reason?

  • http://thenovelproject.blogspot.com/ Roger Eschbacher

    Kickstarter’s great for book funding. I self-published my middle-grade fantasy novel last year and financed it all (professional edit, cover design and art, review copies, assorted setup and marketing costs) through that site. I was a little nervous at the start — worried that I wouldn’t reach my funding goal — but was immensely gratified when friends, family, and total strangers (including some guy from the Netherlands!) all pitched in to help me reach it. I think it helped that I wasn’t greedy and set a realistic goal based on thoroughly researching what these costs might be — making sure I let potential backers know exactly what they were funding.

    Here’s the link to my Kickstarter page if anyone’s interested in seeing what one of these looks like (the project was completed in May of 2011 so don’t worry, this isn’t a solicitation):

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/203009905/novel-leonard-the-great-dragon-friend

    • http://www.calebbreakey.com/ Caleb Jennings Breakey

      Awesome, Roger—thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.chadrallen.com Chad Allen

    Caleb, HOW FREAKING COOL is this! Thanks for sharing. You’ve got me wondering whether I should raise funds this way to give my blog a design facelift.

    • http://www.calebbreakey.com/ Caleb Jennings Breakey

      Love it, Chad—you gotta do it! Maybe you could even work with a web designer to build useful tools for your readers. Like, I dunno, a fill-in-the-blanks form that generates a concise summary of their book/bio, which you could then post to your blog or Facebook to get reader feedback on the ideas. LIKE for publish, COMMENT not to! =D

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  • http://www.peterdehaan.com/ Peter DeHaan

    I’ve been tracking Kickstarter for possible future use for one of my projects. I appreciate learning from your experience; it is most helpful.

    I’ve been on the contributing side of two projects. Both hit their goal. One did it within a couple of hours and other didn’t make it until near the end of the last day.

    My only question is, how can we be reminded about your book when it comes out?

    • http://www.calebbreakey.com/ Caleb Jennings Breakey

      Thanks, Peter!

      Are you on Facebook? Would love to stay in touch and let you know about the book release! My wife and I are planning a trip to several cities in the fall … to GIVE AWAY the book for free.

      • http://www.peterdehaan.com/ Peter DeHaan

        Caleb, yes, I am on Facebook.

        Click on my name to go to my website; all my social media links and contact information are there.

        Thanks

  • http://Klockreations Tim Klock

    Caleb – what a great idea! A couple Christian musician friends of mine used kickstart successfully. I never dreamed of doing that for a book. What about tax time? Do you have to report that as income to the IRS? I’m really intrigued. I’m about to begin writing my second novel.

    • http://www.calebbreakey.com/ Caleb Jennings Breakey

      That’s a really great question, Tim, and one I haven’t seriously pursued yet. I plan on getting my awesome tax friend involved. Every last penny is going into the project (I’ll even be digging into my own pocket a bit), but taxes are taxes. It’ll be interesting to find out.

      Grace n’ Peace, Brother!

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  • http://www.vega-licious.com Elena

    I am totally new to the idea and super curious. Would these projects lead to self-publishing or would an agent still be involved? Thank you.

    • http://www.calebbreakey.com/ Caleb Jennings Breakey

      Hey Elena,

      Regarding self-publishing, here’s what I noted above:

      “Well, you might call this the self-pub route because, yes, you’ll have to get the books printed somehow. But I like to look at it differently. I look at crowdsourcing sites not as self-publishing, but as reader-focused publishing. Because, through sites like Kickstarter, you are able to pinpoint readers who are intimately connected to your work. Readers who believe in the message so much that, just like you, they’re willing to INVEST in it. That’s reader-focused writing. That’s reader-focused publishing.”

      As for an agent: No, an agent would not be involved (unless you have an agent and they agree to be a part of the rewards you’re offering, i.e. a 30 minute phone call or opportunity to pitch work, etc.).

      But if you want to stand out from the crowd when sending a proposal to an agent? Tell them your tribe of ________ readers successfully funded one of your novels through Kickstarter. This shows the agent that you’ve got people on fire for your story and message and are already jacking up your platform (which will translate into great word-of-mouth and, most likely, solid reviews).

      Blessins’ to ya, Elena!

      • http://www.vega-licious.com Elena

        Thank you for a quick reply, Caleb.

  • Lydia

    In there something similar for televison and movie screenwriting? Or could you use Kickstarter to get a movie made?

    • http://www.calebbreakey.com/ Caleb Jennings Breakey

      Totally, Lydia. Hop on over to Kickstarter.com and take a look at the categories. Just like Blue Like Jazz the movie raised over $300,000 through Kickstarter, enthusiastic backers have funded several other film/video/writing projects—including my DVD Series.

      All the best, Lydia!

  • http://www.LinnetteMullin.com Linnette

    Hey, Caleb!

    This is so cool! Sorry I’m just now getting over here. Watching your Kickstarter was amazing! You’re absolutely right about having a project you believe in. Personally, I’m no good at trying to sell something I don’t believe in and yours is a project I’m excited about. Can’t wait to see what happens with it.

    Thanks for writing this helpful post.

    Rachelle, thank you for having Caleb guest post about this. :D

    Happy Thanksgiving to you both! :D

  • http://www.jasonloveslife.com Jason Love

    Great post. I wish I had read this before launching my own Kickstarter campaign.

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