Is Kickstarter a Good Funding Option for a First Novel?

That is the question I’m asking myself this week as I consider paying someone (friend, acquaintance, or colleague, but I want to reward them for their time) to design the cover art for what I refer to as The Smutty Novel.

I spent yesterday evening poring over Kickstarter, the primary site for crowd funding creative projects. There are plenty of first-novel fund-raising campaigns, and even more established author campaigns. Some writers have managed to meet their goals but many more have failed. I have to remind myself that no one else’s experience needs to dictate my own. On looking at both successful and unsuccessful campaigns, it’s clear why some fund-raising efforts worked better than others. Like any campaign, it’s always better to come prepared.

My goal to self-publish the romance will not depend on whether other people fund the effort or whether I do. I’m determined to publish the book either way. But here’s something that began to sink in as I looked at the effort behind any campaign: the fundraiser is a dry run of the novel’s marketing campaign. If you can’t convince a small group of people you know (since Kickstarter repeats that friends and family are the typical backers) that your novel is worth publishing, how do you expect to convince strangers that your novel is worth reading?

Something else became evident as I read through Kickstarter’s “Getting Started” page. A project planner needs to know exactly what costs will be before initializing their campaign. Costs include not only the end goal of the campaign (in my case, the rate for a day or two of graphic design and layout—enough time to create something eye-catching), but also the hidden costs of reward benefits for backers, potential shipping costs, taxes (taxes!), and the possibility of extending the campaign to cover further publishing costs. Which are? I realized I didn’t know. The costs are something I should know—and before I start.

The exercise of exploring the Kickstarter avenue made me realize that approaching the novel’s publishing with a business plan is the intelligent thing to do. That means putting together a budget as well as a plan of action. I already have an edited manuscript, and I’m willing to put the work in myself to format for e-publishing and print (on demand, of course). And if I can’t raise the money to pay someone else to design a catchy cover, I’ll do that myself, too. I have the skills. But I admit I haven’t educated myself about all the steps ahead of me, and if I want to succeed that’s something I need to do.

Once I have a business plan for the novel’s publishing, and a marketing campaign to support the fundraising, I think the next step is finding the courage to put myself out there and say, “Hey I wrote a kickass sexy romp and you’re going to want to read it!” Kickstarter is an excellent way to get my toes wet—and if I’m determined to go ahead even without extra backing, then there’s more to gain than lose.

I’m beginning to understand why it takes so long to publish a book.

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1 Comment

Filed under Getting Published

One response to “Is Kickstarter a Good Funding Option for a First Novel?

  1. I hear you there. It’s certainly not easy.

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