New Crowdfunding Options for Authors from

by | Jun 21, 2013

Editor’s Note: Please note that Pubslush has closed since this article was written.


by Justine Schofield (@Pubslush)

Many authors want to create truly professional quality books, but are often stymied by the expenses involved in hiring editors, book designers, cover designers, ebook converters and all the other services you need to reach this goal.

Some of these authors have been able to reach their goals using the new tools of crowdfunding, and there are established platforms that make this process possible. One of the newest of these platforms is Pubslush, which combines crowdfunding with publishing in some interesting ways.

One of the reasons I was curious about Pubslush is that the service is completely focused on authors, so you won’t find your crowdfunding appeal running next to software developers, game makers, sneaker manufacturers and lots of other folks.

Justine Schofield, communications coordinator at Pubslush, agreed to give us the rundown on this service. Here’s her article. After you read it, I’d love to know: Have you thought about using crowdfunding, or already done so? What were your results? Tell us in the comments.

Crowdfunding is the latest buzzword, but many people still don’t know exactly what crowdfunding is. Crowdfunding is a means for artists, entrepreneurs, and businesses to raise funds and mitigate the financial risk of their creative projects or business ventures. In layman terms, it’s a way to generate financial backing from people who believe in your project: your family, friends, peers, and audience.

If you’re an author who’s thinking about self-publishing, crowdfunding provides an opportunity for you to cut out-of-pocket expenses while gauging interest in your work and connecting with the audience for your book. Crowdfunding presents a unique opportunity for authors who, like other artists, need funds to produce their work if they don’t have the backing of a publishing house.

There are many steps to conducting a successful crowdfunding campaign, but if you’re a crowdfunding newbie, here are a few tips you’ll want to know before getting started:

  1. The most important thing to keep in mind: crowdfunding requires a lot of work. A successful campaign requires motivation and determination. A majority of supporters of a crowdfunding campaign are generated by the crowdfunder through aggressive marketing.
  2. Pre-campaign planning is essential. The duration of a typical crowdfunding campaign is 30-60 days, so it’s imperative to be 100% ready to go on Day 1. Devise a detailed marketing plan before the launch of your campaign and set targets for weekly outreach. Creating weekly objectives will help you more easily manage your outreach efforts and overall goals.
  3. Research and know your goals. Researching the publishing process and the costs of publishing before launching your campaign is essential. The publishing process can be extensive and the costs can range drastically, depending on your publishing goals. For example, a full-scale publishing effort (hiring an editor, cover designer, formatting your book, print production, e-book distribution…the list goes on) will require much more funding than someone who simply wants to sell e-books on Amazon. To determine your funding goal (the amount you hope to raise) and your reward levels (incentives you offer for various levels of financial support), you’ll need to know your overall publishing goals. Helpful hint: keep in mind you will have to ship the rewards to your supporters, so factor in shipping costs when determining your funding goal and reward levels.
  4. Having a pre-existing network is key. Although marketing to your general audience is also important, a majority of the support for your campaign will come from your pre-existing network, so it’s very important to reach out to these people first. (Editor’s note: We call this network your author platform.) Take the time to send each person in your network a personal e-mail informing them about the launch of your campaign and asking them for support. Note: You have to be direct. Ask people in your network for support and provide a link to your campaign, making it as easy as possible for them to follow through.
  5. Keep the momentum going. If you lose interest in your campaign, what makes you think others won’t do the same? You need to have as much enthusiasm on the last day of your campaign as you did on the first day. Also, it’s very important that you continue to engage with your supporters throughout the campaign and afterward. They’ve made a financial investment in your book, so keep them updated with your progress and engaged in your process.

Authors looking to crowdfund for their books should also research the best crowdfunding platform for their campaign. Pubslush, for example, is a global crowdfunding and analytics platform for books only.

Although the nuts and bolts of Pubslush are much like other crowdfunding sites (to set up your book page you need an excerpt from your book, a summary, a video, reward levels, etc.), Pubslush’s targeted platform caters to authors and their specific needs, ensuring that writers find their audience and are not overshadowed by other types of projects.

Being a niche crowdfunding site, Pubslush also offers a variety of author-oriented features such as flex funding (meaning even if you don’t reach your funding goal, you still get to keep the money you raise as long as it surpasses $500) and market analytics of your campaign so you can know exactly who your audience is.

Researching successful crowdfunded authors is a great first step to developing your own campaign. Janna Leyde’s campaign is a great example. Her book He Never Liked Cake came out in March and is one of Pubslush’s many success stories. To learn more, Pubslush also has extensive information on everything you need to know about crowdfunding, publishing and more.

crowdfundingJustine Schofield is the communications coordinator of Pubslush, a global, crowdsourcing publishing platform for authors to raise funds and gauge the initial audience for new book ideas. Pubslush also operates an independent imprint that acquires books from the platform, and for every book sold, donates a children’s book to a child in need. Justine is currently enrolled at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA, earning her MFA in Creative Writing. She graduated from Emerson College in Boston, MA with a degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing. She specializes in social media and public relations and has held various freelance editing and writing jobs, and her work has been published in many online and print publications.

Photo: Amazon links contain my affiliate code.

tbd advanced publishing starter kit


  1. Sebastian

    Most of the work will actually happen before you create or start the campaign. You really want to plan the whole project and engage the audience. Build as much momentum going forward as possible. Subscribers and followers are important for example. You want to have them ready once you put the campaign live. Lot of thought should also go into the campaign itself, you want to structure it well.

  2. Carla R. Herrera

    Joel, thanks so much for this article. I’ve actually been working on a project for Kickstarter for a week now. I’ve never done anything like this before, so this is helpful. Pubslush being a niche crowdfunding platform sounds more my style–I’m an indie author.

    Thanks so much to Justine for sharing this information.

  3. Mary DeEditor

    I’ve run two crowdfunding campaigns on IndieGoGo and GiveForward, and did support work for a third on Kickstarter. A few things I found out the hard way:

    You are essentially pre-selling your book (or whatever product) before it’s complete. You need a strong base of support to make it work. Before going public, consider whether you *have* a public and are willing to do the outreach required. Do you have a large fan base that adores you? Then it’s a good idea, can even work as pre-marketing. Or are you essentially asking your friends and family for money? If so, you might do better to just ask them directly, skip the middle man.

    Consider the crowd-funding saturation factor. I get a number of these fund-me requests, most from people I don’t know. Make sure your crowd really wants your product and is willing to be hit up without getting annoyed at you.

    Consider the cut taken by the credit card companies (3%) and the crowdsource outfit. Fees go up if you don’t make your whole goal. Our IndieGoGo campaign fell short of its goal and we paid out 9% in fees. Total fees = 12%. You need to know that when setting your budget.

    Consider taxes. This is taxable income. If you complete the project and send out all your rewards in the same tax year, then file a schedule C as a small business and deduct your book expenses from this income, end up with zero owed. If you don’t complete your project in the same year … hmmm, see a tax person, I dunno. But be aware of this. Keep good records! Tax considerations also can affect the timing of your project. I’m glad we started our IndieGoGo campaign in late January and received funds in April, giving us the rest of the year to do the project.

    Lastly, shop and compare the crowdfunding companies. What’s their level of tech support? What’s their fee structure? What are they advertising on your page? This is a business; they are not altruistic but hoping to earn money on the pledges you go out and hustle. Fair enough, but be sure you know what you’re getting for that.

    • Justine Schofield

      Hi Mary! Thanks for sharing your experiences with us, this is all very valuable information for people considering crowdfunding. Also, FYI-Pubslush has flex-funding at the flat rate fee of 4% since we know every little bit of funding counts and can help an author bring their book to life.

    • Joel Friedlander

      Mary, thanks much for the excellent feedback and tips on what author who haven’t done crowdfunding should watch out for, that’s really valuable.

  4. Fiona Ingram

    This may be a silly question, but don’t the authors have to pay back the crowd who funded the project? There’s no guarantee that people will see a return on their ‘investment.’

    • Belinda Kroll

      Typically speaking, the return on investment is the book itself. When I did kickstarter, all the rewards had to do with the book… eCopies, print copies, bookmarks, thanks on the website, etc. I also updated them with the progress along the way (dealing with my editor, designing the interior/exterior, etc).

    • Justine Schofield

      Hi Fiona! Great question. No, the crowdfunder does not pay back the supporters of the campaign. As with any crowdfunding campaign, supporters pledge financial backing to fund a project they believe in and want to see come to life. Belinda is absolutely correct, the return of their investment is the production of the creative project being crowdfunded for, which in this case would be your book.

      Let me know if you have any other questions, I’d be happy to answer them!



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