Crowdfunding has become an increasingly popular way for artists, entrepreneurs, and other creators to finance their projects and engage their fans. As evidenced by Brandon Sanderson’s recent Kickstarter success, crowdfunding can be a powerful tool for authors. In addition to helping authors fund future works, crowdfunding and subscription platforms can provide new ways to build relationships with readers and reward avid fans.
With so many crowdfunding platforms for authors to choose from — including Patreon, Kickstarter, and Unbound, just to name a few — it can be hard to decide where to start or which approach is a good fit for your books or your audience. For inspiration, we’ve compiled a list of nine unique ways authors are using crowdfunding platforms to support their work and reward their readers.
1. Offer exclusive content (and pet pics!)
N. K. Jemisin uses Patreon, a membership platform that enables fans to support their favorite creators, to provide her readers with different levels of subscriptions and content. At the first level, fans receive monthly pictures of her cat! Higher levels get access to exclusive content from the author, including blog posts sharing her perspective on writing and publishing or Q&A videos responding to member’s questions.
2. Treat a crowdfunding campaign like a preorder campaign
When Laura MacLeod had to close the doors of her beloved bakery due to COVID, she was looking for a way to continue sharing her food with devoted patrons. She decided to put both old and new recipes into a cookbook and took to Indiegogo to raise money for the self-publishing process. Each person’s $45 donation buys them a signed hardcover book, so she’s treating the funds she’s collecting as a preorder for her book.
3. Create a reward that sparks a discussion
Zoe Adjonyoh’s book features essays on food, identity, and culture from a brilliant lineup of authors, and many of her Unbound campaign’s rewards encourage engagement with a community. Readers can choose to receive five signed copies of the book to discuss this thought-provoking content with a small group of friends, or they can choose to participate in a virtual Q&A with the author and other fans!
4. Offer original content from a character’s perspective
When S.J. Whitby wanted to hire their dream narrator for the audiobook edition of Cute Mutants, they took to Kickstarter to find support. In addition to the audiobook, they offered those who backed their campaign different levels of rewards. The rewards start with an ex libris–style bookplate and go all the way to a personalized postcard with a unique message “sent” from one of the characters in their book, which is a great way to create an immersive experience for loyal fans!
5. Invite readers to vote on new content
Katee Robert uses her Patreon to give her readers more of the characters they love. She lets members decide which of her book characters they’d like to see featured in short stories or artwork.
6. Share a weekly newsletter
Acclaimed author Roxane Gay shares a weekly newsletter via Substack, a platform that makes it easy for creators to send digital content to subscribers. Her newsletter ranges in its content, including anything from book recommendations to author spotlights to personal updates. All of her readers can receive the newsletter for free, but paid subscribers have the opportunity to access exclusive content, live Zoom events, and signed editions of new books.
7. Share your time or expertise
Journalist and writer Kat Brown invited 15 women to write about their experiences with infertility to create an anthology of stories to help those in similar situations. All supporters will get their names in the back of the book, but for different reward tiers, Kat offers to share her social media skills, meet for a group picnic, or take supporters on a virtual walk with her and her dog.
8. Build on momentum by adding special stretch rewards
After Anthea Sharp hit her Kickstarter goal for creating a special hardcover edition of her fantasy series, she provided donors with stretch rewards to keep the momentum going. These rewards included free stories, raffles, and even a special Irish fiddle performance by the author herself!
9. List donors in your book
Lizzie Pickering is sharing long-term perspectives on living with the loss of a loved one. Readers who donate to her Unbound campaign can memorialize someone they’ve lost in the back of When Grief Equals Love. This can be a great way to both thank your readers for supporting your book launch and create a community of shared experiences.
Have you used crowdfunding to connect with your audience? Which of these ideas would you try? Let us know in the comments below!
Click to tweet: Check out these 9 creative ways #authors can use crowdfunding to reward their fans! https://bit.ly/3vVLUpr
Click to tweet: Creative ways #authors can use crowdfunding to reward their readers:
✔️ Share your time or expertise
✔️ List donors in your book
✔️ Invite readers to vote on new books
✔️ Share a weekly newsletter
More ideas here: https://bit.ly/3vVLUpr