It's official: we've decided on the new cover for The Complete Guide to Pay What You Want Pricing (2nd Edition).

The book cover "reveal" is below, but before we get to that -- some context:

Last year, I decided I wanted to do two things:

Thing #1. I wanted to update and re-release The Complete Guide to Pay What You Want Pricing

The first edition of the book was published back in 2014.

My original intent was to share what I had learned from using Pay What You Want Pricing to sell books, coaching, art, and more.

It was an experiment, like most of the things I do.

And...it flopped (sort of...).

I won't go into a ton of detail here because you can read the complete Pay What You Want launch report here.

But for those pressed for time, here's a quick summary:

Wins:

  1. It was the first book I published after leaving the Army 🪖
  2. About 100 people bought the book 👩🏾‍🤝‍👩🏿
  3. It generated about $1,000 in contributions 💵

Yay!

Now for the bad:

  1. It took me close to a year to write 😶‍🌫️
  2. I had help getting the book edited and formatted, which negated essentially any profit from the book 🤢
  3. Only about 100 people bought the book 🤏🏿

Yikes.

Luckily, I did the most important thing:

I validated the idea.

So I spent the next year writing about and sharing the book as widely as possible.

And now that we're going on close to a decade since the original publication of the book -- and because I never published on Amazon, nor published a paperback of the book...

I decided it was time for a 2nd edition.

Thing #2. I wanted to test out the NFT (Non-Fungible Token) space.

NFTs were the hot new thing in 2021.

In many ways, they looked and seemed insane to me:

Why, why, WHY would anyone pay $7 million for a jpeg?

The whole thing just looked like a money-laundering Ponzi scheme from the outside. I just didn't get it.

YET...The underlying concept and tech are pretty neat.

And once you get past the initial NFT jpeg cash-grab, one starts to realize that maybe there's something to this idea of digitized ownership.

Here's how NFTs are defined by Ethereum.org:

NFTs are tokens that we can use to represent ownership of unique items. They let us tokenise things like art, collectibles, even real estate. They can only have one official owner at a time and they're secured by the Ethereum blockchain – no one can modify the record of ownership or copy/paste a new NFT into existence.

ethereum.org/en/nft/

Here are a few of the key concepts that I think make NFTs interesting for creators:

  1. Verifiable ownership of unique items (“This is my *token*. There are many like it, but this one is mine. Hoorah!")
  2. The potential for creators to earn resale royalties on digital products (content creators should be paying attention to this...)
  3. The potential for NFT holders to resell their token and earn a profit (this is probably the most exciting feature...but more on this later)
  4. The ability (and incentive) for the NFT creator to continue to provide VALUE to the NFT holder (which becomes a "win-win-win" strategy b/c of the reasons listed above)

That last reason -- The ability (and incentive) for the NFT creator to continue to provide VALUE to the NFT holder -- is what prompted me to combine Thing #1 and Thing #2 above.

So, I'm releasing "The Complete Guide to Pay What You Want Pricing (2nd Edition)" as an NFT.

Want to follow along?

Sign up (FREE) to get first access to the book, NFT exclusive bonuses, and more.

Plus, I'm documenting my NFT journey and will share what I learn for people who register above.

So if you are:

  1. Interested in using NFTs for your books, courses, art, or digital products...
  2. Want first dibs on The Complete Guide to Pay What You Want Pricing (2nd Edition)
  3. Would like to support my work for the many years I've been teaching for free from this blog, my podcast, etc.
  4. Or just because you are awesome...

Join me for the launch of my first NFT here.

And now for the book cover reveal...

A few months ago, I shared 8 potential book covers for the 2nd edition of TCGTPWYWP.

You can see all the covers here.

In the end, here's how things panned out:

Least Favorite Book Cover

This cover received the LEAST amount of votes:

This book ended up with exactly 0 first-place votes. I guess not completely surprising.

Although I liked the aesthetic, I think the magnet confused people.

Next up...

Most Voted Book Cover

This book cover received the most "cumulative" votes:

This was the original cover idea I had for the book. And while the cover is very rough around the edges, it seems like the minimalist aesthetic attracted a lot of readers.

This book ended up getting the most number of votes in total.

HOWEVER...

In the end, I felt like the 'tip jar' idea, while catchy in a minimalist sense, didn't fully articulate the value proposition behind Pay What You Want pricing.

I mean, can you imagine an attorney, software startup, or [pick name of profession/business/enterprise here] self-identifying with a 'tip jar' for their pricing model?

In other words, as much as I loved the aesthetic of this cover, it felt like it missed the mark from a "market" perspective.

I don't want people to think that Pay What You Want pricing is a tip jar.

It can be -- but it doesn't have to be.

I want people (entrepreneurs, creatives, business owners, etc.) to see that Pay What You Want pricing can be a sustainable, socially beneficial, and even lucrative pricing technique.

So in the end, this cover was edged out by our winner:

Book Cover Winner

This book cover received the most #1 votes by percentage:

While this cover doesn't have that 'Malcolm Gladwell minimalist item design' like the one above, I still think it has a nice, professional aesthetic.

It's clean. Simple. Professional. And it feels...precise.

Most importantly, I feel like it will appeal to the broadest market of entrepreneurs, writers, artists, creatives, and business owners.

Here's an updated cover mockup + teaser of the book (don't you love the floating Tom body in the top left corner!?!?):

So there it is.

What do you think?

Anything we should change or adjust for the final version?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Oh, and don't forget:

Click here to follow along for the NFT launch of The Complete Guide to Pay What You Want Pricing (2nd Edition).

Gregory Diehl has always understood the importance of universal ideals. Though he was raised in California, he soon embarked on a journey of global quest for learning, self-discovery, entrepreneurship, and inquiry. Since then, Gregory has lived and worked in 48 countries and continues to use his experiences to help others along the path of self-fulfillment through exploration. Gregory is the author of two Amazon bestsellers: Brand Identity Breakthrough and Travel as Transformation. His podcast, Uncomfortable Conversations with Gregory, taps into the core of people’s conceptions of self. He helps entrepreneurs prepare complex value messages across many mediums, and offers unconventional lifestyle coaching and brand identity consultancy for impassioned individuals.

I brought Gregory on today because he’s working on two new books, both of which I thought would be interesting to touch on. During this episode, we talk about writing and publishing and how to create meaningful books with meaningful ideas. Our conversation ends up going in the direction of meaning and how to live a meaningful life. My big takeaway from today’s conversation is that we all need principles and values to live by. We cannot navigate this world without a set of principles that guide us in the direction we want to go.

In this broadcast, Gregory and I talk about:

How to Connect with Gregory:

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Get the Latest Broadcasts of In The Trenches

Subscribe to In The Trenches on iTunes

How You Can Support In The Trenches

Did you enjoy today's broadcast of In The Trenches? Please click here to leave an honest rating and review on iTunes. Your review helps me spread the word of this podcast, which allows me to line up amazing guests and continue to produce this podcast ad-free. Thanks so much in advance for your support.

Get this: In 2012, 391,000 books were self-published in the US alone.

That number increased to more than 458,564 by 2013 (a 17% increase in self-published books year over year).

If this pace continues (and it looks to), in 2015 there will be 1,728 books self-published daily, or about one book published every minute.

Oh, and these stats only refer to books that are tracked by Bowker...and only self-published books...

Which begs the million dollar question:

How can your book stand out in such a competitive, super crowded marketplace?

How an Author Can Stand Out in a Crowded Marketplace

The german philosopher Spengler once wrote:

"The secret of all victory lies in the organization of the non-obvious."

In other words, the people who succeed (in war, business, or life) are those who are able to do the hard, creative work other's aren't willing to do.

If you pay attention to the book publishing space, it's pretty clear that most authors are doing what most other authors are doing. Like the Sega Genesis game Lemmings, this is entertaining if you are in control, not so much fun if you're following the guy in front of you right over a cliff.

If you want to avoid the fate of most authors (who sell less than 100 books a year), then you're going to need to do what 99% of them are not doing...

2 Things Most Author's Aren't Doing (but should)

Thing Number 1: build an email list.

I've already explored this subject in detail here - The Author’s Guide to Building an Email List (and selling more books). Bottom line - authors with big email lists sell a LOT more books on average than authors with no email list.

However, in order to do thing number one well, you need to do...

Thing Number 2: create a website that turns visitors into subscribers, loyal fans, and repeat customers.

If you're thinking "well dhur, Tom, that's obvious - tell me something I don't know ya turkey!" just look around at the majority of self-published authors; they either have no website, or they have a poorly designed website that actually diminishes their credibility (even if their books might be amazing).

Worse still, most authors (even many bestselling authors with good looking websites) use their websites to send readers to their Amazon book sales page.

*head slap*

Don't do this!

I'll explain why in a second, but first, to clarify - the key here isn't a fancy looking website. Just because you can blow $10,000 on a new website doesn't mean you should (or that anything will happen as a result).

The success of an author's website does not depend on money spent, but on thought put into the strategy and philosophy behind the website (which is what we're focusing on today).

CLV, Triggers, and Why You Should Not Redirect Readers to Amazon

CLV stands for Customer Lifetime Value (and is sometimes written customer LV, or LTV). CLV is an estimate of the revenue a customer will generate for your business during their lifetime.

In other words, every customer is (potentially) worth far more to you than a single book sale...

But when you send readers from your website to Amazon immediately, without asking for an email address, you lose out on the ability to stay in contact with them, and this minimizes your chance of a repeat customer (thus, CLV decreases, which is not a good thing). Sure, the reader might finish your book and might love it and might come back to your website, and might buy another book...but probably not.

Most people are busy.

Most people see a website once and never return to it...unless there is a trigger that makes them go to it. A trigger is anything that initiates an action. The most powerful trigger you, as an author, can actually use, is email. But by sending people to Amazon, you lose out on getting the reader's contact information (i.e. email address), which means you lose out on the ability to trigger an action in your reader in the future, which ultimately leads to fewer sales and a lower customer lifetime value.

Getting an email address means you can initiate a trigger, which means more sales and a higher Customer Lifetime Value.

Bottom line: if you want to make a living from your writing, you need to increase CLV, which means don't send people immediately to Amazon from you website, but instead try to get permission to contact again via email.

Developing Your Author Website Strategy

At this point, you understand the importance of building an email list...but how?

Before we get to the design and execution of the website (which we'll cover later), I want to focus on strategy, or how you should approach your author website in order to increase customer lifetime value.

The following 4 steps will put you on the right path:

Step 1. Define the singular result you want from a website visit.

What is your goal? What action do you want the visitor to take when he or she lands on your website?

The best author websites aren't chaotic and filled with links, and ads, and social media widgets, and other distractions, but are focused on a particular path they want the visitor to take, culminating ultimately in a choice they want the visitor to make (such as signing up for an email list to get a free book bonus). Now, while I have made the focus of this getting an email address from your reader, there is a time and a place to send people to your book sales page or other types of content. The point isn't so much what the goal is, but that you've thought through it and been deliberate about how you design and setup your website because of it.

Step 2. Outline the visitor flow.

Now that you've decided your primary goal and the action you want visitors to take, you need to outline how they will reach this step and how they will take this action. The best way to do this is to draw or sketch out what happens when people land on  your home page.

Questions you should consider:

Is it clear what I should do when I land on your homepage? If I land on a blog post or another page, is it equally clear what I should do? Is it clear that there is only one action to take here? If there are many, does that take away from the goal? How many steps, clicks, or scrolling before I can sign up for your email list from any particular page or blog post?

Step 3. Reduce and eliminate distractions.

Anything that doesn't lead your website visitor to the desired action you want him or her to take should be scrapped.

Questions you should ask yourself:

Why do you need that widget? Why are you showing us your recent tweets? Why do I care how many Facebook fans you have? Do you really need X, Y, or Z?

It's not that any of these are wrong, per se, but you should only use them if they achieve the desired result you defined previously.

Also note the fact that minimalist (read: less distracting) websites lead to higher conversion, which means by de-cluttering your website and focusing on your singular goal, you'll increase subscribers, repeat customers, and loyal fans. #winning.

Step 4. Make the incentive clear and compelling

I touched on book bonuses like free chapters and free courses in this article, and I we'll touch on this subject again in the next section, so I won't belabor the point here.

Now that you know the strategy behind building an effective author website, let's talk design...

The 5 C's of a High-Converting Author Website

Fact: looks matter.

It only takes a fraction of a second (.05 seconds to be precise) for someone to form an opinion about you from your website. And most users won't stick around if a website is confusing or poorly designed. (source)

This is good news because the design and structure of your website is almost 100% under your control.

The following are the 5 C's of a High-Converting Author Website, which will help you develop a more effective author website:

1. Clear

2. Clean

3. Concise

4. Compelling

5. Call to Action

Let's go through them one by one...

1. Clear

Is your message clear? When I visit your website, do i know you're an author and you write books in genre X or Y? Is there anything that would take away from this message?

Example: Meredith Wild

Clean landing page, great social proof, but email optin incentive can be improved.

Meredith Wild is a bestselling fiction author. Her website has great design, looks sharp, and sets the tone for her novels. Everything is great design-wise, but she misses the opportunity to get readers to sign up to her email list (the images at the top send people to Amazon to buy the book... *head slap*).

This could be easily improved by changing the message at the top to encourage visitors to sign up to get one of her bestselling books for free (or for a discount, or using a free chapter, etc.). She might lose out on an immediate sale, but again - CLV is what we care about. In addition, her website could be improved by updating her call to action at the bottom of the page. The current incentive says: "Sign up for Meredith's Updates." But why should I? What does an update look like? What's in it for me?

Always consider these questions as you build out your author website.

2. Clean

Is your website devoid of distractions like unnecessary widgets, twitter feeds, etc? Does your website fee professional or does it look like an amateur hack-job? Of the few images you use, are they high-quality and do they lend credibility to your work?

Example: Garrett Robinson

Great fiction home page.

Garrett Robinson, bestselling fiction author, has a clean website and great offer "get your free library." This free gift is very compelling - much better than giving away a free chapter of the book. Garrett also has one of the cleanest looking layouts I've seen of any fiction author. The presentation is spot on and makes me trust him as an author.

3. Concise

Can I figure out what you write about in two sentences or less? If you're showing me a book, do I know what it's about in less than three bullet points (not a hard and fast rule, but less is almost always more)?

4. Compelling

When I visit your website, what makes me want to stick around? Why would I want to dig deeper into what you write? Why should I ever come back to your website?

Example: Tim Ferriss

Tim Ferriss is King Dingaling of Social Proof.
Tim Ferriss is King Dingaling of Social Proof.

Tim Ferriss is the bestselling author of the 4 Hour series. His home page is designed for one purpose - to get you to sign up for his email list. Tim does this by overwhelming you with social proof - just look at all the big names and publications saying kind words about his books.

This is proof that you too should sign up for his email list, or otherwise miss out on something that many others seem to enjoy. Anything that adds to your social proof (reviews, testimonials, logos of big publications that have referenced your work, etc.) will add to the credibility of your message and make your website (and newsletter) more compelling.

5. Call to Action

From the moment I land on your website, is it simple and easy for me to take the action you want me to take? If you want to build your email list, is there a clear optin at the top of the home page? At the bottom of blog posts? On your about page? Is it easy for me to sign up? Is there an incentive for me to take this action (i.e. a book bonus, free gift, etc.)?

Example: Jeff Goins

Jeff Goins has a clean, simple home page with great social proof.
Jeff Goins has a clean, simple home page with great social proof.

Like Tim, there’s a lot of social proof on Jeff Goin's homepage, and there’s only one or two actions you can take – sign up or go to the blog. It doesn't get more focused than that.

Note: If you don’t have as much social proof to dish out as Jeff or Tim, consider highlighting the benefits to signing up for your list (either through your free gift optin incentive, or why signing up will improve the life of the person signing up).

BONUS: Bestselling Author Website Design Tutorial Video

For those of you who are visual learners or who want more depth, I recorded a 10 minute video explaining all 5 "C's" in more depth, with real life case studies. Check it out here:

Case Study: Evolution of Tommorkes.com

Because I’ve been attempting to build an Author’s platform for several years, I have gone through many iterations of my website, slowly but surely improving it along the way.

I want to show you the changes that have been made so you can get an idea of how I’ve learned over time and why I’ve changed up what I have (so you can start two years faster).

Here's what my home page looked like, circa 2013:

My very amateur optin incentive in 2013.
My very rough optin bribe in 2013.

Sexy right?

So at that time, I had approximately zero followers, unless you include me signing up for my own newsletter (if I won't, who will)?

This type of design and offer is weak.

Who cares about my book? And what does signing up even mean? Does it mean blog posts once a day? Once a week? A podcast?

Not very clear - and one of the reasons it took me six months to get 150 subscribers.

Tom Morkes circa 2014:

My optin incentive in 2014...better, but not great.
My optin incentive in 2014...better, but not great.

With this design, I made my home page a single optin page. It could be skipped by signing up or by scrolling down.

This increased sign ups, but it was still a weak incentive.

Why would people want exclusive, weekly updates? About what? Who even cares who I am?

Even though it was weak, this optin page helped me reach over 1,000 subscribers, so it definitely works better than the alternative.

You can create a similar optin home page using Sumome (free plugin for WordPress and works with non-Wordpress websites as well).

I stuck with this type of website for a while before finally investing in www.newrainmaker.com to build a proper author’s platform.

Here's Tommorkes.com circa 2015 (current iteration with modifications in the work):

My new home page with plenty of places to sign up.
My new home page with plenty of places to sign up.

Notice that essentially everything on my website rewards people for signing up. Even my blog posts, if you click through them, provide blog-post-specific bonuses for those who choose to subscribe.

Analyzing a Dozen More Author Websites

I recently offered a group of self-published authors the opportunity to have me evaluate their websites and offer feedback on how they can improve their websites to turn more visitors into subscribers and repeat buyers.

I had about 20 requests, so I decided to start a series on Youtube called "3 Minute Author Website Teardowns."

I'm adding them here as I create them, so check back soon for more.

If you'd like your website analyzed, please leave a comment below with your website, and then tweet me saying something like "Hey @tmorkes, help me sell more books by doing an #authorwebsiteteardown: [your website here]"

Make sure to include the hashtag #authorwebsiteteardown so I can find your tweet easily

Alright, let's get to them:

Author Website: Alisakathrynstapelmanauthor.com

Author Website:  Selfsufficientman.com

Author Website: Harshmanservices.com

Author Website: Chaiwatspace.com

Author Website: Leadtolove.com

Author Website: Ederholguin.com

Author Website: Thescholarshipsystem.com

Author Website: Controlyourownbankbalance.com

Author Website: Terrencebrown.net

Author Website: Seampublishing.com

Author Website: Expandbeyondyourself.com/

Your Turn

Let me know in the comments below your biggest takeaway from today's lesson.

And if you want your website evaluated, again - just post a comment and tag me on twitter with the hashtag #authorwebsiteteardown

Stay tuned for the next lesson in this series that will show you how to create and deploy amazing incentives to get people to sign up for your email list and to keep them coming back for more...

Passive income.

The holy grail of online (and offline) business.

Everybody talks about it, but the reality is most “passive” income isn’t passive at all – instead it forces the creator to continue to spin the wheel (at least intermittently) to keep the money flowing…

Well, in 2014 I did something mostly by accident that has led to over $6,000 in completely passive income.

And this is from just one of my books.

Take a look:

Income generated from a single book

passive_income_from_tcgtpwywThe graph above is a snapshot of The Complete Guide to Pay What You Want Pricing since my launch in November of 2013 to now. If you remove 2013 and 2015 numbers, I made over $6,000 from the book in 2014 alone.

How?

I’ll show you:

See the graph and the numbers above? They all refer to a particular phase of my book launch and promotional efforts. Here’s what happened:

#1. Book launch. This was the first month of pre-orders and the launch of the book itself. I made about $1,000 at the launch of my book. Not bad but not great – certainly not enough to retire on. Although for a first time effort (for a concerted book launch), I was pretty happy.

#2. Book promotion. For the next 3 months I promoted the book on my blog and began guest posting about the topic on other sites. This didn’t do too bad for me as you can see, generating another $1,000 in cashflow, but guest posting and promotion is a LOT of work, and as you’ll see, doesn’t really drive sales if you stop…

Here are a few examples of guest posts:

Is Pay What You Want Pricing for You? (Gumroad.com blog)

Pay What You Want Pricing – the Ultimate Sales Strategy (Medium.com blog)

The Essential Guide to Pay What You Want Pricing (MarketingforHippies.com blog)

#3. The dry spell. During this time I stopped promoting my book. As you can see, I made about $0 during this month of time. However, behind the scenes, I was working on something that would change everything for me: I decided to turn my book into a free 7 day crash course.

#4. The automated book sales funnel. Since I launched the crash course, I’ve been able to add over 1,000 people to my email list as well as generate $6,000+ in sales. This is completely passive – I haven’t touched this automated sales funnel nor put any effort into promotion whatsoever (except for the one-off podcast that asks me about PWYW pricing).

Why these numbers matter

  1. Passive income is possible, but it takes putting in the right amount of effort up front and in the right way.
  2. You can make money from your writing. I don’t believe in being a starving artist – neither should you.
  3. Unconventional practices work. I don’t use fixed prices nor do I use Amazon. Instead, I let my readers choose what they’ll pay for my books – whatever is fair to them. The results speak for themselves.

How to apply this to your book

Step 1. Write your book

Pretty self-explanatory…

Step 2. Create your book sales page

If you’re using Amazon, this would be the Amazon sales page. Or if you’re using a platform like Gumroad, you can just as easily use their sales pages…although I prefer to create my own sales pages so I can have more creative freedom in terms of design and layout.

Here’s an example of The Complete Guide to Pay What You Want Pricing sales page.

Step 3. Develop your free email series

Create a series of emails on your book topic by pulling content from your book and re-engineering it for email. This means summarizing major points and reducing total text (people don’t want to read a novel in their inbox).

Organize the points you’ve re-engineered based on a logical sequence. So for the Pay What You Want Crash Course, I lead people through a logical progression, starting with proof that it works (case study), followed by WHY it works, HOW it works, and then ways to implement it (strategies). I also throw in bonus templates so people can start putting this knowledge into action right away (highly actionable is always good).

Step 4. Add these emails to an autoresponder program

Put these emails into an autoresponder program. I use ConvertKit, but you can also use Mailchimp (about $20 / month to start), Aweber, Drip, or many other options.

Step 5. Create your signup page

A signup page is a place where people can signup to get access to your email series.

I use NewRainmaker which is an all-in-one web hosting and CMS platform created by the incredible people at copyblogger.com. Although, at $1,000 per year this is a bit pricey. So for something less expensive, I recommend LeadPages.net (where you can get a simple website or splash pages setup in minutes) for as little as $30 / month, or even less expensive (but definitely more work), choose a hosting service like Webfaction.com (about $100 / year), buy a premium theme from Themeforest.net (about $40), and host and manage your own website.

Step 6. Send people to your signup page for your free email course

I did about 10+ guest posts to spread the word about PWYW pricing, each one linking back to my free course on PWYW pricing. These guest posts are on predominant websites that drive a lot of consistent traffic my way. I don’t like to waste time creating content for websites that dont’ have engaged users (hint: look at comments on a website to determine engagement). I’ve also done dozens of interviews on the subject, as well as written some content for my own blog.

Step 7. Sit back and let the passive income roll in

Note: if passive income DOESN’T roll in, it’s most likely an issue with your (1) sales page (does this sales page make me want to buy?), (2) email course (are you creating engaging content that makes readers want more?), (3) traffic (are you getting the right people to your site?). Every month you should make tweaks until you’re making consistent cashflow from your automated sales funnel.

Free Template, Video Training and eCourse

If you’re interested in seeing the exact template I use for my own automated book sales funnel, you can grab your copy here:

The Automated Book Sales Funnel Template

As a bonus, you’ll automatically be registered for my free live workshop on book launch strategies (only people who register get access to the live event or the recording afterward).

Finally, while it’s great to put a books sales on autopilots, it helps to have a massively popular book to begin with.

This means you need to launch your book the right way.

So if you’re interested in launching your book to bestseller, checkout my new free eCourse:

Zero to Bestseller (free 5-part ecourse).

This is the exact process I’ve used to launch multiple bestselling books including: Dan Norris’ The 7 Day Startup (20,000+ downloads and still selling about 40 – 60 copies per day, more than 6 months after launch) and David Nihill’s Do You Talk Funny, among many others.

Your Turn

Now that you’ve had a peak behind the curtain of what makes many of my books run on autopilot, what do you think?

Are you going to use this for your next (or current) book?

Why or why not?  Share below!

UPDATE: thanks to all your support, I finished my crowdfunding campaign with $12,979.00 in preorders. The last few days saw the crowdfunding campaign skyrocket - something I did not predict happening at all.

This has been a whirlwind ride and I'm so grateful - so thank you!

If you're interested in being notified about the book when it releases, to hear about its progress, or be the first in line to order the book when it's in all major online bookstores, sign up here.


The Icarus Deception: raised $287,342 in crowdfunded presales

In July 2012, Seth Godin started a campaign to fund the production of his latest book: The Icarus Deception. Godin did this through a platform called Kickstarter.com, which allowed his loyal fanbase to pledge funds to the book before it was finished and ready for distribution.

Godin set a minimum funding goal of $40,000 (enough presales for a traditional publisher to take notice and sign the book for distribution).

By the end of his 30 day campaign Godin generated $287,342 in presales of his yet to be finished and published book.

This is crowdfunding. And crowdfunding is an incredibly powerful technique that any author can use to fund his or her book…

But only if you can effectively market and promote your crowdfunding campaign.

In today’s blog post, I’m going to show you how.

How Crowdfunding Works

Crowdfunding allows any creator the ability to pre-sell a product in order to raise the funds necessary to build and ship it.

There are three pieces to the crowdfunding puzzle:

  1. The creator (aka crowdfunder). This is the author, artist, or entrepreneur who is attempting to fund the production of his new thing (novel, artbook, kitten mittens, whatever).
  2. The financial backer / supporter / pre-orderer (aka crowdfundee...I may have made this term up). This is the person who commits funds to the production of whatever the creator is attempting to fund. This person does not get an equity stake in the project (not in the context we’re talking about, although platforms like this are starting to appear), but generally receives some great rewards and discounts for being an early supporter.
  3. The platform. This is the place where the exchange takes place (more on this below).

In exchange for the support of early adopters, crowdfunding artists, writers, and creators have the opportunity to offer some pretty awesome rewards and discounts, exclusive for the length of the campaign (or until they’re sold out).

By crowdfunding, Seth raised $287,342 in just 30 days - before he had to print a single book. This was more than 7 times the minimum threshold required to fund his book production.

Ever since watching this success story in action (and many more just liked it), I’ve wanted to crowdfund a book.

Two weeks ago, I finally pulled the trigger.

Collaborate: The Modern Playbook for Leading a Small Team to Create, Market, and Sell Digital Products Online is now available for pre-order.

In less than 2 weeks, I’ve been fortunate enough to fully fund the project.

But just because I’ve fully funded my project doesn’t mean the doors are closed. If you’re still interested in being a part of Collaborate and want your advance, limited edition hardcover copy (plus access to some over-the-top rewards), go here:

Click here to support Collaborate.

Thank you so much in advance for your support.

4 Reasons You Should Crowdfund Your Book

Simon Sinek, motivational speaker and leadership instructor has a saying: “start with why.”

All great leaders and organizations - the ones people embrace and follow - have a compelling “why” or reason they do what they do.

In my opinion, this concept ought to extend beyond leadership to anything you and I do.

So before we get into the nuts-and-bolts of crowfunding, I want to show you why crowdfunding matters - financially, creatively, and otherwise - so we can better understand the how later on.

#1. Crowdfunding Lets You Activate Your Audience and Catalyze a Movement

Crowdfunding isn’t simply a pre-order process - it’s an opportunity to get your biggest fans and supporters rallied around a singular goal.

The power of crowdfunding is this: it gives creators a reason to ask for support, contributions, and sharing, because we’re not simply looking for sales (conventional presale), we’re asking for help to turn an idea into reality.

For those who leverage crowdfunding the right way, it’s a meaningful experience that lets your audience, readers, and supporters be an integral part of your project.

When AJ Leon turned down a traditional publisher for his first book, some people thought he was crazy. A traditional publisher is the holy grail for authors, right?

Instead, AJ decided to activate his audience through a crowdfunding campaign and inspired them to be a part of the book he (and his happy readers) originally wanted to create.

Within a few hours of the campaign going live, AJ fully funded his book. Within 3 days, AJ had tripled his minimum funding goal.

Could AJ have been successful if he simply offered his book as a pre-order? No doubt. But by leveraging crowdfunding, AJ gave his loyal readers (me included) a great opportunity to share and spread the word. If AJ didn’t hit his minimum funding goal, the book wouldn’t exist. What an excellent opportunity to help a creator who chose himself (instead of waiting for a gatekeeper to choose him).

#2. Crowdfunding Validates Your Book Before You Write It

Ryan Hanley, the founder of ContentWarfare.com, has spent the last several years building an audience of people around the subject of spreading powerful, relevant messages that change lives.He’s done this by consistently producing and delivering actionable content on a weekly basis.

And he’s done it absolutely for free for years.

So when Ryan told me he was interested in writing a book, I directed him to Publishizer.com - a crowdfunding platform for authors.

Why?

Because Ryan had an audience and had built a reputation for himself with the work he was doing…

But he hadn’t written the book just yet.

What if he spent years writing the book only to find out his audience wasn’t ready to pay? After all, when you deliver so much high value content for free, there’s a chance that people won’t pay for your work when you put a price on it (or so some marketers gurus would say).

Long story short, Ryan launched the book on Publishizier and raised over $10,000 within 30 days.

Now Ryan knows for sure his book is something his audience wants. Even better: he has the funds to create and ship it professionally (just check out his cover courtesy of Mars Dorian).

Books take a long time to write. Good books even longer. Who wants to spend years writing a book that no one reads?

When you crowdfund your book, you’ll know within 30 days whether your idea is something people care about it.

Note: I’m not talking about hobby writing here. If you want to write a book just for the fun of it, you should, regardless if people read it. However, if you’re in the business of writing (being a paid author), you can’t ignore reach and sales.

#3. Crowdfunding Creates Eager Anticipation

Leo Babuta is the founder of ZenHabits.net.

For the past several years, he’s built an audience of hundreds of thousands of loyal readers who resonate with his message of simple, healthy, better living.

Because Leo has created so much consistently impactful content for his audience (notice a trend?), many of them line up to buy anything he creates no matter what it is.

If there’s one person who doesn’t need to crowdfund a book for financial reasons, it’s Leo.

Yet Leo is leveraging the power of crowdfunding to launch his latest book. He’s already more than tripled his minimum funding goal, raising over $140,000 in a couple weeks.

In the same way that crowdfunding allows us to turn our book into an event that activates and catalyzes our audience, it also creates hundreds (or in Leo’s case, thousands) of eager fans, waiting for your book. The cool part is, the person crowdfunding can include his supporters in the process of creating, printing, and fulfilling orders.

Now instead of “Hey, here’s my book. Buy it.” you have an opportunity to share your story and journey, and to make your true fans a part of the process.

Would it be nice to have dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of people eagerly awaiting your book before it ever hits the shelf?

Exactly.

#4. Crowdfunding Legitimizes Your Self-Published Book

Let’s be honest: there is still a stigma to self-publishing.

If you say you’re a traditionally published author, peoples ears perk up. If you say you self-publish your own books...well, anyone can do that…

As a boutique publisher who has published multiple books, as well as someone who has self-published his own, I know firsthand this is an unfair response. The quality of self-published books are fast approaching the quality of traditionally published books. In most cases, there’s no noticeable difference (especially if the self-published author invests the time and money to hire the right people to make it great: editors, designers, etc.).

However, a successfully crowdfunded, self-published book receives instant credibility through social proof:

  1. crowdfunding shows us how many people have ordered your book
  2. crowdfunding shows us how much money has been raised to publish your book

And this type of social proof can be leveraged in many ways to build your personal platform.

In 2013, Natalie Sisson, founder of thesuitcaseentrepreneur.com, successfully crowdfunded her new book (appropriately titled: The Suitcase Entrepreneur). Natalie already had an established platform with a devoted following, but crowdfunding her book gave her the opportunity to activate and catalyze this audience. Not only did she fully fund her book, but when it was officially released on Amazon, it became a best-seller almost overnight.

She has since leveraged this success into appearances in major press like Yahoo Finance (among many others).

Yes, anyone can self-publish, but how many can raise thousands from their supporters before the books been written?

The Best Crowdfunding Site for Your Book

In the past few years, crowdfunding has blown up.

The first crowdfunding platforms started in 2003 but really gained traction in 2008 and beyond.

These included: ChipIn (2005), EquityNet (2005), Pledgie (2006), Sellaband (2006), IndieGoGo (2008), GiveForward (2008), FundRazr (2009), Kickstarter (2009), RocketHub (2009), Fundly (2009), GoFundMe (2010), Microventures (2010) and Fundageek (2011). (source)

And the trend hasn’t stopped.

crowdfunding google trends

There are even more crowdfunding platforms today. In fact, it feels like there’s a crowdfunding platform for every person, every niche, and every purpose on the planet.

Just yesterday I found a crowdfunding platform for combat disabled veterans. It doesn’t get more niche than that.

When it came to crowdfunding my book, there were only three real options (since I’m not combat disabled):

  1. Kickstarter.com
  2. Indiegogo.com
  3. Publishizer.com

I’ll briefly cover each and the thought process behind why I chose the one I did (Publishizer).

Kickstarter.com

Kickstarter makes the list for several reasons, not least of which is the fact that South Park ripped on them earlier this season.

In all seriousness, Kickstarter is one of the most popular crowdfunding sites on the internet. Like Google, Kickstarter is commonly used as a verb (“he kickstarted his latest book”), and has become synonymous with crowdfunding.

Every day, hundreds of new projects are started on Kickstarter. Of those, about 45% will be successful.

A couple of great reasons to use Kickstarter:

  1. Discoverability. Kickstarter gets a lot of traffic and there are some powerful ways to get your book discovered on the platform (creators can set where their project originated and visitors can filter based on location; every project creator you support on Kickstarter will be notified when you start a campaign, etc.)
  2. Trusted name brand. Kickstarter is known in the online community and is synonymous with crowdfunding. Trust is important when you’re asking people to pay for something that doesn’t exist yet.

Lots of people and companies use Kickstarter to fund their projects, including many authors. The two books I’ve mentioned earlier - by AJ Leon and Seth Godin - both used the platform for their books. Leo Babuata is currently crushing his book’s funding goal right now on the platform.

That said, there are a couple reasons I didn’t go with Kickstarter:

  1. I’d just be a number. Kickstarter doesn’t care about me nor would I get any one-on-one attention. I’m not high maintenance, but when you’re launching a product or service using someone elses platform, I like knowing I’ll have support from a human being.
  2. I’d get lost in the crowd. Kickstarter’s size is a double-edge sword - great that lots of people visit the site but not so great because your project can easily get lost in the crowd.
  3. Strict Guidelines. Kickstarter has the most rigid guidelines of the three crowdfunding platforms mentioned. Because of this, I’d be limited in exactly how I set up my crowdfunding campaign as well as what tiers and rewards I could offer. I wanted creative control over this process, so I chose not to go with Kickstarter.

Pros and Cons of Using Kickstarter.com to Crowdfund Your Next Book

Fees: 5% + Amazon fee (3-5%)

Pros:

Cons:

Indiegogo.com

Indiegogo is a lot like Kickstarter - it’s a massive platform that allows people to crowdfund just about anything. However, while Kickstarter is fairly restrictive with what you can crowdfund and how you can do it, Indiegogo is much more flexible.

For example, with Indiegogo, you can set “flexible” funding as an option. So if your goal is $10,000 but you only raise $3,000, you get to keep that $3,000 (minus 9%).

Beyond the flexible funding options, Indiegogo is also known for being less restrictive when it comes to what you want to fund. Raising money for a charity? Indiegogo is fair game (Kickstarter would say no).

While I view this as a positive, it may also contribute to the fact that Indiegogo has a much higher failure rate than Kickstarter. Only 1 in 10 Indiegogo campaigns get fully funded.

Like Kickstarter, Indiegogo is a popular platform and actually receives more traffic outside of the United States. A big benefit to those of us with large audiences outside the United States.

That said, for the same reasons I didn’t choose Kickstarter, I decided to skip Indiegogo. In addition, I didn’t need the flexible funding option (not my style) nor was I looking to make this a charitable fundraiser. Add to the fact that, statistically, much fewer crowdfunding campaigns succeed on Indiegogo than other crowdfunding platforms and I knew it wasn’t the platform for me.

Pros and Cons of Using Indiegogo.com to Crowdfund Your Next Book

Fee: 4% + Amazon fee (3-5%) + wire fee ($25). For flex funding: 9%.

Pros:

Cons:

Publishizer.com

publishizer

Publishizer is my book crowdfunding platform of choice. The founder, Guy Vincent, is remarkably involved in every project. When I decided to launch my book through Publishizer, Guy helped me flesh out my crowdfunding campaign, making sure I didn’t miss anything along the way.

While this might seem like a small detail to a “pro” (if there is such a thing in the book crowdfunding space), it was a big reason I was able to successfully fund my book in two weeks.

Like Kickstarter, Publishizer doesn’t allow flexible funding (as of this writing). In other words: you either fund your project 100% or everybody’s money is returned. This was fine with me because I actually prefer this - the alternative makes it seem more about raising money than about having your audience play an integral part in the creation of a new project.

Another positive: I had full control over how I priced my tiers and what I offered. And if you’ve checked out my book on Publishizer, you know I offer some pretty wild rewards. This was crucial for me as I wanted to do a hybrid launch (a book / infoproduct / consulting hybrid...more on this later).

Insider Peek Into Publishizer.com Statistics

Publishizer is still relatively young in the crowdfunding space. That said, I asked the founder, Guy Vincent, to share some statistics for today’s blog post that haven’t been released publicly.

Here’s a behind the scenes look at Publishizer as of this writing:

Average funds raised per campaign: $8,160

Campaign success rate: 78.3%

Avg daily page views: about 2,500

Top 3 traffic sources: Facebook, Twitter, ProductHunt

Statistically speaking, I’m much more likely to fund my book on Publishizer than I am Indiegogo or Kickstarter.

Further, on average, Publishizer campaigns raise more than Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaigns.

A quick caveat to these assertions: I don’t have “book specific” stats for Indiegogo and Kickstarter, I simply extrapolated out from the collective data. Also, the platform is young, so these figures could very well change over time.

That said, it was enough information for me to feel confident about crowdfunding on Publishizer.com.

Note: if you find book specific stats for Indiegogo or Kickstarter (or other platforms), please send them my way so I can update this article.

Pros and Cons of Using Publishizer.com to Crowdfund Your Next Book

Fee: 30% + Paypal fee (3%).*

Pros:

Cons:

*Since the original publication of this blog post, Publishizer updated their offer and fee structure. They now help authors find publishers, and they have a new fee structure. This info is accurate as of January, 2018.

How to Run a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign for Your Book

Once you’ve decided on which platform you want to use to crowdfund your book, the next step is preparing for the crowdfunding launch.

Quick note: everything I did for my crowdfunding campaign was based on backward-engineering successful campaigns, interviewing people who had successfully crowdfunded their books, and deep-diving into the statistics of what makes a campaign successful (as well as why campaigns fail).

I do my best to link to the source material so you can go deeper if you’re interested.

Enjoy.

Step 1: Create Your Book Marketing Canvas

Crowdfunding isn’t easy.

If you don’t take your campaign seriously, neither will your supporters.

All successful campaigns have one thing in common: they’re planned and organized.

There’s no such thing as a successful but sloppy crowdfunding campaign (that I’ve seen or read about in my research - please share if you find one).

There are simply too many things that need to be done right, with the right execution and timing for someone to wing a crowdfunding campaign successfully (I’m sure outliers exist, but unless you’re an outlier, the better idea is to plan).

I went into this launch like I was planning Operation Overlord. That’s not to say everything was executed perfectly, but I did know all the variables and had a handle on what I should expect walking into the launch.

How?

Like with all my projects, I started with a 1 page business model.

For books, I’ve developed my own one-page book marketing canvas, which was inspired by Ash Maurya’s Lean Canvas, but adapted for book marketing campaigns.

The Book Marketing Canvas - blank

Download the Book Marketing Canvas

The Book Marketing Canvas helps me identify all the essential elements of launching a book from scratch. It starts with key administrative information.

Here's what it looked like for Collaborate:

Author: Tom Morkes

Publisher: Insurgent Publishing

Editor: Tom Owens

Cover Design: Harry Copeman

Title: Collaborate: The New Rules for Launching a Business Online

Launch Date: 10 Nov 14 (for the crowdfunding campaign)

Formats:

Beyond the basic administrative information listed above, The Book Marketing Canvas clarifies exactly what our book is about (and why it matters), who it’s for (and how to reach them), and gives us a general idea of how we’ll sell the book (pricing options) and estimated overhead and expenses.

Here’s how I broke down the marketing canvas for Collaborate:

Who is this book for?

Who are you trying to reach with your book?  Who needs to read it?

Here's what I came up with for Collaborate:

1. Solopreneurs who are struggling to create a successful business

2. Entrepreneurs who can’t find traction

3. Writers, artists, designers and inventors who want to profit off of their art/work

Who are your early adopters?

These are the readers who will show up first to support whatever you create. If you don't have an audience yet, this is more difficult to define (also why I recommend building an audience before crowdfunding a book).

For Collaborate, I focused on two groups (essentially the same, but segmented for tracking purposes):

1. Early Notification List. This is a list I created through my blog. Here’s the landing page I created to build this list.

2. Main ListThe Resistance

How will you reach your readers?

Crowdfunding campaigns are only as valuable as the readers you can reach. If you don't have a clear idea of exactly how you'll reach readers (words like "luck" and "hope" don't count here), go back to the drawing board.

For Collaborate, I kept it simple:

1. 3x Blog posts leading up to the launch

2. 3x Blog posts during the campaign

3. Consistent social media presence with almost daily updates on progress and milestones. Leverage Facebook and Twitter primarily (the social media platforms I’m most active in).

What problem is your book solving?

There's no reason to write a book unless it's solving a problem. For business non-fiction, this problem needs to be something clearly defined (with fiction there's more leeway as fiction solves the problem of boredom).

Here's the problem I defined for Collaborate:

Solopreneurs, artists, and writers struggle with traction and turning their ideas into sustainable businesses.

How does your book solve the problem?

Every business book solves a problem - what does your book solve?

For Collaborate, here's how I defined the solution:

A step by step guide to collaborative product development. Collaborate shows solopreneurs, writers, artists, designers, and creators of all types how to rapidly build and launch a cashflowing business in 30 days through the power of collaboration.

How do you measure success?

Too many people run into new projects with no way to measure success or failure. Luckily, for a crowfunding campaign, success and failure is pretty clear: do you hit your funding goal or don't you?

Here's what I defined as my criteria for success with Collaborate:

  1. Reaching my funding goal ($7,500)
  2. otal pre-orders (100+)

What makes this book unique?

Consider this the "UVP" (unique value proposition) of your book. Much like a startup, every book (especially nonfiction) needs a good reason for existing. This good reason should be captivating, original, and warrant peoples attention.

Here's what makes Collaborate unique:

There are dozens of books and hundreds of articles on the topic of collaboration from a theory level, but no other book has tackled collaboration from a practical, tangible level. Collaborate is the premiere guide for those looking to start a business online rapidly online through the power of collaboration, or those who simply want to learn how to work with and lead others in a collaborative setting.

Pricing Options

This is the section where you want to outline the various pricing tiers and corresponding rewards for your crowdfunded book. Here's what Collaborate's initial reward tiers looked like (I'll explain how I came up with these prices and tiers later on in the article):

$13 - digital

$34 - hardcover and audiobook

$47 - 3 part live webinar

$72 - the no brainer package

$107 - the 3 pack

$172 - the 5 pack

$287 - featured interview

$492 - 1 month consulting

$1,374 - 2 days with Tom

$2,992 - the lets ship it package

Stretch Goals - undecided

Overhead and Expenses

Here you want to itemize as accurately as possible the projected overhead and expenses from creating, printing, and shipping your book.

Here are my estimates for Collaborate:

$42 / hardcover $42 * 100 = $4,200

$1000 – cover design

$500 – interior design

$600 – editing

$500 – shipping

Approx $7,500 to break even (no profit)

Step 2: Outline and Wireframe Your Book

Once we have The Book Marketing Canvas developed, we can extrapolate this into an outline and wireframe.

When I say outline and wireframe your book crowdfunding campaign, I mean outline and wireframe everything:

  1. The book itself
  2. The rewards and deliverables
  3. The marketing plan
  4. Anything else that pertains to your crowdfunding campaign

At this point, you don’t have to be 100% sure of everything. This is an exercise in thrashing and chunking (removing waste + identifying key tasks and timeline), and will help you discover what you need to do at a minimum to fund your book.

1. Outline the chapters and key topics of your book.

For this, I simply used Evernote to collect my thoughts, although I've had no problems using tools like Google Docs, Word, or Scrivener to do the same.

Here's what my Evernote outline looks like:

outlining collaborate in evernote
Outlining Collaborate in evernote

 2. Create a working book cover design you can use for your crowdfunding campaign.

Unfortunately, a book is judged by its cover.

When it comes to crowdfunding a book, a cover is one of the most important element of the crowdfunding sales page.

To successfully crowdfund your book, you're going to need a finalized, or almost finalized, professional looking cover.

books that inspired collaborates cover

The benefit to crowdfunding your book: you can set up the funding to facilitate professional design, formatting, editing etc. S o to get my cover prepared, I sourced a great cover designer (he's actually technically a graphic designer, but I liked his style and thought he'd bring an interesting style to the book) and shared images of book covers that I liked. And these are just a few of the iterations I got back:

collaborate early book cover iterations
Early book cover design for Collaborate (obviously, we changed the name).

After a few more iterations, we ended up with the current cover - and even a name change. This is the cover I ended up going with and changed again before time of shipping the actual book, but it was enough to get my project up and running properly.

The final iteration of the cover:

collaborate-front-cover-mockup-merged-no-shadow-800px

Step 3: Create a High-Converting Book Crowdfunding Sales Page

I'll go in more depth in several of these areas later on. For now, this is just an overview of the essential elements of a high-converting book crowdfunding sales page:

1. Book Blurb

A blurb is one sentence that summarizes your book. My blurb for Collaborate:

“Go from struggling solopreneur to successful business owner in 30 days or less through the power of collaboration.”

2. Captivating Headline

Your headline is nothing more than a powerful hook to get people to keep reading (easier said than done of course). My leading headline / first sentence for the Collaborate sales page:

“In less than 6 months, I generated over $77,000 in sales from part-time collaborative projects.”

My hope: that this line would be interesting enough for readers to keep them moving down the page.

3. Sales video

Every successful campaign I've run into includes a sales video. Here are some key takeaways:

  1. the shorter the better (60 - 180 seconds)
  2. focus on the benefits to the reader
  3. explain why you’re crowdfunding your book (a strong “why” goes a long way) 

More on creating a sales video later on...

4. First main body paragraph

The first main body paragraph should introduce the book topic by speaking to the readers wants / desires

5. About the book

Next, you'll need to explain what the book is about. In reality, this part is more about the reader than the book.

6. Who it’s for

This is the part where you let the reader know he / she is in the right spot.

7. Reward tiers

At this point, it's helpful to have a graphic or something to help define your exact reward tiers.

8. About the author

This is where you give a brief bio about yourself...like the "about the book" section, this part is about the reader, not you.

9. Table of Contents

You don't need a finalized table of contents, but even an outline helps people get a grasp of what you’re building.

10. Expense itemization

People like to see where the money is going for projects like this, so be transparent!

11. Potential hurdles and how you plan to overcome them

Self explanatory.

12. Timeline for launch

When will the books and rewards be delivered? The more specific the better. Always leave room for error (generally about 3x the time you expect it to take just to be safe).

13. Final call to action

At the end of your crowdfunding campaign - much like any sales page - you want to end on a powerful call to action.

Step 4: Set Your Crowdfunding Goal

I set the goal for my book at $7,500.

Why?

First and foremost: it was the minimum I needed to create this book the right way (designer, editor, high-quality printing service, and based on a minimum order of 100 books).

Second: statistics.

Crowdfunding campaigns with a $10,000 funding goal  have a 38% chance of successfully funding.

As you increase the price, your chances of success drop (at the $50k mark, your chances of success drop to 18%; at the $100k mark, it drops further to a 7% success rate).

Just as importantly, the average successfully funded project receives about $7,800.

While goals that are less than $10k have a greater chance of fully funding, there’s also diminishing returns when it comes to lowering the minimum funding goal. After all, what’s the point of starting a $1,000 crowdfunding campaign? Certainly you could reach your goal, but there’s no excitement from the point of view of the potential crowdfunding supporter.

I wanted to aim for a goal that wasn’t easy, but also didn’t set me up for failure.

And unlike Seth Godin and Leo Babauta who have hundreds of thousands of readers, my main list size is only about 1,500. It doesn’t matter if you have the best idea in the world: when you’re crowdfunding, reach is all that matters.

Based on my list size and the probability of success for crowdfunding campaigns less than $10,000, I felt comfortable I could raise $7,500 (with enough hustle).

Step 5: Develop your Reward Tiers

In this excellent interview, AJ explains how Clay Hebert helped him design his massively successful book crowdfunding campaign.

What Clay suggested was this: Your reward tiers need to be a “slippery funnel” where each incremental increase in price corresponds to a drastic increase in value. In other words, every reward should pack about 10x the value of the price you set.

I took this advice to heart. I made sure that not only would contributors get the products and services I provided at a reduced price to what I would eventually sell them for, but in many cases I offered services that I have never offered nor will again (like the opportunity to work with me on a collaborative project).

While the products and services I’ll be delivering on are a bit overwhelming for me, I can confidently say each level is 10x the value of what people are paying for (which makes the crowdfunding promotion process a lot easier).

Important Tiered Pricing Statistics for Crowdfunding Campaigns

Before I decided on what I would offer for early adopters, I researched dozens of other crowdfunding campaigns and dug up what I could regarding pricing tiers and rewards. Here’s what I found:

Before I decided on my project tiers, I wanted to see what was working for other artists and authors I admired.

Here are the breakdown of two successful campaigns I looked into:

AJ Leon Crowdfunding Statistics

This is a breakdown of AJ Leon's campaign.

crowdfunding - aj leon

I bolded the three tiers that brought in the greatest amount of revenue to see what people were willing to pay for great rewards.

Craig Mod Crowdfunding Statistics

I also took a look at Craig Mod's crowdfunding campaign. Here are his numbers dissected the same way:

crowdfunding - craig mod


Like AJ, Craig had a few tiers that accounted for about 80% of his revenue.

This reinforces two points:

  1. People are comfortable paying upwards of $100 - $1000 on a reward (if they really care about it)
  2. The majority of your revenue will come from just a few of your rewards

More on Pricing

From my own experiments in package / tiered pricing (both Pay What You Want and fixed), I’ve also found that while the majority of people may take the lowest priced option, the highest priced option almost invariably leads to the greatest percentage of revenue.

While not a direct correlation, I also looked to general statistics on sales and upsells.

click bank upsell data

According to Clickbank, 24% of people buy an upsell after their original purchase. Using this data combined with past experience selling product with multiple price points, I knew that a percentage of my readers would be more likely to buy more than just the book if I had the right upgrade options available.

To do this I had to make sure each tier was progressively better than the last and not too much more expensive from the current purchase price that no one would buy it.

The Formula for How I Priced My Book Reward Tiers

During my research, I noticed many book crowdfunding campaigns start at $1 or $5.

Yet most of what I've learned in the past few years is that the hard sell isn’t the $5 or $10 option, it’s getting the person to decide to purchase in the first place. If that's the case, why start low?

I decided to make my book accessible yet heavily discounted off of the future price by offering it at $13 on pre-order (I plan to sell this book for about $29 - $49 when it officially launches). $13 is a price that anyone who is checking out my crowdfunding campaign can afford, so I figured it’s a good place to start.

Another thing I noticed in many crowdfunding campaigns (those that fail and those that succeed) are big gaps between rewards. For example, many book crowdfunding campaigns I looked at made the jump from $5 to $25.  This is a 5x multiple, which is a significant jump in what you’re asking people to commit to.

I generally don’t like to make jumps greater than 3x the previous price point, which is why I made my second tier $34 (which is only 2.6x multiple). As you look at my reward intervals, you’ll notice I basically stuck to about a 2x multiplier for every new reward.

In a nutshell, here is the formula I used to price my book rewards:

New Reward = 2x Price Multiple of Previous Reward + 10x Value

The problem set I was working with was this: if people will invest in X, how do I get them to upgrade to Y? So if someone will purchase the “3 part live, online training workshop” option, what would I need to offer them to upgrade to another perk ?

This leads me to the next important element of rewards and tiered pricing...

Create Rewards You Can Confidently Deliver On

Crowdfunding isn’t always pretty.

There have been numerous crowdfunding campaigns that buckled under the weight of their own offer. This guy went over the deep end when he realized he couldn’t afford to ship all his books to his supporters so he burned all the books he created (don’t worry, that won’t happen with me - I have self-respect).

For Collaborate, I knew the only way I could afford to print and ship hardcover books in small quantities (on average, every hardcover costs about $42, not including shipping) would be to supplement the book costs with low marginal cost offerings, like the live webinar, the ecourse (The “No Brainer” option), etc.

For those products and services, all the time, money and effort is up front, but costs close to zero for each additional unit produced. Because of this, my average contribution level is over $80, which gives me breathing room when it comes to printing and shipping (excluding the sunk costs of design, editing, etc.).

I also organized my campaign in such a way that I could do everything remotely (save for the 2 day in-person training, which I made sure I’d be able to swing in the next 12 months). I knew the hardest thing for me would be anything that would require me to be somewhere in person (as I am on the road vagabonding a lot).

Focus on the Long Term Plan

There’s a good chance I’m going into the red for this launch. The cost to print just one hardcover book is $40+ which doesn’t include shipping. Add to that the professional design and editing and I’ll probably go into debt with this project.

But this crowdfunding campaign isn’t the end in and of itself. A lot of people use crowdfunding as a one-off launch opportunity; they want to fund a project and that’s it. For me, I wanted to launch products and services that I could then scale after I built them. Case in point: I’m developing the Collaborate eCourse at the same time I’m writing the book.

This eCourse will retail at $197+ (probably more) when I launch in early 2015 (although you can get it for $72 when you pre-order The “No Brainer” Package).

This is one of the reasons I can go into the red for this launch but not worry about it - the products and services I’m delivering on are assets for my digital publishing business.

collaborate trend

They’ll continue to create revenue into the future... (or at least as long as collaboration is an increasingly hot topic):

Avoid Lofty Stretch Goals

Don’t overcommit yourself with crazy stretch goals. A stretch goal is what you offer crowdfunding supporters once you reach certain milestones in your funding.

When I first started thrashing the rewards for Collaborate, I immediately thought of all the cool stretch goals I could incorporate for early adopters.

Things like notebooks, or a special slip cover, or mouse pads… But after brainstorming multiple stretch goals, I realized a couple things:

1. Most people don’t care about stretch goals.

Most people want your main offer plus some awesome rewards or bonuses. Nobody buys into a crowdfunding campaign for a stretch goal.

2. Many crowdfunding campaigns have been dismantled by lofty stretch goals.

Instead of trying to reach a threshold above my minimum funding goal, I wanted to focus on the minimum I needed to make this a reality. This meant ignoring stretch goals, at least until I funded my project.

Create a Graphic for Your Reward Tiers

If you want to know why you should include images / infographics in every sales page, read this hubspot article.

Bottom line: images / graphics are easier to understand and process and therefore = more supporters = more pre-orders.

Essentially every successfully funded crowdfunding campaign I studied used an image for their rewards and tiers. There’s no reason to change things up if they seem to be working, so I decided to create an image too.

Below is the crowdfunding graphic for Collaborate, which I placed in the middle of my sales page. This gave the text a good break and hopefully added some excitement to the purchasing process: Key takeaways for creating a rewards graphic that converts visitors into supporters:

1. Maintain branding.

I use the same icons that are present on my cover + the same font (for the headlines) + the same colors. This is consistent with the overall style of my book 2.

Overwhelming is okay (if it keeps peoples attention).

A crowdfunding campaign is not the time or place to create Apple-esque style, minimalist ads. I have a few minutes (if I’m lucky) to educate people on the topic and inspire them to support my campaign.

With the image, I want to give as much pertinent information as possible so people could literally back the book immediately after viewing the packages.

I also wanted to keep it all generally close together so that the reader is automatically drawn to the higher priced item.

graphic inspiration

To create my graphic, I found inspiration from multiple sources and campaigns: From left to right: Playbook by Jonathan Mead, "The Life and Times of a Remarkable Misfit" by AJ Leon, and some kind of random cooler contraption by Ryan Grepper.

These are just three of many that I studied and used as inspiration for my own graphic.

Resistance Pro Tip: Before you start your campaign, study LOTS of other successful campaigns (specifically - book campaigns). You'll notice trends that are otherwise inconspicuous, but could make a big difference in your campaign.

As you can tell, there is a fairly consistent style of crowdfunding graphic that is used, which is why I designed the graphic the way I did.

Step 6: Write The Sales Page Copy for Your Book

When it comes to crowdfunding a book, I don't advise a short sales page - not if you’re planning to offer anything over a couple hundred dollars (which I obviously did). Why? According to ConversionXL:

“The more complicated and/or expensive the product, the more you need to explain, show, educate, convince.”

Same rules apply to crowdfunding sales pages as they do for any sales letter:

  1. longer sales letters / long-form copy (traditionally) sell more products
  2. the more expensive your product or service, the longer your sales page should be I knew I was going to be selling some expensive products and services through the various reward tiers I was concocting.

Now while most people order the digital book for $13, there are a few people out there willing to spend $1,000 - $3,000 for a product or service. I didn’t write my sales page for the $13 supporters - I wrote it for the $3,000 supporters.

Step 7: Create a Compelling Sales Video

A short and sweet sales video is an important piece of the crowdfunding puzzle.

Why?

1. Because videos give us a good sense of the person behind the project. And when we back a crowdfunding campaign, unless it’s the next big tech gadget, we’re usually back the person, not the product

2. Because successfully funded book campaigns do it. And if people who are succeeding at crowdfunding are creating sales videos, I should too. I don’t have enough information to determine if it’s causation or correlation, so why mess with something that’s working?  I decided to not put too much time, energy, or money into my video (instead, focusing that effort on the rest of my marketing and promotion...more on this later in the article).

A lot of crowdfunding campaigns are upping the product value on their sales videos, but after watching Seth Godin's video, I decided to keep it simple (3 points in under 3 minutes). I set up my camera, hooked up my microphone, hit record, did a few iterations (full run throughs, only restarting when I stuttered a little too much), pieced the video and audio together, and called it a success.

tom collaboration

Here are the results:

Key components of an effective book sales video:

1. Who are you?

This is just a quick 10 second intro to you, the author, so viewers get a sense of who you are.

2. What’s your book about and why does it matter?

Why should I care about what you're doing?

3. Why use the crowdfunding platform you're using?

Assume most people don’t know what a crowdfunding camapaign is and go from there.

4. Thank the listener

Because people who are listening to you deserve to be thanked.

5. Call to Action.

Always end with a call to action (buy my book!) Overall, it's nothing mind blowing (except for my eyes, which you can get lost in for days), but my hope is that it gave people enough of an idea of who I am and why I believe in this project to inspire them to contribute.

Step 8: Launch and Follow Through

For my launch, I followed the same framework I use for every launch.

Note: If you’re interested in these strategies and how they could apply to other businesses or projects, check out my free ebook: Launch Hacks.

In the following sections, I'm going to walk you through ways to effectively promote your book crowdfunding campaign. Many of these techniques I've either done myself (and will share my examples), or have seen other people use successfully.

Let me know in the comments at the bottom of this article if you have any questions about these techniques and strategies.

Enjoy:

Content Marketing is Your Friend

Content marketing is just another way of saying promoting a product or service through blog posts (or other types of content). Most people automatically ignore blatant advertisements, but when the marketing / advertising is within educational or value-add content, many more people will be interested in what you're offering.

In my opinion, content marketing is one of the best ways to market your book (I'll show you my results in the next section).

Here's how you can use content marketing for your book launch:

4 ways to use content marketing to crowdfund your book

1. Guest blogging

Guest blogging can be an effective way of building an audience rapidly.

In the context of crowdfunding, many people use guest posting to promote their crowdfunding campaigns. Here's an example of Maneesh Sethi guest posting on the Art of Manliness to promote his new bad-habit-breaking device. The benefit to doing this is clear - if you choose the right blog, you can get your idea in front of a lot of new people who will be receptive to what you're trying to fund.

For Collaborate, I purposely didn’t engage in much guest blogging. I wanted to focus my attention on my own audience.

Because of that, the only guest blog (equivalent) that went live was a short video with my friend and contributor to Collaborate, Jason Spencer of Tribe.ly.

Why not a bigger push?

Everything is a time / energy trade-off. Based on several launches I've done previously, I've founded the greatest return on my investment is from the audience I've already built. So If I'm going to guest post, it won't be for a product launch, but to build my list (which means: saving the guest posting for another time).

That said - guest posting is still incredibly powerful, so if you have the bandwidth - do it!

2. Blog posts

If you're crowdfunding a new book, your blog will be the best place to get your initial backers, as well as the best place to promote your new book.

If you don't have a blog, it doesn't mean you can't crowdfund your book (keep reading for alternative marketing channels you can use in lieu of a blog)...but really: you should start a blog. First, because your readers want to hear from you. Second, it means you have a base to launch anything you want.

This is insanely useful if you want to be a full-time author.

I'll get off my high-horse now, but if you're interested in why you should start a blog or how an author should start his or her blog, leave a comment below and I'll get back to you with more details.

Since I already have a subscriber list of about 2,000 (and about 3,000 - 5,000 visitors a month), I wanted to focus most of my efforts on the people who want to hear from me.

For the launch, I created 3 key blog posts leading up to the launch + one major one after launch.

In chronological order:

  1. The 3 Step Process for Starting Anything From Scratch
  2. Success Hacking 101: How to Turn an Idea Into a Business without Money, an Audience, or Technical Skills
  3. Why You Should Collaborate (a $63,659 Case Study)
  4. The Lever, The Fulcrum, and Great Work (after the book was live)

The goals of the first 3 articles was to encourage people to sign up for the "early notification list" for my book. I ended up with about 130 early notification subscribers.

Not great but not terrible.

The goal with the follow up blog post was as a reminder that the book is live and being funded.

On top of this, I also did newsletter-specific promotion + social media promotion for the book (more on this below).

3. Medium.com

Medium is a free website that lets anyone write about anything.

Because of that, there's a lot of noise.

But it also has the potential to be a quick and easy way to promote your crowdfunding campaign.

I didn’t use Medium for this launch, but I did for my last book launch, The Complete Guide to Pay What You Want Pricing, an article ended up getting over 7,000 reads.

4. LinkedIn publishing

Like Medium, LinkedIn publishing is another free and easy site to use to promote your ideas. It's also great for business-specific books (not sure how great it would be for fiction).

Here's an example of a post I wrote for my own blog that I repurposed for LinkedIn.

Why do this?

More new eyeballs means my ideas can spread farther (while still encouraging people to come back to my site and join The Resistance).

I didn’t use the LinkedIn platform for my crowdfunding campaign, but would encourage other authors to consider it as it could be a powerful tool.

Share With Key Influencers

Influencers are the people in your industry with audiences who will resonate with your book.

Couple things to keep in mind:

  1. Have you put the time and effort into building a relationships with key influencers in your industry yet? If not, a cold email may still work, but it's a longshot. And it's also not the most effective way to spread your idea (most cold emails end in being ignored)
  2. Influencers are busy. Make sure you make sharing painlessly easy. Here's an example of a page I set up to make sharing incredibly simple (for influencers and anyone else I could inspire to share).

Many of the influencers for my book were people I interviewed for the book itself, including:

  1. Danny Iny of FirepoleMarketing.com
  2. Chris Guillebeau, creator of The World Domination Summit
  3. Corbett Barr of Fizzle.co
  4. Jason Spencer of TheFlightFormula.com
  5. Nathan Barry, author of Authority and creator of the app: Commit
  6. Matthew Helbig, founder of Crowdlaborate.com
  7. Sean Ogle of Location 180
  8. AJ Leon of Misfit-Inc
  9. Jon Nastor of VelocityPage.com
  10. Kira Slye of Polymer Clay Adventure

To get them to share, I sent them an email saying the book was live, thanked them for their involvement, and shared a click-to-tweet as well as a link to the crowdfunding page (and another link to the "support Collaborate" page).

Here's an example of a "click-to-tweet" I shared:

feeling stuck as a solopreneur? maybe you need to start collaborating. @tmorkes new book is a game changer: http://bit.ly/1zHRVDr

And here's the actual click-to-tweet: http://ctt.ec/BWz9X

Resistance Pro Tip: to create a "click-to-tweet" go to bit.ly to create a shortlink from your crowdfunding sales page, then go to clicktotweet.com, add a short description and call to action for your book (less than 120 characters is good for sharing), create the link and share it.

The majority of supporters used the click-to-tweets I shared, which helped get the word out on Twitter (although the verdict is still out on how helpful that actually is...no way to track for sure, but very few supporters for Collaborate came uniquely through Twitter).

Leverage Podcasts to Market Your Book

What industry-specific podcasts do you listen to? Are there any with audiences who would benefit from your book?

These are the podcasts you want to connect with to see if you can share your book.

It helps to give podcasts a month or two advance notice - like guest blogging, many are busy and backed up for months, so you need to get in early.

Like with guest blogging, I didn’t do a heavy push for podcasts - my focal point was my own audience. Luckily, a few went live at the same time my campaign was live, which helped fill out my social media campaign (gave me something else to share rather than the campaign itself).

Use Social Media Consistently

Besides emails to my subscribers, social media had the greatest impact on helping me hit my 100% funding goal for my book.

Here are a couple rules of thumb:

1. Focus on key social media platforms. Not all social media platforms are equal, but more importantly - choose the one you're most comfortable on and have built the largest following on (in terms of engagement). I have way more followers on Twitter but I always receive the best feedback / conversation on Facebook. So Facebook is where I put my time and energy.

2. Use social media to give status updates of your funding. This is a generally non-offensive way of marketing your book. On more than one occasion, a Facebook friend told me he saw a post of mine and decided to support the book. Because I gave almost daily updates, I increased exposure to my crowdfunding campaign, which pushed me over my funding goal.

Here's what my social media activity looked like (so you can "swipe" my updates):

facebook promoting crowdfunding campaign
promoting crowdfunding book on facebook
promoting my book on facebook
facebook promotion for crowdfunding campaign

Use Paid Advertising (sparingly)

I didn't use paid advertising for this campaign, but I do know people who have used paid advertising effectively for other launches, and I've used paid advertising for a number of projects.

I have

Leverage Alternative Sales and Marketing Channels

There are always alternative sales and marketing channels for just about any product or service. For book crowdfunding campaigns, you could try:

  1. Live events. This may be a little overkill for a book promotion, but worth considering if you have a local following.
  2. Niche-specific sales channels. For example: Writing a book on yoga? You could reach out to the owners of every yoga studio you’ve ever attended and ask them to share the campaign. This is just a random example, but the point is: there are a lot of direct and indirect sales and marketing channels for your book - you just have to think unconventionally.

The Results from My Book Crowdfunding Campaign

The following is an insider look at the numbers behind my crowdfunding campaign.

My hope here is to make crowdfunding less esoteric / ambigous / overwhelming, and ultimately to inspire more people to try it out (with reasonable expectations).

If this blog post can help even 10 more authors successfully launch their books using crowdfunding, that's 10 more great pieces of art in the world that we need, and I'll consider this a success.

If you believe more artists, authors, and creators should get their work out into the world, you can help me:

DO 2 THINGS:

1. Bookmark this page for your own book launch. Do this now so you don't forget. This guide will hopefully always be around and I intend to expand on it with more data from my own launch as well as others as I collect more information. So bookmark the page so you don't lose it!

2. Share it with someone you know. There is a social share option at the bottom of this article.

If you've found this article beneficial at all, then please share it with an author you know. 

Okay, onto the juicy statistics...

Here's what my final sales figures looked like:

crowdfunding - Tom Morkes

Predictably, the majority of my sales came within the first couple days of the book going live.

Here's what traffic looked like to my crowdfunding campaign (note: it went live on 10 November):

Slide1

Here's a day-by-day snapshot of money raised for Collaborate:

crowdfunding - Tom Morkes - day by day totals

And here's what it looks like in a pretty graph. This shows cumulative pre-order revenue over time:

crowdfunding - Tom Morkes - cumulative preorders

And here's what the individual daily sales looks like:

crowdfunding - Tom Morkes - daily sales

Note: If there is a discrepancy in funds raised, it's because some statistics are taken from the back-end of Publishizer, which includes shipping for international delivery. This only adds a couple hundred to total funds raised, which does not fully cover shipping but will offset it.

The daily pre-order totals isn't very useful by itself, until you overlay it with my promotion schedule.

The following shows us daily pre-orders (in orange) overlayed with daily promotions (via newsletter and Facebook - my two primary drivers of sales).

The results are pretty interesting:

crowdfunding - Tom Morkes - impact of promotion on sales

What you'll notice is that there's a direct correlation between promotion and sales.

Okay, so that doesn't seem surprising...

But what is surprising (at least for me) is how great the impact of promotion is in terms of revenue generated on a daily basis.

Here is a breakdown of the newsletter emails I sent to my list, including links to the actual emails for your reference, total subscribers I who received each campaign (i.e. email), and the impact it had on day-of sales:

crowdfunding - Tom Morkes -promotion and sales

This is statistically significant when we compare the average sales from newsletter promotion days to non-newsletter promotion days.

crowdfunding - Tom Morkes - promotion vs no promo days

If this isn't enough incentive to make sure you are constantly promoting your book during your crowdfunding campaign, I don't know what is.

On average, promotion days resulted in 18 times more sales than non-promotion days.

Lesson learned from crowdfunding my book:

1. Nothing moves unless you do.

Since I raised 100% about a week ago, I stopped promoting this book. My goal was to get to 100% funded, which is where I'm at now. I also wanted to see if there would be any consistent momentum now that it's hit its funding goal and so many sources have promoted the book. This is not the case. If I want a new surge in pre-orders, I'll need to start promoting again.

2. An email list is a powerful thing.

I put a lot of work into this campaign but I've seen other people put in double or triple the work and come out wanting. I don't take this lightly. For me, it's a reminder to continue building trust with my readers so that I continue to earn their attention. This is more valuable than all the paid advertising in the world.

3. No amount of influencers can make up for the tribe / gang / fan base you've built.

I think it's important to get a list of "influencers" on board to support your big launches, but the reality is this creates statistically insignificant sales compared to sales I can generate through The Resistance or my other email lists.

4. Don't discount social media.

Without having a social media platform like Facebook, I don't think I could have fully funded my project. Second to my own email newsletters, Facebook drove the most traffic to my page. And based on the responses to many of my Facebook posts, sharing campaign status updates gave people the nudge they needed to go and support the book themselves.

Quick note: I chose Facebook because that's where I'm most active relative to other social platforms, but I've heard great things about Google+ and LinkedIn. The point isn't which one to choose, but to commit to one so that you have real people communicating and interacting with you (and you're not just spamming...which is sometimes how I feel about Twitter and other social networks).

5. Nothing beats a personal email (or call).

I sent out about 50 personalized emails for this campaign asking key influencers, collaborators, and friends to share the book. What happened was not only did the majority of people happily share (thank you), but many contributed to the campaign themselves (double thank you).

Without taking the time to email, I wouldn't have hit 100% funded in two weeks (hat tip to Tyson Adams founder of Jhai Coffee House for giving me this advice and examples of how he did it!)

If You Don't Have an Email List, You Can Still Fund Your Book

A lot of my advice hinges on the community (The Resistance!) I’ve built up over the past two years.

That said, even if you don’t have a big email list, plenty of successful authors have leveraged other platforms to build interest and get their book funded.

Here's what Ryan Hanley had to say when I asked him about the single most effective way he raised funds for his book:

“The power of my campaign wasn't necessarily in my list, but the Podcast and Google+ audiences I had built, which is where I got the most engagement by far.”

- Ryan Hanley, RyanHanley.com

And according to Chad Grills, he had no list at all but was able to raise over $10,000 for his book. Here's what Chad had to say:

“I launched with no email list, just my friends on Facebook, and a few Twitter followers. If you can identify a single high quality news outlet that would love to feature your project, and have a project that crowdfunding sites can't wait to promote to their customers, you're well on your way to a successfully funded project.”

- Chad Grills

And here's how Natalie Sisson leveraged her initial success and supporters to propel her crowdfunding campaign to 100%:

“The single smartest thing I did was update people who'd already pledged several times during it and giving them swipe copy and click to tweet to share the campaign - so it made it SUPER easy to share plus they were already engaged and committed to making it happen.”

Natalie Sisson, SuitcaseEntrepreneur.com

The important takeaway - even if you don't have a list, you can still leverage social media and other platforms to spread the word. And more importantly than having an email list is focusing on the people who DO support and inspiring them to share and spread the word.

There's nothing more powerful than word of mouth when it comes to turning an idea into reality.

When You Shouldn’t Attempt to Crowdfund Your Next Book (or Project)

A lot of people have asked me recently about crowdfunding their next book. I believe my (limited) success has inspired some people, which is great and makes me happy...and also nervous.

Here’s the deal - just about no one out there will tell you to not reach for your dreams. It’s negative and it’s not the type of information that gets spread. There’s a whole area of psychology that explains why this is (survivor bias), but I won’t get into it here.

But I will say I believe I’m doing people a disservice if they attempt something like this without knowing when it’s appropriate.

Crowdfunding is powerful...but like the statistics shows: it MOSTLY fails.

So maybe the best way to wrap up this blog post is to look at WHY crowdfunding fails and how you can avoid it.

You Shouldn’t Crowdfund a Book if You Don’t Have an Audience

“Kickstarter campaigns fail when the tribe of people who believe in the idea is too small”

- Seth Godin

If there’s one person to listen to when it comes to crowdfunding (or marketing, or book publishing, or having a toy made of you), it’s Seth Godin.

I mentioned it earlier, but Seth raised $287,342 (7 times his goal) for his book: The Icarus Deception. He was able to do this because he’s built up a tribe of million(s) over the past 20+ years. When he gets ready to release something, people line up.

According to Seth, crowdfunding is the last step, not the first.

Crowdfunding is a way to activate an audience and catalyze a movement - not a way to build one. There are exceptions and outliers to that rule, but if you can’t predictably engineer a result, why attempt it?

There’s nothing worse than putting time and energy into something that is going to fail unless statistically improbable luck plays a factor.

Much better to put the time in NOW to build a platform / tribe / gang / whatever that will support you when you are ready to rock and roll.

You Shouldn’t Crowdfund a Book if You Want to Make a Profit

While crowdfunding is a great validation of what you’re building...crowdfunding itself shouldn't be used as the validation mechanism.

Your idea ought to be validated before you attempt to crowdfund its production.

If you’re just looking to raise money for a project, don’t use Publishizer, or Kickstarter, or Indiegogo - develop a business plan and pitch investors.

Or better yet: bootstrap it yourself.

Echoing the earlier lesson, crowdfunding is about activating your audience and inspiring a movement (even a small, $7,500 movement).

In a lot of cases, crowdfunding doesn't even lead to financial gain (I mentioned it earlier, but I'll be lucky if I end up in the black with this book...ouch, right?).

So if you just want to raise money to make a profit, look elsewhere...

Now It’s Your Turn

Calling all writers, authors, bloggers and anyone else interested in writing and publishing a book in 2015 -  what would you want from a crowd-funding/preorders/crowd-publishing platform for your book?

Share your thoughts / questions / ideas below so we can all learn.

Hope you enjoyed this article. It's over 10,000 words and took me over 10 hours to write. I'll continue to update as my campaign comes to a close.

And finally - if you found this valuable, please share!

Thanks, and keep creating.

- Tom Morkes

Additional Notes:

1. Topsy archive of all Collaborate related tweets part 1 (that included @tmorkes + the word "collaborate")

2. Topsy archive of Collaborate related tweets part 2 (that included @tmorkes + the word "collaboration")

cross