Crowdfunding for Self-Publishing Authors by guest Justine Schofield (of @pubslush)

I loved this article and had to share it with you. Credit: Originally published in Self-Publishers Monthly (Sept-Oct 2013), used by permission.

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Crowdfunding is a new concept that can aide aspiring writers who are hoping to self-publish. Crowdfunding allows writers to raise funds for publishing in the pre-publication phase, while also gauging the initial market for their forthcoming books.

Raising funds before their books are published helps self-publishing authors mitigate some of the financial risk. Also, raising funds can help improve the quality of self-published books, allowing writers to afford services that were too costly for them to pay by themselves, such as professional editing, book cover design, marketing programs, etc.

Supporters back a book in return for different rewards, which vary depending on the monetary amount contributed to the campaign. Reward levels are created by the writer and serve to provide readers with incentives to support at various levels.

There are the big name crowdfunding sites, such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo, and then there niche crowdfunding sites dedicated solely to writers, such as Pubslush and, most recently, Wattpad. Though the basic concept of all these platforms is the same, there are some key differences to consider if an author is thinking about crowdfunding.

Most basic is the choice between a large crowdfunding platform that’s open to any type of project, or a smaller, niche platform that caters solely to your audience. Authors must remember that just because a crowdfunding site is larger, doesn’t mean they will necessarily get more exposure. On the contrary, in some cases book projects seem to get lost in the mix by other more innovative projects.

The type of funding offered by each platform also varies. There are two funding options: all or nothing, or flexible funding. In an all or nothing type of campaign, if the campaign doesn’t meet its funding goal, then the campaign’s supporters aren’t charged and the campaign creator doesn’t receive any of the funds they’ve raised. Flexible funding, on the other hand, allows the campaign creator to receive the funds they raise whether or not they meet their funding goal (so long as the funding minimum is surpassed).

Platform fees are another variable between platforms. The fee is the percentage of the total funds that each platform charges at the end of every successful campaign.

Here’s a quick breakdown of crowdfunding options for authors:


Funding Type: All or nothing OR flex funding

Platform fee: All or nothing, 4% flex funding, 4% if you reach your goal, 9% if you don’t reach your goal

Accessibility: Public, global

Launch Date: 2007


Funding type: All or nothing

Platform fee: 5%

Accessibility: Public, US, UK and Canada

Types of Projects: Open to any project

Launch Date: 2009


Funding type: Flex funding

Platform Fee: 4%

Accessibility: Public, global

Type of Projects: Books only

Launch Date: 2012


Funding type: All or nothing

Platform fee: 5%

Accessibility: Open only to Wattpad members

Types of Projects: Books only

Launch Date: 2013, still in “experimental beta” phase

Successful campaigns require research and planning, so if you’re an author thinking about crowdfunding, research the pros and cons of each major platform and decide what model will work best for you, based on your individual needs and networking capabilities.

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  1. Kim Hruba on October 31, 2013 at 10:25 am

    I am in the last 4 days of my campaign and I have loved working with Pubslush! They have kept in regular contact with me – checking in, offering tips, fixing any glitches. They have called and emailed – VP Amanda Barbara actually called me from the Writers Digest Conference in L.A. to give me feedback on my campaign before I launched! They have been prompt, professional, and passionate about my book. They are invested in their authors!

    Here’s another reason why authors (especially self-pubbers or indie authors) should consider a crowdfunding campaign: it’s a good litmus test to see how much you’re REALLY willing to work on promoting your book. It’s nothing new that the author is the one who has to hit the pavement and promote their book once it gets published. Well, that’s what you have to do w/ crowdfunding. It’s your job to get folks excited about – not only your book – but YOU as the author, as well. I have watched everyone’s campaign on Pubslush during my 30 days and many of them have remained at $0 or severely stagnant. Only a very few, 3 or 4 of us, have been working it steadily. You have to work it, but it is worth it! Through my rewards, I already have about 100 hard copies and 100 e-books going into the hands of readers this Spring 2014.

    One last note, just because it’s timely. Pubslush VP Amanda Barbar, my editor, Amy Quale of Wise Ink Publishing, and I just hosted a Google Hangout 2 days ago “Crowdfunding for Indie Authors.” Here’s the link and I hope you find it helpful. Good luck to you all!

    • Rachel Thompson on November 1, 2013 at 7:18 pm

      Thanks for sharing such great info! So many authors wonder what it’s like when they do take that step. Appreciate you weighing in.

  2. Helen Sedwick on November 11, 2013 at 7:27 pm

    Crowdfunding is a great resource for writers, but there are a few legal missteps to avoid.
    1. Don’t call the contributions “investments.” That triggers securities laws.
    2. If you call the contributions donations, do not call them tax-deductible,
    3. The contributions are probably taxable income to you. However, if you use the contributions for business-related expenses, then you will have deductions to match.
    I wrote a post about these missteps at
    Helen Sedwick

    • Rachel Thompson on November 13, 2013 at 12:33 pm

      Thanks so much for the tips, Helen.

      Yes, they are definitely taxable income, no question. I just attended a crowdfunding panel at the Self Pub Book Expo in NYC last Saturday and they were very specific about that.

      It’s a great option for author who are self-pub’d and think they have no other option but to go traditional because of budget limitations. The more personalized and interesting we can make our campaigns, the more funding we can get. I haven’t done it yet, but it’s an interesting and ever-growing option.

  3. […] Crowdfunding for Self-Publishing Authors by guest Justine Schofield (of @pubslush) […]

  4. […] Crowdfunding for Self-Publishing Authors by guest Justine Schofield (of @pubslush) ( […]

  5. David simon ross on January 20, 2016 at 8:43 am

    i have recently finished a book about my childhood called “Shattered Soul”. I believe crowdfunding could be beneficial in the extreme.

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