Crowdfunding for Authors

While the concept has been around for quite some time, crowdfunding hasn’t been taken quite seriously as a means to fund self-published books. This article examines various crowd-funding options that an author could consider while gathering the money required to self-publish a book.

Some terms to watch for:

All or Nothing: In particular, while choosing a platform on which to raise funds, do pay attention to the all-or-nothing policy. While starting a campaign you are required to state the amount you wish to raise. Platforms that adhere to the all-or-nothing policy will not pay you if you do not raise this amount. That means, for example, if you have stated a goal of Rs. 10,000/- and you manage to raise only 7,500/-, you will not get that amount and it will be refunded to those who have contributed to your cause. In this case you will have to raise Rs. 10,000/- or more to be able to avail of the funds.

Campaign: A campaign is a call for funds. Many platforms do not allow an infinite duration for campaigns i.e. you are allowed to display your request for funds only for a limited period of time. This limit varies with each platform. A successful campaign implies that the targeted amount of funds are raised.

Crowdfunding: It is an electronically-abled process where people pitch in with small amounts of money to help you reach your stated goal of funds. So, if you wish to publish your book and you are short by Rs. 10,000/- to meet your expenses, crowdfunding is a good route to employ to meet the shortage. Depending on how you pitch your idea, i.e. tell people about your book and how you will use the money you raise, various people will put in small amounts of money to help you raise the 10,000/- you need.

Rewards: Since equity-based crowdfunding, where your funders are entitled to a stake in your project, is not legal in India, it is suggested  that you “reward” those who have funded you. Rewards could be related to your project. For example, depending on how much they have funded, you could give them one or more copies of your book for free or at a substantial discount, or you could reward them with a bookmark or some such thing.

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Disclaimers:

Crowdfunding has not matured in India as much as it is in the West. There is also some ambiguity as regards its legal standing. Read this link for more information on this topic and issues to consider. That said, it has been successfully employed by many individuals and organizations as can be understood by the “success stories” promoted on each platform.

Please note that these are all independent sites and the information gathered here is mostly gleaned from their websites. We have not worked with any of them. If you wish to engage the services of any of them, we advise you to investigate the service yourself for the fine print. Similarly, this list is not an exhaustive one. Companies whose websites were not clear on certain points were not listed here. See a longer list here [the website needs registration].

The services are listed here in alphabetical order. The order does not suggest any preference for any service provider over another.As stated above, this list does not cover all crowdfunding websites that are operational in India, especially those that are geared towards disbursing micro loans for rural entrepreneurs, such as Milaap and Rang De. They may, however, be investigated to see if it works for your book.

We suggest you view the FAQs page on each website and/or contact them to clarify all doubts you may have. Many platforms charge a fee so it is better to have all your doubts cleared before you launch a campaign. Ask how funds will be transferred, whether you will be able to accept funds into an Indian account, what taxes are deducted and what will be the nature of any other charges imposed. Also ask if international donors will be able to contribute to your project.

 

Here are the platforms we chose to list:

Jack of All Threads [ http://jackofallthreads.co/]

How it Works: This platform is unique in that it allows you to design a t-shirt and sell it in order to raise funds for your project. The platform will design the t-shirt for you, facilitate its sale and produce and deliver them to those who have bought it. You will be given a base price which should be equal to or less than the selling price you decide for each t-shirt. At the end of the campaign, should you meet your sales goals, you will receive the difference between base and selling price times the number of t-shirts sold.

All or Nothing: The platform adheres to the all-or-nothing policy.

Duration of campaign: A fixed duration of 5 and 21 days is allowed for the campaign, although the campaign can be sometimes extended at the platform’s discretion.

Fees: The platform charges 10% of the funds raised.

 

The Hot Start [http://www.thehotstart.com/]

How it Works: The process begins when you submit a campaign for approval. After approval your campaign goes “live” and you can begin directing potential donors to the website so that contributions can be made.

All or Nothing: The platform offers the choice of two options, one adhering to the all-or-nothing principle and the other to what they have called a “flexible funding model” which allows you access to the funds raised even if you do not meet your goal.

Duration of campaign: This platform does not insist on a fixed duration for your campaign although it is recommended that you keep your “project open for a period between 30 and 60 days”.

Fees: There is no mention of any charges on the website, whether or not the campaign is successful. Do contact them for more details.

 

Wishberry [https://www.wishberry.in/]

How it Works: You go through a sign-up process during which you have to provide all details related to the project, including the amount you wish to raise. The project must then be approved before you can launch the campaign. During the sign-up process you will be required to submit a marketing plan as well as short video pitching your idea. Be prepared with these so you can proceed smoothly through this sign-up process. The website expressly states that foreign donors will be able to contribute to the campaign.

All or Nothing: The platform adheres to the all-or-nothing policy. If the entire amount is not raised the funders are reimbursed their money less a small charge.

Duration of campaign: A fixed duration of 60 days is allowed for the campaign.

Fees: An upfront non-refundable fee of Rs. 2,500, plus 12.5% Service Tax, is charged as soon the campaign request is approved. Cancellations after approval are not allowed. In addition, a transaction fee of 10% of the funds raised on the platform, plus 12.5% Service Tax (on the 10%), is charged.

 

In addition, to the afore-mentioned platforms, all of which are based in India, there are also others based abroad that you could use to fund your book. Prominent among them are Kickstarter and Indiegogo, which are used primarily for creative endeavours. In addition, there is Pubslush, which has tailored its services to meet the needs of authors and publishers. In the case of these websites, factor in the cost of shipping and postage while deciding your rewards. Also make sure your book appeals to an international audience.

We hope this primer will provide you with some food for thought as you think of ways to fund your book. Remember that crowdfunding is in itself a lot of work because once you have launched a campaign, it will be visible only for a finite period of time, during which you need to make sure that it is known to as many people as possible so that they can fund it. You have to therefore work your contacts, email them and urge them on Facebook and other such platforms to visit your campaign and donate to it if it appeals to them. A half-hearted campaign will be of no use to you.

 

Photo Credit: LendingMomo.com

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