What Successful Campaigns Can Teach You About Crowdfunding Your Book


A successfully-funded book crowdfunding campaign can seem like magic, but there are no hidden secrets to their success. And by examining campaigns that work, you can get a clear sense of what made them stand out and ultimately rake in the contributions.

Crowdfunding has the potential to reduce the financial risk to an author by spreading the burden of production costs among a supportive, eager base of contributors. The types and sizes of projects that use this model are wide-ranging from contribution goals of hundreds to hundreds of thousands and beyond.

Many well-known books have taken the crowdfunding path, including the Friesens-printed Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls. But what is it about projects like Rebel Girls that garners such appeal and engagement? Here’s a look at a few real-world examples of successful campaigns and the characteristics that contributed to them meeting their funding goals:

Clear Messaging: Save Crinkling News

When you review the campaign page, you’ll immediately notice that it doesn’t have a ton of visuals or pictures of their rewards. Even the campaign description is relatively short. But what the Save Crinkling News campaign does well is effectively and consistently convey a purposeful message.

They have a very clear and succinct message that’s consistent in both its language and use of imaging. The campaign’s core message is exactly what the campaign’s tagline promises: “Save the only national newspaper for Australian kids.” This tells you everything you need to know: WHY they’re crowdfunding (because the newspaper will close), WHAT the product is (Australia’s only newspaper for kids), and WHO their audience is (parents).

Given the unique product combined with the clear call to action in their messaging, it’s not a surprise that they raised 105% of their goal with nearly 2000 contributors.

Audience Engagement: Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls

Perhaps the most successful crowdfunding project in publishing, Rebel Girls is a great example of a team mobilizing their audience and taking advantage of their network well before their crowdfunding campaign.

Early in the development phase, the team behind Rebel Girls were engaging people from their network by asking for their opinions on the book and artwork. This meant that by the time they started putting the campaign together, they already had a list of fully engaged fans who were invested in the process.

You may not have a mailing list yourself, but the lesson to take away from this is that the earlier you start, the better. Engage your friends, family, and network in your process— the writing, editing, artwork, ideas, etc. Ask them for their opinions, talk about what you’re excited about, and get them excited too.

Strong Visuals: Little Moss, Big Tree

This campaign surpassed its goal by 300%, bringing in over $15,000, and had over 500 contributors—an enormous success for a campaign that contained so little written content. The campaign owners of Little Moss, Big Tree, an illustrated children’s book, instead relied on what they do best: visuals.

These included images of their rewards packages and the process of illustrating their book, excerpts from the book itself, and pictures of the creators. All these visual elements work together to give contributors a very clear sense of what they’re getting, and it shows off the creators’ talents. Furthermore, the work-in-progress pictures make the creators themselves a lot more relatable and professional, which clearly helped get the contributors emotionally invested in the project.

What These Campaigns Have In Common

If you’ve been paying close attention, you’ll notice that these three campaigns all used different techniques to do the same thing: create an emotional appeal.

  • Crinkling News used strong messaging to create an emotional appeal to the contributor.

  • Rebel Girls got their audience involved in the project to make them feel invested in its success.

  • Little Moss, Big Tree used beautiful images to capture contributors’ imaginations and get them invested in the creators themselves.

If the core of your message, regardless of how you choose to present it, is focused on developing an emotional appeal, you’re well on the path to winning them over!

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