The Landscape of Kickstarter

Thousands of authors each year are now using crowdfunding platforms to fund the production of their books. We’re going to discuss crowdfunding (also called crowdsourcing) in general terms as well, but we’ll focus primarily on Kickstarter, the granddaddy of all funding platforms. Today we’re kicking off a five-part crash course in everything you need to know: who’s getting funded, how to avoid common mistakes, and how to make your project succeed. A successful Kickstarter campaign is a science as well as an art, and the authors who succeed are typically the ones who have done their homework.


The Landscape of Kickstarter

Before we get into the nuts and bolts of setting up a winning campaign, you need to know the lay of the land. Kickstarter funded 2,064 publishing projects this year representing a total amount of $21.8 million dollars. Hopefully by now you’ve seen our full breakdown of Kickstarter’s publishing stats for the last few years and what those numbers tell us.

Overall, Kickstarter’s publishing category has had around a 30% success rate for the last few years. That’s less than Kickstarter’s overall current success rating of 44%. This does not include comics, which get their own separate category (and enjoy a 50% success rate.)

However, in the world of crowdfunding, those are pretty encouraging numbers. A significant portion of failed projects just simply aren’t even in the ballpark to begin with; they’re either ridiculous ideas on their faces, or their campaigns were botched from the get-go. 85% of failed Kickstarter projects reach less than 20% of their funding goal. By and large, Kickstarter projects tend to be all-or-nothing.

In the middle area are book campaigns that fail for a multitude of other mundane reasons—many of them concrete and avoidable. We’ll get to some of those reasons over the course of the next few installments in this series.

The point is this: in an era where we hear a lot of talk about audiences being unwilling to pay good money for thoughtful, high-quality work, people around the world are pulling out their wallets and backing unknown authors every single minute of the day. In fact, Kickstarter backers pledged an average of about $60,000 a day for publishing projects in 2014. What’s more, one of the biggest impediments many indie authors have for putting out a superior product—the upfront costs of investing in design, editing, etc.—can be sidestepped in this way.

Take a look at the types of projects that are succeeding in Part 2, the other crowdsourcing platforms authors are using in Part 3, why you should use Kickstarter in Part 4, and how to do it right in Part 5.


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