Indie Publishing August 2, 2020

Have you ever crowdfunded writing a book? What worked, and what didn't?

Neil Cocker @NeilC

I'm halfway through writing a non-fiction book and, bluntly, I don't have the time or headspace to finish it. I need to buy myself some time to commit a month to getting it done.

Has anyone got experience of doing this?

What worked, and what didn't? Did you pre-sell the books as a method of getting support? What other perks did you offer?

What would you definitely NOT do again?

p.s. For anyone interested, the book is about community building, and it will be a bit of a how-to guide.

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      Thanks for sharing, @NeilC! Glad that you found the post helpful! ☺️

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    I successfully crowdfunded and wrote a book back in 2014. It raised $12,700 and I then wrote and launched it a couple of months later.

    Growth Hacking Handbook

    The "Buy" button no longer works as I have taken the book offline. The information in it is a bit outdated so it doesn't feel right to keep selling it. If you're mega curious you can probably google for a PDF of it.

    Wrap up post on my blog:
    https://blog.yongfook.com/how-i-got-12k-in-book-preorders-in-1-month.html

    I think this campaign was successful for 3 reasons:

    1. "Growth hacking" was a trend at the time and I was already somewhat known for it, having shared tips on my twitter for a while. I had the audience.

    2. My two most recent professional roles were in a fast-growing e-commerce startup doing 7-figures in sales, and then a solo SaaS startup that I grew to around $2k MRR in just a few months. So I had the credibility.

    3. The scope / format of the book was simple and really easy to understand. It was just a collection of 100 tips. No fancy frameworks or trying to be over philosophical, just 100 things that worked for me, which might also work for you.

    For me, I had the whole book basically written in my head at the time of crowdfunding, and by the time I sat down to write it, I pretty much had a draft list of all the 100 tips I was going to write. When the campaign ended, I set aside 2 weeks and wrote the whole book from start to finish from a cafe in Saigon (I fondly remember this!) and then launched it. Not once did I feel like it was dragging, or that I didn't have the time. In fact I thoroughly enjoyed writing it.

    It sounds to me like maybe you need a combination of: simplify the scope of the book so it doesn't feel so overwhelming, and maybe some crowdfunded sales to provide validation that people want it, and also the accountability to finish it.

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      This is fantastic, thanks @yongfook!

      Lots of really great insight and advice here.

      The thing that immediately strikes me is the pricing of your ebook in the crowdfund pitch. It feels very much on the top end. No judgement - I'm just surprised that people were willing to start at such a high cost for an ebook that didn't exist yet! Kudos! It might be because of your credibility and audience, as you said.

      I'm not sure I could justify charging that much, so would therefore need to get many more supporters. Although I'm also thinking about adding other perks and incentives (I own a merch-printing platform, so that's an easy addition!).

      I probably only need to raise £2,000 to buy me enough time to finish.

      I think you're somewhat right about the simplifying the scope, although I think that's broadly nailed. The first half reads well, and has structure. I just need to get the first draft finalised (approx 15,000-20,000 words), and get some beta-readers, before finalising it.

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        Yes, likely down to the fact that I had an audience already, plus the landscape just looked a lot different 6 years ago. Online courses weren't really a thing yet, and indiehacking / digital nomad lifestyle hadn't yet taken off. So there wasn't really a critical mass of people producing this kind of premium content.

        Nowadays it's a lot more competitive. I'm actually not confident that I could repeat the same success of this book crowdfunding if I did it again today...

        But I think it also depends a lot on the topic. If you pick a topic that you're knowledgeable about, that is trending, that not many others have written about authoritatively yet, then I think regardless of the time in history you'll always be able to make a few sales :)

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        p.s. The CTA buttons on your site don't seem to work at the moment.

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          I explained why in the original post - the book is no longer for sale.

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            Ah, sorry. Haven't quite got though it all yet! Just thought I'd spotted a broken link.

            Although that's an interesting decision in itself. Not worth keeping it online for a small passive income?

            Thanks for the insights about why you think it was a success. I know you covered a lot of that in the post, but it just seemed quite expensive to me. But you were clearly proved right!

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    An alternate path is to publish your current, unfinished draft as a work in-progress on Leanpub with the Lean Publishing process. This way you start earning now, get early feedback from readers, and can iterate to improve the work.

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      This is great, thanks. I'd heard of Leanpub, but not looked closely at it.

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        You're welcome. I'm using Leanpub myself for my book in-progress.

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          Cool! Do you have a public link you can share? I'd love to have a look.

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            Sure, here's my book's landing page at Leanpub. You can find many more books in progress by browsing Leanpub's storefront and looking for the blue progress bar below the covers.

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              Great, thank you! Ebooks only though, it appears? Not that that's necessarily a problem. I just wanted to be sure.

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                Leanpub supports publishing books, courses, and bundles of books by you and/or other authors. Along with a book you can sell related extra digital content (a "package" as Leanpub calls it) such as cheatsheets, workbooks, spreadsheets, source code, media, and so on.

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                  Sorry, I should have been clearer - you can't publish physical books through their platform?

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                    You can't directly publish physical books through Leanpub.

                    But Leanpub lets you generate a print-ready PDF you can use to publish through a third-party POD platform, and export to InDesign if you need to further tweak it.

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                      Great, that's really useful to know! Thanks!

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              Hi Paolo! I like your book and it's cover. Might try it out soon...

              Anyway, I just released a landing page template for indie books that would work well for your needs. It's called Doodley. You'll be finished with it in very little time.

              Let me know what you think and send me an email if you're interested in a discount ;)

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                Thanks. For the time being I don't need landing page tools or templates as I use either my publishing platform's landing page, or my site builder.

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                  Okay, thanks for responding. Have a nice week :)

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    I actually was thinking about this! What if there was a github for writers where they can collaborate and do this...write some chapters and accept 'Pull requests' for other content. :)

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