How crowdfunding changes the publishing landscape for authors

Editor’s Note: This guest post is written by Janky Patel, an author who just wrapped up a successful Kickstarter campaign for her children’s book. It appears exclusively on

In 2012, former advertising copywriter Jack Cheng had the chance to publish his first novel through Kickstarter, the web’s largest crowdfunding site. He raised more than $23,000 in just three weeks, allowing him to hire a professional editor and publish his manuscript, a story about the human side of technology.

The launch and exploration of crowdfunded book publishing has only just begun.

In most instances, reward-based crowdfunding is a better fit for book publishing than investment crowdfunding. Book projects tend to have fairly straightforward reward tiers, like a copy of the book for a moderate pledge or a digital version for a smaller contribution.

That’s not to say crowdfunding a book is a simple process — difficulties are bound to arise. The vast majority of funders for publishing projects tend to come from the author’s personal networks. With a book project, it can be difficult to spark the viral sharing and support across social media that is so essential for a successful crowdfunding campaign. Although ‘publishing’ is one of the more popular categories on Kickstarter, only 32 percent of publishing projects reach their funding targets — significantly behind the site’s 44 percent average success rate.

But authors can benefit greatly from the crowdfunding’s advantages. By self-publishing, authors avoid the bureaucracy of traditional publishing companies. They keep most of the profit and royalties generated by their book’s sales, too.

Self-publishing used to be a risky proposition. If an author self-published her work ten years ago, she directly incurred those up-front costs. Crowdfunding significantly mitigates these financial risks by replacing the book advance provided by most publishing companies. It effectively replaces their research and marketing departments, too, by uniting fundraising with audience validation and social sharing.

Crowdfunding is changing the way authors conceptualize, write, and share books. Deviating from traditional funding models for written works, the crowdfunding model provides authors a more realistic and attainable opportunity to publish their masterpiece.