Originally from London, England, Rabbi Lawrence Hajioff graduated with honors in political science from Manchester University. After working for MTV in news production, and winning the national competition ‘Jewish Stand-Up Comedian’ of the Year, Rabbi Hajioff traveled to study in Israel and then Monsey to receive his rabbinical ordination. His book, Jew Got Questions?, is now available. He will be blogging here all week for Jewish Book Council’s Visiting Scribe series.
Books don’t grow on trees. A close associate of mine had started a shirt company and had crowdfunded his new venture. He suggested I try doing the same for my book. I knew very little about crowdfunding, but a student of mine had introduced me to a young Jewish guy who had founded Indiegogo, a highly successful crowdfunding platform.
I launched the campaign and it was hugely successful. I managed to raise all the funds I needed to hire the best editors, designers and professionals to make my book a showstopper. Here are five reasons you should crowdfund your next book.
1) To Create Buzz
One of the best things a crowdfunding campaign does is create buzz and excitement for your upcoming book. As any author will verify, we write books to be read. As a first time author, no one knew I was writing a book except the few people I managed to corner in synagogue or at work, and even they were a little sick of hearing about my book project again and again. A good crowdfunding campaign engages people with whom you don’t have regular contact, making them aware that you are writing a book.
2) To Raise Money
I never realized how much money was needed to write and publish a book. Crowdfunding brought in the funds I needed from people who I would never normally ask for sponsorship. We all have an inner circle of close friends we can call at a moment’s notice. We also have an outer circle of people who know us and maybe keep up with us via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or other social media channels. Good fundraisers tell you that people give money to people not causes. If you have a relationship with someone, they may want to help you be successful just because they like you, appreciate your friendship, and want to see you be successful.
3) To Get People Involved in the Book
People like to be involved in cool projects. As a college professor and as a professional working with the alumni community of Birthright Israel, I had a large network of men and women I had built over the years. These were people who had been in my classes, has been with me to Israel or Poland, maybe they had been to a Friday night dinner I had hosted. The campaign allowed to me reengage with people I had not seen in months or even years.
People were given “perks” depending on how much they contributed. For $36 they received a copy of the book. For $100 I included the contributor’s name in the preface to the book. It’s incredible how many people appreciate their name being included in a book! For higher amounts I added personal Torah learning sessions and even a chance for someone to host me in their community as a ‘scholar in residence.’ You can tailor your perks based upon what you do and what you can offer.
4) To Increase Readership
Social media is inundated with with lots of great projects and causes. I wanted my books to be one of them. As more people see your campaign video on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and via email, the greater the chance they’ll want to read it whether they contributed or not. Making a video about your book works wonders and of course it will allow people to understand why you wrote the book and how important the book is to you in a fun and different way. If the video is well made it could even take on a life of its own and possibly go viral.
5) To Have Fun!
Writing a book is a long and laborious task. Crowdfunding lets you have fun and feel appreciated every step of the way!
Rabbi Hajioff is the educational director of Birthright Israel Alumni in Manhattan, New York.