For independent authors, the concept of crowdfunding is nothing short of a miracle.

Think about it. Not long ago, if you were an author, your fate was in the hands of your publisher — that is, if you were lucky enough to be signed by one. The publisher made all the major decisions and even had domain over your creative process. When it came to bringing your book to life, you had little freedom to do things your way.

Crowdfunding has changed all that. A good crowdfunding campaign can provide an author with the capital and audience she needs to be successful — all before she even puts pen to paper. This is a fundamental shift in the world of publishing, and the benefits to authors and readers alike are tremendous.

However, simply launching a crowdfunding campaign doesn’t guarantee success; plenty of campaigns falter and fail. Just think about all the requests you’ve ignored from friends and strangers. Why do we choose to support some and not others?

The truth is that crowdfunding can only perform miracles if you know how to run an outstanding campaign. Here are five rules for making your crowdfunding campaign a success:

1. Do Your Research

If you launch your campaign before you’re ready, you’re dooming yourself to failure. Time is too precious a resource to figure out your strategy on the fly. Determine your costs and incentives beforehand — that means calculating how much money it will take to complete your project, fulfill the rewards, and ship your product. Be prepared and be transparent.

2. Know Your Audience

Your campaign should speak directly to your target audience. To do that, you have to know who your audience is. Visualize the people who will find your project appealing. How old are they? What do they do for a living? Where do they live?

Seek out your ideal reader, both on the ground and online. Reach out using the appropriate platforms to start building a sense of connection. For example, determine what your ideal reader’s favorite website might be, and write a guest blog post there. In doing so, you’ll be bolstering both your visibility and your credibility.

3. Keep It Personal and Make It Easy

Genuine relationships are the pillar of a successful campaign. Instead of sending a generic tweet to announce the launch of your project, write personal emails to the people in your network. Make it as easy as possible for others to reach out to their own networks on your behalf. Provide links and text so they can help you recruit support with just a click. When others feel ownership over the success of your project, your reach expands exponentially.

4. Create Enticing Rewards

Your rewards reflect your creativity. If you treat them as an afterthought, you’re missing a huge opportunity to engage your audience.

The best rewards cost you nothing and make your readers feel like part of your creative process. For example, you might name characters in your book after supporters who contribute $500. Think about how thrilling it would be for a supporter to see his name in print — and how many extra copies he’d buy just to show his friends and family.

Make sure to offer creative rewards at a range of price points. An enticing incentive for a $5 contribution can greatly increase your supporter numbers.

5. Engage Your Audience Visually   

Picture two individual campaign pages for the same book. The first one contains only text. The second has a short video that showcases the characters of the novel. Which one will you spend more time exploring? Which one will you end up supporting?

A visually engaging campaign page will capture and hold the attention of your audience. When your page stands out, so does your project.

As crowdfunding gains momentum and the technology becomes mainstream, more and more people are launching campaigns. Your campaign, therefore, must engage supporters through a unique and personalized experience. It needs to be targeted at a specific group and should grab the audience’s attention immediately.

A successful campaign requires a significant amount of creative thought and effort. But so does writing a book — and if you can do that, you can make the miracle of crowdfunding work for you.