Category Archives: Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding: 10 Tips to Make It Work for You, Part Two

Marnie Lamb

 6. Go on social media: Blow your own tuba but don’t be a one-person band. Support your campaign by using your social media accounts to spread the word about your crowdfunding project and drive people to the campaign page.

This is another tip that I didn’t take full advantage of during my own campaign. Although I now have an author website, a Facebook page, and a Goodreads account, these all came after my crowdfunding ended. I had no social media presence during the campaign. Quite the opposite: For various reasons, I had been a dedicated Facebook loather for almost a decade. When I signed a contract with a publisher who doesn’t provide marketing, I knew that I would have to become more active online to promote my book. However, I was so focused on the short-term goals—ensuring that my publication costs were funded and getting the book to the editing and design stages—that I failed to look to the long-term goal of marketing. I was going to have to set up a Facebook page and an author website at some point, and I wish that I had done so before the campaign. Not all of my current Facebook friends are people to whom I’d promoted my campaign. So I can’t help but wonder how many more people I might have reached and how many more pledges I might have secured had I made my mark on social media earlier.

Another advantage of being on social media is that it helps willing supporters promote your campaign. Even if you’re a newbie to social media, chances are that you have several friends and family members with a large social media following. Enlist their help by asking them to post, tweet, and share. Several of my supporters did so, some without being asked. But I would have made their promotion so much easier by having been on, for example, Facebook and posting messages myself. Supporters would then have been able to simply share with one click, as opposed to typing new messages themselves.

Finally, if you’re on social media, you can engage with the people who read posts or tweets related to your campaign, by thanking your supporters, responding to comments or tweets, and liking people’s responses. This engagement shows you to be a live person rather than a paper cut-out named “my friend, the faceless author who is not online.” Generally, people will respond better to those whose profiles they can see and interact with. If interested parties can click on your profile and be taken to your author website, where they can read more about you as a writer, so much the better. All this information whets people’s appetites for your book, and maybe some of those diners will order a copy to satisfy their cravings.

7. Get extra funding from generous donors: Find angels who don’t fear to tread. Angel investors are people who are willing to spend money on a cause for the love of the cause—or of the person promoting it. Due diligence is involved, but because angels often have a personal relationship with the fundee, they are usually more willing to part with their money than are venture capitalists. In the context of crowdfunding, I’m using the word more specifically to refer to supporters who are willing to pledge money without receiving anything in return. This is where the no-reward pledge, discussed in part one, is essential.

Because my campaign was premised on selling advanced copies, I assumed that I would raise all the money through book sales. However, for a couple of reasons, that didn’t happen. First, several people on whom I’d been counting for donations didn’t come through. Second, many people who bought copies purchased the paperback, which was half the price of the hardcover, so I was earning less money than I expected. I wouldn’t have come close to reaching my goal without the help of a few winged saviours who swooped down and blessed the money pot with large-denomination bills. I wasn’t expecting to have to rely on this heavenly support. But if you’re planning a campaign, consider sounding out people to whom you’re close and who might be able and willing to be your angels, depending on how the campaign goes.

And depending on the content and specificity of your book, you may also wish to approach organizations with which you’re connected. For example, say you’re writing a historical novel about Chinese railway workers in late-nineteenth-century British Columbia. Perhaps you know someone at a Chinese-Canadian historical society or friendship association that might be interested in donating money to help disseminate your story to a wider audience. Organizations will probably respond more favourably if you’re able to offer them something in return, such as an invitation to your book launch, a thank-you on the acknowledgements page, or cross-promotion of their work. I wouldn’t advise approaching organizations with whom you don’t have an existing relationship. People may not react well to a sponsorship request from someone they’ve never heard of. Then again, if you’re an assertive personality with strong selling skills, you may be comfortable with this approach. So much the better for you.

As with a guardian angel, you hope you don’t have to rely too much on angel investors. But if you do need their help, you’ll sure be glad that they’re around.

8. Manage your emotions, part one: Tune out the elevator music. One of the most surprising and unsettling developments of my crowdfunding campaign was how emotional the journey was.

Hope. Fear. Despair. Joy. Anticipation. Uncertainty. Excitement. Anger. Anxiety. Disappointment. Elation. I felt every emotion throughout my campaign. The experience wasn’t the clichéd roller coaster. With a roller coaster, you can see what’s coming, and the ups and downs are always extreme. Rather, my journey was more like riding an elevator with one button. When I entered the elevator and pressed the button to check my fundraising progress, I never knew where the elevator would take me. Would I shoot up several floors (“Yay! Three hundred dollars more in donations!”) or plunge down several (“Ugh! It’s been five days and still no new pledges!”)? Would I bump up one floor (“Another paperback sold!”) or drop down one (“Nothing new. Oh, well. I had two new donations yesterday.”)?

Even the most equable person will be buffeted by waves of emotion during a campaign. Crowdfunding is a high-stakes proposition. You spend years crafting a manuscript, you find a publisher or decide to self-publish (probably after many rejections), and you bravely share your story (or at least a chapter or two of it) with the world. Now, you must wait weeks to see whether the public expresses enough interest in your manuscript to make publication viable. You don’t have to be a highly sensitive person to find this situation nerve-wracking.

That’s why maintaining some life–crowdfunding balance is critical. Yes, spending time on the campaign is important. Every night, I completed or initiated one piece of promotion, always asking myself the same questions: “Who can I tell about my campaign who hasn’t heard about it yet? Who can I follow up with who hasn’t donated? Where and how else can I promote it?” But when spending time on your campaign, be sure that you’re actually working productively on it, not morosely navel-gazing about it. Checking your campaign’s progress every hour is like constantly looking in the mirror to see whether your acne medication is working: Checking isn’t going to make the medicine work faster, and if you don’t detect any change from your previous scrutiny, you’ll feel depressed. I looked at my campaign page a maximum of four times a day and sometimes not at all on weekends.

Take breaks and recharge in environments that soothe and relax you (for me, this environment is yoga class). This self-management is essential for your health, both mental and physical, but also benefits your campaign. Feeling too confident or too despairing can result in you giving up on promoting the campaign, causing you to think, “Why bother?” for opposing reasons.

9. Manage your emotions, part two: Tune out the jeers and tune in to the cheers. The harsh truth is that not everyone in your life will be supportive of your publishing endeavours.

But, you might argue, surely this isn’t unique to the crowdfunding process. No, but any lack of support is made clear during that process. After all, someone could claim that she bought a copy of your book after publication, and you don’t have any practical way of proving otherwise. During the crowdfunding, however, you can see who has purchased a copy. On PubLaunch, for example, a list of supporters appeared on a public page of my campaign. However, Iguana and I also had access to a private page, which listed the names of the supporters (including those who had chosen to be listed anonymously on the public page), their email addresses, the rewards packages they purchased, the amount they spent, and the date and time of their purchases. So at the end, I knew who had not ponied up. Some people had excellent reasons for not having supported my campaign. But not everyone did.

I had two friends, both of whom I’d known for over a decade, who fell into the latter category. During the campaign, one told me that while she would try to purchase a copy of my book, she couldn’t make any promises. After all, it was “a busy time of year” so she might not be able to set aside the time it took to buy the book online. (This after I had spent over an hour travelling to her birthday party.) The other bought the book under protest, after having phoned me to warn that the crowdfunding sounded “dangerous on many levels” and that “no one [she] talked to thinks this is a good idea.” When my campaign succeeded and her doubts were proven wrong, she stopped speaking to me. Not surprisingly, both of these relationships had been rotting for quite some time. But the news of my book publication and crowdfunding campaign painfully exposed the depths of the disease at a time when I was already vulnerable and under stress.

I don’t think it’s ever possible to be emotionally prepared for such betrayals. The best you can do is handle these attacks by connecting with kind, level-headed supporters who can talk you through the rough patches. One of the best pieces of advice I received from such a person was this: “People are going to be jealous of you. Don’t even give it air time.” That encouraged me to keep my eyes focused on my goal, not on the hecklers jeering from the sidelines as I sprinted past. The cheers of the people who’d encouraged me throughout the publication process helped propel me forward to that goal.

10. Keep supporters in the loop after your campaign ends: Silence is cheap. Regardless of your campaign’s outcome, share the result and next steps with all your supporters. If your campaign failed to meet its target and you’ll be refunding the money that was donated, let supporters know when they can expect reimbursement. If your campaign succeeded in meaning its target or if it failed but you’ll be financing the shortfall yourself, let supporters know the next step in your book’s publication process (e.g., “The book will be moving on to the editing and cover design stage.”).

Many of my supporters came from one of several groups: family, friends, fellow worshippers at my church, and fellow members of two professional associations to which I belong. I crafted slightly different emails for each group and sent them off immediately after my campaign concluded. A few supporters didn’t fall into any of the above categories, so I contacted those people separately. I also enlisted the aid of some supporters in updating others who were mutual friends. In all instances, I made sure that my deep thanks were prominently conveyed in the communication.

As an alternative to email, social media is an excellent way of informing multiple groups of people about your campaign’s progress. Be sure to reach out individually to people who are not on social media, too. If that means sending a postcard to your technologically challenged great-uncle in rural Manitoba, do so. He supported you, and he deserves to know where his money is going.

Not long before my campaign started, I was asked to support another crowdfunding campaign. I happily did so and received a couple of updates about the campaign’s progress. Then, silence descended. The person running the campaign didn’t keep in touch about whether the fundraising had succeeded. In fact, in her initial communication, she hadn’t indicated a deadline, so I didn’t even know how long the campaign was running. Only once I joined Facebook several months later did I receive a message from this person inviting me to like a page she had created for her cause. It turns out that the campaign had succeeded, but had I not joined Facebook, I probably wouldn’t have known. And in those preceding months, I was left wondering where my money had gone. This situation puzzled and irked me. Don’t risk annoying your early supporters, many of whom are probably your family members or close friends. Take time away from celebrating or moping to write those emails and mail those postcards.

If your book publication is going ahead, keep communicating after you’ve relayed your campaign’s result. Sharing milestones with your supporters—revealing the book’s front cover, showing off your glamorous new author photo, and announcing the publication date—is fun and rewarding. Your supporters will get almost as much joy by reading about your book’s journey as you will by sharing that journey.

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Having read this far, you might be thinking, “Why bother crowdfunding? It sounds risky, stressful, and difficult.” For many people, crowdfunding is all three. However, it offers two important benefits.

First, crowdfunding saves you a lot of money. Funding a book’s publication costs solo requires a huge outlay of money, more than many people can afford. Combined with covering the marketing expenses, paying publication costs means that the likelihood of you recouping your investment in your book, let alone turning a profit, is miniscule. Unloading the burden of a huge chunk of the expenses gives you a much better shot at profiting financially from your book. And why shouldn’t you make money on your book? Without your hard work and dedication, none of the other partners—the publisher, the printer, the distributor—would earn money. Surely, you’re entitled to your share.

Second, crowdfunding operates as a dry run for your marketing. If you can’t sell your book to family and friends, how are you going to sell it to strangers—people who have no emotional investment in supporting you? Crowdfunding enables you to gauge your promotional skills. You might find that, like me, you could make better use of social media. Maybe the information you presented about your book could be more compelling: a snappier synopsis or a more enticing excerpt. At the end of a successful campaign, you’ll find that you want to adjust your promotional strategy, even if only a little. If your campaign failed, you have much to ponder and assess before you embark on trying to market your book to a wider audience. Marketing is a trial-and-error process. Crowdfunding is a great trial (in many ways!) during which you can learn from your errors and successes before your book is published.

The crowdfunding world offers no guarantees. Ultimately, if your book doesn’t appeal to people, your campaign is unlikely to succeed. But learning from the experiences of other fundees, both successful and not, will give you a better shot at that elusive success. It’s like having a bigger boat: It won’t rid the ocean of sharks ready to drag you down, but it will increase the likelihood that you’ll reach land safely.

To see an example of a successful crowdfunding campaign, visit my PubLaunch page at http://www.publaunch.com/campaigns/history-hilary-hambrushina.

Happy crowdfunding!

An earlier version of this article appeared on the blog Hooked to Books.

© Marnie Lamb

CLICK HERE TO BUY NOW!

Author Bio:  Marnie Lamb is a Gemini incarnate: half writer and half editor. She earned a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Windsor. Her short stories have appeared in Journey Prize Stories 25 and various Canadian literary journals, including filling Station, The Nashwaak Review, and The Dalhousie Review. Her first novel, a YA book named The History of Hilary Hambrushina, was published by Iguana Books this past spring. She pursues her other love, editing, as the owner of Ewe Editorial Services, which offers copy editing, indexing, permissions and photo research, and proofreading services to educational, scholarly, and trade publishers. When she is not writing or editing, she can be found cooking recipes with eggplant or scouting out fashions—preferably ones with polka-dots—at Toronto’s One of a Kind Show.

Crowdfunding: 10 Tips to Make It Work for You, Part One

Marnie Lamb

Crowdfunding is becoming an increasingly popular way for people to realize their goals, both personal and professional. Crowdfunding refers to raising money for a cause through soliciting donations from a large group of people, often via the Internet. Although I had a hazy idea of the general principles behind crowdfunding, I never imagined that I would launch a campaign, much less one to raise money to get a book published. I first heard of crowdfunding for book publication six years ago during one of my courses in the Publishing Program at Toronto’s Ryerson University. I recall thinking, “Whoa. That’s a bit too new and radical for me.”

Then, last year, Iguana Books, a hybrid publisher based in Toronto, accepted my young adult novel, The History of Hilary Hambrushina, for publication. Iguana uses a newer publishing model. Iguana publishes only books that meet its editorial standards. To ensure that it doesn’t lose money on its books, Iguana asks authors to either pay the publication costs up front or raise the money through selling advanced copies via crowdfunding. At first, I was going to pay the money myself and be done with it, but Greg Ioannou, Iguana’s president, convinced me to try crowdfunding, saying that a YA novel would be a good candidate for a successful campaign. Buoyed by his enthusiasm, I agreed to take the plunge. The amount needed to cover publication costs was C$4315.

On Shark Tank, you hear about people launching a Kickstarter or GoFundMe campaign that exceeds its goal within the first few hours. Listening to these glorious tales, you might easily be trapped into thinking, “All I need to do is set up my campaign, push the start button, and wait for the money to gush in, right?

Wrong. So wrong.

These wonder campaigns are rarer than a sunny day in a Vancouver winter. According to Kickstarter (https://www.kickstarter.com/help/stats), 64% of crowdfunding campaigns fail, and 14% never earn a nickel. My informal observations about PubLaunch, a site affiliated with Iguana Books and which raises money for book-related endeavours only, show similar results. I count at least eight other campaigns that started in the months during or surrounding mine; only one was successful in meeting its goal. The amounts raised in the others ranged from 0% to 25% of the target.

So why was my campaign a sunny day in a season full of grey skies? I was an unlikely candidate to run a fruitful campaign. I’d had little experience fundraising. Before this campaign, the most I’d ever had to raise was C$150 for a charity walk. I’m also a proud introvert who generally disdains self-promotion as tacky, narcissistic, or desperate. I didn’t have an author website, I wasn’t on any social media platforms, and the only reason I had a website for my freelance editing business was that I needed to engage in some self-promotion to pay my bills.

Iguana provided me with their crowdfunding guide, which offers basic information about setting up a PubLaunch page and tips on helping a campaign succeed. However, I don’t credit my success only to having followed the guide. Rather, intuition, forethought, observations about previous PubLaunch campaigns, adjustments along the way, and a little luck were the keys. Here are the top ten pieces of advice I’d offer anyone considering using crowdfunding for book publication.

 1. Choose the dates of your campaign carefully: Don’t be the fool who rushes in. Once you’ve decided to test the crowdfunding waters, you may be tempted to plunge in immediately and start sharing your dream with the world. However, carefully choosing your campaign’s timing is more likely to set you up for success.

First, consider the when: What are the start and end dates and time of year? My PubLaunch contact advised that in her experience, Tuesday and Wednesday are the best launch days; hence, I chose the former for my kickoff. I’m not suggesting that other days will result in a failed campaign or that a magic formula exists to find the best day of the week. But try to avoid days on which many people will be busy, such as holidays or the first Saturday of the school summer break.

The same applies to the time of year. During the holiday season in December, people are distracted and busy. In January, they’re poorer after their holiday purchases and may not be willing to dish out more dollars. The exception may be a campaign for a fitness or health book. Then, you can tap into people’s New Year’s resolutions to exercise or eat better. Also, consider your own schedule. It’s unwise to launch a campaign the day before you leave for a long weekend canoeing expedition in the backwoods of Algonquin Park. You need to be available throughout your campaign, especially at the start and end, to answer potential supporters’ questions.

Next, consider the how: How many weeks will the campaign be? Some PubLaunch campaigns were only three weeks, but the idea of raising over C$4000 in such a short time made me nervous. Iguana and I agreed on six weeks. Part of the impetus for the extra weeks was that my campaign began on August 2, and I wanted to leave enough time to catch potential supporters who would be returning from vacation in September. If you thrive under tight deadlines, a shorter campaign may suit you. If not, I’d suggest a minimum six-to-eight-week run time. Moreover, consider your circle of potential supporters. If your kith and kin are procrastinators, you may need a longer campaign to nail down all their pledges.

Try to choose dates that best set you up for success, while recognizing that your choices offer no guarantees. These choices should include giving yourself enough lead time (ideally at least a couple of months) to promote the campaign to family and friends, who can in turn promote it to their circle.

 2. Choose and price your rewards wisely: Good things come in small packages, but better things come in big packages. On PubLaunch, rewards are packages of goods that supporters purchase to help fund a book’s publication. Rewards form the building blocks of a campaign, so taking time to fine-tune them is essential.

The first reward you’ll want to offer is a copy of your book. Offer each edition as a separate package, and consider combining editions and selling them at a discount (e.g., “Save $5 when you purchase the ebook and paperback together”). Iguana encourages authors to give their rewards fun names; I named mine after the characters in my book. Think, too, about including a more expensive reward for a limited-edition item. I offered a hardcover of my book, which was available only during the campaign. The cachet of exclusivity appeals to people, and you’re giving supporters real value by enabling them to purchase something special.

Rewards don’t have to be only books. An invitation to your book launch, a shout-out in the acknowledgements section, or an appearance at a book club meeting are all good rewards. Do you have a special talent such as quilting or sculpting? Work that into a package. Some PubLaunch campaigns offered a piece of unique artwork, handcrafted by the author, the ultimate example of a limited-edition item.

Pricing is a crucial part of reward preparation. Don’t gouge your supporters by charging unfairly high prices, but do charge enough. After all, the cheaper the rewards, the more supporters you’ll need for a successful campaign. According to Iguana, the paperback of my book would have a list price of around C$20. My reward package The Mom comprised a signed paperback and a bookmark featuring the cover art. I felt that C$25 for a copy that included two extras (the personalized signature and bookmark) was fair. However, C$40 would not have been. But avoid overly cheap rewards. A couple of PubLaunch campaigns offered a thank-you email in exchange for C$1. Providing such cheap options is tantamount to saving up for a cross-country trip one nickel at a time. The Mom was the most inexpensive reward I offered; I didn’t offer the cheaper ebook edition, because I knew I’d have to find more supporters if I did. If you’re concerned that your lowest price might drive away more frugal customers, you can also offer a no-reward pledge, in which supporters simply donate any amount of money without receiving anything. I did this and earned a big chunk of money from it (see tip number seven, coming in part two).

If you’re including non-book rewards, don’t assume that your publisher will produce the materials or cover the cost. I made this mistake about my bookmarks and was dismayed to learn that I would have to design, print, and pay for them. Luckily, a couple of kind souls helped out, and my work and costs were minimal. But be sure you charge enough to offset your own costs.

 3. Offer packages of multiple books: Two for the price of one is better than one for the price of one. Make ordering multiple copies of your book as easy as possible for your supporters. This is part of choosing rewards wisely, but it’s so important that it bears setting off as a separate point.

I learned the importance of such packages quickly. On the first day of my campaign, one of my supporters phoned me and inquired about ordering multiple copies. When I explained that PubLaunch isn’t set up to order multiples of the same package, he responded, “so if I want to order five paperbacks, I have to go through the process five times?” Realizing the impracticality of this set-up, I consulted with the publisher and came up with a solution: separate rewards for purchasing two hardcovers or two paperbacks. To these rewards I gave the same name as the rewards for one copy, except with “plus.” So while the Mom (C$25) was one copy of the paperback, the Mom Plus (C$50) was two.

Several of my supporters wanted to buy a copy for themselves and another for someone else. If the ordering process had been too cumbersome, I’m sure that some of those supporters would have given up on the second copy, costing me sales. I also realized that two $25 books are worth more than one $50 book. The second book offers a chance for a new reader to not only discover the book but also potentially tell others about it, possibly creating more sales. Multiples are another area ripe for discounts. Although I didn’t choose that route, you may wish to do so to encourage supporters to buy more books (e.g., “Save $5 when you buy two copies of the paperback”). Interestingly, the other successful PubLaunch campaign also made use of the multiples technique.

 4. Set your goal slightly higher than what you need: Do overextend yourself. I offer this advice cautiously, as it’s both a remedy and a poison. I didn’t actually do this on my campaign, but in hindsight, I wish I had set the bar a little higher to help cover my marketing costs.

Setting a loftier goal is a remedy in that exceeding your goal gives you a little boost in covering other book-related expenses. If you’re being published by a company that asks you to crowdfund, chances are that the publisher will be doing little or no marketing of your book (or they might provide marketing, but only for an additional fee). That promotion and its cost will fall to you. I was blessed to exceed my initial goal by almost C$500 extra, and the excess funds, given to me by the publisher, went right back into the book in the form of marketing. Some marketing endeavours will be in US$, therefore costing more in C$, another reason that raising a little extra dough may be helpful. (I’ll discuss marketing more in an upcoming article.) If you’re an assertive go-getter who feels confident about your chances of reaching your goal, think about resetting your target to net a modest amount extra, say 5% to 10% of the publication costs.

For a different personality, though, this new goal might be a poison. Publication costs are expensive, and raising enough money to cover them is already a steep hill to climb without adjusting the gradient. If you’re at all uncertain about crowdfunding or concerned about meeting your goal, stick with the original target. As I’ll discuss in part two, crowdfunding is an emotional journey, and you may not wish to invite the added stress of a higher goal.

 5. Promote your campaign early and often: Understand that if you build it, they won’t come—unless you tell them about it, draw them a map, or even strap them into a car and drive them to “it.” As Bethany Joy Carlson advises (https://janefriedman.com/crowdfunding-for-writers/), “The success of your campaign and the marketing of your book in general hinge on your willingness to embrace the role of your book’s number-one cheerleader.” Expecting your campaign to market itself is the biggest mistake you can make.

Expecting your publisher to market your campaign isn’t wise, either. While Iguana did promote my campaign by sending out a few tweets and posting a few messages on Facebook, this publicity garnered maybe two supporters. (I say maybe because both of the supporters are fellow members of a professional association to which I belong and to which I had been promoting my campaign. So I don’t know whether their support resulted from my publicity or from Iguana’s.) Definitely ask your publisher to promote your campaign—you need all the weapons in your arsenal to ensure success—but recognize that you are ultimately responsible for driving supporters to your page.

Tell everyone you know about your campaign. Family and friends, yes, but also colleagues, fellow members of any professional groups, members of your place of worship or any clubs to which you belong, neighbours, friends of friends, your accountant, your hairdresser, and your dental hygienist. Not everyone will donate, but no one will donate if he or she isn’t aware of the campaign. To build buzz, tell people about the campaign weeks before it begins and again as soon as it starts. Don’t stop promoting after your first contact. Halfway through the campaign, follow up with people who haven’t donated. I had to ask certain people three times before they donated, but persistence paid off and those pledges came through.

In your initial email or conversation after the campaign starts, make donating easy by explaining what crowdfunding is and how it works; providing instructions for donating, the link to your crowdfunding page, and the deadline for pledges; and inviting questions. Be sure to indicate the currency: Are your rewards and goal in C$, US$, etc.? Let supporters know how long they can expect to wait before receiving their rewards. People who aren’t familiar with the publication process may expect a book two weeks after your campaign ends! Even a ballpark estimate helps. If the publication date changes (as mine did), you can update supporters later with the new details.

Self-promotion does not come naturally for many people. If you fall into this category, you’ll need to be willing to be uncomfortable, at least at first. But I found that the more I spoke about my passion for my book and its story, the more I embraced the role of cheerleader and the more authentic my cheerleading became. I think that being more of an introvert and less of a self-promoter can actually be an advantage when you do have to promote yourself and your causes because it makes your marketing weightier. Your family, friends, and acquaintances know that you’re not someone who’s always hawking his or her wares. So if you’re promoting your crowdfunding project, it must be close to your heart. That will likely convince more people to listen to and ultimately support you.

© Marnie Lamb

CLICK HERE TO BUY NOW!

Author Bio:  Marnie Lamb is a Gemini incarnate: half writer and half editor. She earned a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Windsor. Her short stories have appeared in Journey Prize Stories 25 and various Canadian literary journals, including filling Station, The Nashwaak Review, and The Dalhousie Review. Her first novel, a YA book named The History of Hilary Hambrushina, was published by Iguana Books this past spring. She pursues her other love, editing, as the owner of Ewe Editorial Services, which offers copy editing, indexing, permissions and photo research, and proofreading services to educational, scholarly, and trade publishers. When she is not writing or editing, she can be found cooking recipes with eggplant or scouting out fashions—preferably ones with polka-dots—at Toronto’s One of a Kind Show.

KickStarter Crowdfunding Campaign: We Want to Reward 4,000 Books to 4,000 Independent Authors!

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

Polished Publishing Group (PPG) has recently launched a KickStarter crowdfunding campaign. 

We want to reward 4,000 books to 4,000 independent authors who wish to learn how to sell thousands of your own books.

How do we plan to do this?

And why have we launched this crowdfunding campaign?

It’s time to take our company to the next level by expanding our reach and helping even more authors—within Canada and abroad—to define and achieve your book publishing and sales goals. We want to reward 4,000 paperback books to 4,000 independent authors during this campaign all while showing you how to sell thousands of your own books online.

You don’t have to be an Olympian or popular sports figure to sell books. Nor do you need a lot of money. If you invest the time it takes to follow through on the tried and true tips being shared with you in these rewards, you’ll begin to see just how achievable this is.

On that note, there are nine rewards for you to choose from:

1. Pledge $10 to pick up your very own copy of How to Publish a Book in Canada in Calgary, AB, and receive a free ebook series along with it that reveals the step-by-step process authors are using to sell thousands of books online.

2. Pledge $10 to pick up your very own copy of How to Publish a Bestselling Book in Calgary, AB, and receive a free ebook series along with it that reveals the step-by-step process authors are using to sell thousands of books online.

3. Pledge $10 + shipping/handling to have your very own copy of How to Publish a Book in Canada shipped to you and receive a free ebook series along with it that reveals the step-by-step process authors are using to sell thousands of books online.

4. Pledge $10 + shipping/handling to have your very own copy of How to Publish a Bestselling Book shipped to you and receive a free ebook series along with it that reveals the step-by-step process authors are using to sell thousands of books online.

5. Pledge $25 + shipping/handling to have your very own copy of How to Publish a Book in Canada shipped to you and receive a free ebook series along with it that reveals the step-by-step process authors are using to sell thousands of books online. Email Kim two sample chapters of your upcoming book and any specific questions you have about publishing it, and she’ll provide you with a personalized critique via email.  

6. Pledge $25 + shipping/handling to have your very own copy of How to Publish a Bestselling Book shipped to you and receive a free ebook series along with it that reveals the step-by-step process authors are using to sell thousands of books online. Email Kim two sample chapters of your upcoming book and any specific questions you have about publishing it, and she’ll provide you with a personalized critique via email.

7. Pledge $60 + shipping/handling to have your very own copy of How to Publish a Book in Canada shipped to you and receive a free ebook series along with it that reveals the step-by-step process authors are using to sell thousands of books online. Provide your Skype address or WhatsApp number to receive a half-hour, personalized online consultation with Kim about your book project.  

8. Pledge $60 + shipping/handling to have your very own copy of How to Publish a Bestselling Book shipped to you and receive a free ebook series along with it that reveals the step-by-step process authors are using to sell thousands of books online. Provide your Skype address or WhatsApp number to receive a half-hour, personalized online consultation with Kim about your book project.

9. Pledge $100 just because. You’re not an aspiring or already-published independent author, nor are you interested in receiving a book. You would just like to support this campaign to help a small publisher grow so we can continue helping authors everywhere to achieve their publishing dreams. (This reward was added for Kim Staflund’s brother who would love to support his sister but already has copies of her books.)

The majority of the funding PPG receives from this KickStarter campaign (approximately 60%) will go toward the shipping and handling costs required to get these paperback books out of our storage unit and into your hands. Another approximately 10% will go toward our KickStarter fees which are paid for the privilege of using this platform to reach more authors worldwide (thank you). We’ll use the remaining 30% toward our own continued research and development—learning more and more about the various T-shaped marketing techniques authors can use to sell their books, and sharing this insight with people just like you through various methods (e.g., conferencesebooks, and webinars).

Help us help independent authors today! Click here to visit our KickStarter crowdfunding page!

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Crowdfunding for Authors: How to Raise the Funds You Require to Publish Your Book

Joseph Sale, Author

The landscape of publishing has changed. And it’s still changing as we speak, metamorphosing into something entirely different. But, unlike other industries in which the ideology is changing along with the processes and practices, the publishing industry remains strangely religious in its observance of certain tenats which just plain and simple don’t work any more. Let’s be real here, the days of glorious £20,000 advance payments, 50% royalty deals and months of marketing and advertising are now over, except for a select few. Only the top names with proven sales records get that kind of attention. For the rest of us, the middle and light-weight writers, we have to make do with the odd pocket-money payout, zero marketing and next to nothing support. This is not the fault of the publishers. Nothing is ever entirely one person’s fault or another. Publishing houses are being squeezed harder than ever, giving greater and greater margins to distributors like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and selling less and less books as we get more and more hooked on TV and visual stimuli. There’s nothing wrong with great television, of course. I admire the writers adapting Game of Thrones and Dirk Gently and all those top-quality HBO shows. I similarly do not begrudge video games their recent billion-dollar industry status. They deserve it, and interactive narrative is becoming a powerful tool for storytelling on an epic scale.

But where does that leave books? Are they dying and can they be saved?

The answers, I hope, are maybe and yes.

Our new technological age of corporatisation and automation has, in part, created the problem writers now face. Virtually anyone can write a novel with a cheap second-hand laptop and an internet connection. Virtually anyone can send in their manuscript to an email address on a website. Once, these manuscripts were handwritten/typed, laboriously edited, typed up again and again, then sent via post to agents who reviewed them, who then passed them on to publishers, who then mailed the writers direct. Only a handful of people had the skills, energy and patience to do this, but in our digital age, anyone can with relatively minimal effort. Of course, writing a good book is still hard, and one must never overlook the massive achievement of setting down 50,000 or more words, whether it’s publishable or not, but this process has been made easier and more accessible. This is good and bad. Good, because it’s allowed disadvantaged people a chance to get their words out there. Bad, because now there are millions of writers clamouring to be heard, and many voices are getting lost in that ocean. The competition is the highest it’s ever been.

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Even those that do get published professionally often find themselves disillusioned by the results when their books sell next to nothing (the average literary fiction novel published by a major publisher in 2016 sold 260 copies) and they make next to nothing from the pitiful royalty offering. Often publishers say it’s the best they can do, and in many cases they are telling the truth. So, the situation would appear to be pretty bleak.

However, as with all things, there’s two sides to the coin. Our technological explosion has also brought with it alternative solutions, including self-publishing and crowdfunding. Six or seven years ago, self-publishing was looked down on by the industry. Publishers would outright reject writers who had taken the self-publishing route. Now, as self-published writers generate ever greater sales, and reputable artists (across all mediums) increasingly turn away from big corporate productions in favour of doing more radical independent work with complete creative freedom, publishing houses and agents are coming around to the idea that writers can be self sufficient and there’s money to be had in letting them have control. Some publishers even use self publishing as a proving ground for writers. If you can sell 2,000 copies of your book off your own back, what could you do with a full team and financing behind you? Here’s two important pieces of information to further explore this reality. The legendary alternative rock/EDM band Radiohead and heavy metal alternative rock band Avenged Sevenfold both dropped their record labels in the last three years and released self-published albums, to massive sales and critical acclaim. They did this to throw off the shackles of studios and producers trying to make their sound more palatable and mass-market, and it’s achieved a starting result. In fact, they’ve become more successful, as their reputation and following loyalty deepens in appreciation of their true art. Similarly, many major writers now also self publish books alongside their main titles. In addition, the quality of production between pro-published books and self-published is negligible. In fact, many publishing companies use the same tools as self publishers, such as CreateSpace and Lulu, to print their books. So really, what’s the advantage of publishing, unless they are going to market you extensively?

My books are a mixture of professional and self-published work. My first novel, The Darkest Touch, was published in 2014 by Dark Hall Press, a professional horror publisher based in New York. I adore this little book, but ironically, it’s probably my lowest-quality title in terms of production value. My most spectacular book in terms of production quality is NEKYIA. NEKYIA is a 720 page epic multiverse horror novel in the vein of King’s The Dark Tower and told in a poetic style reminiscent of early 80s Lustbader (The Ninja, Black Heart). This book was produced via Lulu, and lovingly worked on over a period of five years. I wanted the physical print to match the scale, theme and vigour of the prose. It’s printed on parchment-quality paper, and has cover art I designed myself using imagery created by Grand Failure and modified in Paint.NET. As you can see, the effect it’s possible to achieve using simple (and free) tools, and putting the hours in, can equal and surpass what many pro-publishers can do. The fact is, when it came to releasing NEKYIA, I knew I wanted it to be a special book. Most publishers would have advised splitting it down and releasing it in parts (it’s 170,000 words long), but I knew the story would lose impact and people would see through this as a cheap money-grab tactic. So, I released the novel as one big tome, in the way of King’s The Stand. I don’t pretend it’s as great a novel as King’s biblical masterpiece, but I certainly wanted people to experience it in the same way.

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The other advantages of self publishing, quite apart from creative control, are greater monetary cuts and increased visibility. I get far more money from the books I’ve self published, sometimes £2.00 or £3.00 of the cover price (not always though), whereas with traditional publishing, I see barely 50p most of the time, and that’s only after the publisher has deducted their expenses. Similarly, I don’t have to wait for a report that is often out of date, or even incorrect, to know how many books I’ve sold and where and who too, I can merely log-in and look it up. This is a very powerful tool for understanding which of your books are making the biggest impact.

The other alternative is crowd-funding. Now, the two of these work very well together, and are really a crux upon which writers and small indie-publishers can build empires in our modern world. They call it “online democracy” and while this is technically untrue given the fact that those with more influence, money for advertising, or followers will probably get more backing, there is certainly more democracy to crowd-funding than winning over the whims of an individual editor or publishing house. So, what is crowd-funding for those who’re new? Crowd-funding is where a platform, such as Kickstarter or IndieGoGo, allow a creator to set up a page to obtain funding for their project, whether it be book, album or any other creative endeavour. People give money to these campaigns and in exchange are offered rewards. These could be as simple as a “thank you” in the acknowledgement of the book, or a printed and signed copy, or T-shirts, merch, you name it. People get very creative with their rewards, and that’s part of the fun and challenge, because creative rewards will generally draw more backers. Campaigns can run for various time periods but it’s generally 30 days. Kickstarter is “all or nothing funding” which means if you don’t make your target, no money is taken from anyone, and you are not funded. IndieGoGo offer both “all or nothing” and “flexible” funding, which allows you to keep whatever you raise.

I’ve used both Kickstarter and IndieGoGo. I used Kickstarter to crowd-fund my novel Across the Bitter Sea in 2015. I raised £520.00 (my goal was £500.00) and delivered 22 rewards. This was my first ever foray into crowd-funding, so I wanted it to be humble and achievable. Most people who backed were interested in the more outlandish rewards such as original artwork (ink illustrations done by me), T-shirts and limited edition hardback runs of the book. In early 2017, I raised a more ambitious Kickstarter for my publishing project, 13Dark, with the aim of raising £32,000 to publish 13 incredible writers of dark, supernatural fiction. This work would be accompanied by conceptual art by Grand Failure and the comicbook veteran Shawn Langley. We raised £4,500, which was an amazing achievement in itself, but sadly didn’t meet our goal. You might think that my ambition was over-reaching here, and perhaps it was, but the combined followings of all the writers and myself put together was over 60,000 people, so I thought we were in with a shot. Always remember, the percentage of people who will actually give money to your crowd-funding campaign is always less than you think. If you have 1,000 followers, probably only 50 of them (5%) will actually be willing to support you financially.

However, we didn’t give up with 13Dark, I was privileged to be working with writers who believed in me, even some of the big name authors who could well have bowed out at that point and found other homes for their work. We received an overwhelming influx of support. I spent time selling special book bundles and offering writing coaching, two of the rewards we offered on the original Kickstarter. After a while, we had enough funding to breathe some new life into the project. We ran an IndieGoGo campaign for a modest £700.00 just to Fund Issue #1 of 13Dark, which will publish the first 3 stories. We now find ourselves with £912.00 of backing as of writing this article. What’s more, we are now InDemand, which means our campaign is still going despite the time period being over, with people able to use our IndieGoGo page like a digital marketplace. We can add new rewards and edit old ones. It’s very exciting. Our latest goal is to raise £1,000.00 (we’re only £88.00 off) in order to add a fourth story to Issue #1 of 13Dark. Issue #1: Dead Voices features work by a host of new and talented writers, and is definitely worth checking out if you want to experience a new type of fiction.

Let’s take one more example. Most recently, STORGY magazine, a London-based publisher of quality short stories (Chuck Palahniuk said STORGY is “Keeping the short story alive”, what better  recommendation could you want?), ran a kickstarter to fund their epic EXIT EARTH anthology, a collection of 22 stories, including 4 works by the editors, 4 works by big names, and 14 stories by writers shortlisted in a story competition judged by Diane Cooke. I miraculously managed to win third prize in this competition with my story “When the Tide Comes In”. This kickstarter was a huge success, raising £8,000, whereas it only needed £6,000 to be backed. EXIT EARTH is now going to be taken to print and will be available in bookstores across the UK. Within 30 days, STORGY went from a popular online magazine to a fully fledged publishing house. Part of the reason STORGY were so successful, I believe, is their teamwork. Not just with each other, but with their writers, and with their community of readers.

Crowd-funding is, as you might gather from this brief story, A LOT of work. It requires you to be a marketing guru, artist, graphic designer, business director and writer all in one go. It’s easier if you have a team of people (and the bigger campaigns do). But mostly, it’ll be you on your own. The potential is tremendous and my campaigns are certainly at the lower end of the spectrum. The genre-defining board game Kingdom Death: Monster has currently made $12,393,139 on Kickstarter. Of course, not every idea is going to take off into the stratosphere and capture the imaginations of thousands like this game has (take one look at the design and ambition of it and you will see why even if you’re not a board game nerd like me). Not every creator has the time, energy and resources to commit to creating something as sprawling, and indeed, it can be hard to find your audience, people who are predisposed to this kind of content. Before going into a crowd-funding campaign, you have to carefully plan out what you can and are prepared to deliver. And throughout, you have to be honest about where you are at with the project. Give realistic time-frames and expectations and your audience will understand.

13Dark is only in its infancy despite going through two campaigns, but each time, we get stronger and stronger (and I get more knowledgeable too, which helps). We’re soon going to re-launching the campaign for our second issue, once the first has been delivered, and also potentially releasing some other unique creative projects via the InDemand page. I’d recommend crowd-funding to anyone who’s interested in taking their own destiny into their hands. If nothing else, you’ll get a sense of just how many people might be interested in your work and ideas. From there, you can start to build a fan-following. One of the best pieces of advice I could give is work with others. Don’t just run a campaign for your own book. Unless you’re Neil Gaiman, it’s unlikely to be successful. Do a collaborative project with other writers, or publish their short stories as a preface to your novel, or team up for a graphic novel production, or perhaps do a joint double-novel release with another writer, cross-polinating your fan-followings. The possibilities are as endless as your imagination, and the audience is there, even if they are getting harder and harder to find.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Joseph Sale is a novelist, writing coach, editor, graphic designer, artist, critic and gamer. His first novel, The Darkest Touch, was published by Dark Hall Press in 2014. Since, he has authored Seven Dark Stars, Across the Bitter Sea, Orifice, The Meaning of the Dark, Nekyia and more. Under the pseudonym Alan Robson (his grandfather’s name), he won third place in Storgy’s Exit Earth anthology competition, judged by Diane Cook.

He is the creator of 3 Dark, a unique publishing project born in 2017 showcasing the work of 13 writers including Richard Thomas and Moira Katson; each story is accompanied by original concept art from Shawn Langley and with cover art by Grand Failure.

He contributes feature-pieces, film, TV, and book reviews. and fiction, to Storgy Magazine. He also writes for GameSpew, and has an enduring love of video-games.

His short fiction has appeared in Silver Blade, Fiction Vortex, Nonbinary Review, Edgar Allan Poet and Storgy Magazine, as well as in anthologies such as Dark Hall Press’s Technological Horror and Storgy’s Exit Earth. In 2014 he was nominated for the Sundress Award for Literary Excellence.

In his spare time he plays badminton, watches Two Best Friends Play and puts on his DM hat, concocting fiendish dungeons for his friends to battle through.

LINKS

themindflayer.com

@josephwordsmith