Recently I attended a gathering of authors connected with the excellent Silver Wood Books publishing company (www.silverwoodbooks.co.uk) at Foyle’s bookshop in Bristol.
The topic was self-publishing and I was there to talk up the benefits of employing a ghostwriter or co-author, should you need one for your project. As it happened, almost all the published and wannabe published authors there didn’t need my services, so I was happy to sit back and listen to how authors going down the self-publishing route are faring in a highly competitive book market.
The answer is pretty damn successfully, if you’re prepared to put in the legwork in terms of your own PR and marketing once your book is out. But it’s this latter element that is causing a few headaches – if you’ve written a book, you think it might do well and you want it in hard copy, how do you afford to pay for this service?
The answer, according to several self-starters there on the day, is Crowdfunding – simply put, selling your idea online in the hope that someone (or many people) somewhere will buy into the idea and help to get it to market.
It’s been used for all sorts of arts-related projects, often very successfully, and there is no reason why a good pitch for a book project shouldn’t do equally as well. So I will now hand you over to Sandy Osborne, author of the Girl Cop series of romcom novels (http://sandyosborne.com/) who will guide you through the process of crowd unding and how it worked for her.
There are various crowd funding sites. They all have different rules. With some eg Kickstarter its all or nothing – you have to reach your target or you don’t get anything. Pubslush allow you to set a minimum goal which you get if you don’t reach the final target.
You definitely need to have a video – some of my backers stated that the video was what made them pledge!
Rewards need to be simple and clear. I would recommend going up in clear easy amounts (in 5’s and 10’s only) with probably 6 maximum.
Rewards need to offer value for money. Think about what you would expect for your money. Try to offer rewards not available elsewhere (I offer Girl Cop pens and notebooks!).
Include a ‘big reward’ I included one for £500 to have a cameo character named after them (or a name of their choice with sensible conditions) and an old school friend snapped it up in the first few days of the campaign!
Once the big reward had gone, Ed Hancox recommended adding another ‘big’ reward. I added one offering tickets to my launch with an overnight stay/meal at a local restaurant. That was snapped up too!
Be prepared for the pledges to plateau mid way and don’t panic (I can talk – I was considering offering a kidney as a reward half way through!)
Many authors running campaigns at the same time will be willing to do reciprocal pledges.
Tweet like never before and engage on FB will all your old friends – include your crowd funding link with every message. You’ll be amazed which ones support you and which ones don’t!
Prepare an e mail with a link to your crowd funding page (and test the link by sending the e mail to yourself before you send it out) and send it out on the first day of your campaign. Don’t do it before as some will want it to act on it straight away and may not remember to go back to it if the link isn’t live.
Re-send the e mail in the last few days of the campaign with a polite update to remind those who have forgotten to pledge.
Text everyone in your contacts list. Again you’ll be surprised who responds and who doesn’t.
Ask your local press do a piece on you. I have found that if I write the article for them and send a Hi Res pic, they are more likely to run it.
Ask your local radio for an interview.
You have to be more pushy than normal….not easy for some.
Make sure you keep people updated and THANK them!