Much of the planning involved in crowdfunding is theoretical. No one can know how successful a campaign will be once it’s launched, all they can do is a heck of a lot of research and work in advance.
I planned the bejeezuz out of my campaign. I scheduled tweets and Facebook page posts, pre-wrote blogs, sent out multiple personal emails to friends and family, promoted the first chapter in advance, designed graphics and networked my butt off to get more people signed up to my newsletter and following my social media accounts.
I did a lot of work - I’m still doing a lot of work. I’ve sent out nearly a tweet every hour since day one. I’ve posted great campaign updates and written personalised ‘Thank You’ messages to everyone who has backed the campaign. I’ve followed-up on emails and personal messages to people who pledged to pre-order a copy. I’ve posted videos and regular blogs to keep the momentum going.
All the work in the world doesn’t offer any certainty when it comes to crowdfunding.
It’s the art of asking, as described by Amanda Palmer in her book of the same title, taken into an online space where anyone in the world can contribute. It’s a way for someone to say: I created this thing. I’m asking for your help to make it a reality.
But whether or not people contribute is not something the crowdfunder can control. Like any entrepreneurial venture, it’s a gamble. But a gamble I have been ready to take for years because the thing crowdfunding does for a writer, in particular, is claim back autonomy of their creation.
The ‘traditional’ system of publishing is this:
Both agents and publishers have a lot of industry experience. They’re experts on the market and well-connected in many ways that your average writer is not. They live in big hubs where they can network and rub shoulders with the ‘right’ people whilst we writers can get on with the writing.
But agents and publishers are also very human. So they can’t actually predict whether a book with sell millions of copies or be a total flop. There’s the possibility of unconscious bias playing a part, denying an excellent piece of writing any exposure. The quality of something could be severely misjudged.
‘A Wrinkle in Time’, ‘Dune’ and ‘Harry Potter’ were all rejected a multitude of times (26 times in the case of Madeleine L’Engle!) and writers like Kipling and Orwell were told they couldn’t write or that there wasn’t a market for their stories.
The traditional route is just as much of a gamble as crowdfunding or any of the other more modern options cropping up for writers looking to publish their work.
On the one hand I could be disheartened because my campaign didn’t go viral and hit 250 pre-sales in week one. But on the other hand, and the way I’m doing my best to look every day: I’m the one in control of my own work and putting it out there.
I know many writers don’t have the skills or desire to do the kind of marketing required to put a book out there. I also know that most writers have a day job and splitting the already limited ‘free’ time they use to write, to also manage a campaign, is just not feasible. I know this has been my reality for years and right now I’m in a magical, incredibly fortunate position of having the time and energy to commit fully to this.
Crowdfunding to get a book published isn’t going to be for everyone. I still don’t know if it’s for me. This campaign is only at the halfway point and one never knows with the Internet. If the ‘right’ person promotes a campaign it can go viral in minutes. But even without that, I officially have the seed money needed to get a book properly edited, printed and distributed, even if it’s just on a small scale.
So thank you so much for your contributions thus far. Seriously. It’s one thing to do what you love. It’s quite another to have people show their appreciation and contribute to making earning a living from it possible.
I’ll be doing some more thanking on Sunday with my Live Streaming ‘Meet’ the author event. It’s at 13:00MST (20:00GMT) or you can take a look at the Date & Time Meeting planner and figure out your timezone in relation to mine.
Please tune in so it’s not just be me reading my journals to myself!
When not writing, making art or recording podcasts,
Kaitlyn can be found in trees, listening to Dharma talks on her iPod, Boon.
Thusly named because
Brian Froud = Awesome.