My good author friend, Mark W Taylor (author of the Awakening of Adam Capello) wrote a blog post recently about going down the crowd-funding route to get a book published. You can read the whole thing here and before you just skip over the entire thing, let me iterate something. It is a post that warrants reading, because it is very frank and informative. Mark has posted a letter that he sent to the head of Unbound explaining his hesitations about the service.
So what is this crowd funding buzz for authors that’s going on? Well at the head of the market you have Inskhares and Unbound, which offer you the chance to basically pitch your book on the site and then you go fishing for financial backing. You can offer incentives like a credit in the published book, or perhaps the chance to name a character in a future publication and things of that kind of ilk, to get backers to join your campaign to get you published.
Crowds of people, eek!It does all sound rosy on the surface, but there is something that you really have to pay attention to before jumping in with two feet. I went and launched a couple of Inkshare campaigns, one for March North West and one for The Willow Land (both remain unpublished). Both failed in epic style, but I kind of suspected that it would when I was going through the process of setting up a campaing.
It’s not that I was doubting my work, or the appeal of it, but I realised quickly that I would need a very strong social media presence. I don’t have one and it’s not an area in which I spend very much time at all. I Facebook but once a week if at all, I Tweet sporadically and I don’t have a Linkedin or a Snapchat or an Instagram account. I know I should, but I don’t really crave having any of them either. It’s not my thing, I’m a typical writer, I like to keep myself to myself and as soon as any emotions or stress comes up, I strap myself into my trainers and go out running. I’m not build for social media interactions.
Therefore I am very social media-challenged. I don’t have a wealth of friends and not that many I would actually go begging to in order to get money to fund something that they wouldn’t see any return to. So once I was in, I quickly realised that it was going nowhere and the 90 days on each quest just withered away without receiving much backing at all.
Mark touched on that topic of having to ask family and friends for money to support you and it is a very awkward thing to ask. There is a lot more appeal in trying to garner the backing from strangers out there, other users on the Inkshare site for example who are all in the same boat of fishing around trying to get enough support so that Inkshares will publish their book. But then it’s not as if any of them really care about your book, they are looking for reciprocal financial pledges.
I don’t and am very unlikely to ever have, the kind of social media punch that would see me able to really get a campaign like this going. It’s not only getting together an army of followers, but then you have to spend time pitching your campaign and coming up with incentives. Granted, it is a route that some people, no doubt will have success with, and knowing the stubborn part of me, I will have an another crack at it when I better armed and have had time to actually plan out a campaign to keep interest raised over the 90 days. That’s the other thing, having to plan an entire campaign of posts and updates so that the book doesn’t fall through the cracks.
But then there is the point that Mark’s letter raised the most. The small print. Me being me, I never read an instruction manual to assemble a piece of furniture from Ikea, let alone the small print of terms and conditions from anything. I’m not going to get into details about the full things that await you in the small print, as I fully encourage your to read Mark’s coverage of some of the conditions that you may want to consider before jumping in.
I don’t want this post to sound terribly like a criticism of how the entire process works. I hope for aspiring authors that it works, because any channel to getting work out there is a good thing. But I would say, don’t just be blinded by the end product, it is a route that takes a lot of time and resources, as much as writing letters and sending off submissions to agents and publishers perhaps.
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