We did it! Me as the writer and 203 literature lovers raised enough money to crowdfund a book of short stories that would otherwise not be published. The deadline for In The Futrue Everyone Will Be Famous For Fifteen Minutes from Unbound Publishing was officially June 22nd but we reached 100% on June 18th. You will notice I keep saying ‘we’, this is because, after the inital posting about the campaign, crowdfunding this book has always been a collaborative project. Crowdfunding relies on word of mouth, on the sharing of information, responses to calls for help, suggestions from friends, family and colleagues about how to achieve the goal, from little pep talks about failure to handing out flyers. I honestly could not have done this without the help of my supporters.
It hasn’t been easy. It has probably been the hardest thing I have done since I started this writing lark, mainly because it hasn’t been about writing. Crowdfunding is about marketing, pure and simple. I have barely written any fiction in the last four months. I have written articles for websites, journals and blogs. I have written countless tweets, Facebook and Linkedin posts but I have written only one short story. It has been hard because I am not a natural marketeer. I’m used to writing about imaginary things every day. At the beginning it was easier, as actually getting funded seemed a bit pie in the sky anyway, a fantasy, raise £3,500? Are you nuts?
There are highs and lows in this process. If it is something you are thinking about doing I offer you a few tips.
Prepare in advance; have the promo video ready to go, write a stack of copy about the project that can be submitted to journals and websites, open a Hootsuite account and learn how to use it. I did none of this until I was already into the project and, as a result of this lack of planning, my campaign became a full time job while I learned what I should have known before I started. You should always have a plan! How many times has that been said this week in Brexit Britain?
Strategically placed personal emails work wonders. You need one mailout at the beginning, one at the middle and one at the end. I used this model for friends and professional contacts. I only got one slightly unhinged complaint (how dare you send a begging letter! I hope the project fails!) most people are happy to ignore what they don’t want to be involved in but a lot of people who intend to support you will need a gentle reminder or two to do so. Don’t be scared, be polite and present them with the opportunity, because that’s what it is, it’s not a begging bowl it’s a request for collabortation.
If you have anything else to give, offer it as a pledge. Someone else at Unbound has offered to stop talking about their project for £3,000! I offered short story appraisals and manuscript mentoring. This was something I could easily do and it proved to be very lucrative. I am forever grateful to the person who pledged for the mentoring because it boosted the project by about 10% in one go. After hundreds of tweets about the short story appraisals 5 were sold and another 10% was raised. I am also very grateful to a Twitter friend who suggested that pushing these options would raise the money faster – see what I mean about collaboration!
Write a press release and send it out locally. I got a short film made about the project by Brighton’s local TV station, Latest TV, as a result of a press release. This meant I had a ready made promo to share and resulted in a large number of pledges. I also used the press release (tailored for individuals) to propose articles in trade journals and short story websites. The take up on article proposals was around 50/50. You need to research who publishes what and pitch accordingly.
Make public appearances. Go to spoken word events. Hand out leaflets in town. Approach the local radio. Do whatever comes your way no matter how small. It is never a waste of time and it may just net you a couple of supporters.
At around 40% I thought I’d never do it but it was a great feeling watching the pie chart on my Unbound page fill and change from green to orange as the last pledges rolled in. In the words of Kate Bush – don’t give up!