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Crowdfunding Your Book - what you need to think about

The trust of the crowd is even more valuable in the long term than the funding of the crowd.

Part of the rich landscape of possibilities opening up before writers today is the option to crowdfund their work. Platforms such as UnboundPubslushReadership and Crowdshed allow authors to reach potential readers even before the book is written to communicate their vision, build enthusiasm, get feedback and - crucially - get financial commitment upfront to see the thing through.

What's not to love? If you're an author with a compelling story to tell and the time, energy and imagination to put into building relationships with your natural readers, this is pure gold. It DOES take time, energy and imagination, however: you need to come up with a range of rewards for every pocket, put together a compelling, creative case for your book, and take the time to update and engage regularly with your supporters.

One of my book coaching clients, Ebonie Allard, is currently writing her book Misfit to Maven, and has just set up a crowdfunding page with Crowdshed. I asked her to share something of her story and her crowdfunding experience.

Ebonie's story

"Before I was seven years old I had lived in a house truck, on a commune, in France, in New Zealand, in Ireland, and several homes in England. I had been bathed in a sink, had a pet goose called Lucy, and I think it would be fair to say that my parents gifted me with a curiosity for the world.

My first career was as a freelance TV & Film Production Buyer. I worked hard and played harder. I suffered from burn out at the end of every job. I would take myself off to somewhere hot and exotic and immerse myself in raw food and yoga. My life was a roller coaster of working til I collapsed, and then ‘retreating’ around the world. I wanted something more.

In July 2009, in the midst of the impending recession, debt, homelessness and knowing nothing about business, I set up My Girl Friday Ltd, providing freelance Personal and Virtual Assistance to businesses and individuals in the UK and across the globe. By 2011 externally everything looked like it was going well - money, award nominations and exciting opportunities coming in from all angles - and yet I was miserable.

One day I realised I was contemplating suicide. Not for the drama, but as a choice, an option. No yoga, diet, CBT, retreat, or advice was going to pull me up from the floor this time. With a little help I jumped on a plane to Bali and made it my mission to learn from all the crazy adventures I had been on, all the books I had read, the people I had met, all the businesses I had worked with. I raked through all the retreats and workshops, therapy and courses; all the journals I had kept, all the money I had lost, all the diets and pills – everything!

I now coach misfit freelancers, business owners and entrepreneurs, enabling them to create 360-degree, fully rounded, self-governed lives that feel as good on the inside as they do on the outside. I am the creator of 80 days to AHHH and I coach clients 1-to-1 and in groups on retreats and workshops.

I want to tell my story to inspire and empower people who may feel overwhelmed or isolated or be going through any of what I went through. I want to engage with people and help them to know that there is a place where all parts of them belong, and what better way than to show my vulnerability and trust in my story and my audience than crowdfunding?

There was a time in my life when asking people for their help was not an option I would consider unless pushed into it. Now, it is my privilege to allow people to collaborate with and help me.

The book is made up of my story and practical exercises you can do yourself to move you from a place of “ARGH” to a place of “AHHH” in your work, relationships and personal wellbeing.

The process of setting up the campaign was actually very simple. I chose Crowdshed because they are tapped into my market, they are small and independent like me. They have a real person who talks you through the pitch and the process and helped me to get clear on the offering. Coming up with rewards that will be exciting for your audience is crucial.

I then made a 90-second video, and created images for each reward and - ta dah! You can go and have a look for yourself here… I would love it if you would get involved by sharing the page, buying a reward package and giving me your feedback."

So, is crowdfunding for you?

If you're an intensely private person, if you come over faint at the idea of asking people for money, or if you're so time-pressured that you barely have time to call your Mum let alone build relationships with people off the internet, probably not. But if not, it might be worth considering.

But if you think this might be exactly what you've been looking for: where do you go from here?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Visit a few of the sites I listed above, get a feel for the projects and how they're promoted, support a few that you like the look of and see what the engagement is like from the authors and your fellow-funders.
  • If you decide to go ahead, put together a really attractive package of rewards from the tiniest (even if that's just £1) to the premium, evenly spaced so that you can appeal to all pockets. And make the premium rewards in particular really generous and compelling: Ebonie is including some of her top-level programmes in the higher rewards she's offering.
  • Use your existing platform for all it's worth. Ebonie has added her crowdfunding link to her email signature and put a pop-up on her website, as well as regularly posting updates on Twitter (@EbonieAllard) and other social media channels. Mention it when you give talks, get your fans and friends and family talking about it to their networks. This is no time for reticence.
  • Deliver, and be grateful. Do the best job you possibly can, meet the deadlines you promised your supporters, and thank them at every opportunity. This is a social contract. Every time an author meets or exceeds the expectations of their backers, the levels of trust in the world increase that little bit, and vice versa. The trust of the crowd is even more valuable in the long term than the funding of the crowd.

This entry was posted on 25 February 2015 at 15:40 and is filed under publishing | writing | books | crowdfunding. You can leave a response here.

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