Ginger Nuts of Horror
In response to Matt Shaw's post yesterday about crowd funding, I have decided to talk about something that has been bugging me for a long time. Now I don't have a problem as such with crowd funding, hell, I have even thought about setting one up for the site, but I have always resisted the urge due to the inability to come up with a decent reason or set of perks that you the readers would be interested in. And there in lies one of the problems at the heart of crowdfunding. If you are an author or a publisher looking to set up a crowd funding campaign read on for some of my pointers on where so many go wrong.
1. You NEED TO HAVE A BRAND.
Every author needs a brand, you can't expect to start a crowd funding campaign without already having a brand. By brand I mean having a loyal customer base. If you can't make it is a writer by just going the self publishing route via places like Amazon or Smashwords, then you aren'y going to make it in the world of crowd funding. You need a loyal base of readers who are willing to take a punt on your book, not just sovthey did their hands in their pockets, you also need them to spread the word. Matt Shaw is perfect example of this, he has his own brand, with a large and loyal following, a following who like to spread the word, and talk about his books.
Matt has spent years cultivating his brand, with a powerful social media presence, from carefully thought out posts designed to get folk talking, to bat arse crazy author lip-sync videos, Matt is a force to be reckoned with.
Be like Matt, don't just rush into this without first developing your own social media brand.
2. You need to engage media outlets
I have seen a number of failed crowdfunded projects where the owner has complained about the lack of shares on social media etc, and yet I saw no mention of the project on any relevant website. Having friends and fans on social media is one thing, but there is an inherent problem with only relying on this. The chances are that 80% or above of the people who see it have already seen it. Look at the top 100 friends in your facebook feed, look at the number of mutual friends, it's a big number isn't it? That means that your social media reach is going to be extremely limited.
If you want a wider reach you need to reach out to websites. Most have news features or round ups of the week, find out who the big hitters are in your genre then contact them, but be nice. Explain why you need our help. Most of us are willing to help. A recent Kickstarter I helped to promote was a good £5000 away from their total with a week to go, but thanks to my help and the help of a number of other websites they blasted past that figure in a matter of days.
Now this won't always work, you need to have a good product, but more importantly a good set of perks / rewards.
3. DON'T SHORT CHANGE YOUR BACKERS
If you are going to ask a reader to dip their hands in their pockets and part with their cold hard earned cash, you better have a decent set of perks. Trust me if you really think that £20 for a copy of an ebook is a good reward then your project deserves to fail. Why the do you think that anyone would spend £20 on an item that has relatively no cost in production, it's not ass though you are getting a physical copy with the costs of printing and shipping built into it. But then you offer a physical copy of the book for £25!!!
You do realize that just makes you sound as though you have no idea in what you are doing? As soon as you appear to be anything other than great value for money people are just going to back away.
Or having a pledge that gets you a cover design from the designer who did your cover, but the cover of your book is so bad it hurts my eyes. You need to see the project with an unbiased set of eyes. You an't just pass off any old crap as a perk.
You need to get a decent set of perks, T-shirts, a character in the book, badges, an copy of the book with added content only found in the copies sold to the backers, be creative, and fair, don't abuse the goodwill of those who want to support you.
4. LET THE PENNIES LOOK AFTER THEMSELVES
I the last few months I have seen at least ten Kickstarters for books where the minimum pledge is £15, that's stupid enough as it is, but when you throw in a thank you in the book or a shout out on your Faceboook page, (which no one is following as you forgot about the first two points ion the list) as the only perk then you are just insulting anyone who even considers donating to your project.
You need to have like 99% of all other Kickstarters a £1.00 minimum donation, a lot of people may not really want a copy of your book, but like the idea of helping out an author, and to most folk £1.00 is nothing. Let them help you will be surprised at just how much money you raise from this.
It costs you nothing but your time to say thanks on social media, so don't be a money grabbing git, keep the initial pledge level low.
5. SET REALISTIC GOALS
We all love money, I always want more, but I don't expect folk to overpay me for something. I'm sorry but asking for over £10000 in initial funding is way over the top. Especially if the finished book will then go into mass circulation. Even at pro rates for an 80k novel if you paid the author short story pro rate for the book of 0.05c per word that is $4000, and even if you pay for a genre leading editor your are looking at around $5000 through in a top class cover artist you are probably looking at another $1000, and unless you are printing an all singing all dancing leather bound limited edition copy, your printing costs from places like Lightening Source are pretty minimal.
But the chances are, you're not doing this, crowdfunding isn't a means for you to live without working for six months, don't abuse those who want to invest by taking the piss. This should be about the product and not you.
If you really believe in your book fund it yourself, loads of writers and small publishers already do it and do it well.
6. Don't be a whinger
So your project has failed, these things happen, don't then go on social media and start complaining about the lack of support. These things happen, if every crowdfunder worked we would all be doing it. People don't like it when you blame everyone else bar yourself.
Joe Strummer said it perfectly
"When you blame yourself, you learn from it. If you blame someone else, you don't learn nothing, cause hey, it's not your fault, it's his fault, over there."
I have seen a few people behind failed projects blaming people like myself for not getting behind their project, just stop, stop. Maybe we didn't cover it because you never asked.