Crowdfunding for Authors: Tips and Challenges by Daniel Ingram-Brown

Author Daniel Ingram-Brown tells us about his first experience of crowdfunding which he will use to help publish Book Two of The Firebird Chronicles. There are some great tips and challenges to learn from which just might help you if you are thinking of  doing something similar.

DAN INGRAM BROWN 2

 

On Friday 23rd October I launched my first crowdfunding campaign, which is now in its final week! It’s aimed at generating support and resource for the launch of my new book, the second in the Firebird Chronicles series. Clicking the button to make the campaign live stirred two dominant emotions in me:

 

  • Nervousness: What would people think? Would it come across as being pushy and get on people’s nerves? Was it presumptuous to ask for support at all? How did the campaign come across? How did I look on the video (I changed that shirt a number of times!)? Would anyone want to contribute or even be interested? Would I be left staring at a £0 and wondering why I’d invested the last three years in writing the book at all?
  • Excitement: This was my first opportunity to give the book a public profile, to invite people to join its journey to publication, to share readings and to start to enjoy the fruit of the work I’d put into creating it. It’s a real privilege being able to connect with others through a fictional world you’ve created, and when I get to do it, I feel at my best. This was an opportunity to break out of the isolation of my writing room and start to do that. How could it not be motivating?

From when I first considered running a crowdfunding campaign a year or so ago, right until to the present moment (the campaign is still running – click here if you want to contribute), these two emotions have jostled in me, fighting for my attention.

For me, the emotional impact of running a crowdfunding campaign is definitely the main challenge. I guess writing and publishing a book is something that stirs insecurities at the best of times. You’re putting yourself out there, sharing something deeply personal that you value highly, and inviting people to judge it. Adding financial support into that mix heightens those worries. If you’re thinking of running a campaign, that’s something to be ready for! As people have contributed, expressed their interest and enjoyed the extracts of the book I’ve shared, my nervousness has subsided. (It still lurks!) I’m genuinely grateful to everyone who’s contributed, considered contributing, shared the campaign or come to see me read from the book. Your input has made it worthwhile and has been such an encouragement.

Me and John Party PoppersA second challenge is the time it takes to run a crowdfunding campaign. It’s taken more work than I’d initially anticipated. I’ve had to learn how to do things like make the video and find ways to keep the campaign active. I ran a launch event at the start of the campaign, which took some organisation. I had meetings with a friend to plan the campaign. I’ve designed Tshirts, redesigned my website, edited extracts, promoted the campaign on social media and messaged friends asking for support. If you don’t have the time to invest, I think you should be careful about starting a campaign. If you just put the campaign up without much thought, hoping the contributions will come streaming in, you’re probably setting out for failure. And an unsuccessful campaign will have the opposite effect than intended – not only will it waste resource (your time) but it will suck energy, rather than motivate. So, make sure you do plan the campaign and have time set aside to invest in it. Also, if your only goal is only to raise money, I’d think twice about whether crowdfunding is the best option. For me there were two goals – raising resource and generating interest from a little group of supporters in the book’s journey. Crowdfunding is good if you want to do both of these things, but the level of work doesn’t necessarily justify the money raised, especially with smaller goals like mine.

But, if you’re ready for the emotional journey and have the time to invest, here are some tips I found helpful:

  • Pick a good image for the campaign – I got mine from www.shutterstock.com. You have to pay a few pounds to use the image, but it helps the campaign look professional.
  • Ask a friend to help you think through the campaign. It’s helpful not to do it all alone. And you get to share your work with the person you ask to help. Is there someone who’s shown an interest in your work? They might enjoy it. I provided wine for my friend John and read him parts of the book. It made the process fun and I’m massively thankful for his input.
  • If you’ve not edited a video before, my advice would be to keep it simple. I filmed mine using my webcam in the room where I write. I didn’t try and use fancy cameras or anything. It took a while to get the lighting right and took quite a few takes to get over my nervousness, but through a process of trial and error, I came up with something I’m pretty pleased with. For editing, I used WeVideo – an online editor which is cheap (or free) for making a short film. It’s certainly a lot more inexpensive than buying and downloading editing software. There are some good themes, which add music and a style to the film, and I found it to be pretty intuitive to use. Have a look at my film on my campaign page.
  • I had a launch party for the campaign. This was a good way of getting some momentum from the start. And it was fun. I tried to keep it simple, booking the upstairs room of a pub, nothing too big, so that I didn’t need huge numbers. The evening was basically people having a drink while I read extracts of the book and answered questions about it. This takes a bit of work but I definitely think it was worth it. Plus it achieved the aim of sharing the book in and of itself.
  • In terms of choosing what site to use, I’m no expert here, but I chose Indiegogo as they offered a more flexible package. With a lot of crowdfunding, if you don’t reach your target, you don’t get any of the money pledged. With Indiegogo, you can run a campaign where you keep whatever’s raised even if you don’t hit the target. There’s also the option to keep the campaign live after the deadline has passed.
  • Try and keep your updates and posts fun and positive. The aim is to invite people to join you in an exciting process rather than nag them, sounding desperate about the levels of contributions you have to raise! I released extracts from the book for people to read, photos of the launch party, thank yous to those who’d contributed, information about the perks people could get (perks are goodies contributors receive), and news about the book’s progress.
  • This is one I learnt along the way – keep the perks simple. I think it’s probably better to have two or three really good perks rather than hundreds of more obscure ones. By far the most popular perk for my campaign is people reserving an advanced copy of the new book. That’s something I’m pleased about!
  • Encourage people to share the campaign even if they can’t give, and send regular updates through your campaign site. Both of these things contribute to whether the campaign will trend on the crowdfunding site. The higher your profile on the site, the more likely you are to attract contributions from people you don’t know.
  • Ignore all the spam you get offering to promote your campaign on social media for a fee. Those offering these services play on your insecurities, but it seems to me what they’re offering can generally be done much more effectively yourself.

    Me reading - niceI hope, if you decide to run a campaign, you’ll find these tips helpful. If you do run a campaign, let me know and I’ll share it. Please have a look at my campaign and contribute if you can. If you can’t contribute, please share the campaign!

If you want to keep in touch with the progress of the Firebird Chronicles Book Two, please like my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter @DanIngramBrown

Thanks and happy crowdfunding!

New JHP cover

Fiona Gell

Fiona is a lifelong reading enthusiast and book lover. Her career started as a bookseller and has never really veered away from the written and spoken word. It was a dream for her to be a founder member of The Leeds Big Bookend. Fiona is its Coordinator and Marketing Director of the Northern Short Story Festival.

You may also like...