Monday, January 20, 2014

Can Crowdfunding Help Me Traditionally Publish My Novel?

crowdfunding

Hi, Nicole O'Dell here, and I was asked that question as I launched  my own crowdfunding campaign. As I explored some answers, I was invited by the gracious hostess here at Seekerville to share them with you.

First of all, what is crowdfunding and why would someone try such a thing?

Crowdfunding is a super-risky, but potentially awesome way to make products available to the public. It pools the resources of the people who are most interested in either owning or supporting the development of a new idea or work. In my case, it would be the user of Powerline365 (my current campaign) or those who believe in the project and want to support it, who would fund--or buy in--at various levels. It's all done on a webpage that allows the creator to take donations or pre-sell a book/product in order to fund its creation.

Um...Great. But does it work for fiction?


So, I'll be honest. I found, as I suspected, that crowdfunding is really difficult with fiction. It's hard enough to do with non-fiction, but even more so with fiction because it's more difficult to appeal to a reader's need. But, that shouldn't scare you off! Look at the odds against a pre-published writer already!

When it comes to crowdfunding fiction. I'm not saying it can't be done, but you really have to think about how to effectively frame it to show off it's unique aspects, honestly evaluate the help you'll have in getting the word out, and consider your current platform to ensure the need is there.

For example: If you wrote a novel about someone who survives abortion, is given up for adoption, and then grows up to find a cure for cancer...you've got a lot to work with. You can appeal to people who have had abortions, people who have been involved in adoption, people who's lives have been touched by cancer. All of those can be used to trigger that felt need. And then, in your video (more on that in a minute, you could talk about how fiction breaks down walls because a reader approaches it with an open mind much more so than with non-fiction. You'd be appealing to people who want to help you speak out about a topic.

 

I decided to find some examples of some recent successful crowdfunding campaigns for novels just to prove it can be done:

 

Amish Appeal: Raised $10,500 of a $10,000 goal.

Disciple II: Raised $2,126 of a $2,100 goal.

Letters from a Martryed Christian: Raised $9,700 of a $9,000 goal.

 

How does this help me become traditionally published?


Ah! Great question. :) You see, you can frame this process however you'd like. What if you could take the results of a successful campaign TO a publisher and say:

"Hey, look. I have 1000 pre-orders and already raised the money for a great content editor on the front end. Plus, I plan to use some of the project funds to do some great marketing!" If traditional publication is your goal, why not consider putting yourself in a position where you have a lot of goodies to bring to the table? This is very much like when a publisher says, "Wow. That ebook has sold really well. Let's offer the author a contract." But, this is even better because those sales that will impress the publisher actually BECOME the publisher's sales if you frame it that way.

Am I recommending this as a great means to the sought-after end? No. I am simply offering another option on your road to publication. Only you can truly know which is the best way for you to go.

Where would one go to attempt such a thing?


The two main hosts are Indiegogo and Kickstarter. Kickstarter is bigger, but indiegogo has some different options that made it a better fit for me. Mainly, Kickstarter doesn't allow self-help books for some odd reason, but they do allow fiction. So that left IG as my only option. Another difference is that Indiegogo allows you to do fixed funding--you have to earn it all to get any of it--or flexible--you keep whatever you get. Fixed-funding projects earn a lot more and cost less, but they do carry more risk.

Both Indiegogo and Kickstarter make it very easy to actually set up the campaign. But they don't write the marketing copy or create a video for you (you'll see what I mean in a minute). This was a sticking point for me. If you're like me, it's much easier to write 10k words than 100 words. You'll find, as I did, that your copy will make or break you.

What if it fails?


We're writers. Haven't we all attempted a project or sent off a proposal only to be rejected? Well, think of potential failure as being a lot like that. You have the opportunity to learn from the mistakes of those who have gone before so you can avoid them. But your project could very well fail. As could mine.

We can't discount the power of prayer and what God is able to do. The following is from a recent blog post in which I describe four direct and miraculous answers to prayer. Here's one of them:

My crowdfunding campaign has gotten off to a bit of a slow start. That slow start had me questioning everything during a three-hour snow-shoveling ordeal. Had I heard from God? Was I doing His work or mine? Was I being taught a lesson? I became overwhelmed. Physically with the snow. Mentally with my current workload. Emotionally with the campaign. Spiritually with doubt.

So I prayed.

In response, GOD SENT ME A TEXT! A direct, specific, and immediate answer to prayer via text message. How cool is that? No, He didn't guarantee that the project woudl succeed and I'd collect all the funds I need (because if we fall short by even 1.00, we get nothing) but He did let me know that I'm in His will. That's all I needed. I pray the same reassurance for you, whether it's in your writing or in a funding campaign like mine. If you want to see a few other stories like that one, visit this post.

Ultimately, for me, and I suspect for you, it comes down to faith. Just like with writing, if you enter into a crowdfunding campaign, you have to be okay with public vulnerability and be able to work through the feelings that come with things not going as you'd hoped or expected. There are ups and downs during a campaign, just like during the writing journey as a whole.

Could you do it?

What questions or ideas do you have about a potential project of your own? I'm happy to talk them through here in the comments section.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment here to be entered to win a Spark30 devotional subscription!

______________________________________________________________________

Here's some info about my campaign in case you're curious.

powerline, powerline365, powerline 365, raise christian teens,
parenting, nicole o'dell, choose now publishing, 365Powerline365
Plugging Parents of Teens into the Source

Powerline365 is a high-voltage, multi-format daily devotional to help parents raise Christian teens without losing connection.

Daily insight will ground you in truth as you plug into the Source. It's time for you to power-parent from a place of confidence and surrender, believing God's Word is true, and His promises will never go unfulfilled. 

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within [your teenager], will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. (Philippians 1:6, NLT)

Nicole O'Dell, nicole odell, choose now ministries, peer
pressure, parenting teensNicole O'Dell is the founder of Choose NOW Ministries, bringing a message of hope for today's families through daily articles, weekly radio shows, and the printed word. A mother of six herself, she has authored 23 books for parents and teens, both fiction and nonfiction, all with the goal of helping the reader make good choices NOW.

66 comments:

Marianne Barkman said...

Very interesting, Nicole. Glad you are here on Seekerville!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

I think I saw this as someone's profile picture but wasn't sure what it was.

This is really interesting. I'm not sure if I understand it completely... So, the people buy into your program. You then take those numbers to a publisher. the publishers gives you a contract. So, the people who bought in will get a copy from the publisher? Is that part of the contract? Do you give them a list of the thousand (several thousand?) people and they agree to give them a book?

Or, is the delivery of that product then on you, as the author, when the book is finally published? You would keep that list and promise to send on a book?

I have friends who have used kickstarter campaigns for music and art projects with HUGE success. I'm all for anything that promotes the idea of bringing great books (and products) to people who are eager for them!

Good luck with your campaign!

Cortney K said...

Hi Nicole.

I'm not sure if I understand everything you are saying, so therefore I don't know if this would work for me.

(Big smile)

BIG NEWS

I just finished my first book or manuscript.... Whatever you want to call it...

Im so excited.... Ive been working on this book for 4 years I think....

I just got to figure out how to see if I can get it published.....

Vince said...

Hi Nicole:

I don’t know very much about crowdfunding but I know the ‘Crowdfunding Bible’ is available for free at this time on Amazon at:

http://www.amazon.com/Crowdfunding-Bible-Raise-Startup-Project-ebook/dp/B00823QLIM/ref=sr_1_sc_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1390195712&sr=1-1-spell&keywords=cloudfunding

I would think that Indie publishing is so inexpensive that this would not seem to be needed. But it looks like it would work with special project publishing.

Say an established author would like to buy her old copyrights back and update and publish a once popular series. This might raise the money for that project. She might not be willing to do this at her total risk. She could be writing new books.

I would like someone to buy up the rights to the first ten Betty Neels books and make them available. I don’t know why Harlequin has not done this in their Betty Neels Classics series. Perhaps Harlequin does not own the rights. Perhaps whoever does own the rights does not feel the project is worth the time, money, and risk. Perhaps they are holding out for more money than a traditional publisher is willing to spend.

What if there was a very interesting series of books published in Italian and you’d like to buy the English rights and have them translated into English? Are there enough people who think like you do to make the project fly? Then there are some Nordic authors that I’d like to see translated into English but I’m sure the audience for these books is too small for a traditional publisher to undertake. This happens when the first book in a series is translated into English and you love it but they never translate any of the others.

I can also see clubs doing this to advance their specialized interests. Like a Latin club wanting the letters of a little known monk collected from European monestaries, digitized, and translated for their members and others in the world who have a similar interest.

Mabye crowdfunding could reveal how many other people in the world have a similar interest in such a project. This way fans would not have to wait for a government grant or a charitable fund to sponsor the research and publication in an area they have a passionate interest.

However, when a brand new fundraising system, method, or scheme is introduced it does act as a magnet for flimflammers. If you do this, do it with your eyes wide open and a good degree of skepticism.

Thanks Nicole. This is a very interesting topic that might prove very valuable to some of today’s readers. Good luck with all your projects.

Vince

Glynna Kaye said...

NICOLE - Welcome to Seekerville! It's always so interesting to hear about new 'takes' on things related to the ever-changing world of publishing we're mow in. I don't think I quite "get it" yet though -- what's in it for the funders? Do you reimburse them once the book makes money?

Glynna Kaye said...

CORTNEY - Congratulations on finishing that first manuscript!! That is a HUGE accomplishment! I'm happy dancing for you!! :)

Glynna Kaye said...

NICOLE -- It looks as if you have some great resources for parents and teens. Please tell us a bit about how you came to be involved in this much-needed area of ministry.

I'll stop by later and hopefully the link to your current 'campaign' will be working so we can take a look at how crowdfunding for your Powerline365 is set up.

Mary Hicks said...

Hmmm, an interesting concept and one I know nothing about. :-)

Good luck, Nicole!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Morning NICOLE, Thanks for joining us in Seekerville and stirring up curiosity about a new concept. I've never heard of this and didn't understand it from your post, but it helps to click onto your links as it kind of gives an idea of what the final result is. I'm guessing kickstarter has a tutorial on how to set one up.

I'm sure if someone really wants to understand what this process is, they might want to acquire the free copy VINCE recommended. Hey Vince I will go and try to make that link live.

Julie Lessman said...

WELCOME BACK TO SEEKERVILLE, NICOLE, AND WOW, what a timely subject!! I've been hearing the term "crowdfunding" here and there lately, so thanks for fleshing it out for us.

Now, we're going to switch from "crowdfunding" to "crowdfeeding," which is a specialty of Ruthy's, but I'll do the best I know how with an all-day brunch that begins with omelot, waffle, and pankcake bars, meat station featuring Honey-baked Ham, maple-cured bacon, and country sausage. The eggs Benedict are to die for, as is the pastry bar with cinnamon streusel kringles, warm peach cobbler, and mini-cheese and fruit croissants. Oh, and my specialty -- banana nut chocolate chip muffins. DIG IN!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Hey, VIRGINIA, very good questions!! I'm anxious to hear Nicole's response.

CORTNEY!!!! WHOO-HOO, girl, that is AWESOME!! Step 1 completed (it's the biggest step!!), and on to step 2, Publication!! Stick around Seekerville, girl, because if anybody knows how to do that, it's 13 once-unpublished contest divas who formed a group blog to help encourage, teach, inspire, inform, and pray each other -- and you!! -- on the road to publication and beyond, so you go, girl!!

Hugs,
Julie

Sandra Leesmith said...

Here is the live link for the free book VINCE mentioned. Crowdfunding Bible

Julie Lessman said...

Oooo, VINCE, thanks for the link, my friend -- also VERY TIMELY!!

And I'll tell you what, if EVER there was an "idea man," it's you, my friend!! WOW ... I would like to live in your brain just one day to experience the thrill. I'm pretty sure it's an intellectual and creative theme park that boggles the mind! ;)

LOL, MARY ... join the club. This is not an easy concept, but the more you check out the websites Nicole has included, the clearer it becomes. :)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Oooo, VINCE, thanks for the link, my friend -- also VERY TIMELY!!

And I'll tell you what, if EVER there was an "idea man," it's you, my friend!! WOW ... I would like to live in your brain just one day to experience the thrill. I'm pretty sure it's an intellectual and creative theme park that boggles the mind! ;)

LOL, MARY ... join the club. This is not an easy concept, but the more you check out the websites Nicole has included, the clearer it becomes. :)

Hugs,
Julie

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi JULIE, Thanks for the goodies. Yum I'll have one of those cookies with my coffee.

CORTNEY congrats on finishing that manuscript. That is awesome. Now start your next one. You can work on it while you wait for this one to be found. smile

Mary Connealy said...

CORTNEY K!!! you finished!!!
HALLALUJAH, GIRL! GOOD FOR YOU! I KNOW YOU WERE DETERMINED TO DO THAT AND YOU DID!!!!
What a fanatasic accomplishment. and oh that is such a sweet, sweet feeling to type THE END (even if you don't type those EXACT WORDS! LOL)
And you should know Cortney that of all the people in the world who 'write a book' they say about 80 percent of them never finish one single book. So you just shoved yourself way to the top of the heap, girl!
I'm thrilled for you!

Mary Connealy said...

I now return you to Nicole's regularly scheduled blog. Sorry.

Julie Lessman said...

BLESS YOU, SANDRA, FOR PUTTING THE ACTUAL HYPERLINK IN FOR VINCE'S AMAZON LINK TO THE FREE CROWDFUNDING BIBLE!!

YOU ROCK!!

Hugs,
Julie

Connie Queen said...

I have NEVER heard of crowfunding so this blows my mind.

It makes sense. Sorta. Helps get your foot in the door w/traditional publishing.

I'd like to hear the answer to what the people get who donate and how/who keeps up with them.

Connie Queen said...

And and Courtney, congrats. That's awesome news!!!

Mary Connealy said...

I know it's early but this startled me for a moment then made me laugh (but then I'm kind of a weirdo)

Nicole said:
No, He didn't guarantee that the project would succeed and I'd collect all the funds I need (because if we fall short by even 1.00, we get nothing) but He did let me know that I'm in His will.

MARY AGAIN: The reason it made me laugh was because Nicole, you're talking about raising money and then in this sentence the way it's worded...God let me know that I'm in His will....made it sound like he'd had his lawyers contact you and tell you an inheritance was coming. Kind of like I'm in My Cowboys Last Will and Testament, you know?

And honestly, isn't all that true that we have an inheritance from God...in a spiritual sense so it's just FINE!!

Pam Hillman said...

Cortney, congrats on finishing your first manuscript! How exciting!

I remember finishing my first one.

Just for fun, I typed THE END in HUGE font at ... well, the end and sat back to admire it, grinning like an idiot! lol

Audra Harders said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Nicole.

What a grand idea. Up front marketing is always a good thing to show prospective publishers. It's a win-win thing for them. Not that all will agree to publish your work, but it definitely shows you have more invested in your work than your creativity.

Lots to think about. Thanks for sharing!

Mary Connealy said...

I heard some guy on TV talking about crowdfunding a movie. I'm blanking on his name but you'd have heard of it.

I couldn't quite figure out what he was talking about...but I think he needed several million dollars. The whole thing sounded weird to me.

Thank you, Nicole for explaining it more. If the money doesn't come in enough do you get it back?
If the book gets published are the funders part owners and do they somehow 'own' part of it and get profits?
Or is it strictly a donation so something a person wants to see exist gets into print?

Nicole O'Dell said...

Thanks, Marianne!

Nicole O'Dell said...

Viriginia,

Yes, that's one way you could us crowdfunding. You could really do either of those two ways. I've heard agents tell authors things like, "Wow, I wished that book had been self-pubbed first so you could have some sales to prove reader response." This is "maybe" one way that could be done.

Or, you could go to the publisher and say, "Hey, I've already made all these sales, do you want in on it?"

It's an interesting exploration. :)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Cortney!!!!!

Singing, dancing, Hallelujah chorus of joy coming your way!!!!

HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY!!!!!!

That bright light you see in the north is my shiny smile!

Nicole, I've seen lots of crowd-funding over the years, and it's especially visible now with Internet.

Remember the big thermometers outside a school house or a firehouse, collecting funds for a project, new equipment, an addition, a science lab.

I would have never thought of doing it for myself. Interesting!

Although it's not much different than 'taking stock' in something, but what's the payback for the donating person? Does it pay back or is it a straight line donation like when I buy a cow from Heifer International?

Your website is amazing. You're got your ducks in a row! Each "package" is clearly marked and defined.

I will never be that organized. (frowns a little...., then grabs anti-wrinkle cream to ease the frown lines!!!) But kudos to you for being able to pull it off.

Raising kids these days is such a privilege... and an eye-opener, for sure!



Nicole O'Dell said...

Cortney,

Congratulations! That's a huge milestone!

Nicole O'Dell said...

Hi Vince,

"I would think that Indie publishing is so inexpensive that this would not seem to be needed."

The publishing part isn't that expensive, but getting an awesome book cover and professional editing...as well as typesetting and ebook formatting--all that can add up to thousands of dollars if you really want a professional end result.



"What if there was a very interesting series of books published in Italian and you’d like to buy the English rights and have them translated into English? Are there enough people who think like you do to make the project fly? Then there are some Nordic authors that I’d like to see translated into English but I’m sure the audience for these books is too small for a traditional publisher to undertake. This happens when the first book in a series is translated into English and you love it but they never translate any of the others."

That's an interesting thought! You could take a sampling among your FB friends or somewhere to see if you could get some interest first.

You have some great thoughts of ways this could benefit different types of people, Vince.

Thank you so much for chiming in with your thoughts!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Good Morning Nicole!

I've seen some really interesting articles popping up all publishing blogs on the topic.

From Publisher's Weekly:

Wattpad Debuts New Crowdfunding Service

Another one from PW 4 Things to Remember Before Crowdfunding Your Book



Is More Crowdsourced Editing Coming to Books?

Pam Hillman said...

Vince, great suggestions for crowdfunding ideas. I can see how some of those would work well in this context.

The one thing I'd think would be critical would be a thorough business plan.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Vince, great perspective!

I went about indie publishing with an opposite goal:

If I failed and sank into the deep abyss, I didn't want to risk anyone's money or expertise going down into the deep blue sea with me. Being responsible for my own demise is one thing... Taking the risk for others is a whole other level!

That way I could relax, poke my nose forward, and forge ahead. Maybe it depends on personality?

I'm always worried I'll disappoint someone, let them down...

Which is silly, I know!

BUT.... the up side of that is when my indie books took off, I could feel like I was in charge. The engineer. The risk-taker.

And that felt so good!

My younger boys have some NYC pals that have crowd-funded projects. Brilliant guys. Some projects worked, some didn't, but the ones who failed went back to the drawing board and are now making great money with their resculpted ideas. And maybe that's part of the ticket, to keep working until something CLICKS!!!

So there's a winning side to investment! Of course, their investors have a small percentage of their companies, so their risk is now their reward.

Interesting stuff.

Nicole O'Dell said...

Gynna asked: what's in it for the funders? Do you reimburse them once the book makes money?

Thanks for asking!

Well, they aren't just funding. They are pre-buying. So they are getting some different options that might not be available when the book actually releases. You can see what I mean at my campaign page if you're curious. There is a donation level at which they are strictly helping to fund the project with nothing in return. This would be when someone doesn't necessarily need it but thinks it's valuable to others, or for someone who already bought in and wants to donate more. But the other levels are all for actual things they get for their contribution--perks. www.powerline365.com. They are willing to do this because it's like saying, if you want this book, buy it now or it might not get published.

Does that help?

Nicole O'Dell said...

Glynna~~
"I'll stop by later and hopefully the link to your current 'campaign' will be working so we can take a look at how crowdfunding for your Powerline365 is set up."

Oh? it wasn't working?? I'm sorry about that. It's www.powerline365.com.

Thanks!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Julie!!!! That breakfast is my low-carb dream with all those meat sides and eggs.

I LOVE YOU THIS MUCH!!!!!

:)

I might even grab a muffin or two because they're virtual!!!! AND I BROUGHT COFFEE!!!!!

Gotta have coffee.

Yes.

I am that addicted!

Nicole O'Dell said...

Connie Queen,

Yes, it could help you get your foot in the door. Admittedly, the point of crowdfunding has it's roots in the indie world. It's often for a musician without a label (Cheri Keaggy crowdfunded her recent new release with great success) or an author without a publisher. But you can see that it could be used as a stepping stone to a traditional publisher if you positioned it that way. More and more publishers are picking up books that already have some kind of traction. This is just another possible way to do that.

Thanks! :)

Nicole O'Dell said...

MARY SAID: The reason it made me laugh was because Nicole, you're talking about raising money and then in this sentence the way it's worded...God let me know that I'm in His will....made it sound like he'd had his lawyers contact you and tell you an inheritance was coming. Kind of like I'm in My Cowboys Last Will and Testament, you know?
And honestly, isn't all that true that we have an inheritance from God...in a spiritual sense so it's just FINE!!

Too funny, Mary. And what a relief to be in His will both in our steps and in our futures. :)

Nicole O'Dell said...

Mary asked: Thank you, Nicole for explaining it more. If the money doesn't come in enough do you get it back?
If the book gets published are the funders part owners and do they somehow 'own' part of it and get profits?
Or is it strictly a donation so something a person wants to see exist gets into print?

It's a pre-purchase or a donation. There's no ownership or profit sharing. And in my case, I chose fixed funding so if I don't raise it all, all funders would get their money back. that's been proven to be the most successful way because it creates a sense of urgency. But on Indiegogo you can also do a flexible funding option that allows you to keep whatever comes in. That's risky because if ten people buy in, and you only get 250.00 but still have to provide the book to those 10...see what I mean? I decided I was better off with all or nothing.

Does that make sense?

Nicole O'Dell said...

Another good perspective, Ruth! Thanks for sharing!!

Marianne Barkman said...

Congratulations, Cortney...I will be watching for it to show up! And My Dad always said...you are now half done, you've started now you just have to finish!

Myra Johnson said...

NICOLE, thanks for explaining this interesting concept for us!

COURTNEY, congratulations on finishing your manuscript!!! This is huge!!!

Nicole O'Dell said...

You're welcome, Myra!

Nicole O'Dell said...

Sandra, that sounds like a great resource that Vince mentioned. Thanks for adding the link. Yeah it's difficult to explain such a big concept in 1000 words or fewer, but it got us started talking, and for that I'm grateful. Hopefully over time and through digging in different sources it will become more clear how it could be useful. Or not… That's the cool thing...not everything will work for everyone. It's just nice to know the options. :-)

Cara Lynn James said...

Wow, Nicole! This is really an interesting idea. Publishing certainly is changing fast. It's hard to keep up with everything new and innovative.

Connie Queen said...

This is slightly off subject, but Nicole's post reminded me of it. Did anyone else see the article in the Jan. 8th edition of the Wall Street Journal called: Fast-Paced Best Seller: Author Thrives on Volumes? He wrote 25 books in 30 months. (Sometimes writes two, 500-word novels in a month.)

This guy figured out the strategy to sell more books was to continually keep coming out w/more books. His writes under the name of Russell Blake.

The publishing industry is changing w/so many new opportunities. It amazes what authors can do to promote their work.

Janet Dean said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Nicole! Crowdfunding with fiction is a new concept to me. Wishing you the best with this and with your ministry for families.

Janet

Melanie Dickerson said...

Hey, Nicole!!! Actually, I need this! My daughters are 15 and 12, and the 12-yr-old has been acting like a teenager for a while now. I really hope you are able to raise the funding. I know your heart is true and noble and God is in your ministry. I pray it all works out. I know God is on your side. I'm thinking more and more about indie publishing. It's in my future, I'm almost certain. As for crowdfunding, I'm thinking about running for President. I could do a crowdfunding thing and then I wouldn't have to be beholden to special interest groups! Sounds ideal to me!!!

Debby Giusti said...

Yay, Cortney!!! So excited for you. Woot!!!

So glad you could be with us today, Nicole. A new concept. Sounds perfect for your ministry.

Vince said...

Hi Nicole:

Here’s a great quote to point from the “Crowdfunding Bible”…

“The predominant cause of big failures versus small failures is too much funding. What funding does is cover up all the problems that a company has.”

Spirer, Gary (2014-01-06). Crowdfunding: The Next Big Thing (p. 4). . Kindle Edition.


As far as Indie publishing is concerned it is easy to spend way too much money. Right now very good cover art can be had for $99. I know this because I had two such covers done by Rogenna Brewer that I would put up against anyone’s $3,000 covers.

The important thing about cover art is that it attracts the favorable attention of the best prospects for that product. It is not the quality of the artwork that’s important for selling books – unless of course the art work is so bad that it has a unfavorable impact on the reader.

The key to success for cover art is in selecting what is put on the cover and not how much the artist was paid for the artwork.

Formatting can be done with Scrivener and many other programs for free or at a very low cost for most books. (A book with many illustrations and tables will, of course, drive costs up.)

A $3,000 book cover is often no better than a $99 cover as far as selling books and the more expensive cover art can easily be less effective in selling books.

Imagine a beautiful $10,000 cover that attracts non-prospects for the book who do not go on to buy it while failing to attract the best prospects for the book who would have bought the book if only they had known it existed. It is very easy to spend way too much money in doing Indie publishing.

Indeed, I think you can often get a much better book by having to spend less on its production but spending that lesser amount more wisely. Indeed, here is the rest of the quote from the “Crowdfunding Bible”:

“This lets management rationalize away the proverbial problem of the dogs not eating the dog food. When you don’t have money, you reformulate the dog food so that the dogs will eat it. When you have a lot of money, you can afford to argue that the dogs should like the dog food because it is nutritious.”


If you want to see a massive waste in spending just be on the spot when a company receives their funding! I’ve been there, I’ve seen the waste (the best of everything), and I’ve seen how later everyone wished they had saved that money to give them time to get things right before the company failed. Just a thought.

Enjoying all the ideas on Seekerville today. Wonderful topic.

Nicole O'Dell said...

Good thoughts, Vince.

But you also have to remember that there's a cost to all of the perks. So the funding doesn't just cover production, it covers fulfillment, too. So if you pre-sell 500 books and that's going to cost you 2000 to fulfill, you have to work that into the amount of funding you seek. And then all of those books have to be shipped...probably through a fulfillment channel. But a person would have to figure all that in. But if you only added 2.00 per book to cover shipping and processing, you've already used up 3500 of the funding.

Plus there are fees associated with the crowdfunding platform and the payment processing platforms. That has to come off the bottom line, too.

And there's more profit in the books if you can buy more, so perhaps part of that funding is for a print run that makes better long-term fiscal sense than just buying the bare minimum at a higher individual price point.

And then, like in the case of what I'm trying to do, there are online data fees associated with downloads...

Maybe you'll want to do some ads...

There's a lot to consider and if my campaign ends up where I've projected, I'll break even. And that's with my covers already paid for and by using in-house editing for which I've negotiated good rates.
There's definitely no waste :)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Well this is a fascinating conversation.

Being a hybrid author (I'm a farmer, we love the term "HYBRID!!!!" ) I get to see the inside, outside and flip-side of production. And I love things well done, so I'm a fan of professionalism.

I'm wondering for our readers if their plan of action might be better as a step-by-step plan. I'm always watching the bottom line, but having said that, I know you often have to spend money to make money.

And I love an entrepreneurial spirit! Yours is defined, Nicole, and that's how lots of great books/campaigns began, selling books from the trunk of a car...

Or now, a website.... :)

and waiting to become financially solid. I know this can pay off for the writer eventually.

This is an interesting look at the process. I'm always watchful of what works in the best interests of the reader...

I've always believed that if we truly please the reader, the rest falls into place! And that's the most exciting thing of all!!!

Think of Jan Karon, starting small, and now enjoying a "Mitford" empire! How fun!

The Chicken Soup for the Soul books, sold from the trunk of the car.

Life is an amazing thing, isn't it?

Nicole O'Dell said...

I agree, Ruth. It's fascinating. :)

Julie Lessman said...

RUTHY ... my pleasure, sweetie-pie!!

And I love the Chicken Soup success story!!! And Mitford -- SOOO good!!

Hugs,
Julie

Nicole O'Dell said...

To all of you awesome seekers, I made a mistake in my post. The giveaway I mentioned was meant to be between all commenters. Period. You don't have to participate in my campaign to be entered for the giveaway--not at all. I copied that part over from another post and didn't re-read it. Sorry for that confusion! *mwah*

Vince said...

Hi Nicole:

What you have so well demonstrated is the need for a well thought out business plan. That means plotting and that spells problems for a great many authors. : )

I like Ruth’s ‘step-by-step’ approach. Start with just an ebook. If print is needed, go POD first. Then if POD can’t keep up or is too expensive relative to large quantity printing, then switch to printing large runs.

Remember there will be money coming in from orders and with orders a factor will lend the money on your accounts receivable. When your orders are so great you cannot afford to expand your capacity to meet those orders, then go on Shark Tank – that’s the kind of company they most want to own – but of course, sharks will try to steal your company as well.

We don’t disagree, in fact, I’ll be happy to add more variables to your equation: returns, bad debt, taxes and fees you didn’t even know existed, insurance, price increases, supplier nonperformance, lost shipments (that you don’t really believe the buyer didn’t get), inventory shrinkage, unions, employee turnover, employees stealing your idea and competing against you, and that’s just to name a few.

I’d just like to sell my books on Kindle Direct and make a lot of money with no fuss. : )

I plan to write the kind of books that sell themselves. Why not? I believe you should build the marketing into the book before you write it and not try to come up with marketing as an afterthought once the book is published.

Janet Dean said...

Cortney! Thrilled to hear you typed The End!! Mega congrats!!

Janet

Nicole O'Dell said...

Vince said:

"We don’t disagree, in fact, I’ll be happy to add more variables to your equation: returns, bad debt, taxes and fees you didn’t even know existed, insurance, price increases, supplier nonperformance, lost shipments (that you don’t really believe the buyer didn’t get), inventory shrinkage, unions, employee turnover, employees stealing your idea and competing against you, and that’s just to name a few. "

--Uh huh! :)

"I’d just like to sell my books on Kindle Direct and make a lot of money with no fuss. : )"

--Now there's an idea. ;)

"I plan to write the kind of books that sell themselves. Why not? I believe you should build the marketing into the book before you write it and not try to come up with marketing as an afterthought once the book is published."

--Yes, that's part of what I meant with the idea that you need to frame your project (if you chose CF'ing) as an answer to a need. What's the focus? Abortion aftermath? Divorce? Blended families? Being in ministry after tragedy? All of those things have plot potential that would work in a romance novel, but also marketing angles that would appeal to select groups.

But, (and I'm sure this goes without saying) with those hot-button issues, please, everyone make sure you're going after those readers because you're passionate about helping them, not just because it's a cool angle for marketing purposes.

Jenny Blake said...

I have heard of crowdfunding its been mentioned a lot here. One of the Aussie bands used it to produce there latest cd and it was the first Crowdfunded cd to get in the charts.
We have seen it for other things as well.

Sounds like an interesting idea as the people who provide money are invested in the project. They say the more you share with the people the better to, like giving updates and letting them know what is happening.

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi Nicole!

I still didn't see the answer to my question. Maybe I just don't get the concept.

Are people paying you now? Are they promising to pay you? If they pay you now, how do you guarantee they get a copy of the book? I know James Artemis Owen has run amazing kickstarter campaigns for his fancy boxed sets.

As for going to a legacy publisher and saying, "I've sold lots of books, do you want on in this?" Why would you do that? If you've sold lots of copies already (and have invested the thousands you mentioned for editing and a nice cover), then why would you hand most of your earnings over to a legacy publisher?

Asking as someone who just sold a self published series to Simon&Schuster, of course. But I knew I would lose money. I chose that route for very specific reasons, and wouldn't advocate that as a way to attract a traditional publisher.

I've been thrilled with my team, but JA Konrath tweeted the other day: "selling lots of self published copies in order to attracted a legacy publishing deal is like smearing yourself with meat in order to attract bears."

If you're crowdsourcing this project to make money, I would say once you've established a wonderful book and sold lots of copies... just hang on to that, unless you have other reasons for signing those rights to a publisher, which is possible.

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

LOL, Ruthy.

Watch that hybrid term. Someone may show up to stamp a trademark on it. And then lawyer-boy would have to defend you against copyright infringement.

Cortney K said...

Thanks everyone.

I am so excited.....

And Marianne

I don't know if it will be published but its a start.

(BIG SMILES)

Glynna Kaye said...

Totally fascinating in how this works, Nicole! Thank you for introducing us to this concept!

Nicole O'Dell said...

Hi Virginia,

"Are people paying you now? Are they promising to pay you? If they pay you now, how do you guarantee they get a copy of the book?"

***Sorry. Maybe I misunderstood what you were asking. They pay now--pre-order the book. You can guarantee they get it because the cost to fulfill that order comes out of the funding. If you don't sell enough to make the project happen, meaning you don't fully fund, they get their money back and you have no orders to fulfill.



As for going to a legacy publisher and saying, "I've sold lots of books, do you want on in this?" Why would you do that? If you've sold lots of copies already (and have invested the thousands you mentioned for editing and a nice cover), then why would you hand most of your earnings over to a legacy publisher?

***Well that's the question each author has to answer for herself/himself. To some, it would be worth it to have that long-term partner and the traditional contract and possibility of bookstores, etc. That would be the same thing as a successful self-pubbed author entertaining a publisher's offer. This is happening all the time these days. But to others, it wouldn't be worth it. They would essentially be pre-funding their indie project and would be successful right out of the gate.




Asking as someone who just sold a self published series to Simon&Schuster, of course. But I knew I would lose money. I chose that route for very specific reasons, and wouldn't advocate that as a way to attract a traditional publisher.

***Right! lol I should have read your entire message before I started answering it. :) But many people have reasons. For some it's simply a long-held dream and that can be worth a lot of money. Think of how much money someone would lose to take a cruise of the Greek Islands...




I've been thrilled with my team, but JA Konrath tweeted the other day: "selling lots of self published copies in order to attracted a legacy publishing deal is like smearing yourself with meat in order to attract bears."

***LOL I think that's funny, but I don't think there should be such hard lines. I'm fine with Indie publishing, but so many people aren't ready to let go of the legacy dream yet or are too scared to go it alone. That doesn't make them crazy. You know? You could tell someone, "It makes no sense to punch a clock at that job when you could go into business for yourself. Well, maybe that person likes the 401k and the insurance and the stability.... :)




If you're crowdsourcing this project to make money, I would say once you've established a wonderful book and sold lots of copies... just hang on to that, unless you have other reasons for signing those rights to a publisher, which is possible.

***Which is a great option that I"m sure many successful crowdfundies would decide to do in that instance.

Great discussion!

Chill N said...

Fascinating post ... Never thought of crowdfunding in this way. Now to read comments so I don't ask a question someone else already did :-)

Thanks for sharing, Nicole!

Nancy C

Vince said...

Hi Nicole:

I would sell rights to a big traditional publisher for an indie book that was selling very well and paying a 70% commission -- if I could make a lot more money with the traditional publisher. I could very well sell thousands of more books with a big publisher and make a great deal more money even at a 15% commission.

Here are some additional benefits:

1. Distribution into many retail stores allowing many more customers to see my books.

2. Marketing and advertising – if the traditional publisher is going to provide this.

3. A department that will be trying to sell the ancillary rights including translation into various languages. Harlequin is very well set up to do this.

4. Possibility of being part of an anthology with a one of the publisher’s mega stars which could get me on the New York Times and USA best selling lists – something I could boast about on all my books forever and ever after!

5. A greater likelihood of getting into libraries.

6. A chance to be included in continuity series that the publisher is going to aggressively market.

7. A chance for professionally done audio book sales.

8. The possibility of having a large type print edition which would spread my customer base out to readers I might not otherwise be able to reach.

9. Increasing the likelihood of being a guest on radio and tv programs.

10. Having the possibility of being in the publishers catalogue and website.

11. A new life for the indie book with new covers and blurbs. It would give the book a second act.

12. Access to the publishers installed base of loyal customers.

In any event, this is like asking why would anyone do anything. Because they think it is in their best interest to do so. : )

I like Ruth’s hybrid idea. Do things where they will produce the highest and best returns.

So nice to have you here today.

Walt Mussell said...

I have heard this term, but never really had it explained.

I'm not even sure that I would be able to contemplate this. I wish you the best on this project.