A few months ago I entered into the foray of crowdfunding. There are some excellant new sites now, and 2 of them stand out from the crowd (no pun intended),
Unbound and Inkshares. One is American, the other British. I submitted the first chapter from my new book (Killing Time), and was accepted, but after reading the small print, I declined their kind offer.
Xander Cansell is Head of Digital at Unbound, and he was curious to know why I was not interested any more… which to me is a good thing, it means they are always looking for ways to improve their service. So I gave him a reply, which he may or may not have liked, but should have been helpful to them. I think it will be usefull for anyone contemplating using a service like this, so I have posted it below:
No problem… Primarily I was daunted by the prospect of pushing for the pledges. Whilst I realise that this is the whole point of crowdfunding, it was probably the wording on the web page that struck reality. I have no family to call upon apart from a brother, and not that many friends (writers are a solitary bunch). Those friends I have are already supporting me, but there is no way that I could get an average of £25 from 150 of them, and definately not from work colleagues who would struggle to give £10 for a worthwhile charity.
Then, after all the time sapping emailing of individual messages and updates in the shed (Unbound’s writer’s area), I might, just might make the deadline/s. With the £3,595 raised, approx a quarter goes to admin, the bank and the tax man, leaving approx £2,800 to pay for editing, proofing, cover and typesetting. For that support, and of course the use of your site that gives the push, drive and focus for the building of funds, I would have to sign a 5 year contract that allows Unbound to ‘exploit‘ the content for whatever they deem fit. In addition, you would also get the first option for any sequel, prequel or novel set in the same narrative structure as the first. Whilst I am sure Unbound are a professional group and would listen to any misgivings I would have, it seems a big personal cost for the initial Unbound process that serves primarily as a guide in how to raise that £2,800 (after extractions). Personally, I would rather raise the money myself, through some local support and even getting a temp job and then use the money to get said editing, proofing, cover and typesetting done myself and hold onto my own publishing rights.
Yes, you provide an excellent platform for raising the money, and have a list of editors etc to polish the product and can handle sales, but it is nothing I cannot do myself. Online and via The writers and artist handbook, I can find reputable editors and via Amazon, Ingrame Spark etc I can publish my own book. But… I can also choose for myself to get it made into a paperback and… as I have done recently, go to the few independant bookshops left, and get them to stock it, as I have with my book, ‘The Awakening of Adam Capello’ which has just been ordered by Foyles. In addition, I can buy my own ISBN and therefore be the publisher. Yes, it is not as good as getting a traditional deal with a traditional publisher (in my eyes anyway) but at least I retain the personal freedom to have a paperback and negotiate any TV or Film rights if asked.
So in short:
I was worried about having to raise the money via being pushey to my friends
I was worried about having to go for ideas such as selling character name placement for pledges or a list of sponsers in the back
I think 5 years is too long
I think first option of sequels etc could tie me in for many years as one would lead to another
I’m not sure, but it looks like Unbound would get 50% of any monies received in regards to licensing, TV or film rights, which seems way too high, and that Unbound would be choosing where, or by whom etc.
In regards to my existing book ‘The Awakening of Adam Capello’, I have already had it proofed, typeset, formatted and the cover designed, (right down to making the spine as eye catching as possible) and am selling it worldwide via Amazon (Createspace). So whilst it could always do with a professional eye to look over it, I’d rather not enter into a minimum 5 year contract with this book. If I was half way through something and it was my first book then I might feel differently, but I have learnt so much in the last 2 years of trying to get it published via an agent and then self publishing, that I feel Unbound do not offer me a service that allows me to sell a paperback as well as Amazon does.
But… I do like the idea of crowdfunding, and think services like Unbound will grow as they evolve into a better fit. I have made many mistakes in the last 2 years in my steep learning curve (I should have purchased my own ISBN for starters) and it would have been great to have professional assistance to guide me on this path, but I’d want it to be less automated, more the personal touch, almost like an online course with human tutorial feedback. Yes I know the shed gives a community of writers, but so does Goodreads etc, but I don’t have to sign a contract for 5 years.
Ahem, sorry, you did ask. I hope that helps answer your question and would be happy to correspond further or chat sometime as I find the whole process fascinating.
M W Taylor
So for anyone considering crowdfunding… please check the small print first.