UK-based publisher Unbound recently picked up my novel Unscripted, which is what I like to think of a smart beach read about a young woman who takes her celebrity crush a little far. Unbound are innovative and different, and well-regarded in the UK. They crowdfund their books, and kick in as a more-or-less traditional publisher once the target £££ have been raised. My book’s doing well—it raised a third of its funds in the first couple of weeks—but the whole process is an emotional rollercoaster.
It turns out, though, that I’ve been preparing to crowdfund a book for basically most of my life. So here is some advice based on what I’ve done or wish I’d done, should you ever crowdfund a book, through Unbound or otherwise.
- Spend your whole life moving around a lot.
- In every new place you live, get involved in a faith community. Really involved. Serve on every team. Go to every social event.
Be a generally nice and helpful person. It’s a good way to travel through life, even if you never crowdfund a book, but it’ll also predispose people to feel warm and fluffy towards you when you send them the inevitable message.
Facebook friend everyone.
Join every online writers’ forum, especially the ones like Authonomy and Jottify and Book Country, which unfortunately no longer exist. But while they do exist, make sure you have the email address of the people you interact with there, especially those of the people who keep telling you how much they love your writing.
Go to writing conferences. Make friends there.
Start a blog.
Join a book club.
Actually read the books and go to the book club.
Be a good literary citizen: go to book readings, tweet about novels you love, spend time in your local bookshop.
Find your tribe of book nerds, online, through podcasts, elsewhere.
Join every new social media app that comes along.
Pray that the social media app you most love and on which you’ve become semi-famous doesn’t close down six months before you need it the most. (RIP The List App. I miss you every day.)
Start a podcast related to either books or the subject matter of your book.
Launch your crowdfunding campaign.
Start with general, upbeat posts on Facebook and other forms of social media.
Email some groups of friends so that everything feels fun and collegiate and non-coercive. If you’re British, acknowledge the awkwardness of self-promotion.
Watch the pledges roll in.
Click refresh every five minutes and whoop out loud every time you get a new pledge, which is seemingly every time you refresh.
Watch your book move up, up, and up the trending page like some kind of balloon on steroids.
Watch the pledges slow down.
Click refresh every five minutes and sink into despair every time except the occasional occasion when someone has pledged, until your friends threaten to lock you in a cupboard with no wifi access and just a bucket to pee in.
Get your friends to post on social media.
Get a little too into social media, so that none of your friends will ever look at your Instagram stories again since they’re probably just an update on the percentage of funding raised.
Send press releases to everyone you can think of, including the tiny local newspaper in the town where you went to high school but which you never ever mention when someone asks you where you’re from.
Pitch yourself to a zillion podcasts—some small, some big, because you never know.
Start to send one-to-one Facebook messages to people you either know now or knew well a long time ago, and whom you think probably won’t mind and might even enjoy hearing about your new book. (That’s not everyone. Really, it’s not. It’s probably about one fifth to one tenth of your Facebook friends, if you followed steps 1, 2, and 4.)
Get blocked by Facebook for spamming.
Cry, I’m not spamming, though! I’m just sending very similar messages to lots of people in the hope that they’ll buy…oh.
Start to go a little crazy.
Step away from the computer.
Have a glass of wine.