A writing life: crowdfunding a book publication

I am very happy to welcome to my blog, Catherine Evans (no relation!) who has chosen to crowdfund the publication of her novel via the publisher Unbound (see: https://unbound.com/books/the-wrongun). Crowdfunding publishing is surely the contemporary equivalent of ‘subscription’ publishing used by Virginia Woolf among others. Cathy explains all below.

Catherine Evans

Her novel, The Wrong’un, is about a large Northern family whose eldest son is hell-bent on destroying the lives of his siblings, particularly his sister, the youngest child and the only girl in the family. Cathy is also editor and founder of www.pennyshorts.com, a website which makes edited and proofread short stories of all genres from writers around the world available for free download. It features close to 200 stories by 150 writers currently, and continues to grow.

How does Unbound work?
Unbound offers authors a chance to crowdfund their novels. Their website features ‘Live Projects’, where authors can showcase their books, whether fiction or non-fiction, and where readers can pledge their support. Like most crowdfunding sites, there are different pledge levels available. If an author reaches their funding target, Unbound publishes their novel.

How much do you have to raise?
In my case, I was given a target of £4,000, and a three month time frame to raise it. It’s higher if you want a hardback version of your book. Please go to: https://unbound.com/books/the-wrongun

What does the £4k cover?
It covers the entire cost of publication, including editing, copyediting, design and production of the manuscript. It also includes distribution, dedicated sales and key accounting with all major ebook retailers. All net receipts are split between Unbound and the author 50/50. 

What do you have to do to raise the money?
I have to pre-sell digital and paperback copies of my book until I reach the target. The digital copy is available at £10 and the paperback at £15. All supporters who pledge within the three month period, at whatever level, have the opportunity to have their names appear in the book. 

Why did you choose Unbound?
I chose it because my novel doesn’t comfortably fit into a traditional publisher’s list. It’s part character-driven family drama part thriller told from multiple Point-Of-Views. Because the cost of publication is covered in advance, Unbound can take on ambitious ideas that traditional publishers can’t afford to take a risk on. For example, they published Paul Kingsnorth’s Man Booker nominated The Wake, a novel told in a version of Old English set in 1066. Unbelievably ambitious. They work with debut novelists and established names. Authors with an established following are attracted by the 50/50 split, very favourable compared to other alternatives.

Did you try the traditional route first?
Yes. I got very good feedback and was asked on two occasions to submit the whole manuscript; close, but ultimately no cigar. Some of the feedback I got from agents and traditional publishers was that it was ‘not high concept enough’, that ‘novels with multiple Point-Of-Views have had their time’, that my ‘main character is unlikeable’ and that it was ‘too dark and edgy’.

 Did you consider self-publishing?
Yes. It was going to be my route of choice if Unbound came back with a no.

How did the relationship start?
I sent Unbound my full manuscript, a synopsis, a blurb and I also sent in a short video, less than a minute, of myself talking about the book. A couple of weeks later, Unbound emailed me to let me know that they’d like to include The Wrong’un as part of their digital list, with paperback publication following shortly thereafter, subject to me hitting the crowdfunding target.  

Does Unbound require that your manuscript is complete?
No. In my case, it was complete, but many authors can pitch an idea via the website for a novel or a non-fiction book.

Is it the same as self-publishing?
No, because Unbound will only accept work that will appeal to readers via their website. It’s a lot of fun browsing their website – I’d encourage anyone to take a look. There are so many very interesting projects to support. I don’t know what their acceptance rate is. I should ask…

What do you have to do to crowdfund the money?
The same as any author, no matter what their route to print: I’ve nagged my family, my friends, my colleagues, my networks, my acquaintances, my frenemies, basically everyone I’ve ever met in my life and total strangers too (definition of stranger: a friend you haven’t yet met), right down to the nice man who stands at the bus stop at the same time every day with his cute cocker spaniel, who always says a few words about the weather. I’ve made use of Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. You have to be pretty shameless and a bit cheeky. Ultimately, in order to sell your own work, you have to believe in it. I’m convinced that once my supporters have the book in their hands, they’ll love reading it, and will love the fact that they were part of the publication process and have an acknowledgement in the book to prove it.

 Are you happy to take questions from other authors?
Yes, I’d be delighted. Anyone who’d like to find out more can get in touch with me at editor@pennyshorts.com. Twitter is @pennyshorts and FB is pennyshorts2015.

 

 

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