Sunday, November 16, 2014

It Takes A Village to Publish a Book, or Something Like That - Crowdfunding Your Novel

Like so many writers, I wear many hats, one of which is called “Swim Mom.” I’ve shuttled my daughter to swim meets and swim practice for years, and now follow her across state lines during her college swimming career. All those hours sitting on cold, metal bleachers waiting to watch her swim for a minute or two gave me more than a sore you-know-what: It inspired me to write a novel about girls’ varsity swimming. I hope to publish Swim Season in Spring 2015.

Obviously this is a project near and dear to my heart - my child inspired it; it's about a sport that's a big part of our lives.  Yes, this book means a lot to me - and to many of the swimmers and swim parents I've talked to about it. I don't want to take any chances on it not being the best it can be. I want it to look professionally produced. I plan to make it available to readers on every reading platform out there: digital, audio, and paperback. I've got big plans. 

So I decided to do something different to ensure its success. But before I tell you about it, I thought I’d bring up a sensitive subject, one I suspect most readers don’t give much thought to: the costs involved in successfully bringing an independently published book to market.

Publishing a book yourself or having a professional publishing house do the job for you are two very different things. 

When a publisher buys the rights to publish an author’s book, they absorb the costs involved. They may also give the author an advance against royalties, which is a nice bucket of money to compensate her for the time and effort involved in completing the project through the publishing process.

When an author does it herself, she incurs the expenses, and there’s no advance. The author basically works for nothing, waiting for the day when her book is for sale and begins to pay for itself. 

Although most authors might say they write for the joy of it, I think the bulk of them would agree that it’s nice to be compensated for their work. 

It’s said the average indie author spends about $4,000 to publish a book. Some may spend as little as a couple of hundred bucks while others have been known to invest upwards of $20,000.  Where does the money go? 

Obviously a writer needs basic tools – a computer (or someone to type the manuscript into a computer), paper, ink, and internet service for research and reaching out to the book world through social media.  Electricity.  Office space.

Other expenses include editorial services. A smart author will run her manuscript through many sets of professional eyes before publishing it: content editing, conceptual editing, copy editing, and proofreading.

And if she doesn't possess the skills herself, she needs someone to design a book cover (front and back for a print copy) and format it for uploading to ebook and print publishers. 

International Standard Book Numbers (ISBN’s) must be purchased for every edition (paperback, Kindle, nook, iBooks, etc.) unless the author chooses to use those supplied by the publishers. I don't.  It's just one more way for me to maintain control over my product.

She may purchase print copies in bulk to use as advance reading copies for reviewers, or prizes for giveaways and contests to gain reviews and build an audience.  She will also want a supply on hand to sell direct to readers at book events, book signings, and other venues.

Once the book is available for purchase she has advertising and marketing expenses, and may hire a publicist if funds allow.  She may print promotional materials such as book marks and postcards to hand out at events. There are travel expenses related to these events.

This list, though long, may be incomplete as individual authors may have other expenditures particular to their project and preference in publishing. But, as you can see, there are a lot of expenses in publishing a book.

How does all of this relate to Swim Season? I recently launched a pre-publication campaign through Pubslush, a marketing platform much like Kickstarter and Indiegogo dedicated exclusively to books, to help provide the start-up funds necessary to publish, distribute, and market this project.  Pubslush offers crowdfunding and a way to collect pre-orders, and enables me to test the waters for this book and build an audience. Many authors have found success with this method.  Here’s one author’s story.

Readers benefit from Pubslush as well, because it gives them the opportunity to discover new authors and new books they might enjoy before publication, and allows them to partner in the process, to support these authors on their journey toward project completion. 

Please take a moment to check out my Pubslush page  where you can read the first chapter of Swim Season and watch a short video about the project. Then please join my team. You don’t even have to get wet.  I've come up with some great incentives for my supporters: undying gratitude, free books, iPod Nano's loaded with the book's soundtrack, an opportunity to name a character whatever you'd like, and your name added to a list of supporters in the acknowledgements at the back of the book. 

After you've joined, you can continue to be a part of this project by sharing this post and links to the campaign with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, or wherever you hang out online. 

Thank you for considering supporting this project.

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