Friday 20 June 2014

Guest blog - Amy Morse

Amy Morse, a local writer, dropped into the blog to chat about crowdfunding.

Amy Morse is a writer, novelist and entrepreneur. She regularly writes on business matters and is a columnist for Prowess Women in Business ( Enabling start ups in the daytime and penning random acts of creativity by night, she is the author of The Bronze Box (writing as Amy C Fitzjohn) and is publishing the follow up Solomon's Secrets in the autumn.
Twitter:        @TomCatDesigns
Author:         writing as - Amy C Fitzjohn -

Over to Amy

Can crowdfunding help you to publish your next book? Nine tips for writers.



The Holy Grail for many writers is to get that publishing deal with one of the big presses such as; Harper Collins, Penguin, Pan MacMillan or Hodder & Stoughton. We’d get a fat cheque for a five figure advance and be laughing.


Unless you’re a celebrity or already have a track record of great book sales, the reality is that for 99% of us, it just won’t happen.


Does that mean you’ve failed? Does that mean you have no right to call yourself an author? Of course not! Millions of writers make a respectable career living by the pen (or keyboard!). They’re doing what they love and never getting near the best sellers list.


The book industry is undergoing a revolution that has opened up to independent writers like never before. Gone is the stigma of self-publishing, in fact, for many writers it offers the creative freedom they crave.


With platforms such as Create Space and Kindle Direct Publishing, offered by Amazon, it’s easier, and cheaper to publish your book than ever before.


But what if you wanted to do it a bit differently? You will need to front the costs, so how can you pay for it?


There is an increasingly popular way of raising funds for a creative project, and that’s crowdfunding.


The principle of crowdfunding is that a project is posted onto an online platform, a financial target and date is set and then anyone can back a project by pledging support. It isn’t money for nothing, crowdfunding is not begging for hand-outs. It can work in different ways.


The most popular model, and appropriate for creative projects, is that money pledged is exchanged for a reward of equivalent value. Effectively, customers are paying in advance for your book.


The risk is low because if the target isn’t reached, no one gets or pays out any money. To increase your chances of success you need to market your crowdfund pitch.


There are a couple of well-known crowdfunding sites, such as and that work in this way. There is also that is specifically set up for books and there are new ones are popping up all the time.


One of the latest to start is a Bristol based team, Fundsurfer specialises in creative and social projects and it is the platform I have chosen for my own project. I chose this platform because I’m passionate about supporting businesses in my local area, it fits with my own ethos and is tailored for creative projects. As a new business, they are also going through a period of using every means at their disposable to publicise their venture and I can take advantage of that.


For an idea of how a live project works, here is my pitch for the publication of my next novel, Solomon’s Secrets:


It has been a steep learning curve for me. Here are my 9 tips on accessing this route to finance for your book:


1.    Do your sums. First decide how much you need to get your project off the ground but allow for contingencies and factor in the charges. In the case of Fundsurfer, there is a 6% commission on funds raised.


2.    Be realistic. What is achievable? I had to alter my pitch part way through as I quickly realised I had bitten off more than I could chew by trying to do too much.


3.    Have a ‘crowd’. Following on from being realistic, do you have enough of a fan base yet? 70% of pledges come from your immediate network so make sure you have a good sized one.


4.    Do your research. There are several platforms out there, do some due diligence about how reputable they are before you commit to anything. Be wary of any that ask you for money up front, most don’t do that.


5.    Spend plenty of time crafting an excellent pitch. It’s a competitive marketplace and you want to be noticed, especially if you choose one of the better known platforms. A video is an essential component of the pitch, always include one.


6.    Ask for help. If you’re no good at making and editing videos or not sure about what rewards you should offer, ask. 


7.    Have a good range of rewards, starting small and going up in increments. Have a couple of rewards that are relatively expensive, even if you think people won’t pay. The chances are they won’t, but people tend to gravitate to the middle of the list of rewards, so if you make the top of your list higher, then the middle of your list will be higher too. And if someone does buy that expensive reward – bonus!


8.    Have a plan. For both the marketing of your pitch and the distribution of your rewards if it is successful. Be realistic about what you can achieve alone and be prepared to call in reinforcements if necessary.


9.    Keep up the momentum. Choose a sensible pledge period and keep plugging away at it, doing something every day to increase awareness of your project


And finally, enjoy the process and good luck!


Have you ever backed a crowdfunded project or had you own campaign?

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