What I've Learned from Crowdfunding (So Far)

Crowdfunding is complete for my debut novel PEAK CROSSER (EMPIRE OF THE PEAKS BOOK 1), tentatively scheduled to be published in March 2016.

Find out more about PEAK CROSSER

I blogged previously about why I chose to independently publish my first novel. In that piece, I talked about sage advice I got from award-winning author Mary Robinette Kowal about trying to go the traditional route. She laid it out very clearly: you'll have less time to write if you have to act as publisher/marketer/publicist/financier.  

She was correct. I started my crowdfunding campaign 45 days ago. And while getting $2,200 was certainly a success, it took a lot of time and effort. Some of the effort I'm not sure did much. Here are some lessons I've learned so far.

  • Platform probably doesn't many anything when you don't have a platform. Many folks in the biz preach about building your platform. It's easy to see successful authors like John Scalzi, Sam Sykes and others flooding the interwebs with their thoughts on Twitter and blogs. I wrote 16 blog posts during my 5-week crowdfunding campaign. The numbers did not blow me away. I got 400+ visit to my site during that time, driven a lot by blog posts about entertainment. But my most popular content was about the book. When I do this again, I'm going to blog less; I don't think it helped me a ton.
  • For a first time author, your only fans know you well. Of my 34 funders, only 4 of them were not close friends or family. It makes sense -- without other books to compare to, why would someone contribute? Of the four that weren't close friends, two are listeners of my BYU sports podcast, and the other two I believe found me on Facebook through Mary's alumni group. So only two funders came just because of my book.
  • Even friends and family won't help. I say this with no bitterness, just a fact. My closest family members funded, but not all extended family. Some of my closest friends did not participate, I think because epic fantasy is not their thing and all my rewards were based on getting my book. 
  • Specialized rewards mean more. Of my 34 funders, 19 chose a special package with a signed version. At least for this group, special was better than not.

My guess is I will be at this again for my next novel, though that will depend on the success of PEAK CROSSER. I will need to tweak a few things, but this little campaign has launched my career, providing the cash to pay an editor and a designer.