Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Guest Post by Nick Kristof

I want to start this post by thanking Joe for offering the Tess Gerritsen blog post challenge.  You might not remember it, because it happened all the way back in July of 2013, but the gist was this:  If an individual donated $200 to a gofundme campaign by author Tess Gerritsen in support of Alzheimer's Disease research, Joe would allow that person to guest post on his blog.  Great deal -- and many people took advantage of it.  I immediately realized the potential in having that opportunity.  At the same time, Alzheimer's struck very close to home for me personally.  It is a cause to which I have donated money on many occasions.  Needless to say, I jumped at the opportunity.

I have always wanted to be a writer.  I had not really considered it, having a full-time career and a family to look after, until I stumbled across A Newbie's Guide to Publishing.  Joe's blog inspired me to go for it.  My reading tastes cover the gamut, but I have a special place in my heart for science fiction and fantasy, so I decided to write some fantasy.  Now, 180K words later, I can at least call myself a fantasy writer.  The story, which I am going to publish as two novels, is called The Ramparts of Tharrenton Deep.

My intention in July of 2013 was to complete my novel, which I had been working on for over a year by that point, and then post about my experiences.  Needless to say, things did not quite work out that way.  My single novel grew to be two, and then life got in the way:  The writing came in fits and starts.  I relocated to another country across an ocean.  I started in a new position that required lots of travel.  And so on…

Well, two and a half years later, those two novels are finished.  In all, it took me four years to write them, and I am now in the final stages of preparing them for publication.

Quick aside:  I believe that one of the strengths of Joe’s blog is that he and his guest posters almost always include tips or advice for would-be authors.  Let’s face it:  That’s why so many of us come here repeatedly.  Well, here’s my advice:  Don’t ever quit.  Don’t.  Ever.  Quit.  I certainly didn’t expect my story to take four years to write.  But it did.  There were many occasions where I thought to myself, “Self, Just put it away.”  But I ignored that voice, persevered, and it is done; I am extremely proud of the result.

With the writing complete, I knew I wanted to produce a professional book for publication.  I knew that in order to do that, I needed to spend some money—professional editing, proofreading, E-book design, and cover art all cost money.  A glance to the right will show you who I am hiring for those tasks: 52novels for E-book design, Grammer Rules A to Z for proofreading, and You’re Published for print design.  I will also be purchasing original art for my cover.

These services do not necessarily cost a lot of money, but for someone on a tight budget, it is a not-insignificant amount.  It was for this reason that I chose to attempt to fund the publication of my novels with a Kickstarter campaign.  Kickstarter has its supporters and detractors, but I have watched numerous publishing projects successfully fund over the past few years.  My campaign is live right now; I don’t know if it will be successful, but I’m going to give it a shot.

If you have a spare moment, please go check it out.  And if you don’t, thanks for at least reading to the end of this post.

Now get back to writing.  And remember:  Don’t ever quit.

Joe sez: I've been out of the blogging loop for a month, working on some novels. I hope to get back to blogging soon. In the meantime, let's use this guest post as an opportunity to discuss funding campaigns for books.

I've never done a Kickstarter, though I've thought about it. Who reading this has tried Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or similar? What has you experience been?

Also, throw a few bucks Nick's way. His contribution to Tess's campaign was generous, he's a soldier serving out country, and someday you might be the one needing money. Pay it forward. 


Vince F. said...

Good luck on your venture Nick. Thank you for serving our country.

Joe - as much as we all love your blog, it's been far too long since a new Konrath book has been released so at least for me, I'm okay to wait for a blog if it means a book instead. :)

John Ellsworth said...

(This might be a double post).

Nick, you have some of my $ on your KS campaign and I've reposted the KS on my FB page. Hopefully you'll have the bucks you need right away to get this puppy pubbed. Thanks for your service, keep writing!

Jill James said...

Great post, Nick. I've thought doing Kickstarter would be great to get audiobooks made.

Alan Spade said...

Kristine Rusch did a kickstarter campaign: http://kriswrites.com/2014/09/02/fiction-river-kickstarter-with-one-of-a-kind-cool-stuff/

I think it requires a lot of work and dedication. I read Kris' blog post about what was needed to carry out that kind of campaign (sorry it's not the one above, I couldn't find it), and for me it's too much dedication and investment of time and resources.

Not my thing, and I wouldn't recommend it to fellow authors.

I wish Nick good luck, though.

Josh Powell said...

I've used Kickstarter to crowd fund turning my novel The Berserker and the Pedant into a graphic novel. It raised enough to do the first issue and contribute towards the second. It took a lot of work, and I'd say that about half of the funding came from people I personally know on Facebook and reached out to.

I'll try it again when I have a bigger fan following. The biggest problem is getting people interested, how to market it. Same problem as self-publishing but with a much shorter timeframe.

Josh Powell

Unknown said...

Hey Nick,
Congrats on the writing. I also was inspired by Joe, his blog and all the great people who share their wisdom in the comments here, including some who've commented above. I'm still new to the game but have one self-pubbed with another coming out soon, and two in Joe's Kindle Worlds. I don't know much about Kickstarter but I wish you well. If, however, it doesn't work for you there are some things you can do yourself to cut your costs. Keep pushing. Find a way to get you work out there. Don't skimp on proofreading though. :) Best of luck.


Congrats on finishing your two novels Nick. I just donated $10.00. Good luck. I'm quite familiar with kickstarter. I've never used it for books but have for short films I have produced/directed. It's a tough program to gain you budget unless your budget is small or your famous, but good luck! Also consider Booster.


Joe looking forward to the new novels. I have some coming out soon too! Keep an eye open for Meat Box which I wrote with Earle Laredo. If you like splatterpunk it's right up your alley. Best!

Veronica Torres said...

Congratulations on the books!

I've done two indiegogos and just set up a Patreon page (which is sort of like a long term indiegogo).

I found that there are three main tasks:
1. setting up the fundraiser
2. advertising the fundraiser
3. doing fulfillment

In setting it up, I think it helps to have lots of reward levels. Nick's highest level has already sold out. I think it's important to have more surface area for people to donate. Someone might just come along with $500 to spend and if your highest level is $10, you may only get $10. Also, be funny and creative with your reward levels. Make them something that people really want to be part of not just a way to show support. Most importantly make sure any rewards you offer are going to actually net a profit after you fulfill them. If you include something that needs to be shipped, plan for a way to collect that shipping amount (build it in or set up a reward tier for shipping costs).

Advertising was the part that nearly broke me. EVERY day posting to FB and Twitter and trying to think of new ways to say the same thing. I took to posting screen shots as the numbers went up and that often resulted in additional immediate contributions. I did one of the indiegogos for a band and by the end of the 3 weeks I was exhausted by the advertising....HAVE A PLAN is my advice. Literally, plan what you will do each day before you start.

Fulfillment was easy for me because I made sure it would be. I set up the reward levels in such a way as to make for fast fulfillment. Mostly it was mailing out CDs (the reason we did the fundraiser). Still, one band member had a heck of time managing to mail the one item he was responsible for so know your strengths. If you know that shipping will be a hassle for you, then don't include physical objects.

Keep your backers informed and keep your promises!!!

Herry Johnson said...

If you are looking forward to establish your business campaign through Facebook, you first set up a page regarding your business and put it out there for the people to check out. Fans increase the awareness of your page as your page gets recognized. It also presents you with an opportunity to convert your Facebook fans into real leads. Most importantly, having lots of fans creates a feeling of trust among people. This is why Facebook fans important for page.

Steven M. Moore said...

Joe et al,
My book business is always in the red because I plow royalties from one book into the next one. I've thought of KS and GFM to get ahead of the game, but it seems a bit like begging to me. There's an Amazon program similar to these, but you have to have the book nearly ready to even play there and win an American Idol popularity contest. None of this seems to be for me, but maybe I'm just old-fashioned. Nick, I wish you success all the same!

Nick said...

Thank you, Joe, for posting my blog entry. Thanks, everyone, for your kind words. And thank you to those who have pledged (or may yet pledge) to my Kickstarter campaign.

I want to apologize, as I've attempted to comment here several times in the past several days. Technical difficulties have gotten the better of me until today.

Some thoughts in response to Alan’s comments from above:

I agree that running a Kickstarter does take a lot of work and dedication. But I would say that it is actually no different than the work and dedication that any indie author is going to put into their efforts to become known. The one big difference is that, with Kickstarter or any other crowd funding platform, the writer is trying to advertise and drum up support for a product that does not yet exist. This is backward from the ‘typical’ (if it can be called that) model where the author writes a book, gets in out in the world (through Amazon or any other means), and THEN tries to make a name for themselves and their work.

As Joe (and other posters here have said many times), an author has to write the best work that he or she can, experiment with ways to become known (adverts, social media, changing prices, changing covers, whatever you can do), and then write some more. A crowdfunding campaign can be one of the tools in that experimental tool kit.

In addition to writing a good book, one has to produce a ‘professional’ product. The extra polish that comes with this costs money. If one doesn’t have much, a crowdfunding campaign might be the way to get that money.

To Alan’s last comment, I probably would not recommend it to authors if they have multiple books out there, if they already have developed a readership, if they have other methods to get ‘known’. But for someone who has none of those things, crowdfunding can be an inexpensive way to get some publicity, develop a small community around your work, and perhaps (and luck is always an aspect of this) become very widely known if things go your way.

Nick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nick said...

Joe said that he has thought about doing a Kickstarter. It seems to me that he probably doesn’t need to do one—he’s well-known, he has an established readership, and I’m fairly certain that his books sell just fine without crowdfunding. For Joe and novels, I don’t think there’s any reason to crowdfund.

However, I think that there are other situations where Joe might want to pursue it.

Perhaps he is interested in branching out beyond his normal fiction writing. Let’s say, for example, that he wanted to produce a big, thick, heavy coffee tab le book all about the adventures of Jack Daniels. A book that contains mock case files for all of the novels, with photos, finger prints, lists of evidence, newspaper clippings, court filings, etc.--the whole shebang. Fold-outs, maps, original electronic content somewhere online that the book could link to—perhaps video content: Interrogations, mock news reports, etc. The book could contain diary entries—whatever! The point, in this example, is that Joe decides to bring the world of Jack Daniels alive in some manner above and beyond another novel.

Now he could certainly afford to self-publish such a book. For all I know, he’s planning such a project right now.

But this is where crowdfunding could come in handy. Joe could use Kickstarter to achieve two related, but different things:

1. He uses the Kickstarter to give his fans a voice in what they want to see in a book like that. One of the advantages of crowdfunding is that, for the duration of the campaign, it facilitates dialogue between Joe and his audience. He could develop stretch goals based on feedback from his audience to include specific things in that book and perhaps not include other things. In other words, he could get real-time feedback from the people who are going to eventually purchase the book. That feedback, in this situation, would probably be very interesting to have. (Note that I am NOT saying feedback from readers while writing a novel is necessarily a good thing—probably just the opposite. But if he were to create a ‘sourcebook’ or a companion piece to his novels, feedback could be helpful.)
2. The other purpose of crowdfunding in this case is to serve as a real-time gauge of what interest there is out there for such a book. Perhaps he launches his campaign, and it flops for lack of interest. In that case, Joe realizes that there is no audience for a Jack Daniels coffee table book, and he shelves the idea. No harm, no foul. Or perhaps, the campaign funds many times over. In that case, Joe realizes that the idea is pretty cool, that a lot of people are interested in it, and that it is worthwhile project for him to pursue. If nothing else, it guided him in the decision of how to spend his time.

I would say that, for people who are ‘known’, crowdfunding provides a relatively risk-free opportunity to try something new.

For artists of any stripe, I think there is definitely a place for crowdfunding. Kickstarter is not the only platform. Inkshares is another platform, more specifically concerned with publishing (www.inkshares.com), but they have a fairly different model. Perhaps still worth checking out.

Walter Knight said...

If you cannot do technical work yourself (most can't, everyone needs an editor) there are plenty of small publishers who will do it for a percentage. You plan to spend more money than could ever reasonably be recouped from a new author's first writing project. The invention of Kindle and E-book distribution means new authors don't need funding to launch writing projects. What am I missing?

Alan Spade said...

I agree with Walter.

"Some thoughts in response to Alan’s comments from above:

I agree that running a Kickstarter does take a lot of work and dedication. But I would say that it is actually no different than the work and dedication that any indie author is going to put into their efforts to become known. The one big difference is that, with Kickstarter or any other crowd funding platform, the writer is trying to advertise and drum up support for a product that does not yet exist. This is backward from the ‘typical’ (if it can be called that) model where the author writes a book, gets in out in the world (through Amazon or any other means), and THEN tries to make a name for themselves and their work."

The main difference with the work and dedication an indie author is going to put into her efforts is that you can learn during the whole process of self-publishing, and you do the things steps by steps.

You are to be commanded for your efforts in pursuing this venue, Nick, because self-publishing is all about experimenting.

And if you are a very organized person, and have great stuff to deliver to fans, a kickstarter campaign may be just what you need.

I'm sorry if I sounded negative, but for a newbie author who would not have the time to read all the posts in Joe's blog, I would definitely recommend Andrea's one over a kickstarter campaign: http://jakonrath.blogspot.fr/2015/10/guest-post-by-andrea-pearson.html

But your comments are very interesting, Nick. Food for thought.


I recommend Chereese Graves. She was referred by Joe Konrath. She's also advertised via his website. Use her she kicks butt.


Nick you should also consider submitting these novels to Kindle Scouts. If you get voted in you get a $1,500 advance plus a 50/50 royalty split with Amazon.com. I'm doing that for Meat Box under my pen name Earle Laredo. Mine launches tomorrow. Go over and check it out. It's worth the try. Best!!

Steven M. Moore said...

I was referring to Kindle Scouts in my post above, but I didn't want to name names. Because you have to have most everything ready to use Scouts, why not just publish the ebook? The only advantage of Scouts over KickStart or GoFundMe is that it's specific to books. But, if you're going to go for the American Idol experience, you might as well just publish and hope for popular votes from the reading public. What am I missing?
As an author I'm dismayed by other authors begging for votes or reviews or interviews, but to each his own. I'm not going to do that. The prices of my books are so low that I'm always running in the red, but I'd rather do that than go begging. Just my hangup, I guess....

Anonymous said...

Joe (thanks) we agree to disagree. You read the Passive Voice which was redacted. I never RAILED AGAINST used bookstores. I railed against this common pop culture fad that it's cool and hip to bash Amazon and bash digital.

I railed against too many writers hopping on that wagon before they engaged their brains.

Writers forget they are also running a business. What they post matters. If they repost Amazon is BAD, guess what? Family, friends and followers won't buy their books digitally and will go see if they can get a copy at the used bookstore because digital books are OF THE DEVIL.

Better get a paper copy!

And feel free to call me stupid all you like. I have rhino skin. I really don't care because I don't make any opinion I'm not prepared to defend.

But I haven't always been a writer. I used to have a nine-state territory and all of Northern Mexico. I had a three million dollar quota for industrial paper sales. Three million in paper is a lot of freaking paper.

People (customers) need handholding and trust me.

It is really easy to confuse them.

If you read the original post, I chastised writers for promoting FIRST venues they aren't paid. Then for promoting articles that BASH the ways they are paid BEST. And for promoting articles that are more than a little gray.

That article was borderline yellow journalism in that it used Amazon and digital as click bait and then the innuendo was that by sheer virtue of being in PAPER it benefitted writers.

I am just the only one who stood up and called it what it was.


This was not an article alone talking about how wonderful it was to have used bookstores back. If it had been? I wouldn't have had a problem.

The article has to be taken in context. In fact that article skewed facts and misrepresented the industry. Digital sales are NOT falling. That is PATENTLY FALSE.

That only accounts for traditional publishers and their digital sales are falling because um, DUH. Price an e-book at $14.99 and guess what? People just go ahead and buy paper.

That article was out and out propaganda….and NOT for the side most of the writers were on (indies).

How does it help writers spreading that crap? It doesn't.

And you of all people are lecturing me about sugar versus vinegar?

That's really rich :P

I love you Joe. I've followed you for years because you're a brilliant man. But why I also follow you is you call bullshit when you see it. You aren't PC and sweet tea and people respect you for that. I know I do.

Even though you think my ideas are stupid. I think some of yours are stupid too. So at least we have things in common.

But sometimes it takes people having the guts to NOT BE NICE that makes the real changes. You of ALL people should appreciate that.

Anonymous said...

There is no reason that used and independent bookstores couldn't utilize the inexpensive technology to also benefit writers (and readers AND publishers AND bookstores).

Hey, I see you bought one of Joe Konrath's books. Did you know he has a new one out? Our store partners with Joe. It's only $2.99 on any format you like with out bookstore's APP. We can even help you load the book on your smartphone or tablet *cute face* With our app, you can get coupons, downloads and we can let you know about any events. Buy so many books and you can get free books from your favorite authors we partner with.

You sell NEW books through the used stores. With an app or some software setup? The cost is minimal. A pop up. Hey, you want to go ahead and add an e-book for $2.99.

That gets your impulse purchase.

Bookstores (new or used) then make commission by driving sales for your DIGITAL books. It's free money. This helps brick and mortar businesses.

It helps READERS because then clerks can act as skilled salespeople to help guide them through the discoverability NIGHTMARE. This helps readers, writers, publishers AND bookstores.

Maybe the clerk struggling through college makes some commission. Since digital has more margin, this is very doable.

The reader gets more cheap books.

Everyone wins when we quit just defending the status quo. Learned that from you :P Thanks for the food for thought.