By Shawndra Russell-
In November 2011, I participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing
Month) for the first time. Ten months later, Couple Friends was
published thanks to my successful Kickstarter campaign in May 2012.
I was able to raise $4,000 because 71 wonderful people believed in
me and my book enough to want this dream to come true.
What a great feeling.
I was shocked by some of the people that donated to my campaign.
Some I hadn’t spoken to (beyond Facebook) since high school or
college. Others were strangers, typically friends of friends. A
few of my freelance writing and social media clients even donated
to my Kickstarter! This platform made it possible to reach out to
people that otherwise would not have known I was writing a book.
Plus, it eliminated the awkwardness that can come with fundraising
because it became about more than just the money.
Those dollars enabled me to hire a professional editor, book cover
designer, and use a consultant to help me properly convert and
upload my Word document so it could become a real, live book
available for purchase. Without Kickstarter, I wouldn’t have a
book published yet.
However, the love and support of my backers meant more to me than
the dollar amounts they gave. Whenever I doubted myself or became
really frustrated doing what I thought was the last edit before the
absolute final edit, I knew that I had 71 people in my corner. They
took time out of their busy lives and reached into their hearts and
wallets to help me achieve my goals. If that doesn’t put faith in
you about humanity, I don’t know what will. And they were counting
on me; I couldn’t just stop when things got hard. I was able to push
through some tough times because I knew my backers believed in me.
Another wonderful part of using Kickstarter to fund my novel was
that when it was finished and available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble,
and Smashwords, I had 71 people that were eager to read it. I had a
built-in audience that was willing to help me by leaving reviews,
telling their friends, and sharing my book news on Facebook and
Twitter. My Kickstarter backers have become my street team, and
they continue to help spread the word and support me today.
Using a site like Kickstarter forces you to start marketing yourself
and your book before the book is published, which is what we should
all do anyway. You have to put yourself out there in the form of
emails, social media updates, creating a Facebook event, and posting
updates about your project directly through Kickstarter, which blasts
out to your backers and can be made public on the Kickstarter website.
I know that there is even more I could have done, but thankfully, I
was fully funded in my final hour due to several generous souls.
I will always be glad that I took my publishing dreams into my own
hands and utilized Kickstarter to make my first novel a reality. And
although I will not use Kickstarter to publish my second novel—Keepsakes,
currently in the editing stage—because I feel like it’s up to me from
here on out, I feel truly blessed that these crowdfunding platforms
are available to authors that don’t want to wait for agents to offer
representation or traditional publishing houses to say yes.
Here’s a list of ten crowdfunding options to get you started, and
please contact me if you have any questions. Good luck!
Shawndra Russell is a former high school English teacher who traded
in her lesson plans for a career of writing books and creating social
media strategies for small businesses. She writes regular dining
features for South magazine, a music column for Savannah Morning
News and has contributed to BeerAdvocate, Travel+Leisure Cigar
Aficionado, Media Bistro, Forbes Travel, and Snooth. She loves
Savannah, craft beer, mud runs and Twitter (@ShawndraRussell),
and can be reached on her website www.shawndrarussell.com .