Tag Archives: novels

What the heck is crowdfunding, and how can authors use it to fund their books?


I’ve heard of it, but I never really “got it.” I mean, asking for people for money BEFORE you write your book? Is that just plain weird, or is it revolutionary?

Today I asked author/publisher Danielle Ackley-McPhail to stop by and explain all this insanity.

Danielle has successfully crowdfunded several books. Let’s see how this stuff works.

Here’s Danielle!
Swish thin
Not everyone gets crowdfunding. A lot of people do it, for various reasons, but the general public doesn’t have a concept of what goes into such a campaign or what motivates one.

Sites like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and Patreon, to name a few, are all platforms where individuals can learn about projects that meet their interests. Based on how well the creator has done their job, those individuals then decide if the project is one they want to support.

A lot of work goes in to a successful campaigns, from designing them, to explaining what they are about, to organizing the rewards backers can expect for their pledge and as bonuses when the goal is exceeded, and above all, promoting them. It is a long, exhaustive process that begins with an idea and is not done until all commitments have been met.

eSpec BooksFor me, I use crowdfunding to finance my efforts as a publisher. I have run seven successful campaigns as both myself and eSpec Books and am soon to wrap up an eighth. I have chosen crowdfunding as a part of my business model because I have been in the publishing industry for over twenty years as an employee and as an author. Over those years I have seen most of the pitfalls independent publishers get themselves into. Hundreds of Dollars MoneyThe primary one being that they tend to overextend themselves. They start with a certain amount of capital (or credit) and race to see how many books they can get out (one of them, with hope, a runaway hit) before those funds are gone. For a while they do okay, but a few bad book choices or slow selling months, perhaps paired with heavy returns, and suddenly the publisher finds he doesn’t have the money he needs to sustain the rapid growth and pay the authors.
I don’t want to be that publisher. For this reason I steadfastly refused for the longest time even considering to be a publisher.
Then crowdfunding happened.
All of a sudden I saw a way to make books possible. See, for a publisher (or an independent author), crowdfunding is basically a way to pre-sell a book. It is also a way to build an audience and increase visibility. Some use it as a way to fund their creative efforts, but I would recommend against this. There are too many complications in promising something that does not exist yet, after all…life does have a habit of getting in the way when you least expect it.

By using crowdfunding as a part of the eSpec Books business model I ensure my projects are in the black from the get-go, instead of needing to earn back their production costs before making a profit. I also ensure I have the funding to pay professionals to do any of the work I am not capable of doing myself. Lastly, by Size of a Dollar Areserving half of the money received in a separate royalty account, I ensure I have the money set aside to pay the authors what they are due. Our growth is slow, but steady, and the foundation we are building is solid. For most of our campaigns there has been little left over once everything is paid for, but everything we bring in after that is profit.

In addition to this, with each successful and completed project we grow our built-in audience as well as our credibility as a publisher.
Book Left1The key is to go into the venture with realistic goals. To know what you can and cannot do, and be prepared to work your butt off to make it happen. This is important. Most publishing crowdfunding campaigns do not succeed. This is because individuals go into it thinking they are going to collect free money. That people are just goBook Left1ing to hand it to them. They go into it thinking only of what they want to achieve, instead of what will make it worth a backer’s support.
Backers don’t care what you want. They want to know what’s in it for them. That is where your focus should be, making sure the backers feel they are getting good value for their support.
Yes, it takes a lot of work, but if you want to make dreams happen, it’s more than worth the effort.

Want to see a live crowdfunding project?

Check out the info and the link below. Interesting stuff.

eSpec Books is currently funding two novels by bestselling authors Jack Campbell (The Lost Fleet, The Lost Stars, and The Pillars of Reality series) and Brenda Cooper (co-author of Building Harlequin’s Moon with Larry Niven, and author of The Wings of Creation series).  The two books are very different coming-of-age stories.
Jack Campbell’s The Sister Paradox is an urban fantasy turned epic adventure, where a teen boy crosses dimensions to fight dragons and basilisks and other manner of magical creatures beside the sword-wielding younger sister he never had.
Brenda Cooper’s POST is a post-apocalyptic journey novel, where a girl name Sage leaves the safety of the botanical garden she grew up in to discover the world outside and with hope, help rebuild it.
To learn more or to support their efforts, visit http://tiny.cc/Novels2016.

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The books I read in 2013: Listed from “Best” to “Not So Best”

Wow. Totaling them all up, I read 21 books in 2013. That’s not too shabby. Ten of these are novellas, so I guess that would equate to the equal of 16 full-length novels.

Up until two years ago, I felt accomplished if I finished ONE book in a year.  I’ve found that reading GOOD books has improved my writing in leaps and bounds. If you are not reading, Why not?

These are the books I read last year, in order of how good I thought they were. Now remember, I can be easily swayed by an explosion, so some of these got pushed down the list simply because they were not as exciting as another book.  A few of them are down there because, well…. someone has to be at the bottom, right?

You also might see me saying that I don’t like a certain kind of novel. So why did I read it? As an author, I try to “round” myself out. If I only read explosions I won’t be opening myself up to different pacing and different types of tension. I look at every book I read as a learning experience. If I forget that I’m reading, and think “Ergh! I’ll have to read it again to study how they did (insert really great thing here)” Then those books ended up in the top 5. Okay… maybe the top six. 🙂

If you’d like to know my opinions on a book that I did not review feel free to drop me a line.

So, here’s my list from Best to “no so best” of 2013.

#1:  Obsidian, A Lux Novel by Jennifer L. Armentrout – I got close to the end of the year before I found a book good enough to take over the number one position from “Slipping a Toe In”.  Obsidian is a great Sci-Fi love story.  I was on edge from page one.  Very well done. (Search this site for my full review)

#2: Dipping a Toe In by Linda Carroll-Bradd – A snoozer of a Sweet Romance that wowed me with the writing style. (Reviewed)

#3: Sweet Blood of Mine by John Corwin – YA paranormal from a boy’s perspective. Great YA first person voice. Just Loved it! Bring on book 2 (Reviewed)

#4: Crossing Hathaway by Jocelyn Adams – Awesome Hot Romance.  Great Fluidity of Writing. Big fan of Jocelyn Adams. (Reviewed)

#5: Caught Up In Us by Lauren Blakely – Picked this up while researching “Best Selling” Contemporary Romance.  It did not disappoint.  Great characters you could relate to.

#6: Shadows, A Lux novella by Jennifer L. Armentrout – I’m trying to decide if I would have rated this higher if I did not read book 2 first.  I think this is better as a book two than a book one.  I liked knowing what was going to happen. It made the whole experience more “tense”. Stupendous voice.

#7: Eye of the Soul – By Terri Rochenski – Great World building.  A classic-style fantasy tale.

#8: Romance Novel Book Club by Kastil Eavenshade – as naughty as this book was, it was just too darn much fun.  Very readable and hard to put down.  A romance writer poking fun at the romance genre – brilliant (Reviewed)

#9: Stone Chameleon – Jocelyn Adams New, interesting world from one of my favorite authors. I hemmed and hawed over this one. I ended up ranking it down because there is a heavy vampire theme, and apparently I’m not crazy about vampires. This book really grew on me as I read, but it took me a while to engage because of the bloodsuckers.

#10: A Touch of Greek by Tina Folsom – Despite its faults, I really liked this. Consider it a “Guilty Pleasure” (Reviewed)

This Wicked Magic by Michele Hauf – The little Engine that could – Slow start, but great roller-coaster-ride ending. (Reviewed)

Whirlwind – Romantic/Erotic Short – Excellent writing, but it was really just a sexual fantasy with not much story involved.  I like a little more meat to chew on (ah-hem… sorry) The writing as good though.

Talbot’s Seduction – Kastil Eavenshade Great historical setting. I love this author’s ability to bring me back in time. I just wish I liked her main character in this series more.

Alone No More by Terri Rochenski– Great Historical Writing. Really felt like I was there. The middle of the story was a touch slow for my tastes

Resonance – JA Belfield – Great Premise. This is a “linker” novella that does not stand alone.  I loved the scenes in the “other world”.  Very Imaginative

Purely Relative by Claire Gillian– While this had a great ending, the beginning was a bit slow for me.  The writing was awesome, though.

Sorcerer’s Apprentice – Purchased to research the publisher. My review earlier in 2013 says it all.

18 Things by Jamie Ayres – I hate putting a novel this good below some things that were not written as well, but I really did not enjoy this book.  That is a reflection of a bad match of book to reader – not a reflection of the book, because it was awesome and thought-provoking. (Reviewed)

Capturing the Marshall’s Heart – Didn’t hold my attention, despite being by one of my favorite authors. Great Western setting though – which may have been part of the problem. Western is not my cup of tea.

#20 and #21: 

I decided not to post the titles to #20 and #21 in respect to the authors, because they were awful. Just awful.  (Oh, not the authors… their books)

Some books, like #3 “Sweet Blood of Mine” do wonders for the self-publishing industry.  Others, like #20 and #21, are the kind of books that give self-publishing a bad name.

Please, please, please don’t self-publish your book without professional opinions. It makes you look bad. It makes your reader mad, and it brings down the writing profession in general.

So, what were your favorites  of 2013? Any good suggestions for me to read this year? Anything I should avoid?


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Versatile Blogger Award

I’ve been given a Versatile Blogger Award

Wow, my first award.  How cool.

The Versatile Blogger Award is a means for bloggers to support each other, and recognize great, versatile, and helpful blogs.

Last week, I was added to the list by Derek Berry of Word Salad.  Derek Blogs about different kinds of lettuce, and the best dressings to go with them.  Well, not really… but just give him time.  He’ll get to it.  Please check out his site.  And thanks, Derek for choosing me!

I don’t know how versatile I am.  I’m mainly writing to help others… it’s just in my nature.  I’m all warm and fuzzy that this blog has caught on so quickly, and I have so many followers.  It’s kind of humbling… Thanks, guys.

So, the details:  In accepting this Grand Honor, I need to do a few things.

#1:  I need to nominate 15 other blogs for this dubious honor.  (And let them know they were chosen)

#2:  I need to expose share 7 facts that most people don’t know about me.  Yikes.

I really want to think over those 15 Blog sites.  A few of them are no-brainers… the ones I enjoy and hop to frequently.  I’m trying to figure out if I have 15 great ones, though.  I don’t want to pick just anyone.  I want to think over the really good ones. (Sorry, I’m anal that way)

Hmmmmm.  I guess let’s start with me…

1.        I own a show dog that’s worth more than most people’s first cars.  Pretty weird for me since up until 8 months or so ago I was a sworn “Pound Dog” person.

2.        I love to play with my kids.  Especially in public.  Only a parent can get away with running through a field pretending to be an air-plane, or can go to one of those Blow-Up Jump Zone places, and scale up the walls and go down those giant slides, or jump around in a bounce-house.  I feel sorry for all those parents that just sit there and watch.  PLAY WITH YOUR KIDS.  What, are you afraid of what you look like?  Who cares!  Have fun!  Before you know it, they’ll be seventeen and not want anything to do with you!

3.        I graduated in the top 5 of my High School class (I think, it was a long time ago) and I graduated with Honors from College (English, Communications, and Mass Media)  Yeah, I’m a word geek.

4.        My hobbies are Swimming, Hiking, and Writing.  Nothing’s more relaxing than a hike through the woods.  The other day, my kids and I found a dinosaur nest!  You’ll never know where your imagination can bring you in the wilderness.

5.        I used to paint Animation Cells (Like in the Disney Store) but I haven’t picked up a paintbrush in 11 years, since my first son was born.

6.        I hate unnecessary cursing, in real life… and in novels.  The F-bomb is not an adjective, people!  I also hate it when people mess with the English Language.  Whoever put “ain’t” in the dictionary should be shot.

7.        I’m shy.  Yeah, really I am.  Well, maybe not totally shy.  I’m not afraid of people, I’m just the worst conversationalist in the world.  Problem is, there is no one in a 10 mile radius that has the same interests as me, so I’m helplessly lost when people start talking about football (or any other sport) or when they go on about how many different medications they are taking for this many ailments.  Ugh!  Now, Adjectives and Adverbs…THERE’s a fun conversation!  Heck, I’ll even talk about music if you like what I like (unlikely) or hiking.   Anything FUN.  Absolutely no-one wants to talk about writing.  Thanks goodness for my writer’s group! (Which I have to drive a half-hour to get to—Ugh)

Well, there you go.  I expounded a little, so you learned more than you probably wanted to know.  I should have made it short and sweet, but hey, I’m a rebel.  I used to have pink hair.  OOPS!  Now you know eight things!

Okay, now the 15 Versatile Blogger Nominees.  Some of these people may have been nominated before.  I didn’t research.  These are just my favorites.  A few of them are professionals, so maybe they shouldn’t be included… but their blogs are so cotton-picking good that I couldn’t help but mention them.

My Versatile Blogger Choices

1.        Nathan Bransford-This is the first site I found, and what a GREAT resource for writers.  If you have not been there, stop now and shoot over.  I found all my current beta-partners there.  It’s a great, friendly group of writers.  I unfortunately have not been there in a few months.  Time constraints and all, but I can always find something interesting in the forums. Although I have not navigated there, I read his blog (it’s emailed to me) all the time.

2.        Brenda Drake-I love her site.  She always has great contests, and she fashions them to make you branch out and read other blogs.  Nicely done, Brenda.

3.        Natalie Hartford:  I came across Natalie through Row80.  I really enjoy her end of the week reviews of great stuff that’s happened in other people’s blogs.  With my schedule, it’s easy to miss the “good stuff”.  I can trust Natalie to let me know where it is. (and I’m always tickled when I’m included in her line-up)

4.        Liza Kane-Nice, down to earth writing.  She is very sincere, and always a nice read.  If you’re having a bad day, click on over and read Liza.  She’s better than aspirin.

5.        Jenny Keller Ford-[[DISCLAIMER-She is one of my Beta Partners]]- but reading her blog pushed me to start my own.  She also has great links to many writers’ Web Sites in her navigation bars.  She is about to hit 10,000 reads, which blows my mind.

6.        Gina Carey-Gina is an aspiring author who blogs about whatever comes to mind.  She is very open, and I like her unassuming, “real” writing style.  She is a new blogger… She’s only been around for about four months but she digs in like a pro.

7.        Kristina Stanley– Here’s a lady who can keep a focus.  She’s out on a sailboat in the middle of the ocean for months, and manages to stop at a port once in a while to blog.  She has a dog on board with her, which I find amazing.  I wish I could take off for months at a time.  Can you imagine writing your novel out in the middle of the ocean?  If you like writing and boats, check out “Writing and Cruising Lifestyle”

8.        Kait Nolan-I love Kait’s header.  It’s what we all want when we can afford professional artwork.  Kait mixes personal life with some anecdotes we can all relate to as writers.  She also has a novel out there right now, and I love it when she gets excited when she gets a great review.

9.        Row80-This is actually also Kait Nolan.  Kait created Row80… and what a great idea!  I for one, am not an avid fan of NANO.  Row 80 lets you make your own goals, and then you are accountable to other “Rowers”.  Just making me write down my goals weekly has pushed me to “get it done”.   And I also have found some other great writers out there, and doubled the number of blogs I follow.  Kudos, Kait!

10.     Robin Weeks-I met Robin (in the cyber-world) a week after I started Blogging.  She was the only one who commented on my first contest entry.  She’s very nice, and likes to help other writers.  Also, like me, she’s never met a contest she didn’t like.  She’s also brave enough to post pictures of herself when she has the flu.  Yikes!

11.     Kristen Lamb – I love her sense of humor.  She has a lot of great stuff in her blog, and she presents it in a way that anyone can relate to… and she’s published, so she has credentials behind her.  Kudos to her for not turning the other cheek and moving on.  She is still blogging for us all to enjoy.

12.     Marji Laine:  I like Marji’s outlook, and openness about things people are afraid to talk about.  Her blog is nice, especially the pictures she digs up for each post.  It really brings her words alive.  Kudos, Marji!

13.     Rachelle Gardner-This blog is especially great because she’s an agent.  Who better to take advice from than your target audience?  I love her post on what not to do when you’re querying.—a subject dear to my heart right now as I’m trudging through my own.  This is a blog I read all the time.

14.     Gloria Richard-Gloria is a hoot.  If you read the comments on my blog, you’ll see Gloria here all the time.  She’s lively and fun, and she has great posts on her blog to help people struggling through the evasive worlds of Twitter and Facebook and stuff like that.  I’m all about words, but marketing?  Thanks, Gloria… I’ll take all the help I can get.

15.     Jane Friedman – Advice on just about anything.  She’s a professor and speaker (so says her blog) and it shows.  A lot of great info to dig your teeth into.

Well, there you have it… my fifteen nominees.  Please take some time and visit the ones that you haven’t been to before.  These are all great writers, and worth the “click”

And thanks for following along with me here!

Jennifer Eaton