“Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “A sheer pleasure.” – Tana French. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville. “The effortless cool of Elmore Leonard at his peak.” – Ray Banks. “A fine writer at the top of his game.” – Lee Child.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Show Me The Money; Or, Putting The ‘Fun’ Into Crowdfunding

As all three regular readers of this blog will know, I’ve been banging on about a writers’ co-op recently, this despite (or because of) the fact I don’t have two brass farthings to rub together. You’ll also know that I’ve written a novel called A GONZO NOIR (aka BAD FOR GOOD), the gist of which runneth thusly:
A GONZO NOIR is a story about how a struggling writer – one Declan Burke, coincidentally enough – is approached by a character called Karlsson, the latter being a character from an m/s Burke wrote some years ago, but which got shelved for its lack of commercial appeal, principally because Karlsson is a hospital porter and something of a psychopath, given to alleviating the pain of old patients in a terminal fashion. Trapped in the half-life limbo peopled by fictional characters who never see publication, Karlsson has a suggestion for Burke: make him a nicer psychopath to give the novel more commercial appeal, and give the story more oomph. To this end, Karlsson will collaborate on a rewrite of the m/s, which will involve him blowing up the hospital where he works. If Burke doesn’t play ball, then Karlsson will turn his psychopathic tendencies on Burke’s wife and baby daughter …
  The novel has been out under consideration with a number of publishers for some months now, and – ooh, the irony – it appears that, despite the largely positive reaction from commissioning editors, the story lacks for mass commercial appeal.
  As a result, I’m thinking strongly of self-publishing the novel, albeit self-publishing with a twist, as a kind of dry run for the co-op idea mentioned elsewhere on this blog. But before I get into the hard sell, let me offer you first a sample of the reactions I received when I sent the m/s to a number of writers in the hope of a blurb or two:
“A genuinely original take on noir, inventive and funny. Imagine, if you can, a cross between Flann O’Brien and Raymond Chandler.” – John Banville, Booker Prize-winning author of THE SEA

“A GONZO NOIR is unlike anything else you’ll read this year … Laugh-out-loud funny … This is writing at its dazzling, cleverest zenith. Think John Fowles, via Paul Auster and Rolling Stone … a feat of extraordinary alchemy.” – Ken Bruen, author of AMERICAN SKIN

“Burke has written a deep, lyrical and moving crime novel … an intoxicating and exciting novel of which the master himself, Flann O’Brien, would be proud.” – Adrian McKinty, author FIFTY GRAND

“Stop waiting for Godot – he’s here. Declan Burke takes the existential dilemma of characters writing themselves and turns it on its ear, and then some. He gives it body and soul … an Irish soul.” – Reed Farrel Coleman, three-time Shamus Award-winning author of EMPTY EVER AFTER

“A GONZO NOIR is shockingly original and completely entertaining. Post-modern crime fiction at its very best.” – John McFetridge, author of EVERYBODY KNOWS THIS IS NOWHERE

“A harrowing and yet hilarious examination of the gradual disintegration of a writer’s personality, as well as a damned fine noir novel … Burke has outdone himself this time; it’s a hell of a read.” – Scott Philips, author of THE ICE HARVEST
  Okay, now for the hard sell.
  Generally speaking, self-publishing involves a writer investing his or her own hard-earned money in having a book published, and then hoping that enough readers will buy the book to make it worth his or her while. Generally speaking, I tend to go about things backasswards, so I’m going to invert the conventional model and ask the readers to put their money where my mouth is. It’s a variation on crowdfunding, in which a reader pledges a certain amount of money to see the book published, and in return receives a copy of the book when it sees the light of day.
  Now, I know we’re living through straitened times, and that no one has money to toss around willy-nilly. That said, and these straitened times notwithstanding, people are still spending money and reading books; the crucial issue these days, at least in my own experience, is value for money.
  So: how much am I asking readers to pledge? Well, I reckon that €7 lies somewhere between what you might pay for a conventionally published book brand new off the shelves, and what you might pay for a decent book in a second-hand store. €7 converts (as of today’s conversion rates, February 17th) to roughly $9.60 (US), $10.60 (Aus), $10 (Can), and £6 (UK).
  The cost of self-publishing, going the print-on-demand (POD) route, is roughly €1,500. At €7 per book, that means I need to sell 214 books to break even, which seems to me eminently do-able. Of course, if everyone who pledges is receive a copy, then I need to build in post-and-packing at €5 per book, which bumps up the cost-per-book to me to €12. Were I to ask for a pledge of €12 per book, that would mean I’d need to sell 125 copies to break even. Sticking with the original pledge of €7, however, which I’d prefer to do, means I need to sell 367 books to break even, which still seems do-able to me. In total, then, I need to raise €2,570 to print, publish and post 367 books; if such can be done, I will receive a profit of almost exactly nil, but I’ll have a new book on the shelf, and – hopefully, if a tad optimistically – 367 readers given good value for their €7 investment.
  How to raise that amount in a fashion that is clear, transparent, and leaves the reader reassured that he or she isn’t going to be bilked for their €7? Well, there’s a site called Kickstarter, which offers a platform for the raising of capital for such projects as this. The basic idea is that I set up a project with a total amount that needs to be raised (€2,570). I let people know where and how they can pledge their €7, and hopefully 367 people buy into the idea. If the amount is raised within a specific time period (three months, say), then your pledge is accepted and transferred to my bank account, and shortly afterwards you receive your copy of A GONZO NOIR; if the total amount isn’t reached in a specified period, all pledges are cancelled and it costs nobody anything, except possibly yours truly’s pride. For more information on the Kickstarter project, clickety-click here.
  So there you have it. Any takers?

80 comments:

Bob said...

Hi Dec,

I'm in. I figure it's well worth a punt.

Bob

Allan Cavanagh said...

Put me down for one.

Declan Burke said...

Much obliged, chaps ... Only 365 readers to go ...

Cheers, Dec

eoinpurcell said...

DO IT.

Also do it now! Better to link to an actual Kickstarter project than to link to the about page!

Then you have a call to action!
Eoin

dudara said...

Count me in - that's another one down.

Gerard Brennan said...

362 now.

gb

Pat McArdle said...

Count me in too. And you can shave 3 quid off the delivery charges by buying me a cup of coffee and handing over the goods.

Will tweet and fb this project and I encourage everyone else to do the same. Good on you Deccy. Can't keep a good man down.

Rory said...

Count me in

adrian mckinty said...

I'm definitely in. Its a great book. I'll take the book from you in person though when I'm over to save on shipping to the other end of the planet.

The economics of this are impressive. I might be coming around to this notion.

Are you going to be your own editor and copyeditor or what? And arent review copies going to cost you personally now?

Des Greene said...

Why not publish ebook for no cost and get instant distribution to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Sony Ebookstore, and others...

Steve Weddle said...

I'm in for a couple of (signed?) copies.

Alan Griffiths said...

Count me in Dec!

Declan Burke said...

Again, folks, I'm much obliged ... a very generous response.

Pat - I may even splash for a latte ...

Adrian - the POD model I've been investigating has a built-in 40 free copies for the author; they'll be the review copies. Also, I'm hoping that if we get 367 people on board, and word of mouth being what it is, some of the 367 copies will be review copies in themselves. I'll have to eat the cost of posting the review copies, of course.

Des - A good question, and no reason why the book couldn't be published as an e-book as well; but (a) people (myself included) like an actual book to hold in their hands; and (b) not everyone is techied up with e-book software.

Cheers, Dec

Hid said...

Janey! Sounds like a great idea! Count me in for a copy.

Donna said...

Count me in for 3. 2 for me and one for a giveaway on the blog.
Donna

Steven T. said...

Put me down for two - one for me and one for giving away.

Kevin C said...

I am in. Make mine a deuce, one for me, one to spread the word to other readers.

Uriah Robinson said...

Declan, put me down for two one for me, and one to be given away as a quiz prize.
What happened on Saturday!

Is Jerry Flannery:
a] someone who had forgotten their hurley.
b] a Thai kick boxing champion
c] a future Irish finance minister.
d] trying to get the part of Ken Bruen's Jack Taylor in a film.

best wishes
Norm

Paula said...

count me in but I could not find it on the Kickstarter site?

pattinase (abbott) said...

I'd be most happy to buy one if I don't have to deal with conversions or pay pal. In other words, if I can put US dollars or a check into an envelope, I'm in. I have countless money on paypal but can neve figure out how to access it.

Cathy said...

I'll take one as well, I think it's a great idea. Will you add a Kickstarter button on your blog?

Tony Bailie said...

I'll do it after pay day. Next week. Will be interested to hear how it works out

Shane Hegarty said...

I'm in.

Naomi Johnson said...

I'm on! I despise amazon, but for one of your books, Dec, I can suppress my revulsion.

Naomi Johnson said...

Oh, and I'll need to buy two copies. One for me and another as gift.

EolaĆ­ said...

I'll play.

Scott Phillips said...

sure, why not....I'd like to get my hands on a hard copy.

Declan Burke said...

Yet again, ta very much, folks ... and I'm liking this whole trend towards buying multiple copies. Your generosity knows no bounds ...

Paula - I haven't opened a project yet on the Kickstarter site; this post is intended as 'market research' (koff) ... If the reaction is strong enough, then I'll get on to Kickstarter and take it from there ...

Cathy - Definitely, if the project gets up and running, I'll post a Kickstarter button on the blog.

Uriah - Methinks Jerry Flannery watched Thierry Henry's handball once too often before the game.

Cheers,

Dec

Bill H said...

Dec, count me in. Can't wait to read it.

Bill

Michael Malone said...

Loving this idea, Dec. Count me in too.

Derrick said...

I would be willing to part with a few smackers for a chance to read more of your polluted ramblings.

Susan at Stony River said...

I'm up for one, and will tweet. I love the idea you came up with: good luck!

J. Kingston Pierce said...

Count me in too, Dec. -- Jeff

Garbhan said...

I'm in too Dec. (I think you're underpricing yourself though.)

Rob Kitchin said...

Dec, a slightly different proposition might be to seek investors willing to put up a fairly large stake. For putting up the initial capital they'd get a share of any profits of the book, kind of like partnership publishing. You'd need to work out (Dragon's Den style) how much share you're willing to give up for how much investment. For example, if someone was to stump up the whole 1500 euro needed perhaps they'd get a 50 percent stake in the enterprise and any future profits/costs (like reprinting) are split 50/50 (or a ratio you think is fair). I don't know whether anyone who reads this blog would be interested in this kind of deal, or whether you'd want to pursue it, but might be something to think about? Are there Arts Council grants or something that might also cover costs? In the meantime, I'll commit to a couple of copies.

SaS said...

Great idea Declan, count me in. And to save on postage I'll collect the book from wherever you wish in Dublin...

Deborah Lawrenson said...

Go for it, Dec.

Duane Swierczynski said...

How many would I have to buy to be included as a character?

Eric Beetner said...

I'm down. Great idea. Anything that blows up the publishing model like a punk rock to the head I am all for.

marty said...

I'm in. I've spent more on books by authors I've never read before! I REALLY like your stuff, and the book sounds like a blast!

Go for it!

Mick Rooney said...

Declan,

€7 per book!! Is that just the print/production cost?

I know you are also getting 40 books with that, but I'm not sure you've really shopped around.

Original writing do an all-in package for €1595 and give you 100 books.

The actual cost of printing a POD 200 page print ready files is...£2.90, about €3.50

What stage is your book at? Print ready or in word MS format. Either way, €7 per book plus €5 shipping is out of this universe!

This sounds like you are being quoted a publishing package, and a poor one at that.

What services are you being quoted for the €1500?

I as much as anyone here want you to get this right, but with the potential of several hundred pledges, POD stops being viable at 400-500 copies. That's the tipping point when offset print actually becomes cheaper.

Just my thoughts...

Sarah Cypher said...

Good luck, Declan! I happened upon your blog this evening, and thought the number of immediate book orders from your friends was remarkable.

So much so, that I blogged about it here. I hope you don't mind; I've been researching self-publishing trends as a writer and freelance editor, and thought your post was worth mentioning.

All best wishes.

Declan Burke said...

Derrick - 'Polluted ramblings'? I thank you kindly, sir ...

Duane - You're already in it, man. You take a cap to the face on page two, and come back as an avenging angel.

Rob - That's a totally different model than what I have in mind, although it'd save me a lot of work, certainly. But (a) I can't see it happening, and (b) it'd take a lot of the fun out of it.

Mick - If you think I can get a better deal elsewhere, I'm all ears. Maybe that way I can cut down on the number of books I need to sell to break even, and reduce the cost price to the reader. Drop me a line ...

Sarah - Much obliged for the blog post, ma'am ...

Cheers, Dec

John Delaney, CEO, Intrade said...

Almost irrespective of your book but primarily to support your innovation count me in.

Stuart Neville said...

I'll have a book too, please.

Have you looked at Lulu.com? There's no up-front cost, just the price of each book.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic idea - sign me up for a few copies!

Fiona said...

Some excellent lateral thinking here and I'm in, Dec. It's a terrific story and I'll be delighted to have a copy of the book. I'll need an extra two for gifts, so put me down for three, please.

To save on delivery, name a time & place in Dublin/Wicklow and tell all your Irish readers to come buy you a pint when they collect their books. (You'd want to reserve a taxi for the way home...)

Joe Guglielmelli said...

I'm in

Anonymous said...

Count me in Senior Burke!
Arlene Hunt.

eviljwinter said...

So this is the Anoraknophobia of the teens?

And email me offline. Tell me what a snowed in Yank must do to chip in.

(Do it soon. The dollar's spiral is still headed downward for the foreseeable future. You'll want those dollars while they're still good for 4 quarters.)

(Unlike the Cleveland Browns)

Emerging Writer said...

I looked at Kickstarter before and I think it only worked (Then anyway) for US based/address projects...is that a problem?

Susan @ The Joy of Writing said...

You might also like to try the Livejournal crowdfunding community who have been doing this for some time: crowdfunding.livejournal.com - this would open you up to international markets.

Craig said...

I'm in.

frankp said...

I'm in, I tried to find where to pledge the money and realised you don't have it set up yet.
Let me know when it's set up and I'll pledge and spread the word.

Anonymous said...

I am definatly in.

Let us know where to pledge!

Josh - Australia

Bernadette in Australia said...

I'm in for two copies

Mack said...

I'm in,

Ger Hartnett said...

Count me in too.

Declan Burke said...

Yet again, folks, I'm very grateful for your support, it's hugely encouraging. If this is the kind of reaction a blog post gets, then I'm tempted to believe that the project might even work out as planned.

Thanks for all the advice too, I'll be checking out your suggestions ...

Cheers, Dec

Dave said...

Hi Declan, an Irish friend just referred me here, as I just finished self-publishing my POD book. The costs you're talking about are sky-high. If you do it all yourself down to the PDF files, you could get a much lower cost, and avoid paying ANY shipping. Plus get distribution through Amazon (UK, US, ...), bookstores via special order, and even Book Depository for worldwide orders.

Anyway, to make it short, I did all the work myself (including buying ISBN's) and sent my files to Lightning Source, which is the printer that Lulu and many other intermediaries use. Total cost was under $500 US. I'm starting to write articles on the details of "how" ... http://daviddouglasbooks.com/node/49

I wanted to do an e-Book as well (via Kindle), but my German agent recommended against that. Apparently it's hard to get the rights back 100%, so (at least German) publishers will shy away even more if you've Kindle-published. But I think if YOU are the publisher (e.g. own the ISBN and 100% rights) there's a better chance of it being snapped up down the road.

Cheers,
Dave

Michael Malone said...

Just to let you know I'm spreading the word over at mine...http://mickmal1.blogspot.com/

I hope my three readers do likewise.

Peter Rozovsky said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peter Rozovsky said...

I'm in.
================
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"
http://detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/

Seth Kavanagh said...

I love this idea. Count me for a few copies when you've got the site up and running.

Thea said...

Declan, check out this info on creating podcasts
http://writerunboxed.com/2010/02/18/creating-a-podcast/

All the best with your book! t

FallGuy said...

Haven't read you yet. This seems the place to start. I'm in too.

bookwitch said...

I'll sign up, but you'll have to sign it/them...

Should have hung on to my jiffybags.

Anonymous said...

I'm in. What's the timeline on this? Just wondering how soon after pledging we could hope to receive our books.

Anonymous said...

Ok, Im in. Barry

Suzy said...

Me too

Edel said...

Yep, I'm in too.

Dermot said...

I'm in. Put me down for two copies. Reakon it'll make a nice original gift as well as a copy for myself

TheQ47 said...

Declan, You can count me in too. Save on postage, bring it to Sligo next time you're there, I'll get it off ya!

Ellen McC said...

Me Too. Good Luck.

Val McDermid said...

For god's sake, get the bloody page up and running before we all forget we want the book!

Peter Rozovsky said...

Yeah, hurry the feck up, will you, so I can link to this.
================
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"
http://detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/

Lrakyawnoc said...

Dec, count me in to and save on the postage please. I really like this idea.

Karlos

David Baynham said...

Dec, Anything to put a knot in the publishing world of instant "best-sellers", and receive another of your books. Put me down for two.

David

Rick Ollerman said...

I'll take one...

Josh Schrank said...

Dec,

I'm just now seeing this, but I have always loved that story. Count me in for a few. And if you need an investor, let me know, maybe we can work something out.