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Archived Author Help > A Question About Crowdfunding

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message 1: by Loh (new)

Teck Loh | 6 comments Last year, I completed the manuscript for Guards Gone Wild!, a memoir of my adventures in Singapore's private security industry. It was submitted to 4 publishers based in Singapore. As of today, my manuscript has been rejected by all 4 publishers.

Singapore being a small country with an even smaller literary market, it is blindingly obvious that it would be a futile waste of time to hang around and wait for fresh and receptive publishers to appear on the scene. Therefore, I have to self-publish. To do that, I will need to raise the necessary fund through crowdfunding.

This is the first time I am doing crowdfunding and so, naturally, I am not 100% sure about how I should go about doing things. If there are any self-published writers here who went through the crowdfunding route, please offer your advice and guidance. Thank you in advance.

And here's my question:

What do people want in return when they contribute to a crowdfunding campaign?

Originally, after talking it over with friends, we thought it would be a good idea to offer a free (and signed) copy of my book to any Singaporean donor who donates at least S$10 (the intended selling price of my book).

But now, I have just received the price estimates for various essential services related to the publication of a book, such as cover design and layout and copy editing and so on and so forth, and the total cost comes up to S$6960! And at the end of it, I get 500 printed copies.

500 copies. That makes our 1-free-signed-copy-for-every-$10-donation offer mathematically impossible. Because if $6960 is needed, then that would mean 696 ten dollars are needed and that means after giving away all 500 copies, I will still need to come up with an extra 196 copies to give away. And how am I supposed to do that?

I could make it if I offer a free signed copy for a $20 donation but then, that would make it look like I am overcharging them for the book.

So if giving away free copies to donors is no longer feasible, what can I do for the kind people who would be donating to my crowdfunding campaign?


message 2: by Dylan (new)

Dylan Callens | 193 comments I'm sure that you can get someone to do a cover for much, much, cheaper. Then, could you not go through Createspace and get your books done on demand? I'm not sure about shipping costs to Singapore but it seems like there are many better options than shelling out nearly $7000.


message 3: by Thomas (new)

Thomas Everson (authorthomaseverson) | 424 comments First...are we talking $7000 USD or Singapore dollars? If it's Singapore dollars then it'd be about $5200 USD.

I've seen crowdfunding done by other authors, and it's hard to get there because you pretty much need a giant base of followers already (or find some way to make your crowdfunding go viral). Most of those crowdfunds I've seen have failed, and they were asking for much less than what you're thinking.

The things offered end up being things like swag bags (keychains, bookmarks, pens, and other trinket stuff), then T-Shirts, coffee mugs, the book itself of course.

I'm not trying to be negative here, just realistic. 500 copies of the book is a very large number of people if you're just starting out. It may seem reasonable, but I've done promotions, conventions, shows, bookfairs, and other events and 500 is still a goal for me.

Honestly, $7000 is a very large amount to be asking for self publishing though. My book was professionally edited for $700, and my cover image and type print was $1050 USD. I should add that if I could learn to do it myself I did. That means I learned how to format and I created the side and back cover for my book with photo shop. It saves a lot on cost.


message 4: by Riley, Viking Extraordinaire (new)

Riley Amos Westbrook (sonshinegreene) | 1510 comments Mod
Are you attempting to publish through a vanity publisher? I'd tell you not to do that, as they charge exorbitant prices in order to do nothing for you. Instead I would tell you to go to fiverr or another site and find an artist that can make you a good cover cheap. (That is assuming you don't want to learn to make one yourself.)
Editing is expensive, but you can find editors that offer cheaper rates on the internet. Only 1500 for the entirety of my trilogy I first wrote (I admit, I still wish I could afford it).
In the long run, if you do all of these things yourself, you'll get a much better return than for paying someone to create your book. Createspace, Draft2Digital, Lulu, Kindle Select, Smashwords, there are a million venues in order to have print and ebooks that if done right can cost you nothing but the work you put in.
Vulture publishers will do a cursory edit, sell you 500 of your own books, and keep your rights for themselves. Then you have to share those profits you make from the book with them. After paying to have your book put out.
Don't forget to look at small publishers. I know I found it a boon to write with the one that I did. They offered a ton of help, and I learned a lot from them. *Note, not all small presses are created equally. Though I had a good time, some are horrible and stiff, and don't want to work with the authors once they have you on contract.*


message 5: by K.R. (new)

K.R. Reese (authorkrreese) | 41 comments Etsy has a few people who design EBook covers for reasonable prices too


message 6: by April (new)

April Wilson (aprilwilson) Can you use Createspace to create your paperbacks? There's NO cost to you to do that. You don't pay for copies, Amazon pays you! They pay you your royalties on paperbacks, but you never have to put out any money yourself.

Are you going to release your book as an ebook? What services does Amazon make available in Singapore? I don't know. But it shouldn't cost you nearly that much money to produce an e-book (Kindle e-book) and paperback on Amazon.

You should pay for:

professionally pre-made book cover set - approx US $125 for both an e-book cover and a paperback cover

US $500-$1,000 for editing

US $300-$500 for proofreading

So, you can do it all for US $925 to $1625. You shouldn't pay anyone for printing.

Now, to be honest, I'm not sure what you can do with Amazon in Singapore. Do they offer Kindle Direct Publishing in Singapore? Does anyone know? Do they offer CreateSpace for paperbacks to Singapore?

I hope this helps.


message 7: by Ian (new)

Ian Copsey (ian_d_copsey) | 69 comments No, Singapore does not permit Kindle to protect their local market. As far as I know it's also difficult to organise it through a proxy server because it's so well controlled. (I lived in Singapore for 6 years...)

My advice is to organise a book cover from one of the many offering cheap covers. I don't know whether Singapore has on-demand printing although I doubt it because the market is quite small.

I have a similar issue because I live in Japan and I haven't found a print on demand service. Importing from overseas is damn expensive but I have found (happily) an English speaking printing firm where I have books printed for both my professional business books and also fiction books.

Teck, I think you'd find this option the best. It will need a lump sum but S$6960 sounds a bit OTT! Probably the largest cost will be the copy editor...


message 8: by Loh (new)

Teck Loh | 6 comments Thomas wrote: "First...are we talking $7000 USD or Singapore dollars? If it's Singapore dollars then it'd be about $5200 USD.

I've seen crowdfunding done by other authors, and it's hard to get there because you ..."


Oh the amount stated is in Singapore dollars. Not American.

The price for designing a book cover is expensive because I asked for an illustrated book cover. The designers told me they would have to hire an outside illustrator to do the job, so...

This is my first book and it contains my efforts as a security guard dating back to 1999, so I don't want just any cheap cover made from stock photographs or images.

Yeah, about the copy editor, I don't think there's room for negotiation. They go by some international standard rate and the fees they charge varies according to the word count.


message 9: by Joe (new)

Joe Jackson (shoelessauthor) Make sure if you go with crowdfunding you do all the math ahead of time. The crowdfunding sites take a percentage, as does Paypal or whoever handles the incoming cash for you. Plus, those signed copies you're offering? They cost a pretty penny as well, since you basically have to pay for shipping twice.


message 10: by Loh (new)

Teck Loh | 6 comments I should have mentioned before but, for my very first book, I don't want to go the ebook route. Maybe later, but not right now when I am just debuting as a writer.

You can call it pride or vanity or whatever, but I really want to fulfill my dream of being a published writer.

Someone has already suggested that I use print-on-demand services like Lulu. But unfortunately, that would eliminate a huge chunk of my potential customer base.

I am predicting that a big percentage of my customers will be fellow security guards in Singapore. And since I will be pricing the book at just S$10 per copy (US$7.40), they can afford it. The problem is, most of my colleagues are born in the 70s or earlier and they are not internet savvy at all.

Many of them don't even own a computer and I can't count on them to understand how to do online transactions. They will probably buy my book if I do direct sales at a physical location but they won't be able to do so if my books are only available online.


message 11: by Loh (new)

Teck Loh | 6 comments Joe wrote: "Make sure if you go with crowdfunding you do all the math ahead of time. The crowdfunding sites take a percentage, as does Paypal or whoever handles the incoming cash for you. Plus, those signed co..."

Oh I won't have to pay for shipping twice because the printers are based in Singapore. I know their address so I can just get over in my dad's car and pick 'em up. 500 copies can be stuffed into the boot.


message 12: by Loh (new)

Teck Loh | 6 comments Here'a an idea I thought of as an alternative to the give-away-free-books idea.

For a minimum donation of 10 dollars, the donor's name will be included on a special Thank You page in my book. And so, anyone who buys a copy of my book will be able to see who are the contributors who helped me make Guards Gone Wild! a reality. And the names will stay in my book, even in future print runs.

In addition to getting listed in my book as an honored contributor, a minimum donation of 10 dollars will also get you a limited edition Guards Gone Wild! postcard with a personal Thank You message written by me. Postcards aren't expensive to print and the postage cost for delivering those isn't expensive either.

So what do you think of my idea?


message 13: by Thomas (last edited Aug 01, 2016 06:11AM) (new)

Thomas Everson (authorthomaseverson) | 424 comments While it seems like a good idea, think of it this way; If you did get 696 contributors, will you list all 696? That would be more than one page, I'm sure of that. Unless you put it in really small font.

As for the postcard idea. It's not a terrible idea to reach out, but again, 696 postcards written with personal thank you messages. That's a lot of time.

And then they still have to buy the book. The idea doesn't really incentivize them to invest in your project.

Perhaps if you went with a $20-25 level and the reward is the book, name in the book, and a post card, that might be a little better for people who are interested.


message 14: by Sasha (last edited Aug 01, 2016 07:32AM) (new)

Sasha Carr | 1 comments $25 is the most popular perk amount contributed in crowdfunding campaigns and is usually the amount you ask for in exchange for a signed book. There are lots of other creative perks you can offer beyond the usual swag items which can become a real burden to deliver. I used The Crowdfunding Book by Patty Lennon as a guide (among other resources) for a successful campaign I completed a year ago for my children's picture book Putting Bungee to Bed -- here's the campaign at Indiegogo to give you some ideas for perks we used: http://igg.me/at/kid-sleep-experts

You want to really focus on finding the tribe or community that will most relate to this book. If it's security guards in Singapore you want them to feel like they are somehow involved and part of the project and/or that you are speaking for them using your book as a platform. For me, the two tribes I focused on were parents of young children with sleep issues AND educators. pediatricians and other professionals dedicated to working with young children.

As others have mentioned, you really want to do all of the math to factor in the crowdfunding site's fees, credit card fees, obtaining an ISBN, etc.

Finally, you may want to find an illustrator on your own rather than use a go-between. I found the illustrator for the Bungee book by looking through the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. I approached her directly and negotiated a price.

Best of luck!


message 15: by Alex (new)

Alex (asato) Sasha wrote: "$25 is the most popular perk amount contributed in crowdfunding campaigns and is usually the amount you ask for in exchange for a signed book. There are lots of other creative perks you can offer b..."

there's patreon too. they charge 5% commission + tx fees.


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