Project Calendar Update: Fundraising (sadly, it won’t involve Kickstarter)

A couple of weeks ago, I made the announcement that I will be putting together a Story Calendar ebook to raise funds towards my trip to Viable Paradise in October. After that announcement, I went on vacation, where I came down with a nasty cold and spent most of my time sleeping, eating, occasionally swimming, and reading. Lots and lots of reading.

Mainly, I was trying to figure out how exactly I was going to pull this off.

A lot of writers friends suggested Kickstarter, so I took a look into it. Kickstarter appears to be a great place if you want to raise funds for a project. You put in a proposal, get it approved, and you get your own page where you promote your project. Many successful ones offer varying levels of incentives to donate: if you donate 5 bucks, for instance, you get an ebook, but if you donate 20 bucks, you get an ebook plus a printed copy of the book, and so on. Many authors have put book projects up on Kickstarter and gotten their projects funded–some going above and beyond their original goal. (btw, if you want to learn more about Kickstarter, I suggest listening to Mur Lafferty’s I Should Be Writing Show #212, in which she talks about her Kickstarter experience.)

I studied the projects and I thought, yeah, I can see myself doing this. The key thing is incentives. How can I pull in people through incentives. You can’t just have an ebook. You need to get their attention, plus, you have to come up with incentives that people want.

So I started brainstorming. The successful projects had print copies as well as ebooks, so I added that. Then I thought, no, wait, this is a story calendar, right? What if I got actual calendars? First level, ebook, second level, a calendar, third level, a print book, and hey, let’s put my calligraphy skills to work and make the fourth level a handwritten copy of any poem or story set in the donor’s birthmonth…

I brainstormed, and I planned and I made notes. And then I did research into how much all this would cost.

Whoa.

I had figured I would need to raise about $1000 for my VP costs. To do this project on Kickstarter, I would have to factor in cost of calendars, print copies, paper for calligraphy, calligraphy ink (because I’m all out). Shipping for all that stuff here. Envelopes. Postage for mailing all that stuff out. Plus, factoring in Kickstarter and Amazon fees, and, that could easily kick up what I need to $5000.  Plus, there’s the time to factor in to get all of this done, making a video for the Kickstarter page (everyone suggest making a video) stuffing envelopes, ordering the print copies, making sure they all get in on time, doing the calligraphy, etc, and so forth. This would take several months of my time.

All this just to raise $1000 for one week in October.

Yesterday, it all came to a head when I realized I was seriously stressing out over it and I hadn’t even started working on the ebook yet, something that I have never done before.

Looking at the ebook projects at Kickstarter, the successful ones always offered print copies as well as ebook, or at least promised print copies. So if I just sold the Story Calendar just as an ebook there, chances are, it wouldn’t do so well, and I won’t get anything, because Kickstarter won’t give you the funds if you don’t meet your goal. If, however, I put all my creative energy into just making the ebook, put it up here, at the Café, as a limited-edition ebook, and if 67 people bought it at $15 each, I would reach my goal. That’s it. All I need to do is get the word out through Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus. 67 People.

So, as much as I hate to say it, I don’t think I’ll be using Kickstarter. Not this time, anyway. At this stage, I just don’t think I’m ready, nor do I feel I’ll have a worthy enough project to sell. The story calendar idea is great, but I have yet to figure out how to format it, and if that hinges on selling, then I’d rather put my energy into learning how to make an ebook than splitting it between an ebook, a calendar, and a print book. Baby steps first. My goal is to make it the best, awesomest story calendar you, dear reader, will ever spend $15 on.

And I’m not completely writing off Kickstarter. I’m actually pretty proud of the incentives I came up for the story calendar, and I do still want to do it. Just not now. If the ebook sells well here, then I want to try it next year, when I’m not so pressured for money and time. By then, the funds I’ll ask for will go towards making the story calendar, not fundraising for something else, and I’ll have enough experience  to do it right.

Now, if you excuse me, I need to get to working on the stories of the Story Calendar. Finally!

LaShawn’s Super Secret Funding Project Revealed: A Calendar of Tales COMING SOON!

So a couple of posts ago, I mentioned I had been accepted into Viable Paradise this October. Since then, I’ve been tossing around ideas on how exactly I would pay to get myself there. I took the first step today by increasing my hours at my day job so that I’m now full-time (temporarily), but I wanted to do something that appealed to my writer skills as well.

At this year’s Wiscon, I picked up The Honey Month by Amal el-Mohtar, a series of short stories and poems inspired by a sampler gift of 28 jars of honey she received. The book itself is divine–most of the stories are centered around bees, but not the type of bees you’ll find in any old hive. These are stories that are meant to be savored…they are to be read slowly, aloud, but just under your breath, and preferably barefoot.

Reading her book, it got me thinking: what if I could do something like that?  I’ve been wanting to do a special project for a long time now where I write a series of stories/poetry that have a common theme. I wanted to emulate The Honey Month’s format (emulation being the best form of flattery, I hope), but unfortunately, I don’t have twenty-eight jars of honey at my disposal. But what I do have is co-workers–Co-workers who love to take pictures.

So here’s the plan: I’ve chosen 12 photos from what my gracious co-workers at InterVarsity have sent in. I will create a "Calendar of Tales", flash stories and poetry set in each month and based on a photo. It will start off as an ebook, but I’m looking into finding a way to get it into print as an actual calendar of some sort, or at least a published book. I’m also looking into Kickstarter to see if I can offer more incentives: i.e. handwritten thank yous, handwritten calligraphy copies of the stories/poems, appearance as a character, that sort of thing.

As you can tell, self-publishing is a whole new venture for me. I’ll have to come up with 12 original stories, put them in ebook format, put together the incentives, figure out costs, work on promotion, etc, what have you. But let me tell you, I’m excited about this project. Yesterday, I wrote the first story: "Fat Elvis and Lemon Lover" (pictures taken by my friend Matt Rust) and when I finished, I sat back and thought, dang, this is going to be FUN!

Fat ElvisLemon Lover

So tell your family, tell your friends and keep watching the Café. I got a lot of work to do, but trust me, it will be worth it!