Sunday, 19 October 2014

Crowdfunding - Why?

My first novel was not exactly troubling JK on the best seller list but in my house it was a major achievement.

The problem with self-publishing is that while it is relatively easy to produce a book and make it available to the public, no one knows you have done it.

With my first novel I paid a professional to design my cover, based upon a recommendation from another author I had met through social media. This cost £65. I did look into using professional proof readers and editors by this costs between £200 and £500 and was beyond my budget.

I organised some giveaways with the cover design and some leaflets to hand out. This all cost in the region of £100. I then had to pay for proof copies of the paperback to be printed and delivered to me so I could proof it before publication.

Even without a professional editing service I spent nearly £200 getting my novel ready and trying to get the word out there that it existed. Not a huge amount of money until you consider that so far I have received less than £100 in royalties. Suddenly this hobby is starting to get expensive.

I am about to start writing my next novel as part of NaNoWriMo and wanted to give it the best chance I could, and give my readers the best experience I could. That's why I have considered crowd funding.

I am using indiegogo and they have been very easy to use. You set up your page explaining why you are trying to raise money and set your target. I originally was going to set my target at £65, enough for a professional cover. The minimum target is £500. Enough for a cover and a really good editing service. I then came up with the idea of asking all my twitter followers (5,000) for 10p. surely no one would mind giving me 10p. Unfortunately the minimum donation is £1. I worked on the theory £1 is still a fairly small amount and that hopefully I could find 500 people who would willingly give me £1.
Part of the idea of crowd funding is to offer perks to your contributors. I have set up a number of perks for people who would like to offer more than £1. These range from a signed copy of the book to being a character in the book.
The final thing to decide is whether to go for flexible or fixed funding. Fixed means you only get the money once you have reached your target, whilst flexible means you get the money as you go along and get to keep it even if you don't hit your target. The down side of this is that the fees on the flexible option are higher. I didn't need the full £500 so I chose this option.

So everything was set up and all I had to do was sit back and wait for the money to roll in. Only that's not how these things work. I still need to push this campaign on social media and make sure people know I need their help.

For the first three days all I got where people offering to support me if I paid them. I mean really, I am trying to raise £500 and one of them offer me a support package which cost $1,000.

Then things started to pick up. After 6 days I have had 6 people contribute to my campaign and I am 14% of the way towards my target.

I will spend everything I raise on the finished article and the more I raise the more professional help I can recruit. There is a lot further and a lot more pushing to be done to get to get anywhere near my goal.

If this story has hit a chord with you and you would like to help visit my campaign page here.

Anything you can spare is appreciated and a retweet or facebook share would be brilliant too.

Let me know about your crowd-funding stories and anything you did to push your campaign.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Waiting for Charlie

She sat looking out towards the sea. The water from the damp grass slowly wicking up her trousers. The trees behind her protecting her from the wind blowing off the land and out to sea. She liked sitting here. She was hidden from view by the outline of the trees and the road in between her and the beach but she knew when she saw him she could come out of cover and get to him before they got to her.

‘Megan, Megan,’ voices called from inside the woods.

She didn’t turn. She just kept looking out to sea. They would be upon her soon but she needed to concentrate. Today might be the day.

She felt hands grip her arms and pull her to her feet.

‘Megan. Come on now, time to go back. You know you’re not supposed to be out here.’

Megan slowly turned her eyes away from the beach and looked up at the young woman holding her arm. ‘When Charlie gets back he needs me. I’m his support team.’

‘Not today Megan, come on we need to get back now.’

‘No Charlie needs me.’ Megan wrestled her arm away from the woman and started to get up. As she rose the woman stood in front of her blocking the beach from view.

‘Get out of the way. I need to look for Charlie,’ Megan shouted trying to push the woman aside.

‘Come on now Megan, Charlie came out down the coast we need to go to him,’ a man appeared out of the trees and took hold of Megan’s hand.


‘Yes. You know what the currents can be like. He drifted off course and the other team have him. Come on back to the house now and we will see him there.’

The young woman looked at the man and started to say something. He shook his head and started to lead Megan back to the house. They walked through the forest one either side of Megan, both alert and talking slowly to her.

They emerged from the forest onto a large manicured lawn with an old country manor nestled on the opposite side. Five concrete steps led up to open French doors and what looked like a large sitting room. They led Megan into the house.

‘Charlie. Is he here?’ Megan looked at her two guardians. Her eyes glancing from one to the other trying to work out what they were hiding from her.

‘He’s in the house.’

Megan released herself from their hold and ran inside. She instinctively rushed upstairs to her room. He wasn’t there. Where was Charlie? Megan turned and was about to run back down stairs when a nurse appeared.

‘Megan. There you are. It’s time for your medicine.’

‘Charlie, I need to see Charlie.’

‘He is resting now sweetheart, just like you should be.’

‘But I need to see him.’

‘Once you’ve had your tablets.’

‘Not Now.’

‘Don’t be stroppy now. You want to be your best for him don’t you?’

Megan nodded, sat down on the edge of her bed and held out her hand. The nurse passed her a little plastic cup containing two tablets and a plastic beaker half full of water. Megan swallowed the tablets as she knew she must. She was asleep before the nurse left the room.



‘Morning Megan and how are we feeling today,’ the nurse called as she pushed open the door with her large backside and entered the room backwards pulled a large trolley in with her.  She was halfway across the room before she brought the trolley to a halt and looked over at the bed. In the half light of the room she couldn’t make out Megan and assumed she was still asleep. The nurse left her trolley and walk over to the window.

‘Come on sleepy head,’ she called as she quickly yanked the large curtains open. She turned and looked twice at the bed. There was no Megan, just a lump of duvet and pillows that might have been an effort to make it look like Megan, or it might have just been the way the bed linen fell when Megan got up. The bathroom door was closed.

‘Megan, Megan are you in there?’ the nurse called as she knocked on the door. ‘Megan.’

The door swung open and she stared into an empty room.



Megan walked onto the beach just as he walked out of the sea.

‘Charlie, Charlie, you made it,’ she ran up and threw her arms around him.

‘What the?’ he tried to push her off and as she stepped back he collapsed onto the sand.

Suddenly people were rushing round, ignoring her, wrapping towels and body warming sheets around him. Someone else was trying to feed him an energy bar. Megan stood still as all the people rushed around her. After a few minutes they help the man to his feet and ushered him towards a campervan park at the side of the road by the beach.

Megan stood still, ‘Charlie, please Charlie. It’s me.’

She was still stood there twenty minutes later. The man looked out the window as they pulled away. ‘Who was she?’

‘Who knows? Just some doddery old dear. Maybe she’s a fan.’



‘Megan you have a visitor,’ the nurse shook Megan awake.

‘What? Who? Is it Charlie?’

‘No Megan, It’s a young man. He says he met you on the beach yesterday. Do you remember?’

‘I went to the beach yesterday?’

‘You remember we had to bring you back again.’

‘I have to wait for Charlie. He needs me.’

‘Megan let’s get you dressed and then you can meet Ian.’

The nurse help Megan get dressed and took her down to the breakfast room. As Megan walked into the room her face lit up as she saw the young man sitting by the window at her table. She rushed over, a quick slipper shuffle. The young man stood up and helped her into the chair next to him.

‘Megan, Megan Smithson?’

‘Charlie, oh Charlie. It’s you isn’t it.’

‘No Mrs Smithson. My name’s Ian. I met you on the beach yesterday.’

‘You’re not Charlie? But I saw you coming out of the sea. Charlie was supposed to come out of the sea.’

‘Mrs Smithson. I came to see you because I was hoping you could tell me about Charlie. I have read so much about him. He’s the reason I’m a cross channel swimmer. I was hoping you could tell me about him.’

‘I have photos somewhere but the nurses, they don’t let me look at them. They say it gets me upset.’

‘How about I ask them and then I come back later and we can look at them together.’

‘Would you? That would be nice.’

‘Okay I’ll see you later.’


Ian visited Megan every day for a week. She lit up when he came into the room and only mistook him for Charlie once. They talked about all of Charlie’s swimming and how he first got into open water swimming.

‘This photo here this is on the coast of France when he was starting his cross channel swim,’ Megan pointed to a photo of a smiling man, wearing goggles on his head and covered in Goose fat.

‘Were you with him in France?’ Ian asked

‘No I was part of the back-up team here in the UK. I was waiting on the beach ready with warm blankets and food and drink.’

‘What happened Megan?’

Megan slowly stroked the photo. Gently touching the smiling face. A tear fell onto the photo.

‘I’m so sorry Megan. I didn’t mean to upset you.’ Ian held her hand.

‘He’s not coming back is he?’

‘No Megan. They lost him mid channel. Did they not tell you?’

‘They tried but I just sat there waiting. That’s why I always go back to the beach, just in case.’

‘Megan it’s been fifty years.’

‘Fifty years. Has it really been that long?’ Megan looked up at Ian and then down at the photo. ‘He’s not coming back is he?’

‘No Megan.’

‘Can you give me a minute please?’

‘Of course. I’ll fetch us some tea.’ Ian patted her hand and headed off to the lunch room to see if he could round up a cup of tea.

‘Ian. How’s Megan today?’ a tall man in a white coat approached Ian as he was pouring boiling water into the tea pot.

‘Good afternoon Dr Sheppard. I’m afraid I may have upset her a little. We talked about the day Charlie went missing.’

‘Really? She has never talked about that day before.’

‘I hope I haven’t done anything wrong.’ Ian place the tea pot onto the tray with two cups.

‘No, not at all. She has needed to talk about Charlie for a long time. Maybe she can finally get closure. Do you mind if I join you for tea?’

‘Of course not.’ Ian placed a third cup on the tray and carried the tray into the sitting room. Megan was sitting back in her arm chair with her eyes closed hugging the photo to her chest in her right hand. Dr Sheppard quicken his pace to overtake Ian and lifted her left wrist. After a few seconds he shook his head.

‘I’m afraid she’s gone.’

Ian slowly lowered himself into the chair, the tea tray still in his hands. ‘I can’t believe she’s gone just like that. She seemed so well.’

‘Maybe she did get the closure she needed. She finally admitted that she didn’t need to wait for Charlie. He was waiting for her.’

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