Donald Trump ate my Hamster – Crowdfunding a Novel

Fake news but amused me when I saw the shock tactic title on youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wckL_lqL4aE – The video is irrelevant but I’m guessing the title may have drawn in more viewers than it should have received! Perhaps it’s something I should learn from…

I’ve just sat through my lunchbreak re-tweeting anything of vague interest appearing on my feed whilst intermittently checking the landing page of my crowdfunding project. Life has certainly changed from those heady and long forgotten days of just logging in and simply writing for the sheer joy of it.

I’m now a nervous wreck of a man, complete with sweaty palms and a nervous tick as I patiently pray for someone somewhere to click on my project – and God forbid – pledge their support. 96% now… 96 – a number I loved two days ago and now loath with abandon at its stubborn refusal to remove itself from my screen, making way for my new and upcoming love… number 97.

My relationship with Penguin’s crowdfunding publishing platform, Unbound, began almost six months ago now. Little did I know when I whooped and hollered at my acceptance email that this single word, crowdfunding, would impact on my life in so many different ways.

I’d just entered a world I knew nothing about, a world full of sharks wanting to separate you from your hard earned cash.

“We have thousands of contacts ready to crowdfund your project!” – No you don’t…

“We can market you on Twitter (or Facebook) to our 500,000 followers!” – Fake followers…

“We can DM all your Twitter followers and guarantee £££!” – Errr no you can’t…

There are so many of these preying vulture sites out in the internet ether, I can’t keep up. Maybe some of them do work, but I can safely say most of them will not work for first time authors. If you are currently in the same crowdfunding boat as I am, then as far as I have worked out there are really only three “guaranteed” mechanisms at your disposal. Your friends and family, their friends and family and anyone you have ever worked or had a relationship with in any capacity. This is where the majority of your initial pledges will be coming from.

It is all very well looking at Facebook and Twitter and dreaming but once online, your project will join hundreds of thousands of others, all of which are competing for the attention of potential backers and readers. It’s a tough environment to enter – as I know all too well.

Since the start of my campaign I’ve tweeted nearly two thousand times, acquired nearly ten thousand followers and spent hours doing so. So much so, there are people out there thinking I’m a bot! The infamous twitter trolls are certainly out there but luckily I don’t seem to be coming across too many. Those crossing my path just get blocked and quickly. I’m told engaging with them is the worst thing you can do. Plus it feels good to block rude people. It’s bizarre that people who have no interest in what you’re doing seem to want to interact more than those who are interested! I digress.

Although I’ve picked up four or five pledges via Twitter, I’m hoping the platform will show it’s true worth once the book is actually published. People are much more likely to spend two or three pounds/dollars or a product they will receive immediately rather than for something to arrive later. It’s probably the same for Facebook but I’m struggling with that medium at the moment (over and above contacting my own friend base).

The same long game style tactic goes for my Website. The first thing I was advised to do was set up a website “to legitimise” my claim to be an author. Although initially good fun, keeping it up to date with interesting blogs and information is not an easy task. Just coming up with potential topics is hard enough. Then you’ve got to write it, find interesting pictures, edit it, worry that it’s crap and then release it anyway. Again I know this is all a necessary evil to inspire whoever might be reading to click a link, but it’s something else I didn’t really think about when signing off with a flourish at the end of my novel.

I’ve been very lucky with my backers so far and in particular my brother in law and his Company have been amazing. Without him I’m not sure what I would be doing now. Writing off for Company sponsorship might have been a possibility; along with setting up workshops; pledge parties; reading to children at local libraries and perhaps a talk or two on the crowdfunding process. These tactics are now all in reserve for the sequel’s campaign (the well of goodwill from my friends and family is definitely drying by the day…) and I expect the night terrors leading up to such events will form the subject of another blog.

I don’t know who I’ve aimed this blog at but if you want to share your experiences or perhaps use me to bounce some ideas off, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

In the meantime, if you fancy taking a look at my project please find it at https://unbound.com/books/the-atlantis-deception

Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.

XWWX ATLANTIS SANDS OF RA

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How to avoid Account Suspension on Twitter. Playing within the rules.

I’ve recently been at the wrong end of a blocked Twitter account and it really wasn’t the best of experiences. Not only did it take three visits to Twitter’s help centre (each visit taking two days for a response) but the consequence of having a blocked account for nearly a week cost me just under a thousand of my hard earned followers. It was a pain as I’m trying actively trying to build my following to attempt entice backers to help publish my latest novel.

Anyway, as a result I decided to undertake a bit of research into what it is that the Twitter bots are objecting to me doing.

My tactic to build followers is simple and consists of following the followers of authors in my genre. With any luck they’ll notice my follow and like what I’m doing enough to follow me back. The technique seems to work and I’m now up to eight thousand followers. All good but the downside being if I’m not careful, Twitter can mistake me for a spammer and as a result block my account. Bad times.

Twitter’s rules, limits and regulations regarding following and unfollowing can at times be a little vague and confusing. Obviously they are there to stop abuse of the platform and are probably vague to prevent reverse engineering by naughty programmers much cleverer than me.

Assuming you aren’t intentionally trying to abuse Twitter you need at least a working knowledge of these Twitter rules to prevent your account being suspended.

From what I’ve read there are three points that one needs to keep in mind – particularly if you use the platform on a daily basis.

  1. It is recommended that you follow less than one hundred people per day. This is particularly key if you have less than two thousand followers.
  2. Once your following rises above this level you should find you are able to follow more people without a problem. However please note that Twitter has a hard limit of one thousand follows in a twenty four hour period. This is where I think I’ve been caught out; If you follow more than a thousand the account will be blocked and additional follows in the same period rejected.
  3. Be aware there is allegedly no limit on unfollowing, but again I would stick to the thousand limits. Again I have been asked to verify the account on a couple of occasions when unfollowing on mass. It is also recommended that you do not unfollow and refollow the same people repeatedly. Twitter considers this as aggressive activity and will result in a ban.

If you stick to the rules your Twitter account shouldn’t face any account suspension issues. I suppose as a caveat remember that Twitter are entitled to change their rules and limits without notice or even publishing the changes. Good luck and I wish I’d known about these limits earlier!

I am still actively seeking pledges for my latest novel, ‘The Atlantis Deception’ which is on the road to being published by the crowdfunding publisher, Unbound. If you like Michael Crichton with a little Clive Cussler on the side, please check out the project at https://unbound.com/books/the-atlantis-deception/ and perhaps consider becoming a patron of the creative arts.