Kickstarter, And Why I Didn’t

I thought long and hard about doing a crowd funding campaign for “Chrissie Warren: Pirate Hunter.” In fact, I just assumed I was going to do that, right up until I didn’t. Instead I chose a different path, which I will explain lower down.

It seems sort of easy. You figure out how much you need, you promise people rewards for pledging money. You get the money, do the product – whether it’s art or a book or a movie. Then you send things out to your donors.

And that’s where the math gets tricky. Because you can’t just ask for what you need. You have to ask for what you need PLUS what it will cost to fulfill the pledges. And not just the product but the cost of shipping the product and lots of other things. There are services you can buy that will do that for you, but that’s just another cost you have to factor in.

Kickstarter math is wonky. There’s a much better explanation of the process, complete with charts and graphs, here, in a blog post by musician Marian Call. This confirmed my decision, but I’d already made it. Kickstarter was not for me.

Instead, I went with my tried and true formula. How much money could I afford to lose? That was my budget. I did as much as I could myself, with the invaluable assistance of my wife, Tori. Could not have done this without her.

It’s a scary way to do it, you have to have a great deal of confidence. And I do. I do believe this book is good enough. If I don’t at least break even, it won’t be because the product was bad.

The most I’ve spent on any one thing so far has been the cover, which you can see in an earlier blog post. I think you’ll agree it was worth it.

Now I’m in the selling part of the deal, and that’s going to cost something too. Trip to L.A. for the official book release (although if you want a copy right this minute, I’m cool with that.) Looking at pirate festivals coming up in Georgia and Florida where I might be able to sell books.

At some point the revenue made from sales has to top the amount you spend, or what’s the point? But at least I can write the costs off on my taxes. The cost of the ISBNs and the bar code. $150 in copies (we edited hard copies of the MS five times.) Travel expenses and motels. My new pirate hat. (Hey, it’s part of the pirate persona I have to project to flog the book!)

I’ve also got one other thing I’m about to announce to offset some of the costs. “Chrissie Warren: Pirate Hunter” will be available as a paperback and ebook – BUT – for a limited time I’m taking orders for a special hardcover edition, with some interior illustrations. Each one will be signed and numbered. People can order them online, and when the sale closes I’ll order the books, have them shipped here, then sign each and every one and we’ll mail them out. We’re charging $45 for that, so I don’t expect to sell a lot. But forty or fifty will be enough to offset most of my up front costs. (More than 100 will give me carpal tunnel syndrome, so I’m hoping it’s only mildly successful.)

There’s actually a whole other subject to talk about, now that I think about it, how I set that up. Took a lot of digging. Since most of the people who follow this blog seem to be writers who might be interested, I’ll do a second post in the next few days. But I’ve already abused anyone’s attention who has read this far, so I’ll get back to work.

Chrissie Warren: Cover Girl

And now, the moment I have been waiting for (maybe you all have been too, but I know for a fact I have, anxiously) the cover of Chrissie Warren: Pirate Hunter. Drum roll please!


It was designed by Katherine J. Bishop. She was a high school friend of our daughter, Millie, back on St. Croix. Katherine recently graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design, and that girl learned some stuff! You can see her portfolio online here.

They say that your cover is the one of the most important elements in generating book sales. It’s not that people “judge” the book by its cover, but they sure are more likely to pick it up if a bright, attractive cover catches their eyes. And a shoddy cover is more likely to make them feel the book is shoddy. So in the long run it pays to invest in a good cover. And I got a good one! Thanks Katherine!