The Literary Rat’s Crowdfunding Chronicles – Part 1: Overview

 

Conseil_Tenu_par_les_Rats (Now Hear This)

 

I know I’ve been MIA a lot the last few months, and life stuff aside, it’s also due to a BIG project I’m about to undertake for my debut novel “GABRIEL” coming soon from Alten Ink-

GABRIEL.POSTER.2.page.002

 

 

Alten+Ink+Logo+Transparent

Since Alten Ink is a small press, they face a unique set of challenges,

and after talking it over with my editor, I decided to launch a crowfunding campaign to be able to enlist the services of a professional illustrator, and cover other key expenses which I’ll detail prior to launching the campaign.

 

 

Before I go on, for those of you not yet in the know, crowdfunding is a process where authors and other creative types reach out to their wider community to not just donate money, but share in the belief of bringing their passion projects from dream to tangible reality. Below are a list of the most common crowdfunding platforms-

Kickstarter_Logo_a_lThe newest kid on the block in the crowdfunding arena. See a short tease from the “Kickstarted” documentary about Kickstarter’s Origins (which was also a successful Kickstarter project in and of itself! Talk about Meta-Much!)-

 

 

 

indiegogo-1560x690_c

The oldest and most open global crowdfunding platform to date!* (*at the time this post is written).

 

Learn more About Indiegogo (and general advice from one of it’s co-founders) here-

Pubslush-LOGO

Learn More about how the first Authors Only crowdfunding platform came to be from the VP/Co-founder herself-

 

 

 

TAA_CARES 2

As some of you long time T.A.A. fans may remember, in September 2013 we launched our “T.A.A. CARES” imitative, where we lend our time and money to promote and support authors and artists in need of a little extra help to bring them dream projects to life.

 

So far, the projects your lit. rat’s backed and spread the word on all met their funding goals, and are now published/will be seeing publication (Covers seen below)-

 T.A.A. CARES #1

Fetch

by Adam Glendon Sidwell

Illustrated by Edwin Rhemrev

Publisher: Future House Publishing

(Check out T.A.A.’s review)

 

My LOVE for you is the SUN

by Julie Hedlund (@JulieFHedlund)

Illustrated by Susan Eaddy

Publisher: Little Bahalia Publishing

Pub, Date: September 9th 2014*

(Check out T.A.A.’s Review)

 

Chalky and the new Sports Car

by Stanley Potter

Illustrated by Jordan Henderson (@taleandteller)

Publisher: Little Thunder Co.

(Check out T.A.A.’s review)

 

 

While many children’s authors pitch picture books, comics/graphic novels, or projects with a serious educational bent, novelists like myself can and do use crowdfunding platforms to reach their publication dreams-

T.A.A. CARES #2

Learn The Story behind Rhoda’s Ocean-

Learn the Story behind “Steam In The Willows”

 

Soon, your lit. rat will be embarking on his crowdfunding adventure, and I hope you’ll be along for the ride. Check back T.A.A. throughout the coming weeks as I document my crowfunding saga.

 

You can learn see what Gabriel’s up to (and learn how to be part of our virtual promo team) on his newly launched OFFICIAL website! 

 

Next time, I’ll go over in-depth why I decided to enter the world of crowdfunding from more than the backer perspective.

 

Until then, have a safe weekend, and may the fantastical fauna be with you.

When “Writing the Next Book” is NOT the answer…

dog-160531

 

After a significant hiatus, your lit rat is slowing getting back to his regular schedule, and today is the first in a multi-part series of post about “The Next Book Blues.” This is what many writers (including yours truly) face after they “finish” their current book.

Normally, I’d start a series like this by giving an overview of what “The Next Book Blues” is, but to keep you on your toes, I’m going to discuss this topic in reverse order for two reasons-

 

1. To help writers (who don’t have this problem) get why this is a problem so they can better respect/understand writers they know who directly or indirectly shows signs of “The Next Book Blues.”

2. Sometimes thinking about a problem in reverse eases understanding, like how some writers prefer to write out of order or with the ending first, or they’ll revise a complete draft from the end instead of the common linear “beginning to end” approach. With those points in mind, here we go-

(NOTE: The points below are for career-minded writers)

While it’s true that one book does not a writer make, writing alone doesn’t improve your skills either, by which I mean, drafting new work without revising or rewriting previous work as needed is only solving HALF the equation.

There are important lessons persevering on a particular story or novel can teach us. If I didn’t spend eight years on GABRIEL, I’d never have the stamina to stick with a new project, not just to revise or rewrite as needed, but to sell it, and edit it again with my publisher’s editor via the traditional model, or put in the vast amount of money and time to indie publish.

Sometimes that “Next book” lecture does more harm than good. Again, depending on the kind of writer you are, and the nature of the project.

While many successful writers swear by the thinking of “Only writing NEW books will I improve as a writer” it’s not my experience, and I’m not alone.

While it’s true that building a body of work is vital for many writers, that doesn’t mean we can whip out quality work in that often idealized “Assembly Line” fashion.

While the common wisdom is “Deadlines empowers most writers” they don’t for me.

Now that doesn’t mean I never meet or set deadlines, nor am I saying deadlines don’t matter or aren’t important, but I couldn’t do everything on a strict deadline, or at least not without turning into a harried, witchy troll that is NOT going to help me connect with the readers I want to have, and turn me into  the “No. 1 marketer” for my writing, and remember, not every writer used to be a master marketer before coming to publishing, and we need to give newcomers unversed in marketing a break.

We are only one person. We can’t do it all and that’s something more easily business-savvy writers NEED TO GET, or they’ll lose the people who most need your help and guidance.

One of the issues I take with the “Long Tail/Blacklist” mantra many indie authors are screaming to the virtual rooftops is that it puts too much emphasis on quantity over quality.

As I say often among my writer tribe-

“There’s a BIG difference between writing 10 books and those same 10 books being a equal quality and substance.”

Too many writers preach quantity without talking about the nuances and patience necessary to have a (QUALITY) body of work.

Also, understand I say this from the perspective of writers who don’t work in highly competitive genres, like  romance (ESPECIALLY category) that demands high output and working in certain restraints if you want to break in commercially.

Finally, keep in mind some writers have more multifaceted skill sets than others, and that effects how fast or slow they work as much any external shake ups in publishing.

Not all authors can ghostwrite or do work for hire projects, or write nonfiction (an eternal market as I keep hearing…) which can be a BIG way to up your publication credits and further establish you in the industry.

But there are ALWAYS authors who may not be as versatile, but are GREAT at what they can do.

Some writers don’t need as much time to draft, revise or rewrite, and others like myself , simply require that extra effort and time,  even though we may wish otherwise…(for reasons of mortality aside from our low capacity for patience….)

Also, keep in mind that every story is different, and every writer’s career track is different, some will require more or less time, and often the greater the learning curve for the writer, the longer it takes.

I’m in no way devaluing or downplaying the personal and professional reasons why it’s important to build your body of work and not to be stuck on one book.

But especially for highly impatient writers (of which I’m one) not being able to persevere means that story may not reach salable quality.

We as authors have to VERY CAREFUL to not confuse diligence with procrastination when it comes to drafting new work versus revising/rewriting older work that hasn’t published yet.

Not all past work is inherently “un-publishable” just because the first draft or three didn’t pan out. and giving up on it too soon could start a chain reaction of producing but stopping short of reaching the level it can sell an reach readers.

Bestselling author Jackie Collins once said that she wrote one book after another, and while her craft may have improved, she wasn’t trying to publish anything! (partly because she was given polarizing discouragement from others growing up)

But I suspect (I don’t know her personally, BTW) it’s  also because she had such a forward-thinking mindset, she overlooked that she wanted to get published, but just produced book after book for her own amusement, which is valid, but it can also be out of fear, external, internal or both.

It was only until her husband made her rethink a previous book she’d written that she persevered to sell. I say all that to say that drafting book after book isn’t enough.

Crafting drafted books is no less important, especially when we’re starting out and those first sells are especially “Hard Won” as in my and other author’s experiences.

Sometimes writers can be so forward-thinking, they don’t take ENOUGH of a step back to realize, “Hey, I can sell this book and write others, too!”

This is where I stalled.

I admit I did put Gabriel on such a high priority that it kept me from doing other books, but I will NEVER regret taking the time I did getting it up to snuff enough to reach my selling it, even if I’d been a better writer and already established with well-received books already, that’s a story I’d slog in the trenches for,  while hopefully writing/selling other books, too, of course!

Regardless of our experience/skills/professionalism, some books-

JUST.

TAKE.

LONGER.

PERIOD.

The key thing I hope all writers (and even lay readers) can understand is that sometimes quality must override quantity.

As writers, we can’t beat ourselves up to the point of nervous breakdown-

Breaking/Staying in publishing is already hard enough. We needn’t make it harder by being crueler to ourselves than even the worst teacher or boss treated us!

Writers with especially keen business savvy, please hear this-

“Self-discipline and accountability is no excuse to be a slave driver to ourselves or others in our corner.”

Writers, what you think? Do you feel there’s too much (out of context) pressure toward quantity over quality?

How do you navigate the push-pull between productivity without taking shortcuts that will hurt your books and career in the long run?

 If you know a writer suffering from “The Next Book Blues” I URGE you to guide them to this post.

Readers, what’s your stance on this? I’d to see some conversation brewing in the comments. 

 

#WeNeedDiverseBooks – A T.A.A. Retrospective

Grace Lin and Jerry Craft

(Grace Lin’s photo [Left] taken by Alexandre Ferron)

 

While we’re usually about fantastical fauna fighting the good fight on T.A.A., there are times we must give humans their due, and this is one of those times today.

 

In honor of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement, check out these classic episodes of “Brain Burps About Books” (#1 podcast for Children’s Publishing: Hosted by author and “Writerpreneur” Katie Davis) with author-illustrators Grace Lin (Ep. #151) and Jerry Craft. (Ep. #108

 

You can also check out a (SHORT) video your lit. rat made in discussion another perspective in the battle for more diverse books-

That’s all for today. Until next time, may the fantastical fauna be with you.

 

How To Promote Your Children’s Book (Even BEFORE it’s Published!)

connect-20333_1920

I know I’ve been a bit quiet on T.A.A. lately (As far as the blog goes) but I can now share why, and how it can help writers build platform before and after releasing your book, whether you do it the traditional way or take on the challenge and opportunities open to indie publishing-

I know that writers at all levels face the increasing challenge of building platform (I prefer “Community”) but unpublished, debut and emerging authors face unique challenges that more experienced authors don’t, or they have options to combat the challenges of today’s publishing landscape that only experience, luck, and some degree of success can provide.

Everything from building mailing lists, creating videos (NOT just book trailers people!), offering other services to diversify our skillset and help supplement our income,  engaging in social media, the list goes on…

While many writers today need to do more than just write their stories or articles, the fact is we can all to easily forget we are HUMAN and we JUST CAN’T DO IT ALL! Period. We also can’t always afford to take classes, go to conferences, and even our local library may not have the resources we need because nationwide budget cuts to public services like libraries cut deeper each year. The last time I went to library to check out some market guides (at a time when I couldn’t afford to buy my own copy as in years past) the most recent edition of CWIM (Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market) was 2007, and it was 2012 at the time!

I often have to buy my own market guides and other craft books I needed when they just weren’t in my library’s collection, even through inter library loan.

I’m not whining but stating a fair fact, and writers do each other no favors pointing fingers or making light of their struggles. What’s easy or straightforward for me is just plan HARDER for someone else, and vice versa.

The business of publishing on it’s own is more than hard enough to navigate. We don’t need fellow writers making it harder than needs to be. 

But one way to make it easier is to share the load, authors helping other authors band together.

For authors who’ve FINALLY turned that iconic corner to selling their first novel or nonfiction book, one way is by participating (and eventually FORMING) launch teams for soon to be published books

Some launch teams are formed around a , such as the “Class Y2K” initiative that began in 2007 and every year since that a diverse group of debut children’s/YA authors team up and combine their creativity, time, and some money, to make promoting that all important first book easier and less alone

Authors are also reaching out to other writers, either those releasing books around the same time, or asking potential readers/customers of their book to spread the word, send review copies (Be they PDF files or old-school paper ARCS [Advanced Reader Copies] or Galleys of the book pre-publication) and review it on Amazon, on their blog if they have one, and share the news on social media platforms like Goodreads, one of the most prominent ways authors can connect with avid readers, not just other writers, and this distinction is hazy at times, but important.

I’m taking part of a launch team for”How To Promote Your Children’s Book: Tips, Tricks and Secrets to Create a Bestseller – 2nd Edition” an upcoming ebook guide by author Katie Davis, she’s written and illustrated 8 picture books, two novels (1 Middle Grade and her upcoming YA debut “Dancing with The Devil” which you can preview  now on Wattpad: http://katiedavis.com/read-preview-dancing-devil-wattpad-whoa), and let me tell you, she knows marketing backwards and forwards!

I received a review copy for this book and am working on the review to upload on Amazon and here on T.A.A. I can tell you right now, I’m ALREADY using many of the tips and resources from this book, but you’ll have to wait for my final review this Tuesday (3/25/14) to find out more.

The 1st edition of “How To Promote Your Children’s Book” (which released in 2012) had given many writers at all levels hope, and renowned former editor at Simon and Schuster, Emma Dryden, has given advance praise of the soon to be released 2nd edition, saying “EVERY WRITER should use this tool!”

But here’s the kicker for the writers out there, to celebrate the launch of the expanded, updated, 2nd edition. From 3/25/14-3/31/14, the second edition will be on SALE for $4.99 USD, HALF the price of the first edition, but THRICE the content, and if you send the sales receipt to support-@-katiedavis.com (BEFORE 3/31/14!) you’ll receive a slew of bonuses to further super-charge and streamline your marketing efforts, pre and post publication. Finally, I’m also interviewing the author herself, Katie Davis live via Google+ Hangout on T.A.A.’s YouTube Channel, Thursday, March 27th, 2014, and you can get your marketing questions answered!

Even if you can’t make it live, just post your questions in the comments and Katie and I will get to as many as we can.But the deadline for submitting your questions is Sunday, March 23, 2014 BEFORE MIDNIGHT EST (Eastern Standard Time) I’ll share the easy access link info here at T.A.A. next week!

I hope to see some of you there, and if not, they’ll be a replay available on our YouTube channel. Please share this with your writer friends this weekend, they’ll thank you for it later, trust your lit. rat on this one! (~Wink~)

NEVER TOO LATE: Letter From The Editor

girl-162474_1920

Letter From The Editor

Never Too Late!

-January 3rd, 2014-

Dear Readers,

2014 has begun.

For this “Literary Rat” the first days of the new year are particularly poignant for me more so than years past.

As some in my inner circle may already know, I made the difficult decision not to retake the GED, a test for students (In the U.S.)  who weren’t able to graduate high school to attain certification which allows the student to be eligible for accredited college admission, and despite exceptions, it’s getting increasingly harder to begin a meaningful and reasonably profitable career without going to college, and as of January 1st, 2014, the test resets and becomes harder and more expensive to take, I took the test in 2012 but didn’t pass a few areas.

If I take the test again, I’ll be paying more to take it and I’ll have to begin again, and it will be harder, and desptie what some people told me, it wasn’t “Easy” before the change, and at this time, I can’t stomach taking it again.

I’ve never been a great tester.

But the weight and importance of this test weighed heavily on me.

It sickens me at times that this country, America, my country, is putting more stock in testing in general more than the actual living, breathing, people who take them. That teachers across the board are being constrained and chastised for not bringing up test scores more than giving the joy and tools to learn effectively. 

It’s downright insulting that we on the one hand put prospective teachers through a decade or more of schooling and training only to get them into a classroom of kids or teens, and then tell them how and what to teach like they spent the last 10 or 20 years of their lives and no NOTHING about teaching.

Why should all teachers be marginalized because a few aren’t effective? 

It takes a lot of courage to admit this. Because I’m a novelist at my core, and a lot of what I write is for children, this absent feather in my proverbial cap is especially hard to bear. But in 2014, I’ve made a necessary decision that will get my head and heart in better unison, 

As many authors, educators. and avid readers already know, author Kate DiCaMillo (Because of Winn-Dixie and The Tale of Desperaux) is the newest “Ambassador for Young People’s Literature” and as past ambassadors have done, each author has particularly focus or theme they champion during the time this period. 

if I ever hold that title, I know I have three competing ideas for what my focus as embassador. Until I have to make that decision, I’ll use T.A.A. to champion a specific focus for the year. That focus is in the text under the image in this letter I type-

NEVER TOO LATE!

Too often we put deadlines on ourselves to motivtate ourselves to take things seriously. Or we have to live with deadlines set by outside pressures, be it school, work, parenting, etc. But speaking solely for myself, more often than not deadlines only add pressure, pain, and guilt that I don’t need. It doesn’t make me a better writer. It doesn’t make me a better person. It only produces stress that keeps me from making any effort at all. Or I second guess myself so much it’s really not funny. 

I may very well have Charlie Brown beat in terms of how wishy-washy I can be at times…

But from this year onward, I will make my personal AND Professional motto be: Never Too Late

Our newest Ambassador for Young People’s Literature knows a thing or two about the words “Never Too Late.” It’s no secret many great writers today and in the past knew from an early age they’d be writers somehow, someway, but many like Kate came to her journey as a writer later in life.

As impatient as I am, and as much as the writing process demands patience, something authors who’ve been through the slogs of querying and drafting book after book for YEARS with no sales or reaching other key milestones too easily forget is that some of that impatience is positive!

While I could count off countless authors who didn’t publish until they were 50+, that’s really not the point I wish to make, the point I make in saying all this is that it’s not bratty impatience that spurs our desire to be authors, it’s that we know we don’t have forever to achieve our goals as writers.

Despite what some “Old Pros” in the business say, I’m full aware of my mortality, and while I can’t speak for all twenty-somethings, I’m speaking solely for me, and just because I may have more “Time” than many of my author friends who are as old or older than my sixty-something grandmother (my stand-in parent) that doesn’t mean my impatience comes from wanting things “Handed” to me without working for them.

I worked 10 YEARS for my first sale. As much as the phrase “One book doesn’t make you writer” is true, you still have to start somewhere, and I wish older writers would understand that some of the impatience is not because we don’t want to work hard. But it’s really hard to START. We can’t be authors without readers, and we can’t reach readers without our work being tight, and despite the advances in self-publishing, not everyone can afford that option, and for those of us who can’t write nonfiction, that only limits where we can submit our work.

Just like there’s ageism for experienced seniors, there’s ageism for us “Rookies” too!

But to all my honorable elders, please hear this, YOUTH ISN’T EVERYTHING!

You also need to understand that while some things may be easier than when you went to school and started working, a lot has changed, and if you don’t fit a certain mold, sometimes you get left behind, please don’t lump us in with the people who did give up without trying. I understand the need for accountability among teachers and students, but when people start DYING over stress from test scores, to quote Miss Clevel from the first animated Madeline special-

“Something is NOT right. Something is Quite Wrong. Something is NOT right! And so…I sing this song…”

What we have in youth we lack in experience, and it’s getting harder to get experience if you don’t meet certain criteria. 

In closing, please understand I’m not against education, but my experience is no less valid than those who got the kind of education that others like myself would envy.

I’m grateful I learned to read and do some basic math (Which I’m still sketchy with at times) but didn’t have many warm and empowering moments as many of my author friends did, and many of them are retired teachers or are still teaching, and I hope nothing I’ve said comes off as dishonoring your profession. Teachers the world over are doing or have done a job I could never do. 

As hard and sobering the road of a writer is, I at least have more of the freedom and self-direction many teachers today do not, and those who can spark engagement and joy in learning to kids and teens, in spite of the “Testing Absolute” environment many of us live in are nothing short of heroes.

So while I do my best to put the pain of my school experience behind me, I press on to forge my own path, and hope I won’t have to rely on family or government aide indefinitely, I will do my best to let go of the guilt and pain I had from my education experience, and not let it stop me from doing something with my life. 

While self-education can’t solve all my problems, it will serve me, even if it can’t pay my bills and taxes: It still matters.

Self-education HAS VALUE.

I HAVE VALUE. Whether I have degrees or not.

While I wish I were more self-reliant financially, I’m doing okay, and one day I will do better than okay, that’s in my reach, and some days it takes extra special effort on my part to remember and believe that.

Take Care, and remember, it’s NEVER TOO LATE for you, whatever you want to do to better your own life.

Your Literary Rat,

Taurean J. Watkins

Founder/Editor-in-Chief

Talking Animal Addicts

Letter From The Editor – Many Thanks

Fête_à_Radziwill_sous_le_règne_de_Stanislas_II_de_Pologne_fin_XVIIIe

Letter From The Editor

-November, 28TH, 2013-

(Thanksgiving)

Many Thanks

My Dearest Readers,

As Thanksgiving  weekend (In the U.S.) lies before us, this is a great time (In between family, feasting, and general frenzy) to stop and reflect on how far you’ve come in your goals,

There are many things I’m thankful for that happened this year. In many ways, 2013 was more lucky than unlucky for me-

I sold my first novel!

The editor for the first phase of revisions truly clicked with me as much as the book.

I began my path toward using video to widen my reach as a writer. 

(Thanks to Katie Davis creating “Video Idiot Boot Camp“)

I began doing reviews for T.A.A. and increased my social media presence and usage.

I launched my “T.A.A. CARES” imitative to spotlight and aid authors and other content creators with PR and funding, and our first two spotlights achieved their funding goals and I can’t wait to own and review their books.

My first year doing PiBoIdMo was successful and came up with 30 picture book ideas (Wish me luck trying to draft them)

I got repay some people who helped me diversify my toolbox of skills as an author.

Were there things I didn’t accomplish? Of course.

I wanted to draft and revise a new novel to submission ready status.

To better foster community on T.A.A.  

I wanted to experiment with self-publishing but ran into issues of quality and lack of finances.

There’s more than this, but I try not to dwell on the negative, and this letter is meant to be hopeful…

Above all, I’m thankful that as 2013 in coming to an end, I made some strides in my slowly moving career, and I wish you all a safe and special Thanksgiving, and for those of you who celebrate Hanukkah (Which coincidences with Thanksgiving weekend in 2013), play a round of Dreidel for me!

Take Care,

Taurean J. Watkins (Taury)

-Editor-in-Chief/Literary Rat

Talking Animal Addicts