whocares

The Brief Crowdfunding Pitch De-Brief

So you have pitched and now you are wondering how the hell did I do?

1. On the pitching letter. Make it pithy and make each one the best letter you ever wrote. If you know them v well, aim for the heart. Go deeper. Ask how Anna’s Grade V piano exam went and how James’ operation in July went for instance. This is to show you have a very good memory. A pitch is not a friendly email and a friendly email is not a pitch. Each pitch has to be tailor-made. The hello how are you is very impersonal and could be cut and pasted from another pitch. If you are close to them, then show them that this project is close to you by being specific. If you don’t know them very well, see this other post, Your Crowdfunding Pitch Letter.

2. On being ignored. Do not take it personally. It’s sales so it’s irritating for both seller and buyer. I understand what you’re going through, it’s very hard to stomach it. We have all suffered. “A moment of optimism will save you a hundred days of sorrow”- Chinese proverb

3. On rejections- it’s to do with courses for horses – naturally your own project is close to you but literally no one cares and no one is thinking about it.. E.g. 1 More than half of my close family on my mother’s side are all born again serious religious types. Why would/should they support my book about immorality and the life of excess in the west?! I respect them for that.
E.g. 2 You may have made the best banana cake in the world but if they don’t like bananas and/or they don’t like cake they will just not buy your product. There is no try before you buy. Therefore in your pitch you have to work out why they need to fund this project. It could be as simple as they like you and they want to support you. In fact I recall many instances where I end up buying some beauty product I don’t even want or like because I really like the seller and I bonded with her/him. Also eco, yes, sustainable, yes, ok whatever, I’ll just shut up and hand over my credit card. What usually sounds good is probably good.

4. It’s just statistics or a numbers game. If you ask 100 people to a party and thirty say yes then that’s not a bad return. If you increase that to a thousand and three hundred say yes then you’ve got it! It’s a party!

5. There is no 5. Just go back to the Thing about the moment of optimism.

Your Crowdfunding Pitch Letter

The letter needs to be pithy and to the point. Short direct pitches work better cos firstly people have no time and secondly they have no patience. It should be in three paragraphs only.

The first paragraph:

Introduce your product and what it is. Learn to cut out all that “how are you hope you’re well” nonsense. I was told that unless you can be specific about people’s children’s names, get straight to the point. They will sniff out the sales pitch so you might as well pitch. “Hi, I’ve written this book called “I am Dying Here” about blah blah and I’m crowdfunding it with my publisher So and So.. etc ”

The second paragraph:

Explain why they should support you. It could be you know them or can find some connection between you as the seller and them as the buyer. It could be you don’t know them but you share an interest. You are identifying them as your tribe. Here is where creative writing is useful. You can say, I am poor, I am new. I have never done this but I am trying. There are so many reasons and you just have to be straightforward and honest and just pick maximum three. I am poor and I am new at this counts as two. You like banana cake? You like cake? Well I am selling banana cake. It is the best. You like post-punk clothes and accessories? Well actually I am selling post-punk clothes and accessories. Whatever it is that they are into, you must find it and tap in. Don’t think about yourself. Don’t think what you are into. Think what they are into.

The third paragraph:

Explain how they can support you. Give them the cheapest way they can support you and easily. Tell them that it starts at 10£ (as in my case crowdfunding my book). Forget the rest of the reward levels. Just forget it. Don’t try to upsell people when this is simply a consumer item. You are trying to get numbers as it is a numbers game. You are not selling a single luxury handbag for £6,000. This is a cheap thing. Most people I know have no money so why worry them that there are levels. If they have more than 10£ then great. They will give more once they trust you and your tactics. Trust is worth more than love. They don’t have to love you or your product but they must trust you in order to hand over cold hard cash or card.

Lastly, it’s not very obvious but think and write clearly. The clearer you think before you write the better your writing will be (this is true of all writing). Do not ever wander out of the context of the pitch. See also Your Crowdfunding Pitch De-Brief.

If you want me to check over your pitch, I will be happy to do so. Of course, I am no expert. No one is. They all learn from experience. Those who say they are experts are charlatans. They are selling snake oil. How can anyone be an expert when I just explained to you every single pitch is tailor-made, customised for each customer? No two customers are alike. Unless you are selling phone covers, no two creative products are alike. Would you think that as a customer you are exactly like someone else of a different age, gender, from somewhere else in the world? No! We are all unique. Therefore every pitch must be made unique and hit the heart and the mind of your intended customer with utmost precision.

Crowdfunding Week 5 – Keep Calm and Carrie Fisher

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OK guys so for 24 hours I had to get away from London, the internet, social media, work, family, self marketing and of course this crowdfunding (CF) lark. Luckily my friend Yvonne Lyon invited me up (not up, sideways, sorry) for her birthday celebrations. Since this process started I found myself impaired in every way – writing, music, work, sewing, family life. Not to mention I am now drinking everyday and becoming one of those cliched ‘is it wine o’clock yet’ mums. I was doing so well when I went teetotal for three months from September to December last year and was even called a sober skinny bitch to my utter delight. Now not only having put on weight, I’m finding it hard to concentrate and it is wearing me out looking at the percentage everyday. It is quite crippling. I am unable to write a word and I can feel my blood pressure mounting. I am having palpitations and an attack of The Hives (urticaria, look it up. No, not the Swedish band). I decided to go to Oxford and spend a night. I deliberately did not bring a computer and kept my phone off.

Instead of getting there quickly, I was waylaid by an epic journey. It took me 1.5 hours just to get to Notting Hill Gate. District line was not running yesterday, I didn’t know, had to take 39 bus to Putney Bridge, 74 to Lillie road, Fulham, 28 from Lillie Road, Fulham to Notting Hill Gate! Complete nightmare. Meanwhile it was pouring non stop, of course it was. That is called sod’s law. Was soaked. Walked in wrong direction of Oxford Tube bus stop. Found out. Walked in correct direction. Even heavier rain. When I got to the bus stop N or whatever it was, I had missed one bus by one second. The bus driver refused to open door even though he was still there at the stop! Waited for another. Finally, got on oxford tube and in total the whole journey took 3.25 hours! During all this travel nonsense l, being soaked, did not take out phone, or book as did not want to get anything wet. There was plenty of time to reflect on life so far, so near, take deep breaths and a step back.

When I got to Oxford, my friend Yvonne and I just enjoyed ourselves like the old days, art gallery, talking, food, wine, cinema, more talking, food, wine. I wanted to savour every moment and cherish life minus wifi, social media, life that is pre CF, the vintage life (I believe I even have a hashtag for this, look on the right).

There was a time when writing the book was enough! A time when being able to cook, getting a driver’s licence, getting a degree, a mobile phone, winning pitches and jobs, getting two more degrees, and having children were enough. But after climbing these mountains, I am climbing another – the CF mountain. So now I remind myself to keep calm and Carrie Fisher. She always retains humour in any situation of adversity:

Being happy isn’t getting what you want. It’s wanting what you have.

Anyway it can’t be possibly harder than digging holes in excavation pits by hand, or numerous labour-intensive manual work, or factory work or … how about raising your own children? Which BTW I reckon is still the most demandingly profound unpaid job in the world with no formal contract and no comeback, IMHO. Would suit young people. Work guaranteed all year round. No experience or skills required. Just apply.

Rant over. Did you think this is a blog post?

Pitching your Ideas in 3 minutes

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Pitching is presenting your ideas.

What people and I myself don’t realise is how tough my business life as a designer is and has been. I pitch for ten jobs to get 2. Five jobs to get 1. Clients today make you bleed. You are competing against younger, cheaper and more innovative pitchers. So how do I make myself stand out against the competition? By being totally rehearsed, slick and experienced. I am already very used to pitching. I can do a 3 minute, 30 minutes, 45 minute, 1 hour pitch. All of it is the same process, across all industries.: 1/ This is what I have got. 2/ If you want what I’ve got, then great. 3/ If you don’t want it, this is why you need it 4/ Think about it, cos if you do, this is what it costs. 5/ If you don’t like what it costs, what is your offer? And it must always finish with a question. Because the answer in the end comes from them, and it is a yes or a no.

And that is pitching. If you are in a marketplace you will understand what I mean, except you are both behind a stall and in front of a stall. You have got to sell what people want. Otherwise the stall will have to pack up. I come from customer service. I know how to make people happy. And if they are happy, I know how to make people happier. I have done this for 20 years in my architecture and design business. Once you get the whole point of pitching, you can move on to pitching like a fork and making your pitch stand out from everybody else who is pitching.

What about the market – not in demand and so on?

Don’t worry about the market. If we did, nothing would be invented. You make something. You make people want it. If they don’t want it, modify the product so they want it. It they still don’t want it, make them want you.

Pitching like a fork

Already I had spent an enormous amount of time prepping for the pitch. Making the pitch video took me something like 28 hours. 2 hours initially to storyboard and write the script, then 3 hours every night for a week plus another six hours or so and then the file was corrupt, and so I had to re shoot half of it, and then edit it down to half. I thought I was going to go insane. Then the sound was wrong. So I had to re-record the voice over AND dub. I never questioned what am I doing and why am I doing it? I just thought – I gotta finish this damned video. I made the footage and all the music myself, so I had some files left which were undestroyed. It was the live footage that was spoilt but what can I do? I have to work with what I have to work with which is a nine-year-old MacBook (I swear I love you, MacBook, please don’t give up on me. I just love you, OK). I am still prepping. The launch date is technically Monday 12 December. I have got the weekend.

What about writing it?

But 28 hours – still quicker than writing the novel, right? It took me a year to write, two years to edit (8 drafts) and two years of living in my hard drive, untouched by time and energy and emotions. With two young children, two jobs and almost no time at all, I was doing all this in the early mornings, late at night, weekends for three years. Finally I wrote the book. I had the best literary agent who was also my editor. She was kind and professional. We parted ways a few years ago. Therefore the book is polished and finished-finished. It does NOT need funding to write it. When a friend Fiona Parker-Cole badgered me into showing her the first 30 pages, I demurred and reticently agreed. I sighed and pressed print, thinking all the time this is a bloody waste of paper and ink and she won’t read it. But she did and she told me she could not believe that it was living in my hard drive like some caged animal. She convinced me to start submitting it again. It needs to be published. It needs to get off my hard drive.

Pitching is a skill. So like any technical skill, you will get better and quicker at it.

 

How I came to be Crowdfunding with Unbound

 

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I was on around Day 27 of NaNoWriMo and doing quite well I thought, writing my third novel, with my word count of c 24,000 when suddenly I was hit with news that I was being offered a book deal by Unbound, an imprint of Penguin Random House. The caveat was that it will be through crowdfunding. I will have to reach the target before the book is published in both digital and paperback.

 

Three publishing deals this year:

Before I submitted to Unbound, I already submitted to two other digital publishers. The first came back to me in June this year. and the deal was not bad and not good. I had a friend Keith of Strident Publishing look at the contract in detail and fine-toothed combed it. Armed with about 14 questions regarding the contract, I emailed them to the publisher (let’s call them X). But X never replied. Therefore I concluded X just want your MS to put out there in order to make money. All I wanted to know was how much are they selling each copy for, so I can work out my cut. They did not even have the courtesy to reply saying, actually we don’t answer questions. So I moved on.

The second publisher, let’s call them Y, were in Hong Kong. As my book is partly set in Macau, I tried a Hong Kong publisher. They were great at communicating and absolutely full of ideas, they loved the book but for two months they did not prepare a contract. So I was left hanging just waiting and waiting. In I think July or August, they replied with a contract saying I have to foot the bill of 15000 HKD and I worked that out at 3,500 GBP. But that came from nowhere. There was talk of funding at the start but they didn’t say who was funding. Also I would have to fly to HK at my own expense in order to attend my own book launch. Where is the sense in this? When I thought should I pay for this out of my own pocket? I realised I did not want to. If I had 3,500 GBP spare I would rather get my teeth done. That is an investment too.

What about Createspace?

Between the second and third publisher, I started setting up a Kindle and Createspace account. I did not even get to the point of uploading my MS. I just lost interest and I do not want to self-publish. The books looked crude to me. Unless you pay top designers and publishing experts to get it out to a professional level, they did not look right. And to do that we are talking in circles. It would be in the tune of around 3,500 to 4,000 GBP. Which top designer is going to do it for peanuts? I wouldn’t! And I am a designer and have been for the last twenty years! I know what design costs and it costs. Am I a snob?

The third publisher

So I submitted my package to Unbound and heard back after six weeks and now believe it or not I am crowdfunding. A word that was alien to me even last week. It is not who you know but who knows you. i.e. the crowd, the vox populi. It is they who will pay for my blood, sweat and tears, my labour of love, my confection.

The Sadomasochistic Art of Writing: you know what I’m talking about yes you do


When the thing is virtual, digital, electronic, unreal:
Through the years I must have received more than a hundred rejections or several hundred (if you count the electronic ones). Yet I seemed to have somehow ignored, shrugged off, be cheered by, be angered by, rejuvenated by, devastated by, thwarted by, enriched by, encouraged by, empowered by or simply unaffected by them. 

Many times I wanted to drag the document into the trashcan icon on my computer. No one stopped me and at any point I could have done this especially when I was drunk, pig-headed, feeling strong or all three, and I am often all three.

Writing is sadomasochistic because…

…nobody cares. Many times I said I should just GIVE UP. Even though Winston Churchill said never ever to do such a thing. Did I mention I am a true artist? I will probably cut off my ear soon. You don’t write because of self-belief. You can’t. No fiction writer truly believes fiction unless they are only five. I don’t believe anything. I have to write because otherwise drops of blood would appear on my desk. That’s why it is sadomasochistic.

Nobody likes it, nobody even reads this sh1t. Yet stuff I wrote did not end up in the trashcan icon. How easily one’s life’s work is dumped by computer. Friends have told me to keep this sh1t no matter what. 

When printed out, real, physical:
Now I am terrified. This is the first novel I wrote. I have a second one. They are both unpublished. But I have printed out just the first one. This is because I had to send it off for a competition. 

This thing that I wrote for so many years exists. It can even sit on a table or a floor and look at me. I really did spend sh1tload5 of time, years and years, forming words, forming sentences, making it, carving, whittling, planning, thinking, typing, reading, re-writing, cutting, adding, cutting, adding, and breathing it to life. This thing! This monster. It is real. It is 281 pages, can cause paper cuts, and has serious weight. It is 3D, it has thwack factor. (That means you can thwack someone with it and they will end up in A&E). It may even move me. That is what has changed today.

Apart from being laughed at in the print shop and having to carry out a conversation involving an elevator pitch to ‘so what’s it about? what’s it about?’ I had my three-word reply because I have rehearsed this so many times during my hundred or so rejections. Followed by: Sheep-faced, I even managed to read out the first page to a room full of printer guys. My first audience and interview. This is the audience feedback: ‘Hey you wrote a book. Man! She wrote a book guys! Hey guys! Everybody. She wrote a book. She. Wrote. A. Book’.

And here it is.


And that is why I carried on putting myself out there: for the sadomasochistic art of writing. And now wish me luck for this competition!

Rejections and the Pound on the Ground

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I can’t hear you!

So I had two rejections today, both for short stories. Another for my novel pitch, four days ago.

No thanks

For those of you who are young (you know who you are), they used to be called rejection slips in the good old days. The postman brought them to your door. They are in thick, creamy, textured, satisfyingly luxurious cards if they are standard rejections with no signature, and A4 thick creamy textured luxurious ribbed Conqueror paper if they have been typed by someone, hence with signature. Wanna see them? I have them in my museum. Nowadays rejections come by email with the heading “thank you for your…”. I don’t need to read the rest. If they liked it and want it, they won’t say “thank you”. Of course not. Why would they say “thank you”? They will start with “we are pleased to…”. There is no “slip”, no textured card to caress, no thick creamy paper to crush or to hang onto with your sweaty fist, no reality, no meaning, nothing but your iPhone screen to look at.

Mind-crushing headache

I woke up with this morning told me things were not going well. After a couple of paracetamols, it didn’t go away and after a couple of hours I had to wolf a meal down and pop two ibuprofens. It felt like a hangover and yet I wasn’t having a hangover.

I have been surveying

an office block in Surrey today and had to come home to sad news so not a great day. Tonight I applied to that London Book Fair Agent One to One event. I fully expect to hear nothing. That’s writing life for you. 99.999999999999999999999% rejection. This is for those who have dared to show their stuff and send it out. For those who write and leave it on their hard disk, it’s all OK. The hard disk is the soft pillow. Put your heavy head on it and don’t worry.

As a writer, am I too cool to say this: that I am very disappointed and irritated at myself for putting my stuff out, yet I feel that during the 0.000000000000000000001%* times that I had been successful, I had been truly successful, such as when I won the literary prize. Had I never ever been affirmed as a writer, I would have given up long ago. Underneath the aged grime, dirt and tarnish, the glint.

One has to look on the shiny side

The headache is gone. After the survey in Surrey, I actually found a pound on the ground. The gold disc was glinting. I couldn’t believe it. That’s, like, five ringgit! I had to ask myself, a pound or someone accepting my writing? I am not sure what is the value of my writing. Or dare I say, the worth.

* hope I got the number of decimal points right. If not, shoot me.

no sweets for me

no sweets for me

 

 

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/7236774@N05/3518111460″>Pound rolling</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a>

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/71380981@N06/16439868149″>Everyone Deserves a Little  Portland Oregon</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a>