A few months ago, I decided being at Comic Con would be an awesome experience for me as an author. With thousands attending each year, the exposure to a large audience would be great for me and my self-published title The Skinwalker’s Apprentice.
There was one big problem though; I didn’t have the money to fund the booth space. With the smallest booth going for nearly 1k, not to mention the cost of ordering books and swag I knew it would be impossible for me to manage on my own. As any author who has self published knows, it’s not cheap. Between book covers, editing, artwork and merchandise, I knew I couldn’t afford to get to Comic Con without help.
If you know anything about crowdfunding (think Kickstarter) then Pubslush runs on the same principals; the community pools their resources to make something happen. For anyone using Pubslush that ‘something’ has to be based in the literary world. For example, if you need a cover artist and editor for your next book, Pubslush can help you raise the funds to pay for them. If you want to throw a book launch party but don’t have the money, Pubslush is a great place to help raise that money. For me, I wanted to attend NY Comic Con, and hopefully gain some more readers for my YA Fantasy Series. Along the way, everyone at Pubslush was super helpful even when I ran into some snafus. I was originally set to release book one of my series at NY Comic Con, back when I was signed to a small publisher. However, that deal fell through, and I was left with either pulling out of Comic Con, self-publishing the book or just bringing the companion novella, The Skinwalker’s Apprentice, to the show instead. In the end, I decided I would stick with it, bring the companion novella to Comic Con, and try my luck at getting an agent to represent me for the yet to be published full length novels.
So How Does it Work?
First I set up the campaign on Pubslush.com, choosing a title, image and prize packages for my donors. For example, for $5, my supporters got a shout out from me on social media plus a free eBook copy of The Skinwalker’s Apprentice. For $15, they got the eBook and signed paperback, and so on. Packages ranged from $1 to $1,000 with most supporters choosing the mid-level packages (around $25) and a few donors who chose the $150 and $200 packages. I answered a few questions about what the money would be used for and about my books and I sent the campaign off for review. Pubslush approved my campaign, while giving me some advice on how to market it and I started sharing on my social media platforms. I tweeted, posted on Facebook and Instagram and had weekly updates on the amount of money I raised and how much time I had left. I also sent out a newsletter to my mailing list, announcing my upcoming Comic Con appearance and asking for their help.
Pretty soon my followers, family and friends began sharing, re-tweeting and donating to my campaign. Other authors who were also running their own campaigns helped spread the word and some even donated. I approached popular indie book blogs which posted about my campaign and an excerpt from my book was featured on the Pubslush Writer’s Corner along with links to my campaign which also helped tremendously.
I continued to promote my book, writing guest posts for blogs, doing interviews on sites such as DiversifYA, and letting everyone know about my ongoing campaign at the same time. Pubslush was supportive and helpful throughout this process, guiding me in how to facilitate this change to my campaign (since I was no longer releasing book one of the series, the original goal and prizes would change). I received email updates and check ins, suggestions on how to better promote my campaign and advice whenever I had a question. The Pubslush team, receiving feedback from the community on what they wanted from me, also suggested a certain ebook/book package which I didn’t originally have available but which proved to boost donations quite nicely. In short, I didn’t go at it alone and if for any reason I felt lost I just needed to reach out to my Pubslush representatives for help.
Founded by mother daughter team, Hellen and Amanda Barbara, Pubslush seeks to help authors who might not otherwise have a chance to be discovered by readers get the exposure and help they need. In an interview with CBE, CEO, Amanda Barbara, told us stories of best-selling authors being rejected by publishers, like J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter) and Kathryn Stockett (The Help) inspired the duo to start Pubslush.
“We realized, ‘what other great books is the world are we missing out on because publishers have rejected them?'”
Both Barbara’s were fueled by the research they did into the difficulty of being published, and driven by a passion for helping new authors get discovered.
She explains, “People are completely on board and have really embraced Pubslush. Our model really helps work with all different people in the industry. We partner with traditional publishers, agents, and self-publishing companies. So we’re not in competition, we are working in conjunction with them.”
Amanda explained that publishers could utilize their Publisher Program, which is completely free, and can help build a readership for their books. According to the Pubslush website, this program, “allows publishing industry professionals to create their own customized pages on Pubslush. This one of a kind opportunity allows you to grow your brand, expand your services, test the market, and appeal to a broader literary world by securing a spot in the forefront of the publishing industry.”
This fall, Pubslush rolled out a new pre-order model and will be expanding its offerings in the New Year.
“Marketing before your book is published is crucial, and something we really encourage all authors to take advantage of,” said Amanda.
She also stressed the importance of having a reader base, explaining that, “If you can’t sell more than 100 copies of your book in a pre-order phase than it means you’re probably not ready to publish the book. There are a lot of things you can start doing to promote and get out there into the world. It’s definitely hard because anyone can publish but to publish successfully is really difficult and to have a team behind you if you’re looking to self-publish is an exciting thing to have.”
The entire Comic Con experience was a great one for me. I sold plenty of books (much more than I had anticipated), had pages worth of newsletter subscribers, gave away all of my promo material and had a lot of interest in my books in general.
All together, Pubslush helped me raise $970, a portion of which was donated to the The Pubslush Foundation, which helps to combat children’s illiteracy. A small 4% fee was also taken from Pubslush for their platform service.
At Comic Con, two Pubslush reps came to see me, taking pictures of my booth and giving me a pretty neat tote bag. They later posted pictures on their Instagram and will be reviewing one of the books I gave them on their blog, blog.pubslush.com.
Such a hands on (and pleasant) experience was great to come across, especially when dealing with a high profile show like NY Comic Con. It can be scary venturing out on your own as an author, and there are many companies that prey on rather than help authors, so it was refreshing working with people who not only helped me but seemed to genuinely care about me and my project. With new crowd funding sites for literary projects popping up, Pubslush has not only paved the way, but made the literary playing field a bit more level, and kinder, in the process.
“Pubslush is more than just a crowdfunding platform,” said Amanda, “it’s a community of readers, writers and publishers and it can really help get books in the hands of readers at an earlier phase.”