Life After Kickstarter, 1: Your Book Had Better Not Suck

Soon, I will get a check from Kickstarter.

One campaign promise fulfilled!

I did fulfill one campaign promise already: Madeleine gets steak

Soon, I will be sending out the early rewards, including copies of Am I Boring My Dog, and fulfilling other campaign pledges. So far, only the steak promise I made to Madeleine has been taken care of.

Soon, I will finish all the assignments I signed on for pre-Kickstarter — and mid-Kickstarter, just in case I didn’t succeed — and settle in to write Getting Naked for Money.

And soon I will figure out other ways to keep my book-to-be in the public eye. Even traditional publishers only give a minimal amount of support to authors these days. With self-published books, authors have to generate all the publicity, including the paid variety. My Kickstarter campaign was just the beginning of this process, an intensive course in Social Media Self-Promotion 101, but one utilizing a strategy that can’t be sustained. Aside from the fact that it’s annoying after a point — the point at which being annoying is the point — it’s also exhausting.

Right now, though, I’m in limbo, and feeling a little low. One part of me is hugely relieved to relinquish the role of over-the-top pushy person. Another part misses that alter ego and all the attention she got, her chutzpah (for some thoughts about the source of that bolder self, see Of Chutzpah, Kickstarter and Keeping a Low Profile).

She knew me when

I will especially miss the flurry of connection with old friends with whom I’ve had little contact for years. I’ve had some thoughts about the numbers and enthusiasm with which they turned out. I know many wish me well for my own sake, but I suspect they’re also pulling for me because I knew them in their younger, better-looking incarnations, before we were all made less relevant — as is the usual order of things — by the next generations. My potential success suggests the game is not over yet for them either.

There’s something to be said for being a late starter.  I often say I wish I had something to retire from — a job as a professor, say. But you never retire from being a writer, unless the writing never really mattered or a physical/mental disability makes working impossible.

I’m proud that I’ve worked steadily — in some ways, stealthily — to feel comfortable with my current job description. I also like the idea that I can’t be laid off, though rates seem to be going in the wrong direction.

There are many moments when I still have my doubts about my abilities as a writer. But now I am aware that 236 people invested their money in a belief in me as the real deal. My anxieties might not inspire confidence in them.

My worst fears, my best hopes

One of my most ardent Kickstarter supporters put it this way, with a smiley face, when it was clear that the campaign succeeded: Your book had better not suck.

In my best moments, I not only think that my book will not suck, but believe that it can be a best seller. Why not?  Conducting a Kickstarter campaign confirmed my worst fears on occasion — but far more often it fed my fondest hopes.

My worst fears: That people I knew would be offended by my requests for financial support, especially when they hadn’t heard from me in a while.  One person, with whom I was friendliest during a period I cover in the memoir — I contacted her because I thought she might enjoy reading about those times — berated me in no uncertain terms for getting in touch only when I wanted something. More typical was a former editorial assistant who was pleased to hear from me after a long hiatus, for whatever reason. She sent me some stories that she had written — one published in the New York Times — and some pictures of her kids. Then she gave generously.

It’s a cliche that I found to be true:  The people who were happiest with themselves were able to be happy for me. If they couldn’t give, they said so, and wished me well. Or they ignored me. They didn’t get angry merely because I had asked.

Miriam Hughes art

An example of Miriam Hughes’ wonderful watercolors

As for those fondest hopes, aside from the obvious, i.e., the campaign’s success, a few things happened that I never would have anticipated:

  • People I didn’t know, except through social media, took it upon themselves to raise money for me by asking their friends to support my campaign, over and over; one, the talented Miriam Hughes, even offered to give supporters free original art work.
  • People I did know went above and beyond the call by rallying their friends and family to the cause behind the scenes.
  • People in both categories upped their pledges because they were worried that the campaign wouldn’t succeed — or because they wanted to reward my hard work — without being asked. I made many, many requests, but I drew the line at asking anyone who already gave to give more.

I have tended towards the paranoid, worrying that people are looking on from afar with ill intent. It was more than heartening to realize the opposite was true, that I had many, many guardian angels — including guardian atheists — on my side.

I will write more about the campaign as time goes on — everything from detailing the logistics to talking about the highest and lowest points. In the meantime, I will regroup and recharge before I get back to work, thus ensuring that, at a minimum, my book won’t suck.

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About the Author

ejarolim@mac.com'
Edie Jarolim is a writer and editor living in Tucson, Arizona. Sign up on this blog to get updates about her humorous tell-all/memoir, GETTING NAKED FOR MONEY: An Accidental Travel Writer Reveals All.

10 Enlightened Replies

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  1. I love this posting! You showed admirable courage and kutzpa (?) regardless of the snarky non-friends and self doubts. We all have them, but I realized recently that not doing some of the things we strive for is disrespectful to those who do believe in us. I am beyond thrilled your campaign succeeded, I’m proud to be considered a friend (even if it’s still cyber for now) and I know the book will be great. Our next mission will be to market the heck out of it.

    In the meanwhile, I better get painting! Do you have a list who needs my paintings? I’m doing them today!

    • ejarolim@mac.com' Edie says:

      You are an inspiration, Miriam — seriously! I always see you put yourself out there, bad moods, self doubts, etc. and then come back with TED talks, wonderful work, support for friends (virtual and real)…. Your energy amazes me.

      I will spend this morning trying to figure out who asked for paintings. Sadly, I wasn’t organized enough to keep a list but I think I can reconstruct through time frame/messages, etc. Most of them were friends of yours, if I recall.

  2. katekaemerle@gmail.com' Kate Kaemerle says:

    Your book will certainly not suck! Having been lucky enough to read several chapters, it’s entertaining and funny and I can’t wait to read more!

  3. texmexIgo@yahoo.com' Marita Adair says:

    YOU are the inspiration. I know for sure that your book will be entertaining, as well as a resource for reality for writers now and in the future. Besides that, you know I see a movie version. Go forth with joy filled purpose.

    • ejarolim@mac.com' Edie says:

      Ah, thanks Marty! You’ll definitely enjoy the insider dirt on guidebook writing. I guess the movie will have to focus more on the on-the-road adventures rather than the publishing politics…

  4. mew6389@gmail.com' Mike Webster says:

    Congratulations on the success both of the campaign itself and of all the entertaining and engaging marketing you did to push it over the top.

    In your Project Update #15, you wrote, “I’m going to be doing a lot of writing about issues. . . including exploring the self-publishing process.” That promise induced me to come here and click on the “Subscribe” button, only my second blog subscription ever.

    My first blog subscription ever is to my wife Pam’s dog blog, which brings me to the second inducement you wrote into Update #15: the possibility of more pictures of Madeleine. This compels me to monitor your blog to keep Pam informed.

    Finally, you wrote in your post above, “There’s something to be said for being a late starter.”

    I really hope you will expand on this theme. Some of us can use all the encouragement we can get. 🙂

    Good luck with Getting Naked!

    • ejarolim@mac.com' Edie says:

      Mike,
      Thank you very much for this nice note — and for your subscription. I am now officially accusing myself of sexism! I’d assumed your contribution to my campaign was purely a ploy by your wife/my friend Pam to give to the campaign under another name, which would suggest that you weren’t capable of making your own informed decision. Mea culpa. Not that I didn’t get a lot of male contributors; I suspect the book’s title might have played a role — but maybe I am being sexist again…

      I am honored to be your second blog subscription, ever, and will do my best to fulfill my campaign promises beyond giving steak to Madeleine. I don’t think I have much to teach anyone who is tearing up roots to go off and live on a boat in mid-life about being a late starter but I can hope that my example, which includes caring a lot less about what people think than I did when I was young, will help.

      Good luck with going off to live on a boat!

  5. peacefuldog@yahoo.com' Kirsten says:

    Very cool to read about your process! So many of us writers are introverts, and the marketing stuff is an alien world. Sounds like you have risen to the occasion very admirably. I am certain your book won’t suck, and in fact will be worthwhile and entertaining.

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