Entrepreneur Article About Crowdfunding For Books

Recently, I had the pleasure of working with Samita Sarkar, on the topic of crowdfunding to self-publish a book. Since she was the one writing the article, I didn’t know what quotes she would use from me versus other people who also had experience in crowdfunding, so it was interesting to see the end result.

In her article, “Crowdfunding Your Self-Published Book? Here Are 3 Things You Need to Know” the latest Kickstarter stats show that over out of 349,504 campaigns, just 123,447 succeeded – a 35% success rate. Some 14% of projects finish without receiving a single pledge.

In the three tips listed, lessons learned includes preparing a lot of videos and illustrations prior to the campaign start, then using social media a lot for the duration of the campaign. I talk about how I’ve mastered more software skills – quite frankly, this is because some people that I’ve hired in the past weren’t that great. Sometimes you just have to roll up your sleeves and do things yourself!

With Kickstarter campaigns there is always a risk that it will fail. But obviously I believe this is a risk worth taking as I’m slowly becoming a serial Kickstarter campaign runner! At dinner tonight I warned my friends that I will be emailing them once again to ask for support for the Trump anthology. There was a lot of moaning about how they were tired of Trump, but they were intrigued anyways! (or so I think)

 

Advertisements

Happy Easter! Trump Anthology update #2

Happy Easter everyone! Someone told me yesterday that they have a full furry costume to pretend to be the Easter bunny for their niece and nephew which is pretty impressive! They said that they scatter eggs in a park and wait for the kids…while feeling creepy…which I found quite amusing.

Since I am getting many questions about the Trump anthology, I will keep posting updates as the project progresses. I expect I’ll be bombarded with more submissions once I launch the Trump Kickstarter late April as a PR exercise to pre-sell books and to raise some funds for the marketing blackhole. I hope to get the world excited about reading this book!

Question 1 – Should I send in both utopia and dystopia story?

Quite frankly we have received a lot of dystopia stories which is why that comment was made in my earlier post about sending in both types of stories. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter which type you send in as long as it is good.

Question 2 – Should I use names of staff in the administration?

One does have to be a bit careful when citing names and I hesitate to recommend using their full names out right. Names are difficult to trademark, but if characters are written with same first/last name in bad light, there could be a lawsuit for slandering someone. As we condone extreme violence or sex in stories, the chance of a lawsuit is low; but be aware it is a possibility.

Same thing goes with brand name products. If your story is selected, we may suggest to generalize a brand name or use half of it so the reader can fill in the blanks themselves.

Question 3 – Am I at a disadvantage because I’m a new writer?

Some people send in a list of their credentials which include degrees, diplomas, titles at companies/societies/associations, etc. One person said that they were an astrologer who lived in the woods and another had multiple PhDs in ABC.

I don’t care about your background, at the end of the day if you can tell a good story, you are a good writer!

Question 4 – How can I increase chance of selection?

Stick to the theme – The book’s theme is a world in which Trump exists in the present as a leader or has left a legacy. A lot of people are sending in stories which has nothing to do with Trump but they had written as a side project or for fun.

These  pieces are really good too, but if it has nothing to do with the theme, the editors (there is more than one editor for this book) will debate if it’s worth the time to make extensive comments to the writer about changing certain things here and there to make the story more relevant to the theme. This is pretty much rewriting the story’s narrative and could lead to months of extra work for the editors.

Or they could chose a story that already has the theme in it.

Basic storytelling – The stuff they taught you at school still holds true!

image of plot diagram labled with exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution

Source: Mrs. Welty’s Guide to Literary Elements

One of my profs in a writing course I took recommended to always start with action. The character is doing something interesting to grab the reader’s attention in the first paragraph. In the next paragraph, the writer can go into why they are doing it, background, etc. Remember that we are not in your head and you have to explain what you are seeing.

World building – I want to feel like I’m in your story: What are the smells around the character? What do people eat? How do they travel? Are their environments different from ours? Are there drones/robots/aliens in the sky? Are there hierarchies in society? Are the rules different at work?

Writing course – If you haven’t done so already, do take the time to consider a writing course in person if you can afford it. The feedback from classmates are invaluable and the instructor is usually the harshest which makes you learn quickly! A writing group which meets regularly also helps improve your craft.

Free open ware writing courses are available at MIT’s website on creative writing as well. I bought books to start one of the courses and then forgot where I put them. Yes, I need real people to push my butt! If you are the super motivated type, then you may find some value in these online courses.

At the end of the day sometimes it’s me, not you.

We have received over 50 submissions so far. If I read your story and I remember it a few hours later because it made me think of XYZ, it’s a good story. If I forget I had ever read your story, then it’s forgettable and didn’t resonate with me.

Sending rejection letters suck as I always get them myself. Writing is also very subjective. Just because your story didn’t make it into this book, it doesn’t mean that your writing isn’t good, it could just be someone else sent in a similar story and we had to chose one.

Good luck and looking forward to your stories!

 

 

 

 

An Editor’s Notes on Submissions (Trump, Canada Anthologies)

Dark Helix Press has two different anthologies open to submissions at the moment: Trump Utopia or Dystopia? and Futuristic Canada. Deadlines for both are April 31, 2017.

First, thank you to everyone who has submitted their works so far! It’s been a lot of fun reading through the diverse stories with their different voices. Works have been sent in from all over the world – US, Canada, Italy, Sweden…just to name a few places.

Here are a few notes from moi, the editor, on these two anthologies in particular:

-We are looking for more stories for the Canada anthology in general.

-For the Trump anthology – more sci-fi and fantasy. Lots of Trump horror stories were submitted, making it difficult to choose among them.

-For the Trump Anthology if you are sending in work, send in an utopia and dystopia piece. We only have dystopic views at the moment. Utopic stories can be dark too, look at stories such as 28 Days Later (movie), Happiness (movie) or American Dream themed works, where among tragedies there is a glimmer of hope.

-World building is not including one sentence stating who is the leader of a country. To make me believe that the world you created is different, you will need to give me some details. For example, Trump was elected, then X, which led to X and your characters in the novel doing X. What do people eat? Are there new customs? The details are clear in your head, but the readers don’t have access to it!

-Please don’t send in horror pieces with senseless violence and killing. They really bore me. If there is death, why did it happen and how did the other characters react? Example, many Japanese haunting stories have a tragic tale of why the ghosts are haunting people.

These are my two cents for now. Am working on a Kickstarter campaign for the Trump anthology as a marketing strategy to find new readers. Will post more details when ready!

 

 

My YouTube Diary – Earning money is hard!

It’s been a while since I’ve updated this You Tube Diary because I have been busy trying to finish a cookbook for toddlers. Anyhow, I’ve been keeping my eye on my You Tube channels and sad to report that things are a bit disappointing.

You Tube has millions of videos and it is hard to compete for spots when you are making original material for niche audiences. People that are bootlegging music videos or television shows make a lot more money than a newbie who is trying to create original content.

The most successful channel I have so far is “Po Po Gets Results” with educational videos in Chinese with English subtitles. I suspect this is because one of the languages we have videos for – Cantonese, is a niche area on You Tube for education videos since most are in Mandarin. Cantonese is a dialect of Mandarin and not the official language, so only a subset of the Chinese population is interested in this.

I had ideas for comedy skits to create with a friend, however, she is busy and we haven’t been able to figure out a shooting schedule. She prefers days since it’s best to shoot in light, but I work and I don’t have free time until evenings. Weekends are possibilities, but we haven’t been able to weasel out of our family commitments to get going!

Meanwhile I also bought many LEGO sets because I thought I could make skits with LEGO people. However, I haven’t had time to write down a script yet. I just have random ideas floating around for now…eventually I’ll shoot something since I bought a great mike (Blue YETI) and need to use this stuff before my husband throws them out!

 

Happy Valentine’s Day! Mentioned in 2 articles!

(Oops, posted day after Valentine’s – forgot to hit publish button)

Today the landlord and men at my office gave out free breakfast, snacks and roses which was really nice of them. I could not resist the heart donuts at Tim Hortons either. Gosh, it’s been a calorie packed day!

1487100399061

A few weeks ago I had answered some queries about relationship questions and didn’t hear back from the people. Well, today two of the people contacted me and used my advice in their articles!

One was 14 Things We Wish We Knew Before Getting Married which featured wedding pics and advice from married people. It’s mind boggling to see my picture from ten years ago. I looked so young!

The second article was written for businesses in regards to how people should treat their partners – Experts Weigh In: How do you show love to your partners? 

My husband and I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day (something about him finding it annoying) so it was nice that I got fed, received a rose and got to contribute to some articles!

I’ll Never Be Happy – PTO Week 6 Update

Just finished my entry for the PTO Project, Week 6 – “I’ll Never Be Happy.” When I read research articles on how to be happy, I realized that a lot of people are not really happy or else why would such findings to be significant?!

Happiness seems to be a transient state that needs a lot of upkeep. One can’t be happy all the time I suppose, but being happy more often than not would be nice. It beats the alternative of being depressed and feeling crappy. But trying too hard is also detrimental, because one can try really hard to be happy and if one doesn’t feel like they are succeeding, then they get depressed. There’s a fine balance to keep. Maybe this semi-optimistic idea is the middle road. Hm…I’ll have to keep writing and figure all this stuff out and then make millions to buy lots and lots of chocolate for myself and not share with my kid! WAHAHAHAHA!

Quite frankly I’m not sure who reads my crap, but I hope I’m helping at least one person out there in our dark world by making them laugh at my miserable life!

Presto tried to charge me $4000 for a $40 transaction!

Presto is an electronic payment system that replaces tickets, tokens, passes and cash on local transit systems in Toronto, Hamilton and Ottawa. It’s a little green card which you load up with digital cash to pay for your fare. Similar systems have existed in the US and Asia for many years, so we are a bit behind in Canada! In Hong Kong you can use the Octopus fare card at many convenient stores and other merchants.

I’ve never had an issue reloading the Presto card with my credit card…until last week. When I tried to load $40, the machine charged me $4000! I didn’t know what happened initially. After entering my credit card pin number, the screen flashed red and a message told me that the transaction didn’t go through and that I should check the receipt. I was expecting the receipt to tell me that my pin number was incorrect. Instead, it showed an attempted charge of $4000! My credit card company had rejected the charge automatically. Whew!

presto-warning

Since there were many receipts scattered all over the floor near the Presto machine, I guess the moral of the story is to look at your receipt! Also, checking your credit card statements once in a while is a good idea in this age of digital thefts and mistakes!

Update Jan 30/17 – I had tried to contact Presto via phone but couldn’t talk to an agent after pressing multiple menu options. In the end, the machine voice said that I had to go to a customer service desk in person. Other option was to email, which I did. Presto sent an automatic email saying they will contact me within 5 business days. Will see…

Update #2 Jan 30/17 – a Toronto Star reporter contacted me since he was curious about my receipt, so I sent him a copy of the original one for verification. Here’s the article he wrote. A few hours later Sing Tao daily rewrote the article in Chinese!

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Art Show For Those Who Love Fairytales

Wandering around the Toronto Reference Library last week, I stumbled upon the “Once Upon A Time” library exhibit. I had read about it last year, then forgot to go because my brain was mush due to the business of Christmas preparations. Running from from November 5, 2016 to January 15, 2017, this small show is free and very charming. The show featured displays of toys, art and books for the more popular fairy tales: Cinderella, Beauty & the Beast, Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel & Gretel, Jack & The Beanstalk, Snow White, Puss & Boots. Below is a video I made of some pics I took of the show:

Since this is a show set in a library, a majority of the exhibit consisted of books that were very well preserved. The books were very beautiful – there is nothing quite like old books, they seem to be printed on magical paper! Of course, the books are kept under glass to avoid people and curious children from touching them. Other items included china, pop-up books, ceramic figurines, toys and prints.

Reading the introduction on the wall about the Grimm brothers reminded me of my childhood, because my mom liked to read all the ones with scary endings. She would tell me that if I was bad, I would end up like some of those characters! Hmm, I wonder why I ended up writing vampire books?

Surprisingly there was some art from fairy tales originating from China, Japan and Korea although I’ve never heard of them. Still, it was nice to see some Asian book illustrations on display.

For children and parents, there was an area with some books and coloring sheets set up with a few stools. For those wanting to test fairy tale knowledge, there were large digital screens set up with interactive displays and puzzle games. The pictures of characters on the walls such as Puss in Boots were gorgeous and would make great photo ops.

Overall I spent about 30-60 minutes walking around. It’s an exhibit suitable for people in offices nearby who have time to drop by during lunch hours. Since it’s such a small show, I only recommend it for people who are already in the Toronto area or live nearby.

collage_2017-01-11_15_14_391

My YouTube Diary – Opening A YouTube Channel

Similar to television channels, on YouTube you can open your own channel to upload videos to. You can even make a trailer to promote it, add your social media links and pay for ads to advertise this channel. It’s like opening a free mini tv station which you can brand and upload whatever content (within YouTube guidelines) you want the world to see.

There are step by step instructions and technical tips on Buffer Social’s site write up on how to open a YouTube channel. Basically you need a Google account which will also give you an email account, brand account, YouTube account and Ad Sense account (for collecting revenue from ads or to pay for ads). It’s handy that everything is linked and the interface is quite user-friendly for newbies.

One of my friends told me that somehow they got banned from opening a YouTube channel because someone close to her somehow had access to her email and did some odd stuff on YouTube pretending to be her. Hence she was banned for a few years. Remember that the internet is like an elephant, it never forgets! So be careful of what you write and read the warning emails if they appear because you can get banned!

After opening a brand account and YouTube channel, you may want to think of a logo. This is an extra touch which helps promote brand recognition and it’s kind of fun to have the chance to make a logo for your own channel! To make a logo, you can either 1) DIY with original art, 2) DIY with free royalty-free stock art from Pixabay, 3) DIY with design programs such as the fabulous free Canva (you can upload your own images if Canva doesn’t have exactly what you want) or 4) hire an artist. If you hire someone and buy the copyright, the content is  yours. When you use stock art or Canva, read the fine print for license details for what you can and can not do.

Here are a few of my YouTube channel logos which were created either on my own or commissioned an artist for the art:

logos

Once you have things set up, you can actually open up more than one channel. Why do this? Well, for me, I wanted to have a few different channels due to different interests that don’t really intersect. I actually created the JF Garrard channel years ago to upload a book trailer for my multicultural vampire novel, The Undead Sorceress (looks so cheesy when I re-watch it!). Now that I have a new project, to organize things better, I created a playlist specific to my project on depression, Pessimist to Semi-Optimist (PTO) project so people interested in this project can watch all the videos on this project in one go. It’s like using setting up your PVR to record all the Big Bang Theory shows in a row to watch them non-stop.

Po Po Gets Results!” is a channel I opened to make Chinese language videos with my mom to drill some Chinese into my son because it’s hard to find Chinese/English videos with toys that he likes to play with. “Po Po” means grandmother in Cantonese. Viking husband thought that “Po Po Gets Results” was a funny phrase and describes my mom’s relentless nature in shoving food into our offspring. Anyhow, getting him to learn numbers from a Thomas the Train that sounds like his grandmother seems to be working for now!

Over Christmas, my husband went crazy while watching super boring videos of Disney toy openings with children that we were babysitting. I looked up the person that made these videos and it turns out they make over $1M a year! We have a lot of toys at home, so why not try to make some videos about toys which children would want to watch? However, my interest in attempting to making videos about toys (openings and reviews) does not really fit into my channel on author and depression stuff. As a parent, I would be confused if a channel has videos on toys and advice on how not to commit suicide or vampire book trailers. It might fit into the Po Po channel, but I want to keep that exclusive for Chinese educational videos, so I opened a channel called “Kid Creatures” for toy reviews and toy opening videos.

Finally, some friends wanted to get together to make comedy skits. Good comedy is extremely difficult to do and very subjective, which makes me a bit nervous about doing this. As a big fan of BBC’s Absolutely Fabulous I always wish there was more female comedy that was not only about hot flashes, women being mean or sex. “One Hand Wave” is the comedy channel I opened to upload funny things to. My friends and I haven’t gotten together yet because everyone seems to be busy. Maybe that can be a skit in itself! Funny how the one person with a toddler is the one that set up everything and bought equipment but the single people are still “thinking” about things before they want to do anything…sigh…ok, I’m being a bit mean now…

I admit it’s a hassle to switch in between channels or personas when doing updates, but I think it will be worth it in the long run. Within each channel you can create playlists, so when people are on your channel, you can create lists to link all your videos. This will help people find your videos as YouTube is a vast place with millions of videos.

One software I highly recommend to spread messages about your message on social media is Hootsuite, which allows you to schedule posts. For example, you want to send ten Twitter messages about a new video. Instead of logging into Twitter and typing it ten times every day (and trying to remember!) – you can schedule all ten posts over ten days in a few minutes in Hootsuite. There is a free version you can link to 3 accounts, but if you have multiple things to upkeep, a paid version costs about $200/year for up to 10 accounts.

Opening a channel is the easy part! Now it’s off to the races by making videos to upload!

 

I Hope I’m Helping People

The thought of “I Want To Die” is the second negative thought of the PTO Project I decided to write about. While I was writing about this, I started to doubt if I was doing the right thing by writing at all. Some friends and family were starting to tell me to shut up…I don’t think any of them have ever been depressed. When you are at rock bottom, any little thing that brings a bit of light into you is welcomed desperately. I know I’m not a medical professional, but I am someone who is struggling on her own journey to find some air before I drown in the shallow waters of depression. You can’t drown in shallow waters unless you sink down and stay there. Doesn’t help when people are beating you with clubs all the time.

Other friends and family tell me that I’m courageous to let people know how I’m feeling. But I don’t feel any courage. What I do feel is the need to throw a rope out to others because the darkness is a horrible place to be. However, I have to be in a good place before I can help anyone else. I am not the best writer in the world and maybe not the worst (though I’ve been told I am a horrible writer…sigh…) but I think my semi-optimistic messages come across somewhat. I’m an introvert at heart and it is difficult to pry words out of me. In a world where extroverts are prized, my confidence is shattered constantly in many aspects of my life.

My Chinese doctor told that when I do good only for myself it is being selfish, I have to do good to others in order to make the world a better place. I just hope that in sharing my story that it will help at least one other person out there.

Advertisements