On Crowdfunding My Debut Novel

If writing a book is a strange process that can take you from inspiration to despair, then crowdfunding one is peak emotional rollercoaster.

It’s been almost three-and-a-half years since I won a Northern Writers’ Award for my novel, The Disappeared, and it’s due to be published by Unbound Digital in May 2019.

Known as the world’s first crowdfunding publisher, Unbound are an innovative team who publish interesting and diverse books that might not otherwise find a home. Their model asks readers to support the books they want to see published, making them part of the author’s journey.

Crowdfunding was something I stumbled into. I’d been circling Unbound for a while, as a reader. I pledged for a number of their books in 2017 and became a bit addicted to the rush of supporting a creative project, helping an author to realise a dream. By day I work in marketing and I like the occasional challenge (or I’m a glutton for punishment, depending on your perspective) so it was only natural that I’d give crowdfunding a go.

And it’s one of the hardest but most rewarding things I’ve ever done.

When you pursue a writing career, you become familiar with the sting of rejection but crowdfunding takes that to a whole new level. And if you’re a debut fiction writer, as I am, it’s even harder.

The team at Unbound have often said that debut novels are the toughest thing to fund. With non-fiction, people will support the subject matter, if it’s something that intrigues or interests them. For fiction, those readers are supporting the author.

That means, more than anything, you need a network if you’re going to crowdfund your book. It doesn’t matter if they’re friends, family or Facebook followers, they’ve got to be invested in you and your story.

It took me almost a year to crowdfund The Disappeared.

A year of sending out endless rounds of messages to friends, of writing guest blogs, radio interviews and chatting to book groups. It was a year of frustration and exhaustion, but also of sheer highs. No matter how low I sometimes got, each pledge filled my heart and sent me soaring with excitement. And there’s nothing like seeing a stranger has pledged to your book, purely on the strength of the description.

But crowdfunding has taught me so much about publishing, about marketing my work and what it takes to be successful. Unbound give their readers the power to choose the books they want to see published, but they also give authors the power to network and learn from each other. It’s this community of other writers that has really proved invaluable.

Crowdfunding can also build that crucial skill that all writers need: perseverance.

It doesn’t matter how many drafts you have to write, or how many rejection letters you receive. If you keep working and improving, you have it in your power to publish a book that you can be proud of.

Winning a Northern Writers’ Award was the first thing that really made me believe I could be an author. I’d applied for several years unsuccessfully before that, so winning felt like a real achievement.

And without that award, I’d never have had the motivation to keep working on my novel and see it in print. Roll on 2019, when I can finally call myself a published author!


Amy Lord won a Northern Writers’ Award in 2015 for her dystopian novel, The Disappeared, which will be published by Unbound Digital in May 2019. You can pre-order a copy and get your name in the back here.

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