Marsha Roberts, a “Mutinous Baby Boomer”, Turns to Crowdfunding
Memoirs are all the rage lately, as one Norwegian writer famously proved by reporting minutely on his daily life including his breakfast (no need to refer to him by name here), and Marsha Roberts’ Confessions of an Instinctively Mutinous Baby Boomer recounting major events in her life, has turned out to be one of the most popular self-published books with the Boomer generation. And it’s also a big deal with other generations, including younger people, basically with all those curious about life and its challenges. It has been acclaimed by customers on Amazon that showered it with 5-star reviews (38 to date, a strikingly high number), the prestigious Kirkus Review has praised it as “an optimistic look at the magic of life”, and the book was an instant success in the Goodreads group I created to discuss Boomer Lit. People have said “I’ve enjoyed this so much that I read it twice”, a rare occurrence.
In short, her book has done outstandingly well, yet she’s decided to raise funds for it with a campaign on Indiegogo (here), a crowdfunding platform often used to gather funds for as yet unpublished books. Of course, I immediately contributed to the campaign, and I urge you to do so too. I know Marsha Roberts from the days we worked together in our Goodreads group, she was a co-moderator, and working with her was a pleasure. I learned what a remarkable person she is on top of being a talented writer. She is someone who always does what she says and gives her heart out to help others. Perhaps that explains why she started her working life as a nurse.
Yet I wondered why Marsha would use Indiegogo for an already published book, and a successful one at that, and she kindly agreed to answer my questions .
Your book is so popular, why did you go to Indiegogo, what obstacles are you facing and that you hope to remove with funding?
First off, Claude, thank you so much for having me here and for supporting my IndieGoGo campaign. I really appreciate it. As far as what obstacles I hope to remove with funding, in two words: marketing issues! You have researched and written extensively about the world of indie publishing and you know better than most the difficulties we face.
I certainly do, indie publishing is perhaps the toughest marketplace any entrepreneur could get into. How do you see it?
From my perspective, the biggest drawback to being an indie author is that we don’t have the professional publicity and marketing machine that major publishers use to push their main authors. You can only take your book so far without spending a significant amount of money, just like the publishers do. It’s the way business works.
But your book has sold remarkably well for an indie book…
Yes, I’m very pleased that my book has been so well received. People have written me and told me how much it touched them, what it meant to their lives, which is wonderful because that’s why I wrote it! I have sold several thousand e-books, but that barely scratches the surface of readers I would like to reach. And the fact is, it takes money to stand out in the huge crowd of e-books in today’s market.
Several thousand books sold, that is what I mean, it’s remarkable.
Claude, I would like to back up just a bit for those who are unfamiliar with my Mutinous Boomer book (which has become a bit of a nick name for me and my book!). It is an inspirational memoir, but I can say without hesitation, it’s not typical for either the “inspirational” genre or the “memoir” category. In a series of very personal stories, I share lessons I’ve learned through daily experiences and also some pretty extraordinary adventures I’ve been privileged to have. I feel that I was given the lessons in this book to pass on to as many people as possible. I’m supposed to. That’s what motivates me to do this, because it’s a LOT of work and so there has to be something other than wanting to sell books that drives this engine!
I’ve read your book and, yes, I can vouch that it very effectively transmits the “life lessons” you’ve learned! Let me ask you a more technical question. I noticed you picked the option of “flexible funding”, and as Indiegogo explains, this means the campaign will receive all funds raised even if it doesn’t reach its goal. Did Indiegogo offer other solutions?
IndieGoGo offers Fixed Funding (all or nothing) like Kickstarter does. My feeling was that after all of the effort to get the campaign going, our team should receive whatever donations were given by our supporters.
The campaign started on 21 October and it ends on 18 November, that’s two weeks from now. How is it going?
To be perfectly honest, I got a slow start at the beginning of my campaign. I was so focused on getting it up and running that I didn’t really consider all the things I needed to have in place first. Actually, it reminds me of getting a book written, formatted and published. It’s such an all-consuming thing that you don’t focus on the marketing end of it until after your book is for sale, and that’s partly because as indie authors, we’re doing all of it ourselves! Of course, in reality you should be setting up marketing for months before the release, but how many balls can you juggle at the same time? Live and learn! But, I’m starting to get the hang of it now and will be extending my end date three weeks to December 9th.
So it goes on till December 9. Makes sense, I thought the campaign was a little short compared to the goal of raising $22,000. If you raise all the funds you wanted, what is your Plan A?
First off, I need to do what every significant publisher does and hire a publicist. Not just any publicist, but one who knows the ropes about getting me booked on popular regional and national talk shows and morning shows – the places you see authors pitching their books. This will take travel money to New York and other major cities
Also, a publicist that can get articles placed in major newspapers and magazines, in print and online. Additional funds will be needed for buying advertising in a variety of online and in print locations that target my particular audience.
In addition to the marketing expenses, there is the percentage for IndieGoGo and to fulfill the perks I am more than happy to provide for those who kindly support my cause!
If you don’t achieve your goal, your plan B?
I’ve been gathering material from many sources regarding which book selling on-line sites work and which don’t. I know where to place the advertising dollars effectively to make my book more visible to readers. That’s where I’ll start. Beyond that, it’s a breakdown according to how close I come to my goal.
To promote the campaign, what is your strategy?
I’ve been directly contacting people who regularly support my Facebook Author Page and telling them about my campaign. From what I understand, most campaigns get started with personal connections. But I have to say that contacting everyone has taken much more time than I originally planned. In fact, I’m still working on it!
I have several blogs I’ll be featured on and I post updates on my campaign in various readers groups on Facebook. I have a group of authors who are helping me with regular Facebook posts and tweets. I’m just starting to hear back from lots of people who intend to participate and realize that I should have planned a longer campaign from the beginning.
Also, there is a big IndieGoGo push for all campaigns on December 2nd. It’s going by #GivingTuesday. I’m setting up a ThunderclapIt event for that day so that Facebook posts and tweets will all happen at once, giving the campaign hundreds of thousands in social media exposure. I’m hoping that will give the last week of the campaign a real boost.
What have you learned so far about what works best on Internet, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, online magazines, blog posts?
I think most crowd funding experts will tell you that the best way to connect with people is directly, through email or Facebook messages, DM, etc. I’ve been re-tweeted so many times now I’ve lost count, but I don’t think that Twitter often draws people to your actual campaign page. I’ve seen some activity directly from my personal Facebook Page, where I’ve thanked some of my contributors. Impakter is the first online magazine and your blog, Claude, is the first of several blogs that will feature me in the coming weeks, so we’ll see how that goes…Great, I hope!
Your advice to any writer who is considering Indiegogo? My impression is that the Indiegogo “writing” category is over-full. I went through some 100 calls for funds from writers, and then, when I realized there were still more on their site, I gave up looking. But I noticed that many campaigns had closed without having raised any funds at all, and that the amounts raised were on average very low, often around $100; only one (I saw) had reached over $2,000. Doesn’t all this look like a highly saturated market?
Actually, if you go to the area that says “Most Funded” you’ll see that there are quite a number of campaigns that have raised tens of thousands of dollars for their books. It’s hard to say how saturated it is. Each person has their own pitch and their own contacts. It’s a big world and a great many people seem to want to help worthy causes.
My advice to any writer considering using IndieGoGo? Have your initial push completely together before you go live. There’s no way to underestimate the importance of that and as I said earlier, I was a little slow out of the starting gate. But, I’m going to make up for it in the home stretch!
I’m sure you will, Marsha, I know what a hard worker you are! Any question I forgot to ask and that you’d like to answer?
Thanks, again, Claude. And, yes, there is something else I’d like to say. Your readers might be asking, why is this book important? Why should I want to help this author market her book?
Yes, that is a very important question: why should anyone want to help you market your book?
To answer that very legitimate question, I’ll turn to one of my readers who recently wrote in a review, “The book is uplifting—more so than any other thing I’ve read lately—and inspiring. She’s the master of the positive spin, but in a way that makes me feel, ‘Hey, I can do that! I can create miracles in my life. I can have a faith that is visible and tangible.’”
I heartily subscribe to that! That is exactly the way I felt when I read your book.
I can’t tell you what it means to me that my book has touched people in that way. Another one of my readers said, “This is simply a wonderful book which offers hope to everyone who has ever struggled with almost any human condition. Confessions belongs on the nightstand. When hope is not at hand, it can be.”
I feel that the difficult nature of the world we live in makes a book that gives people hope and encouragement is something worth your consideration. I would very much appreciate it if those who have joined us here would take a moment to go to my campaign and consider helping. Thank you in advance!
Marsha, thanks for taking the time, and I urge everyone who’s read this to contribute. As little as $5 will go a long way! Click here to go to Marsha’s Indiegogo campaign and help a writer with an undisputed and remarkable talent so she can get her book known to a broader public. There are tons of people out there who need to read this book and don’t know that they need to!