In Which I Make My First Attempt at Crowdfunding – and Other Tales of Terror

So today I have launched my first IndieGoGo campaign. (Yes, I know they don’t actually capitalize the Gs, but I really feel that they should. I think they’d raise more money for their vacations if they had the beat, but maybe they prefer to keep their lips sealed about it).

But, of course, IndieGoGo is not about spelling or proper capitalization or even 80s female rockers – those subjects about which we writers know so much – but about selling ourselves, about which we know so little.

I have ideas. At least a dozen very solid, potentially even achievable ideas regarding my books and my writing. I just don’t have the time, money, or capacity to make them happen.

It’s been a very strange time for me. A few years ago I was a confident and healthy young woman with my whole life ahead of me. Suddenly I’m a middle-aged lady who has no idea what she’s going to do for money during whatever life remains. It is not a pleasant feeling.

My year of disability runs out in June, which means I will have no income except for what I make from my book and eBay sales, neither of which is enough to shake even a short, skinny twig at. The irony is that I’m even more incapable of working now than I was a year ago, what with the frozen shoulder and all.

Oh, right, did I forget to mention that? Well, after several weeks of physical therapy following my shoulder dislocation, I still hadn’t made much progress with my range of motion – I had maybe forty-five degrees in a couple of directions, and close to zero in others. When I next saw the orthopedist, he diagnosed frozen shoulder, which is a condition in which calcium deposits build up around the joint following an injury. It’s more likely for this to develop when the shoulder isn’t moving – like when you’re in a sling for six weeks. Oh, yeah, and it’s also more common if you have other joint problems to begin with – which makes me wonder whether immobilizing my arm for so long was really the best course of treatment for a person like me. Because now instead of a six-to-twelve week recovery, it’s going to be six months to a year, during which I and my physical therapist attempt to break all the crap that’s grown in my arm. After which I may still need surgery. So nice to have something to look forward to in the new year!

But on the plus side, I am improving. I can wear most articles of clothing now – although I put on a dress last week and almost get stuck inside it. I can even drive a little – as long as I don’t have to make that big reach for reverse. I’m a long way from risking the freeway, but at least I can get myself to the grocery store and even the ice rink. Man, it feels good to skate again, and I feel so much better for the exercise. I put on eight pounds in the first two weeks following my injury, which wouldn’t be that big of a deal except that with my condition, every pound is a big deal.

That’s the up side. On the other end of things, boy, am I f***ed. There wasn’t a heck of a lot I could do for work when it was mostly my hands that were messed up, and there’s even less now. I can think of a few career positions that wouldn’t be agonizing – except that I might prefer to starve to death rather than spend the next twenty or thirty years doing them.

But that’s a problem for another day. In the meantime, I have a lot of ideas for my book – really cool ideas that I think could actually prove to be socially beneficial. But all of them involve investing money I don’t dare to spend on projects that may pay off in pennies rather than dollars, and not very many of those. This must be how it feels to be retired and on a fixed income. Draining your small amount of capital is somehow far more daunting when you know you can’t just go back to work.

Hence, the IndieGoGo campaign. I have several of these in mind for various projects I have in progress, but this one is the first, and so far, my favorite.

You see, a couple of weeks ago I got a five-star review from a psychiatrist who suggested that my memoir ought to be on the reading lists of high schools and colleges. Now I had already had the idea of trying to get speaking engagements at the high school level because, even though I wouldn’t expect to get much (if anything) out of that financially, I think that in today’s environment, in which mental illness has come to the forefront of social consciousness, students might appreciate hearing my story. Well, of course, not being able to get around killed that idea, and will likely make it impractical for a month or two more. But when I read this review, I thought – wait, that’s even better than what I was thinking. What if I approached a number of teachers and professors – which I would need to do by mail, anyway – and see if they were interested in teaching my book?

The more I pondered this idea, the more I loved it. In fact, it’s the perfect complement to arranging speaking engagements because then the audience will have read my memoir ahead of time. And since I could make bulk orders available quite cheaply (about $5/paperback copy) to anyone who was interested in using it, it would actually make for a very practical supplement in a course on psychology. No, I wouldn’t make much money on it, but at least it would get my name out there and, more importantly, it would get my story out there – and in the fall semester, when I should be up and about again. Will anyone actually take me up on this? No idea. It seems worth a try.

But this is the kind of project that doesn’t just take time, but also money. First I would need to order a large number of printed copies – I’d like about a hundred – and then I would need to pay to ship them. All in all, it would take close to six hundred dollars that I might never get back. Not such a big deal in the old days when I had three jobs – very scary now.

Now I want to make something clear right from the start. I’m going to post something here on my blog each time I run one of these campaigns because it only makes sense to do so. But I do not expect and, in fact, I will feel very uncomfortable if those of you who are my regular readers start contributing to these campaigns. Most of you have bought my book, and that’s enough. If you’d like to help, I’d be delighted if you share on social media or with parties whom you think might be genuinely interested, but let it end there. Nothing will make me want to stop fundraising faster than feeling as though I’ve created a sense of obligation, particularly when I have several other projects in mind.

With that being said, if you get a chance, go and check out my campaign and let me know what you think. I’m particularly interested in your opinions on how I set up the perks, which was tricky because you have to account for things like shipping and IndieGoGo’s fees – not as good a deal as it might be otherwise. In fact, I estimate that if I reach my goal of $750 that I will only net enough to send out eighty copies after the cost of perks. But of course we’ll see how it goes. Or should I say Go-Gos?

13 thoughts on “In Which I Make My First Attempt at Crowdfunding – and Other Tales of Terror

  1. Annecdotist

    I’m wishing you luck with your crowdsourcing, Lori, but I’m wondering if there might also be cheaper avenues. You’ve done a great job in flagging up your memoir in relevant blog posts, I wonder if you might be able to do something similar in the places where the mental health professionals hang out – not the academic journals, but the house magazines? Having said that, I did mention it to people I know involved in clinical psychology training in the UK, and no-one’s bitten yet, but it’s an area I’m exploring for my own forthcoming novel.
    Yikes! You can’t be disabled more than a year in the US? Won’t be long before the UK has a similarly enlightened welfare policy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. lorilschafer Post author

      Great idea, Anne! I’m definitely looking at a wide range of options and will give the magazine route a try.
      State disability is only good for a year, but the requirement is only that you be unable to work at your current job. Federal disability is permanent, but the condition is that you be unable to work, period. I’ll never be eligible for that because I’ll always be able to do something, even if it sucks. Mind you, that’s still better than the alternative!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. jan

    I agree that sending out copies of your book can get expensive – how about as a perk offering to review people’s books? Takes a lot of courage to set up a crowd-funding go go – best of luck and take good care of your shoulder.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. lorilschafer Post author

      I actually considered the review option as a perk in another venue, but I quickly realized I just couldn’t do it. I feel a very strong sense of obligation to leave a good review when I’ve received some kind of favor in return, and that’s just plain dishonest – not to mention that I’ve sometimes been asked to review work that just isn’t very good. I do have another campaign planned in which I will offer advertising as a perk, which I think is much more personally palatable for me – and also free! :)


  3. Charli Mills

    Cute dress! Is that the one you almost got stuck in? :-) I think working with educators is a brilliant idea and a wonderful example of how a writer can match up her book to a niche audience. When you set your price per book, make sure you are asking for enough to make a living! We writers tend to get weird about this — we groan over a lack of income, yet become martyrs when setting price. :-) Sounds like you are having progress on your shoulder. Every little bit of improvement probably feels like baby steps, but they do add up. I’m going to take more time tomorrow to learn about your IndieGoGo campaign (I agree about the “Gs”). Go for it!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. lorilschafer Post author

      Well, we’ll see if I get any takers – then I’ll worry about price ;) Honestly, I have no idea if this will go anywhere, but since the alternative is to do nothing and watch my book die, I chose to do something instead.

      I’ll be interested in your take on crowdfunding in general. I seem to recall that you were going to run a campaign to fund your trip to LA, but I don’t remember seeing a followup about it. Anyway, the spam from sites who want to “help you” crowdfund your project is unbelievable. One in particular operates by sending out really pretty emails to your family and friends to get them to donate – from which they undoubtedly get a percentage. When I saw that, that’s when it occurred to me – that’s what IndieGoGo does, too, basically. They encourage you to solicit donations from people you know so your campaign will look like it’s getting funding – but they’re also ensuring that they get their 9% of funds that your friends and family could have given you without any fees (not to mention the additional 5% that Paypal deducts). I’m going to try some of the other sites, too – if nothing else, I’m getting a good education!


  4. Norah

    Best wishes with your crowdfunding, Lori. As I approach “retirement” age I too am concerned about the ever-dwindling, never-replenished, tiny supply of capital.
    I’m sorry to hear about this additional complication with your shoulder. It’s not much fun. I wish you a speedy recovery and lots of support with your funding.
    Sharing the book with students in high school and college sounds like a wonderful idea. It would, hopefully, encourage much discussion and help to break down some of the barriers and stigma.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. lorilschafer Post author

      Thanks, Norah! Do teachers get some kind of pension in Australia? Here I think it’s one of the better benefits of being a teacher – you don’t get paid very well, but you do get something on retirement, which is becoming less and less common in other professions.

      I’m glad you like my idea. No idea if it will work or not, but heck, I figure it’s worth a try :)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Norah

        There are no special pensions for teachers in Australia. Everyone has to have superannuation. Employers must pay a percentage into that, and employees can add additional funds as well; but the rules for pensions are the same for everyone as far as I know, except maybe for the armed forces.
        I think your idea is worth a try. It will either work or not. If you didn’t try, it would have no chance of working. :)
        I repeat my wishes for your success. :)

        Liked by 1 person

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