by Claire Patel-Campbell
You’ve decided to crowdfund your novel and you’ve snagged yourself a campaign page on a site like Unbound or Inkshares. It’s all looking great, you’re satisfied that your pitch video isn’t too embarrassing, and you’re already starting to see pledges come in. You’ve written the novel, so the hard part is over. It’s going to be a cinch, right? For the lucky few, maybe. I’m sure there are campaigns that can happily sit there, letting the pledges roll in, with very little effort.
Here’s what no one really tells you, though: for most people, it is going to be tough. It is going to be stressful. You are going to be doing a lot of this on your own. Getting your campaign off the ground is going to take up a lot of your time, at the expense of perhaps more pleasurable pursuits, including writing. It’s going to take a toll on your mental health, even if it was pretty good to begin with, and especially if, like me, you already struggle with issues like anxiety and depression.
Don’t let any of that stop you from trying, but make sure you’re prepared. In the words of the illustrious Paris Geller (if you’ve never watched Gilmore Girls, you should), “don’t panic if you panic.”
I’m not a psychiatrist and of course, the best thing you can do is talk to your doctor if you’re struggling. These are just a few suggestions to help you stay calm and stay healthy during a crowdfunding campaign, even if you don’t have any underlying mental health problems:
1) Make sure you have somebody to talk to. Odds are you’ve already hit up your friends and family for pledges, but make sure at least one of them is prepared to be a shoulder to cry on if it all seems too daunting. If you’re seeing a therapist, tell them, too. It’s possible your mood will be pretty up and down, and they should be aware so they can help you control it a bit better.
2) You’ll be under more stress. Think about your medication, if you’re taking any. Do you need to adjust it? If you do, talk to your doctor and try to do it early to give yourself time to get used to it.
3) Consider setting yourself a limit for how frequently you check your campaign page – maybe only once or twice a day. If you’re not careful, you could end up obsessively hitting F5, freaking yourself out about why your pledge total isn’t rising.
4) On that note, give yourself time to do things that aren’t campaign-related. Get out of the house, go to a movie, do something different. Just stop for a second, take a deep breath and think about something else.
5) Be prepared to put yourself out there. If you’re an anxious person, I’m willing to bet you don’t really like being noticed, but you’re going to need to be. You’re going to need to develop your presence on social media and that includes stepping out of your comfort zone, interacting with strangers, getting the buzz going. Remember that you can do this. You got through the pitch video. Remind yourself that it’s not the end of the world if you look silly and the worst that can happen is you don’t generate any new pledges. There’s always tomorrow.
6) Be prepared for the moment when you realise you’ve started looking at people in terms of how much they might pledge. It will happen. It doesn’t make you a bad person. It’s just a sign that you need to take that break.
7) Here’s the biggie: be prepared to fail. You might not meet your target. It will hurt and it will feel personal. After all, this is something you’ve poured a good chunk of your heart and soul into. That, too, is ok. If that does happen, give yourself some time to recover, but don’t give up. Maybe it’s just that the publishing climate isn’t quite right at the moment. Wait a little while and then try again.
Above all else, be kind to yourself. You might not be able to stick to all of these all the time (believe me, I know) and that’s fine. You’re human. Keep the faith and keep going: you’ll get there in the end.
Claire Patel-Campbell is a writer and journalist based in London. She is crowdfunding her first novel, Abernathy, through Unbound. You can learn more about her at her blog.