Funding Your Memoir’s Publication
In two earlier posts, I talked about why you should self-publish your memoir if you can’t find a traditional publisher and the various choices for getting it out into the world. Whether you do it yourself via Kindle or other DIY platforms (Smashwords, lulu.com, etc.) or work with a hybrid publisher that provides a higher level of vetting, editing, production and distribution, you will have to come up with the money to publish your work. With traditional publishing, money flows from the author to the publisher. In this case it flows the other way, which means you have to be a wise consumer. And you may need to use creative ways to finance your book.
Let’s say you have a family memoir like the one my great-uncle commissioned from a local journalist because he left school early to work and English was not his first language. If you don’t need a ghostwriter and your memoir is in the standard 60-80k range, a copyeditor will cost about $500 and a cover designer around the same. Family members may be willing to pitch in. But keep in mind that shorter length means lower cost of production (a consideration with traditional publishers as well), and your family may not want you airing their dirty laundry.
Many authors have crowdfunded their publications. In fact, hybrid presses like Inkshares are based on successful crowdfunding campaigns and they will help you set up yours if your book passes the first stage of vetting. The cost is on the higher end of hybrid publishers, but again, you get professional editing, design, and production, and your crowdfunding campaign guarantees a significant number of buyers for your book. Most crowdfunding campaigns draw from friends and family, so if you have a wide social circle, you’re in better shape than if you’re a recluse who sits at home blogging and interacting with your Lego minifigures all day.
If you’re looking to crowdfund your memoir and want to go beyond your immediate social circle, think about who may have a vested interest in your work. Does your memoir contain information of interest to a local historical society or to others who participated in a historical event (such as veterans of wars)? Would a faith-based organization and its members offer support in the form of a Kickstarter campaign or other crowdfunding effort? Do you belong to another organization that receives significant coverage in your memoir?
One final thought: If you self-publish your memoir, you don’t necessarily have to do it alone. Think about working with an authors collective, which will significantly lower your costs, since collective members often contribute their editing and design talents to each other. In addition, the other members of the collective are your best advocates in the marketplace, and you can pool your connections and publicity efforts. Maine Authors Publishing is an example of a place-based collective and a good match if you’ve lived in that place and written about it in your memoir. There are many others, and if you’ve been in a critique group with other memoirists, perhaps this is the moment for you to start your own!