The publishing world is changing, by the day. Eamonn Griffin discusses one new type of venture that is overturning the old norms.
Canine Jubilee: crowdfunding and what it entails for the crime writer
I’ve just launched a crowdfunding campaign for Canine Jubilee, the second book in my noir thriller series involving protagonist Dan Matlock. Matlock’s a debt collector who has taken to conducting investigations when called upon. The first book in the series – East of England – was crowdfunded too, through Unbound Publishing.
So, why crowdfund, and why Unbound?
Unbound was begun by 2013 by a trio of writers including QI alumnus John Mitchinson, as a publishing company that would focus on crowdfunding to supports its efforts, in the same way that the likes of Kickstarter and IndieGoGo offer a means by which supporters can buy into a product / service / creative endeavour in advance, and so support that project into being. All of Unbound’s books are crowdfunded, meaning that the production monies are secured in advance by people attracted to the project, either at the level of buying the book upfront, or else by pledging for higher value and rarer additional rewards.
Also, everyone who backs the book in question gets a mention in the credits as a patron. Higher value pledgers tend to be listed as “Super Patrons” in the front of the book as an additional bonus. Either way, you’re supporting creative endeavour and actively willing the book into existence by supporting its publication. Oh, and your money’s safe, by the way. If for some reason the project falls apart and doesn’t get funded (rare, but you never know), then you can either move your cash over to another book – there’s always plenty to choose from – or else have it credited back to your bank account.
In this way, the project has an inbuilt readership by the time it goes to press, and there’s no risk to the publisher as initial costs have been covered. For the writer, there’s the backing of a high-profile and growing company and a 50/50 profits split. No, there’s no advance paid.
Some books are funded within hours; others (and this is much more normal!) will take several months to reach their target. Progress can be viewed on the Unbound webpage for the book in question. Books are usually published approximately 6 months after funding is complete, though this can vary depending on the nature of the project.
For East of England, this is how the process worked. There was an open call for genre fiction submissions from an editor which I saw on Twitter (this was in September 2017), and I sent in the first few thousand words of East of England. These were positively received, and I submitted a full manuscript in December. In January 2018 the contract details were sorted out, and crowdfunding began. This took six months.
Crowdfunding isn’t easy, especially if you’re not a celebrity or an expert in the non-fiction field you’re writing in (and plenty of famous folk have crowdfunded books through Unbound, from TV actor Trevor Eve to former Python Terry Jones). There’s a mixture of drawing on your personal contacts and your persistence in person and in social media terms (as well as with your existing readership, if you’ve got a fanbase and/or a mailing list) to attract attention to the book. Sticking at it is key. You’ll get there. Perhaps eventually, but you’ll get there. I did.
East of England was published in January 2019. You can buy it here: and from all good bookshops online and offline.
And as Matlock’s developed into a series lead character, I’m doing it all over again. The Unbound page for Canine Jubilee, (find it here) – tells you about the book, and there’s an explanatory video which also covers the basics about crowdfunding too. If you’ve not read the first book (and why not?), I’d skip the sample from the first chapter of Canine Jubilee that’s hosted up on the project page if I were you (as there’s potential spoilers), though.
If anyone’s got any questions about this, then shout via the contact form on my website or else collar me on Twitter, where I’m – perhaps inevitably – @eamonngriffin
I’ve found the community of writers who’ve worked with Unbound to be hugely supportive and valuable. There’s a thriving online presence, for example, and we’ve done bookshop events as a collective. Even if you don’t think that crowdfunding is for you as a way towards publication, then browse the books that are currently funding, as that’ll give you the best idea of the approach taken by the publishers.
So, keep an eye out for the Unbound logo next time you’re browsing for something to read. That’s a sign that the book was breathed into life not by faceless suits in a London marketing meeting, but by engaged readers who love books, just like you.