Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Southwest Valley Writers Conference -- Grab That Early Signup Discount!

This inclusive conference is gearing up to be one of the best in the Valley and I urge you to attend not just because I'm speaking but because you may recognize some other familiar names among the list of speaker, plus the topics are so varied you'll take away a ton of information.

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Learn to create better characters!

Last week for early registration discounts.  Sign up today!  Deadline is September 30th

November 7, 2015
Avondale City Hall
Benefits Friends of Avondale Library and Recreation

Six incredible 3-hour workshops & Keynote Speaker Tom Leveen all in one day!

NEW!  - We are thrilled to announce a special poetry performance at lunch by Wintana Yohannes, Jahnez Wong, and Daniela Acosta of Speak EZ Poetry.  
Featured workshop speaker:

Connie FlynnConnie Flynn
Connie Flynn wrote her first short story in the fourth grade for a wonderful teacher named Mr. Ryan who encouraged her vivid imagination and strong storytelling skills. She has taught creative writing and founded an online novel writing school but writing itself is her true love. Now busy with her next novel, she knows how lucky she is to have found out what she wants to be when she grows up.

Workshop: Character Alchemization – Make Them Live and Breathe
Characters are people and people are complex. The trick of believable characters is to simplify them by discovering what they want most of all and why and building from there. A character wants a good job for obvious reasons- they want the rewards of comfort and respect. But what if the job is lost? What deeper, hidden from the world and self, reward have they lost? Was it the fear of disappointing a loved one, of losing ones own self-respect, or being deserted by a partner? What will this person do to restore the shattered self-image that this kind of loss brings on. The catalyst can be anything, small or large, but if it shakes the characters own faith in who they are . . . well, now you have a story.

This workshop will concentrate on pulling these needs and anxieties from your character and through those you will find out who they are and what your story is really about.

Other workshops include:
  • Don’t miss these great workshop topics:
  • Keynote / Lunch: What No One Else Will Tell You About Publishing - Tom Leveen
  • Writing the Contemporary Novel - Betty Webb
  • Becoming a Content Marketing Writer - Drew Eastmead 
  • The Business of Writing - Kris Tualla
  • Expand Your Research – Expand Your Writing - Rita Ackerman
  • Writing is a Team Sport - from Editors to Critique Groups, how to compile the right players to help you succeed- Jacob Shaver, Lori Beasley Bradley & Cody Wagner

Registration Options: 

  • Full-Day includes:  two – 3 hour workshops, lunch and the Keynote speaker.
  • Half-Day includes: one – 3 hour workshop only (choose either morning or afternoon).
    Lunch & the Keynote speaker may be added for an additional $10.
  • Early Registration price:    Half-Day $40    |    Full-Day $85 (*best deal)
  • Late Registration Increases:   Half-Day $50    |    Full-Day $95
Early registration ends September 30th
Late registration begins October 1st


For questions contact: Stacey Lindsay or visit
Thank you to Virginia G. Piper Foundation & Changing Hands Book store for their support of the conference.
Copyright © 2015 Avondale Writers Conference, All rights reserved.
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To Connie Flynn Books Website

Monday, September 14, 2015

Crowdfunding 11 – The Campaign is Complete

 Part 2: Do’s and Don’ts


•    Do study whatever you can find about the various platforms. Kickstarter and Indiegogo are the best established. I can’t say much about Kickstarter’s platform and how they support their campaigners except that your campaign must be vetted before you launch, and they only offer the fixed payment method which only pays if you meet your contribution goal, which I think is standard for most platforms.

•    Do browse through the platforms and see which one you click with.

•    Do talk to anyone who’s done crowdfunding. I only found two and they weren’t too willing to share but as more and more people are doing crowdfunding it should get easier.

•    Do start talking up your campaign several months before you go live. Recruit friends and family to talk up your campaign and spread the word. This isn’t quite as easy as it seems given that today’s complex world is so full of other demands and some will be uncomfortable with the process. So the more the merrier but do make sure the campaign isn’t the only thing you talk about. Keep in mind that you’re asking for people’s good will and you don’t want to abuse it.

•    Don’t set your funding goal too high. Not only will you lose the end-game momentum that occurs when you’re almost at the goal, you’ll lose the In-Demand bonus that Indiegogo offers when you hit your goal. This allows you to keep the campaign open and accept new contributions.

•    Don’t expect many contributions from friends of friends or people you don’t know. PR campaigns might help and I'm getting to that.

•    Do spend a lot of time writing and polishing your pitch (called ‘story’ inside Indiegogo). Keep your tone light, a little sassy or even snarky depending on what kind of book you write. This is what draws people into your campaign and if they smile they’re more likely to leave a contribution behind.

•    Do line up a press release distribution service before you launch the campaign. This is where I fell down. For some reason I can no longer identify I thought press releases wouldn’t be helpful for crowdfunding, at least not for a small campaign like mine.

    Once your campaign activates, distribution services will be soliciting you through the Indiegogo comment function. The solicitation always comes with a disclaimer from Indiegogo warning you to be cautious about who you do business with. I checked out some of them, many with price tags into four figures, then picked up a small service on Fiverr, which turned out to be the big mistake I’ve already talked about. By that time it was actually too late to invest in major PR but if I had I would have chosen Krowdster (@krowdster). They have huge social media presence and their pricing is more than reasonable.  

Near the end I hired Green Inbox (@greeninbox ) mostly because their pitch didn’t sound so hyped. They used the message function in Facebook and generated a healthy jump in my contributions. I used them again in LinkedIn without good results but I think that was more because I’m not very active in LinkedIn than because of the service. I’ll use them again for book launches.

 I recommend these two companies, but keep in mind that my experience with them doesn't very deep and there are a lot more services out there. I’m sure many of them are good. Unfortunately, too many of them like to hype about the huge fees they’ll generate for you while charging you fees that are higher than your campaign goal and delivering questionable results. So be cautious and don’t ever, ever use Fiverr (by the way, I did get my refund after filing a dispute through PayPal).

•    Don’t be blindsided by platform hosting fees and do shop around. Fees vary from company to company and they can change while you’re setting up. In my case, Indiegogo actually lowered their fee and I think Kickstarter did too.

Indiegogo and Kickstarter have a flat 5% fee plus bank charges.  The third most popular platform, GoFundMe, which is geared toward humanitarian or wish fulfillment campaigns, charges 7% plus bank charges. My bank fee, through Paypal,  was 5%, which I think is a little high but it is a highly trusted, versatile, venue.

•    Don’t worry that they’re taking too much. Once you’ve researched the services you’re provided from these platforms, you may find yourself thinking you’re lucky they don’t charge more. What you do get is almost priceless — there is no buy-in charge to use the campaign and you’re given guidance and tools to help you succeed.
  • Do budget your perks. Take care not to promise more than you can afford or forget to include all expenses when you price the perks. The perks aren’t mandatory but they provide an edge of excitement and a feeling of fair exchange for your contributors. And I doubt you’ll fare well without them since they’ve become the standard.
•    Do stay on top of perk fulfillment. If you’ve signed in for a flexible campaign, I advise you to mail out your perks as they pop up. Saving them to the end is almost like wrapping presents on Christmas Eve. Unfortunately, I misread something in the Indiegogo material that made me think it was standard practice to deliver them after the campaign closed. I suppose this could make sense, since the money isn’t delivered until the campaign is over so if you have a lot of expensive perks it might put a strain on the budget.

But many of the platforms offer only fixed campaigns and waiting until the campaign closes is absolutely necessary since the fixed campaign doesn’t pay out unless the goal is achieved. You can imagine what a nightmare pre-delivered perks could be.

•    Do have fun.  Get together with friends and brainstorm ideas for perks. Make a pitch video and drive your relatives crazy while you work to get it right. Have at least one goofy perk. They draw in visitors which helps raise your campaign visibility.

•    Don’t take it too seriously. There’s a good chance that you won’t make your goal, especially if you ignore the advice about making it too high (hey, it’s okay—I ignored it too—after all one person’s high is another person’s chump change).

There’s probably more to share but I’m kind of ready to move onto other projects – like getting my books converted. The one question I’m sure to be asked is: ‘would I do it again?’

Yeah, I would, in fact I will. But not anytime soon. It’s a lot to ask of your family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances that they jump in to support a project that only benefits you and that they might not even fully understand. I’m blessed to have a network of people who were willing to do that for me.

And, I’m determined not to test their good will. What I am determined to do is this. If you decide to do a campaign, email me and I’ll contribute. It may just be a ‘toe dipper’ amount, depending on how my books are doing, but I will. What goes around, comes around.

Week #1 Considering Crowdfunding?
Week #2 Getting Started With Indiegogo
Week #3 Pulling it Together
Week #4 Show Me the Money
Week #5 What if No One Comes
Week #6 Launch Week at Last

Week #7 Realities of Launch Week 
Week #8-9 Elbow-grease Time
Week #10  What I Took Away 


To Connie Flynn Site

Friday, September 11, 2015

Crowdfunding 10 – The Campaign is Complete

Deadline is Upon Us
Part 1 – What I Took Away
My Deepest Thanks
 to My Wonderful
Campaign Contributors

Eve Paludan
Mikaela Quinn
Karen Walker
Mike Flynn
Connie Walker Gray
Laurie Fagen
Denise Domning
Kim Richards
Bryan Flynn
Daniel Zollo
Linda Style
Rick Walker
Ellie VandenBrink
Holly Thompson
Cathy McDavid 
Alicia Flynn 
Brandon Flynn
Bob Bleything 
Isabella Maldonado
Nikki Kimbel
Rosemary Sneeringer
Bob Gustafson
Sylvia Wright
Kathy Marks
Brittany Flynn
Sandy Yang
Cheyenne McCray
Merle McCann
Jennifer Drogell

Annette Francine
Minu Jose
Phil Barnes
Luca Pandolfi
Martin Weber
Jack Johnson   
Micheal Koepisch
Adam Libonati  

Alec Hillbo
Roni Olson
+Anonymous (12)
I did not reach my 4K goal, but I did generate enough funds to get my older books reissued. Since I elected to use the flexible funding option the money is mine, but is earmarked for purposes that I put forward in my campaign. In this case I’m doing exactly what I said I’d do if I didn’t succeed – I’m using the funds to prepare my earlier books for reissue. I haven’t, however, broken out into sobs. I learned so much that feeling sad wasn’t an option.

What did I learn?
First off, that crowdfunding is a LOT of work. Next I learned that no matter how extensive I thought my research on running a successful campaign was, there was plenty more I still didn’t know. Third, and most important, I learned that the social media community is filled with encouraging and generous people.

I’m going to start with how much work it was, which is probably the most boring part, but what you most need to know.

Here is what it takes to launch and run a campaign
  •  Choose your crowdfunding platform
  • Come up with intriguing perks (what’s that? A giveaway that a contributor can request for a given contribution. Not all contributors request one)
  • Fill the site with content, easier said than done
  • Comb your family and friends for early supporters
  • Write press releases, tweets, and Facebook posts
  • Come up with updates for your contributors every 3-5 days
  • Write thank you notes for all contributions
  • Scour your mind for ways to generate more traffic as the excitement of the launch winds down
  • Implement some of those ideas.
  • Purchase a press kit campaign on Fiverr. It arrives two days late and is ungrammatical. Launch a dispute and remind myself to tell everyone not to use Fiverr because they don’t guarantee that their vendors live up to their promises.
  • Hire an email promoter – Green Inbox – highly pleased with the result and will use them again for book publicity.
  • Campaign nears end and contributions slow down. The gap is too large to generate motivation to contribute so I turn my energy toward perk fulfillment.
  • The deadline arrives and I send wrap-up thank you notes to all my contributors

What I would have done differently.
First off, more research. Trouble is this is something you always learn in hindsight. These are the actions I would have changed.
  • I would have set my campaign goal lower. This would have required changing my purpose for the campaign which was to buy bigtime advertising since 2K is not enough to pay for serious ads. However,  it would have made it easier to use the deadline to generate last minute contributions, whereas the gap in my actual campaign was so large no one could believe we could close it.  
  • I would have researched online press releases and how to find relevant media. Back  in the day when everything was done by snail mail or direct email I did considerable PR but I underestimated the value of it in crowdfunding, partly I suppose because I doubted that strangers would contribute to my campaign. I’m still not sure I’m a believer but I have learned that the highly successful campaigns get that way because they ignite interest in the larger community by using press releases.
  • I wouldn’t have ordered 250 foam fingers touting a runaway bestseller. Talk about optimism.
  • I underestimated the time and attention crowdfunding takes, otherwise I would have scheduled a shorter campaign.
Am I am glad I did the campaign? Absolutely, yes – no question about it. While the contributions I received were substantial enough to let me prep my backlist books, my biggest takeaway was character growth. I had to gird my loins (or some such, you don’t have to be a guy to do this) and get a steely spine to ask for money.
In installment four of this blog series I wrote that it was going to be hard for me.
And it was hard. Indiegogo has thought ahead on this quirk of human nature to come up with euphemisms for the words money and giving. Givers are called contributors, receivers are called campaigners, and money itself is called contributions.

There is, of course, a cultural reason for this. The subject of money is fairly well shrouded in mystery. We don’t tell others what we earn or ask them about their income. Nor do we like to ask for or be asked for money. Wealthy people often feel like others only want their money (there’s some truth in that). Poor people tend to think everyone wants to take their last dollar (also somewhat true). Even more crippling. the poor are often reluctant to ask for what they’re due. While these attitudes might be easing as new generations come forward, I think the flotsam that floats around money is a subconscious issue for most people who consider crowdfunding, one that keeps them from sending personal emails which are reputedly the most effective way to get contributions.

I know it was true for me and most of my reluctance came from fear that people would disapprove of my choice. A few did, but not many. One writer warned me that the entire writing community would get up in arms and I’d lose all my readers. Never happened. Another writer asked why I didn’t fund their advertising. I told them to let me know when they set up their campaign and I’d be happy to contribute. In truth, only a few expressed disappointment in me but they didn’t unfriend me and my Twitter following even increased. Most people cheered me on.

And therein is the character growth. I’m thicker-skinned these days and a whole lot less cynical. Just taking the step to launching the campaign boosted my confidence in ways I can’t quite explain and didn’t expect. All I do know is that I have no regrets and am willing to help others who are interested. If you're one of them, check back on Monday for part 2 of this post where I’ll talk about the do’s and don’ts of crowdfunding.

Week #1 Considering Crowdfunding?
Week #2 Getting Started With Indiegogo
Week #3 Pulling it Together
Week #4 Show Me the Money
Week #5 What if No One Comes
Week #6 Launch Week at Last

Week #7 Realities of Launch Week 
Week #8-9 Elbow-grease Time
Week #11  Do's and Don'ts

 To Connie Flynn Site