Crowdfunding a Challenge For My Senior Set
Written by
Elaine Soloway
March 2014
Written by
Elaine Soloway
March 2014

"Please let me write you a check," Leah said. This was the third such plea I'd received from friends who had gotten my e-mail soliciting funds for my Kickstarter campaign. I'm using that crowdfunding platform to pay for the publishing and marketing of my upcoming memoir, Green Nails, And Other Acts of Rebellion: Life After Loss.

"No, it doesn't work that way," I said to Leah. "First of all, I can't deposit your check in my bank and then contribute to my own campaign. Second, all donations on Kickstarter must go through Amazon with a credit card."


"I want to help," said Harriet, another of the group of refuseniks, "but I'm not going to put my personal information on the Internet."


"But if you're not part of the campaign," I said, "you won't get of my updates. You won't know what's going on day-to-day."


"So, you'll call and tell me. What's the big deal?"


I tried a different tack. "You win prizes on Kickstarter. If you donate a certain amount, you get the new book as a reward. And, at different levels..."


"Who needs a prize?" she interrupted. "I'll send you a check for the Kick thing, and I'll still buy the damn book, in a bookstore, like a normal person. "


I dug in, patient as a parent trying to explain the birds-and-bees: "You see, Kickstarter works sort of like a matching grant. If I don't reach my campaign's funding goal, all of the money already in the pot disappears. I won't get anything."


"Listen, if you're such a smarty to write the book and do this crowd thing, you can figure out how to get my money in the pot."


Still pushing, I said: "How about we go on Skype and I'll walk you through the process? You use that to talk to your grandchildren, right? Or, I'll come over and we'll tackle the donation together."


"I'm sending a check," she said.


"Okay; just send the check." I felt guilty for the tussle, and for acting like a spoiled teen gifted a Ford for graduation rather than a Lexus. 


While my younger friends on Facebook had no problem viewing my Kickstarter announcement, clicking the link, and boosting my bottom line, members of my own age group (I'm 75) are balking. This creates a dilemma because my peers are my target audience.


My memoir is based is on my blogs, The Rookie Caregiver and The Rookie Widow. Through honest, humorous, and wry essays, I give readers a view of what everyday life is like when caring for a loved one with an incurable illness. In my case, my husband Tommy's affliction was a little-known dementia called Frontotemporal degeneration that eventually robbed him of speech.


When Tommy died November 2, 2012, my posts switched to the experiences of widowhood and my efforts--still honest and humorous--to forge a new life.


These universal themes - supporting a loved one with dementia, and demonstrating resilience--should be appealing to those in my cohort. Surely they want to guarantee that my memoir sees life as a paperback and eBook.


But alas, some aspects of technology--particularly crowdfunding--appear to have sailed over the grey-haired heads of my contemporaries, and instead find them wedded to pen and checkbook.


I'll stop kvetching and bullying, and just be grateful for their support and generosity, and figure out a way to, um, launder their money into Kickstarter. (Let's keep that between us. Okay?)


Have you come up against a challenge like this in your own book marketing pursuits? How did you handle it?

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  • Penny Taylor

    I must write more.  I went to JF's Kickstarter page and I'm already hooked on her book.  One of the things she did that was so wonderful is her book trailer.  She puts in small pieces of book... without completing thoughts and sentences and it only makes a person want to find out more.  Excellent.  It's a good example not only of how to set up crowd financing, but presenting yourself as an author and making people really want to read the book.  Her Undead Sorceress, A Multicultural Urban Fantasy, looks to be an interesting read.  I also like how she let us in on where her ideas had come from and the weaving on multiple cultures.  Props, JF.

  • Penny Taylor

    Dear, Dear, Elaine...

    I don't get out much myself.  The old bear in her den, who occasionally wanders out to feed, snarl a little and then return to my den to write.  Until last week when I was networking the old fashion way with friends I see for coffee and breakfast at Micky D's.  As I started to pack up to leave I made the off comment that the problem with being my own boss was that I had to be disciplined.  A man sitting by the window started laughing and that lead to a conversation, which lead to the book I'm working on and he said, "You need to get on Kickstarter." -- I don't know if I'll run into the same issue, but I do know I've bookmarked your Kickstarter page and when my client pays me I'm putting in for your book.  You're 75% there with 16 days to go.  I'll know people will come through for you in the crunch.  Have the very best of days.

  • I also ran into similar issues when I did my own kickstarter. Certain people are not comfortable with computers and one solution was for a group donation via a person representing the group online.  I also threw a party, so people could gather and talk about the project.  The party was worth doing as some of these people are my greatest advocates who can tell others that a book they kickstarted is coming out soon!