My first publisher offered me a contract (with a respectable advance) for Better Than College, but I turned them down. Why?
One answer is: When I own the full rights to my book, I can give it away to those who need it most.
Many unschoolers will read and profit from this book. But many unschoolers already question the value of college. It’s the students within the traditional system—both high school and college—who have the most to gain from Better Than College. And they’re the least likely to discover the book.
To get this book in front of the eyes of traditional students, I’m going to mail paperback copies of Better Than College, along with coupons for 10-100 free e-book downloads (depending on institution size), to specific teachers and guidance counselors at specific high schools and colleges. These will be totally unsolicited mailings. I’ll begin by targeting “alternative” schools, but any receptive institution will be a giveaway candidate. By doing this enough, and with a little luck, I envision the principals behind unschooling and DIY college spreading very far and changing many lives.
Suffice to say: This isn’t something you can do with a traditional publisher. Free e-book copies floating out there in the wild? No way.
That’s one big reason that I’m independently publishing. The others include:
- I want to learn and experience every step of the publishing process
- I’m fascinated by new models of printing and distribution
- Independent publishing rewards the author more directly for her marketing efforts
- I might use these experiences to write another book: one that explains the independent publishing process to first-time authors!
The challenge behind this path, of course, is that no one is paying me an advance. It’s all an entrepreneurial gamble.
That’s why the IndieGoGo campaign is such a key element. By pre-ordering the book (and larger “perk” packages) right now, my campaign contributers are creating the funds necessary for me to produce a great book and dedicate my time toward bigger schemes like giving the book away.
Today, on day 20 (of 33) of the campaign, I’ve raised $5,300. After fees and perk costs, that’s just enough to cover my basic book publishing needs. (See the IndieGoGo updates page for a full cost breakdown). That’s fantastic.
But if I raise the $3000+ necessary to reach my target ($8,500), then I’ll be able to spread this book’s message much, much farther and wider. It will also help me pay my volunteer U.K. web programmer, Matt Barney, who’s working his unpaid butt off to redesign ZTCollege.com (the sister website to the book). And when I reach my goal, IndieGoGo’s fee will drop from 9% to 4%—an instant boost of $425!
I’m leaving next week to present at a Chicago homeschooling conference, and then I’ll be in Argentina for four weeks, leading a group of six teen unschoolers on the adventure of a lifetime. As such, I’m really busy, and I will deeply appreciate your help in spreading the word about my campaign. If you or someone you know has been waiting to contribute, this is the time to do it. I need all the help I can get!
Finally, to spice up the campaign, I’m adding a new perk. (It’s an upgrade, actually.) The $350 perk (formerly: 50-Person Group Sponsor) is now a 200-Person Group Sponsor, and it includes 1.5 hours of phone or Skype consulting for you and/or your child. We’ll chat about school, college, your goals, or anything else your heart desires. And as always, I’m open to creating custom perk packages—simply e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for supporting me in this fun and important foray into independent publishing. I’m indebted to your kindness and gracious support.