My Story | What Happened to My Mr Keats
A few months ago I called quits on my journey with Unbound and my novel My Mr Keats.
I was looking to publish my novel and was working with the publishing company on a crowdfunding expedition to raise the funds to publish it. However, after 15 months and raising a total of £700 out of the needed £4000, I decided it was time to leave this project behind.
It was not a failure
When I contacted Unbound about my book I was incredibly flattered, and thrilled, that they thought it was a book worth publishing. That being said crowdfunding was not something I was prepared for.
The process with Unbound was extremely fast and within a few weeks of signing a contract and being told the basics, the crowdfunding page was live on their website. Tuesday 10th January to be exact.
It went live at 3pm and I was at work. There was no build-up to the page’s release and from the moment it was live I was on my own.
There was a flurry of support from friends and family when I announced my news and that was exciting and extremely gratifying. However, after the first month, I had only raised 5% of my needed total. The campaigns are supposed to run for only 3 months, with a choice to extend, and by the end of 3 months, I had only raised 7%.
Needless to say, crowdfunding is hard.
What started out as fun and challenging became a bit of a drag and time-consuming. You – i.e. me – are the only person campaigning for the book to be released.
I struggled to find the ‘reason’ to get the book published. Campaigns that I’ve seen work on Unbound are for books with a zeitgeist – feminist stories for young children during the #MeToo movement and Trump’s election. Books about Grenfell, books about immigration and books with extremely commercial content like letters from celebrities, autobiographies from celebrities of stories by celebrities.
For me, my book was a historical fiction novel about a young girl who befriends a dying boy in the attic. It is a marketable novel when there is a product already made but it is hard to sell something that isn’t available – and won’t be for at least a year – with nothing to give except promises.
That being said, it is not impossible.
I have seen plenty of Unbound campaigns from authors with similar novels and similar backgrounds succeed. The one thing these campaigns have in common is dedication. I was not dedicated solely to the release of my novel.
At the time the campaign went live I was commuting, working full-time and looking for another job. By the end of the campaign, I was working full-time, handling a lot of family drama and dealing with mental health issues that arose from that drama.
These are not excuses. It was just bad timing.
I realised, when I came to the decision to stop my campaign, that I had lost interest and belief in my project around Christmas. After a year of little success, I did not want to dedicate my free time to a project which may or may not succeed. With my mental health as it was, it felt like I was facing failure.
I don’t see my time with Unbound as a failure.
It was a learning curve and an interesting endeavour, one I would still encourage people to take.
My story is not over yet. I have recently printed out My Mr Keats and am in the process of a thorough edit. Having written it when I was 19 years old I am going to give it the 23-year-old perspective instead. I have new ideas and time to make them. There is no pressure, no deadlines and no worries.
I have other writing projects on the go, with one very exciting project in the works right now.
I am still at the beginning of my writing career and learning loads every day through my job in publishing and simply through my own writing.
The one thing I experienced when I recently sat down to re-read My Mr Keats, having not read it properly for a year, was that – without sounding like an arrogant dick – it is not bad. It’s not perfect, but it isn’t terrible.
Having left my crowdfunding expedition behind, I feel more hopeful now than I did a year ago.
That being said, I appreciate every penny people pledged to the campaign. You have no idea how it felt to have someone believe in me and my work. Also to have people complain that they won’t get a chance to read my novel – one day! One day you will.
This is not the end of my story. It is not the end of My Mr Keats.