In July of 2014 I decided to crowdfund a book I had created, called The Man Within. It is a photographic book about Winston Churchill, featuring 200 exceptional black and white photographs, many never seen before. The photographs are woven together with Churchill's own powerful words to tell his own story - his childhood, his family, his friends, his passions, his life. The book is approachable and lively and will distil all the voluminous information down to the essence of the man that inspires us all.
At the point I decided to crowdfund I had a publisher in the UK who was interested in my book and I was in the fortunate position where I could self-publish. However, I decided to crowd-fund because I would have more control over my visual and creative vision for this book, and the crowd-funding social media element matched the spirit of the book. I had a very successful campaign, reaching my goal within a month, which allowed me the cost of a high end printing house, covering the costs of all the copyrights for the photographs and quotes, hiring a top end designer, and some extra money for marketing.
I joined a new start-up book publisher in San Francisco, where I live, called Inkshares – a dynamic team full of energy, focus, support, creativity and knowledge. I have never regretted my decision to work with them, nor crowd-fund. The outreach of support, which initially started with my own address book, soon spread to people I had never met in many countries around the world. People put the page on Facebook, and emailed it to their friends. It also got the attention of the local paper in San Francisco, and before I even had a book, I found myself on the cover of the 'Datebook' section of the San Francisco Chronicle.
I offered the ability to pre-order the book outright at the price of $50, buy at the $250 level (which included a copy signed by Randolph Churchill, who wrote the introduction), or buy at the $500 level, which included three copies signed by Randolph Churchill, an invitation to a special launch party in San Francisco, and your name listed on the back page of the book. I have seventy backers at the $500 level and I have sold 800 books before the book even went to print.
For me the most rewarding part of the crowd-funding journey was my ability to be in touch with all my supporters. Many have bought a book with an email sharing their own story of Churchill, their favorite quote, or their own wish to publish a book of their own. That has been very moving at times, and at the very least, lessened the loneliness of creating this work.
Good luck with your own journey and I am open to any questions along the way.
Alison Fogg Carlson was born in the English Lake District, but raised all over the world. She spent four years of high school in Mexico City and after completing her University degree in the United States, she moved to the Middle East where she was able to follow her passion and work as a photographer.
She has been married for 25 years to another Churchillian and raised two daughters in San Francisco. During this time she kept her connections with England through her antique clock business. Alison has a life-long interest in Churchill stemming from her parents who lived in England through WWII, where her father was a Squadron Leader in the Royal Air Force. She has sat on the board of the US Churchill Centre, and is often found in the Churchill War Rooms in London.
The Man Within has been chosen as a commemorative book of the Churchill Centre, UK. A percentage of the royalties go to the Churchill Charities.