Sydney Writers’ Festival 2013 – Crowdfunding workshop/Nick Earls talk

Now that the dust has settled  I wanted to share some of my exciting week at the Sydney Writers’ Festival.

Through the week I wore two different hats: (1) A crowdfunding expert and author; (2) A facilitator of panels relating to the state of the publishing industry. It was terrifically exciting to be involved with so many brilliant events this year.This post will cover the Crowdfunding workshop and Author event with Nick Earls.

Using and Understanding Crowdfunding – Monday 20 May 2013 at State Library of NSW


I was so pleased to be asked to run a crowdfunding workshop for the Sydney Writers’ Festival. I’ve been immersed in the world of crowdfunding for around a year and half now, and I can really see the opportunities for those who wish to self-fund their writing projects.

I outlined the workshop in my post on my ‘other’ blog, Crowdfund it! One of the things I enjoy about running workshops is allowing everyone the opportunity to ask questions aimed at their particular project. I am finding in the crowdfunding workshops that around  2/3 of participants arrive with a specific project in mind. The remainder are interested in a more general sense. I also find that sometimes people attend on behalf of someone else that they think would benefit!

While crowdfunding across all categories interests me, I do have a particular fondness for the marriage of my two passions – publishing and crowdfunding. My own personal wish is to open up the possibility of crowdfunding to those who want to explore their own writing or publishing project. While many in the music and film industry have taken to crowdfunding with gusto there is still a lot of growth for writing projects possible.

Although I’m sure the numbers have gone up in the last few weeks, at the time I ran the workshop our leading crowdfunding platform Pozible had shared the following stats with me to make available to workshop participants.

Overall Pozible Stats
Total Pledged = A$10.5m
Successful campaigns = 1,551
$ successfully funded = $9.1m
Success rate = 56%
Writing Projects on Pozible
150 projects / 61 Successful
Total pledged = $309k ($264k successful funds)
40.7% success rate

Interesting to note  that the journalism category on Pozible has around a third of projects for nearly as many $ raised! But a lower success rate. If you are interested in crowdfunding for journalism you may be interested in this post.

AND in very exciting news just in from Pozible, they had over $1 million pledged in May across all their projects! That is pretty amazing.

But in my own personal category of exciting and amazing was the delivery at the end of the workshop of copies of Crowdfund it! Arriving hot off the press (literally), it is the first time my publisher Editia has printed copies. I had been quietly putting a lot of time into updating all information and adding several sections on campaign advice and many new platforms. What was interesting is how despite talking digital and ebooks so often, it felt fantastic to have an actual printed copy of the book in my hands! And the hands of at least half the workshop participants! You can buy the updated ebook from all ebook retailers and the printed book from the publisher Editia (and of course the ebook is available from the publisher too).

Delivery of Crowdfund it and very first sale!

And because it was such an exciting moment for me, here is a picture of the delivery of the books and my very first sale of a printed copy of Crowdfund it! to workshop participant Virginia!

Thanks so much all participants for making it such a fun workshop – I love running them! Thank you also to Pantera Press for supporting this workshop with the Sydney Writers’ Festival.

Nick Earls: From Book to Film and Beyond – Monday 20 May 2013 at Customs House

It was a quite a author-fan moment to be asked to speak to Nick Earls by the Customs House Library. Firstly, it was a wonderful excuse to immerse myself in reading lots of his work. And, although the festival is well over, that Nick-Earls-Reading-fest is still continuing. Secondly, I had the pleasure of dealing with Nick Earls. I’m here to report that he’s everything you’d imagine by reading his books – smart, funny, interesting and chatty. He would, I imagine, be the perfect dinner party guest. In fact, I could almost be talked into having dinner parties if he came!

Nick Ears - From Book to Film and Beyond

Two of Nick Earls’s movies have been adapted into feature films. A feature film adapted from 48 Shades of Brown was released by Disney’s Buena Vista International in 2006. You can watch the official trailer here. Did YOU know that Nick Earls played the Deli Store Owner in this movie? Nor did I. And for those fans of the book – no, this character wasn’t in the book.

The Italian edition of Perfect Skin was adapted into the feature film Solo un Padre, which was a top ten box office hit in Italy through Cattleya/Warner Brothers in 2008. You can watch the trailer for this here and perhaps like me, feel compelled to hunt down a subtitled version?

We also heard from Nick about what he thinks about the actors cast as the characters he has created. He said what his characters look like is the least important thing when writing, so the casting – apart from the fact he signs a contract to say he doesn’t have a say – is often not a problem. In fact he mentioned just how perfectly cast he found Richard Wilson who was playing Dan in 48 shades. We all had a chuckle at just how wonderfully good looking ALL the cast seemed to be in Solo un Padre!


A number of his books have also been adapted into plays. I was really interested to hear that the True Story of Butterfish was written as both a screenplay and a novel in tandem, allowing each to influence the other where appropriate. And equally interesting is that The Fix was written as a screenplay before being made into a novel.

We also discussed ebooks and how handy the built in dictionary can be. When I was reading the story Grass Valley (contained in Welcome to Normal) I liked the ability look up the elements mentioned – for instance cyclotron. No, I didn’t know it was a type of particular accelerator or, a rare silvery-­white metallic element. And if you did, well, congratulations!

Nick Earls shared with us other ways that digital technology has helped him when writing. I loved hearing how Google Earth and Street View enabled him to choose the locations mentioned in Range. And by the way – if you perhaps think that Nick Earls only writes feel-good fiction, then think again. I highly recommend the short story Range, contained within Welcome to Normal. Range really stayed in my mind and I kept looping back to it.  I think you will too.

Thank you to Nick Earls and the City of Sydney libraries for asking me to be part of this event. It was an absolute pleasure!

I plan to post more on my festival experiences – although I may be diverted into a digital detox with a holiday coming up!

What was your Sydney Writers’ Festival highlight?

Anna Maguire 31/05/13

2 thoughts on “Sydney Writers’ Festival 2013 – Crowdfunding workshop/Nick Earls talk

  1. Great lineup at the Festival. Great to see Crowd funding is gaining momentum – and you’re the grass roots expert Anna Maguire. I look forward to seeing you on the international circuit. The first building has been finding using crowd funding techniques, and I read recently of a group of like minded folk seeking others to establish a gated community using crowd funding methodologies. Well done Anna Maguire for sensing the timing for gathering information for others to understand this ancient but modern way for people to relate to each other and their achievements.

    • Thanks very much for commenting on the blog Jennifer. One of the interesting things about crowdfunding is how it is being utilised in so many different ways. Although music and films have been early adopters, we’re now seeing crowdfunding enabling projects that would never have occurred – and it’s great to see crowdsourcing AND crowdfunding working so well together. Anna

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