The $1000 Pledge – March Update

Hold up!  Don’t know anything about my $1000 donation goal to @MCCNewYork Homeless LGBT Youth Services? Click here to catch up.

March provided some deeper insight into how my decisions are intertwined with my success in reaching the donation goal.   Since success in book-selling is gauged by sales (duh), I can see in simple numbers where I am doing well and where I need work.  March was a slow month compared to January and February.  This could be due to any number of factors, ranging from promotional mistakes on my part to the possibility that people just ran out of money on their holiday gift cards.  There are no reviews below a 4 out of 5 on Amazon, so it isn’t as though the book is being panned.  What’s important is that I am learning and pushing forward.

Amazon’s dominance

Nearly all of my sales still come through Amazon.  It makes sense, since most of my ratings and reviews are on that site.  Now that the online book-selling mega-store has purchased Goodreads, I can expect that this trend will continue.   What Goodreads does is allow readers to network with each other and recommend books through ratings and similar interests.   Amazon now owns the top book recommending site and the top book selling site.

The decision I have to make is whether I can more quickly reach my pledge goal by being exclusive on Amazon.  This would mean forsaking Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords (CreateSpace is fine because it is a subsidy of Amazon).   It is counter intuitive to think that narrowing availability and engaging in free promotional days would help, but the numbers back this up.   I’m going to hold off on making any changes for now, but if Amazon’s trend continues, I’ll revisit the idea.

Book Cover

Despite what we were told as children, books are judged by their covers.  I made the current cover for my book, which is why it looks amateur and doesn’t capture any sense of what the book is about.  Some book cover designers charge between $300-$1200.  I priced around and found an inexpensive and professional graphics artist for under $100.  This investment should boost sales, but I am careful to avoid dipping into “pledge funds” to pay for it.   There is a difference between reinvesting in a product and funneling money wastefully.


Nothing sells books like having more books to sell.  I am currently 23,000+ words into the first draft of the next book in the Captain James Hook series.   I started typing in February and am on schedule to be done with this draft by June.  From there it needs to get edited and revised.  With the wind at my back, the title should be out in the last quarter of the calendar year.

The Learning Curve

One of the most frequent conversations teachers have with students is about learning from their mistakes and how failure can lead to success.  I suppose some of that rubbed off on me, because even though March was a slower month, the steps I outlined above should provide the boost I need to assure I reach my $1000 pledge in time for winter 2013.

The $1000 Pledge – February Update

Off to a great start

February was a great start to reaching my $1000 donation goal to @MCCNewYork Homeless LGBT Youth Services.   Captain James Hook and the Curse of Peter Pan has been receiving a good amount of reviews and ratings, but I am far from done.

Diversify the Marketplace

One of the first steps I took was to diversify the marketplace where the book was available.  Since June of 2012, the book was only on Amazon.   At the end of January, I moved it to Barnes and Noble, Createspace, Kobo, and Smashwords.  Thirty days later, however, I’m finding that 90% of the sales still come from Amazon.   I’m keeping this system going for March and reassessing at the end of the month.

Marketing the Product

Goodreads is a book networking site.   It allows you to post, rate, and comment on books and authors.   A new feature they offer to people who have an author account is self-service advertising.   In February, I bought advertising and targeted it to readers of Historical Fantasy.   When clicked, the link sent people to the Goodreads landing page.   The results were good and many people added the book to their virtual shelves.   Moving forward in March, I’m going to buy another round and direct those who click on the link to the book’s page on this site.  The hope is that people will see the pledge information in the right margin and read more about how they can help.

Exposure for All is a site that sends out tweets for you to their hundreds of thousands of followers.   It costs less than $15 for ninety posts that are spread out over several days.   In order to maximize the exposure of this campaign, I input the list of tweets I wrote on the original pledge page.

Moving Forward

January and February went by so quickly that it is hard to believe that the next update will also be the first quarter report.  I’m looking forward to learning as much in March as I have each month since deciding to self-publish.   Help out by spreading the message of this pledge and the great work that MCCNY does for homeless LGBT youth.

The $1000 Pledge – January Update

Well, we are well on our way to reaching the $1000 donation goal.

Phase One is complete

In January, I got the approval of MCCNY’s Homeless LGBTQ Youth Services to publicize my pledge to their organization.  This was a critical step, because, without their support, this whole process would have fallen apart.  I have already begun sending out messages rallying support for the cause and have seen some great feedback.  This is, however, only the beginning.

Onto Phase Two: Raising Money

Oh yeah, I have to raise money.  One thousand dollars is a lot for me to scrape together on my own, but not impossible.  The benefit of raising money through book sales is that it helps me spread awareness as well as achieve my goal of giving a substantial donation at the end of the year.

The days in January were spent setting up the relationship between me and MCCNY.  Even so, I’ve already seen a boost in sales and that is a positive sign.

One-twelfth of 2013 is already over and a lot can happen in eleven months.

The $1000 Pledge

The Writing Teacher pledges $1000 to a homeless youth shelter in NYC.

My name is Jeremiah Kleckner. I am a public school teacher and author. In June of 2012, Jeremy Marshall and I self-published Captain James Hook and the Curse of Peter Pan, an alternate take on the Peter Pan novel by J. M. Barrie. Part of the message in the book is a new perspective on Peter Pan’s irresponsibility and mistreatment of the Lost Boys.

But that is fantasy.

There is a reality of child abuse, neglect, abandonment, and homelessness.

MCCNY CharitiesMCCNY Homeless Youth Services is committed to turning the short time (up to 90 days) that youth spend as residents into a time of growth, safety and opportunity. MCCNY Homeless Youth Services provides: emergency overnight services, connections to long-term housing, case management, advocacy groups, showers, and hot meals. MCCNY Homeless Youth Services prioritizes the most underserved LGBTQI youth, including transgender and intersex youth, youth experiencing trauma, and those living with HIV/AIDS.” – Quoted from:

In 2013, I want to donate $1000 dollars to MCCNY Charities exclusively through book sales. Together, we can help support the essential services this shelter provides.

What can you do?

Buy the book. Go to Amazon or CreateSpace (for paperback) and get your copy.

Spread the word. Write a review of the book. Retweet and Share my posts about the great work MCCNY does and about my $1000 pledge (or simply copy and paste these as your status).

With funding from the state of New York on the decline, every dollar matters. Subscribe to this site, like me on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter to keep up to date on our progress in meeting this goal.