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A lot of folks have been writing in and asking us for advice on how to do well in our new Inkshares Fantasy book publishing contest, so, as the geek who won the last Geek & Sundry Inkshares contest, I volunteered to share my secret treasure trove of swashbucklery for winning Inkshares contests. To ensure I’m providing you with the best tips gold doubloons could buy, I’ve also enlisted the aid of my fellow winners from the previous Geek & Sundry Inkshares contest.

Cover Yourself


John Willig, president and literary agent of Literary Services Inc., has famously said his agency has a steadfast “3-Second Rule” which they use in evaluating any book submission. If the cover doesn’t grab them in 3 seconds they pass on it. Only 3 seconds! Fortunately, in this contest, your audience is slightly more forgiving. Inkshares tells me that registered users spend an average of 23 seconds looking at a project’s page before making a decision to pre-order or not. That means you’ve got 23 second windows to make a powerful first impression, which starts with your cover. If you don’t fancy yourself a graphic design artist but are living on a graphic design artist’s wage, there are sites like Canva that let you create a decent book cover on a budget. If you’re looking for inspiration, I suggest checking out some award winning book cover designs.

Sell Your Story, Not Your Book

The Inkshares crowdfunding bible has this to say about the difference between an average campaign and a successful one:

Write a headline “idea” that boils down your book idea into a shareable, twitter-length statement. The headline should differentiate your project from any other book that’s been written, and your author bio should prove that you’re the only person who could write it.

Inkshares allows you to embed a video into your project’s page. Not using that to your advantage is a #FantasticInk fail. People are investing in you even more than your project. To that end, make your project’s page beautiful, clear, and easy to understand. Don’t assume people just want to know the synopsis. Every reader who looks at your page is deciding whether or not your book is worth backing. Make your page as perfect as possible, so readers are as excited as you are about making your book real. Remember: The more immersive your content, the greater your connection with the prospective readers.

Get Social


Brian Guthrie, author of After Man, says his strategy for securing a Top 3 finish in the previous contest was: “Getting a good size circle of my friends active on social media, and having them follow my Inkshares book page, liking it, and sharing everything I posted every day.”

The other previous Geek & Sundry Inkshares contest winner, Erin S. Evan, author of The Pirates of Montana, agrees with Guthrie’s approach. In her words, “I went through every social media account I had and contacted everyone, even folks I hadn’t spoken to in years. I was so surprised and pleased to see that they were not only supportive, but very encouraging and promoted the book to their friends. I had complete strangers, friends of friends, encouraging me, telling me how excited they were to read it.”

Do The Hustle

Ask any Inkshares author, and they’ll tell you: Getting your book crowdfunded is 90% hustle. The key is to hustle intelligently. Don’t spam, coerce, or annoy people. Instead, find creative ways to entice, and make them take a personal interest in helping you succeed.

“Personally reach out to all of your friends directly and ask for their support,” suggests Guthrie, “and be prepared to have to remind them. Set a schedule of who to contact and then re-contact them.”

“I also contacted old co-workers, who in turn encouraged their current co-workers to help out.” Adds Evan, “Finally, I think just spending time on Inkshares, making friends, building the community, and helping plug other books was also very helpful.”

Do Your Job

Treat this contest like a job. It’s your job to get your book published. How badly do you want it? For me, it meant everything. I put my life on hold for the duration of the contest. If you believe in what you’ve created, if you think you know the audience you wrote it for will love it, then invest your time, energy, and resources in your project. I created a bunch of world building collateral around my book, The Punch Escrow, including detailed diagrams, mug shots, and even a 6th grade project from the book’s protagonist:

You Gotta Be In It To Win It

Winning this contest has changed my life in many ways, and my book hasn’t even been published yet! One of the best benefits of my book becoming the first Geek & Sundry winner was being afforded the opportunity to write my series The Future Is Now for my favorite website (hint: rhymes with beak & country). There are over 160 entries in the Geek & Sundry contest so far, but there’s still a ton of time left to enter and win. And you can’t win if you don’t enter, so…

What are you waiting for?

Image Credits: Tal M. Klein, Tanja Cappell/Flickr

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