Magic Fish Dreaming – How to Crowd Fund a Poetry Book

Dr June Perkins

Friends who had lived in the Far North once told me, ‘when you live there and then leave again, your heart never really leaves the place.’ That’s just what I found when working on a collection of poetry, Magic Fish Dreaming.

What I didn’t realise was that this collection was going to be especially for children and families, and crowd funded through an all-or-nothing campaign mechanism called kickstarter.

Sometimes it takes a move

The move to Brisbane, and the experience of the contrasts between it and the Cassowary Coast, triggered me into thinking it was about time to finish a poetry book that celebrates the brilliant and distinctive things about the Cassowary Coast.

At the same time, I began an online crowd funding training course and attended Writelinks, a local writing group for children and young adults.

Soon I was enthusiastic once more and determined to make the book I was dreaming about a reality.

Magic Fish Dreaming wasn’t the kind of book many publishers would look at … but it was the book my heart wanted me to write.

Magic Fish Dreaming wasn’t the kind of book many publishers would look at (poetry of a specific unique place and for children), but it was the book my heart wanted me to write, so I decided to use it for my crowd funding course exercises.

I was excited that my course mentors liked the draft manuscript and the story behind it; they felt the project was perfect for a kickstarter.

Soon I was searching for an illustrator, commissioning her to do samples, refining my selections for the collection and making a project video. This took nine months.

As for the writing, I had been writing this book almost from the first day I stepped into life in the Cassowary Coast, but it took a move to Brisbane to enable me to edit it.

From dream to reality

Soon the book, which had just been a dream, had a plan and a team.

First, there was Matilda, who had been reading early drafts of the book before I left the Cassowary Coast. Now we stepped up the editing process and culled the book to a picture book length.

Secondly, I found Helene Magisson, an inspiring illustrator, through her magical online folio. I sent her the manuscript and soon she had a cover and two sample illustrations ready for the kickstarter campaign.

Thirdly, I brought Heidi Den Ronden into the project as designer. I had met Heidi when we were both guest bloggers for the Aftermath Project a few years before, and reconnected with her when my family moved to Brisbane.

PowerPoint Presentation

The rest, as they say, is our story.
Just a few weeks ago we raised $10,000 through kickstarter to make the Magic Fish Dreaming book become real.

PowerPoint PresentationOur backers were many: friends and writers from the Cassowary Coast; school friends; family; fellow poets; the children’s book writing community in Brisbane, especially Writelinks; many of my writing groups, past and present; Baha’is from around the world (particularly writers and song writers); grandparents; buddies from the ABC Open community; and online blogger and flickr friends.

A special thanks go to the team at Children’s Book Academy, especially Jed, who trained and mentored me through the kickstarter process (I call him the Obi-Wan of kickstarters), but also to my classmates in the kickstarter course, some of whom are planning to do their own kickstarters in the next year.

Just as it takes a village to raise a child, so it takes a community to make a crowd-funded book become real.

Tips for crowd funding

My top ten tips for conducting a crowd funded project are:

  1. Pick a project you feel passionate about, as this will help you through the tough times of researching, editing and launching.
  2. Write a good script and make a super cool video with the equipment you have access to.
  3. Put together a great professional team who have the same passion for the project as you do.
  4. Form good friendships with people who will potentially love your work, years and months before your campaign runs.
  5. Make your rewards and book represent great value to your backers and put a lot of work into your budget (don’t forget to account for postage!).
  6. Be well prepared and check your campaign page again and again before you run your project; ask others to give you feedback.
  7. Study other kickstarter campaigns, especially ones that succeeded.
  8. Be prepared to live on social media, twitter, facebook, blogs, etc, but keep your posts interesting so you don’t drive your friends and family nuts! And engage other media to help you publicise your campaign.
  9. Plan and design your project as well as you possibly can and set a realistic timeline and budget.
  10. Be prepared to teach your friends how the crowd funding mechanism you are using works, and coach them through the steps of making a pledge.♦


Post script:

I am pretty rapt that ABC, my local paper, and many others gave us interviews during the kickstarter campaign and that so many people showed love and support for Magic Fish Dreaming.

We now have an agent who is representing Magic Fish Dreaming to trade publishers and all news regarding where the book can be purchased, the official launch, and if we obtain a trade publishing deal will be shared when we can at

The kickstarter book will be launched between October and December 2016.

The Magic Fish Dreaming Team wish you all the best if you are about to embark on your own crowd funding campaign.


The Official Brisbane launch of Magic Fish Dreaming will be held on Sunday 30 October 30th, 3-5 pm, at Magda Community Artz 80 Boundary Rd, Bardon. Bookings are essential. Book here:


Dr June Perkins lived in Far North Queensland for ten years, prior to Brisbane.  She tutors tertiary creative writing students, is an active member of Writelinks, and won an ASA mentorship  for picture books earlier this year. Magic Fish Dreaming is her first individual poetry book.


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