Finding Investors for Your Book

by Dean Arnold
(Chattanooga, TN, US)

Old Money, New South

Old Money, New South

Excerpted from an oral interview:

I was an investigative reporter in Chattanooga for 10 years and had my own publication. I did some other types of writing and after about 10 years of all that I got tired of it. At one point I decided that I wanted to write a couple of books. So I decided to figure out how to do that.

The first book was called, Cherokee Betrayal. I later changed the title to America's Trail of Tears. It was about the group of events around the Indian removal West and the trail of tears that commenced in Chattanooga Tennessee, my hometown where I spent 20 years.

That's a book that is owned by me. It was a straight for-profit business venture.

But the second book that I really wanted to write, that I had a bee in my bonnet for, was a book called Old Money New South The spirit of Chattanooga. It's Micheneresque (as in James Michener) in a way. I took a geographical spot, Chattanooga, and talked about all aspects of that geographical area. Going back to 10,000 BC and the early archaic Indians and then spending a lot time on Chattanooga during its glory days, which is turn-of-the-century. Coca-Cola bottling was started there. All these billionaire fortunes from Coca-Cola bottling really shaped the town. Actually more money was made in Chattanooga than Atlanta for Coke.

And so this kind of aristocracy rules the town and it's kind of a mystery. It's an interesting and intriguing thing. The book is creative non-fiction using interviews and story-telling.

To finance the project, one of the things I did was start a non-profit corporation. Since this was sort of a community story, I figured I could find people who wanted to tell this story. I raised, I guess, probably around 100,000 dollars for the printing and to help subsidize the project. Then I sold several thousand books too. So I made some money off that.

That was sort of a creative way to finance a book project. It was quite a success. For the Barnes and Noble in Chattanooga, it was their leading selling book for several weeks. For the bookstore downtown in Chattanooga, it's their number one seller of any book.

Total donors was maybe 40 to 50. I was blessed to know some people who had some means who wanted to see the project take off.

It didn't take much time before it became sort of the definitive book on the town. I gave it just enough kind of intrigue and spice to make it interesting, but not enough to be an exposé so it's something the chamber of commerce can endorse.

I would encourage people involved in writing to get involved with the stuff that is immediately around you and graduate from there.

Visit Dean's site.

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Feb 04, 2011
glory stealers
by: DeAnn Jarman

I am going crazy trying to find an investor that does'nt want to take credit for my writing! Why does it have to be so hard just to find someone to say, "I believe in you", to give you the money for a great return profit that won't steal your glory!

Jun 11, 2008
My mistake
by: Steve B.

Dean, you did say in your piece that it was a non-profit. And you know what? I think that makes the idea even more impressive.

Whether you want to call the donors or angels, there are folks all over any town looking to promote that town and to attach their names to things high-minded.

(Often they're high profile businesspeople who benefit when the town benefits, folks like car dealership owners and people with an ownership stake in the hospitality industry. One's Chamber of Commerce is probably filled with potential donors/investors in the right project!)

Nice work, Dean, and thanks for the new details.

Jun 11, 2008
Donors, actually.
by: Dean Arnold

Investors was actually the wrong word. They were donors or contributors to a non-profit organization.

So, no return of investment, let alone profit. Just goodwill. Chattanooga is a very philanthropic town and the donors were interested in seeing the community promoted, and some of them were personally interested in seeing their family heritage promoted in the book.

Keep in mind, however, that "non-profit" can be rather profitable for a starving artist. The IRS will raise an eyebrow at non-profit execs making $250,000 or more a year, but anything under $100,000 a year is generally acceptable, and most writers I know have to make a living waiting tables. So if your project has a community-oriented twist, making the book a non-profit is a good idea. The main drawback is that if you write the next Grisham novel, you won't pocket millions: the non-profit organization will.

P.S. I did raise investors for two movie scripts I have written. They haven't hit paydirt yet, but if they do, my investors will indeed make a profit.

Jun 10, 2008
by: Julie W. B.

Congratulations on writing two books, and also on a unique way to get funding!

Jun 10, 2008
by: Steve B.

Dean, as a Hollywood veteran, I know all about raising funds for your project. How crazy that it never occurred to me that the same thing could be done for a book!

I think we'd all be fascinated to know more.

Did your contributors give merely in hopes of receiving profits, or did they have other motives?
Do they receive mentions in your book?
Are there cross-promotions that occur?
What percentage of the book did you end up owning after selling off shares?

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