Hello all, I’ve launched a #Kickstarter campaign (In case you didn’t know, Kickstarter is a crowd funding website where you announce a project, and interested parties donate money to support it). I’m using it to fund the editing of my up-coming book, #RipplesintheChalice, and all the odds and ends that go into the initial promotion of it.
I’m not necessarily telling you about this to ask for your money (though that would be cool too), but more to share with my writing community my experience so that you can learn from it and/or share with the community how your Kickstarter campaign compared.
Andy Bunch did a wonderful write up on the NIWA forum (https://groups.google.com/forum/?hl=en.#!searchin/niwahome/kickstarter/niwahome/nFvSK0OhJo4/0IO9sqDxJC0J ) that explained the ins and outs of Kickstarter and how to best go about making a successful campaign. After reading that, interviewing Ripley Patton on her campaign, and analyzing 10-15 successful campaigns (or campaigns well on their way to being funded) on Kickstarter’s website, I came up with my own game plan.
Each Kickstarter Campaign Page has essentially the same elements and format in their write up. They include:
According to Kickstarter’s own FAQ, campaigns that have promotional videos as opposed to those that don’t are close to 50% more successful. After looking at the quality of the videos of existing publishing-related campaigns I noted that they all had one thing in common: with a few exceptions, most of them sucked. I felt if I was going to put in the time and effort I was going to have a video and it wasn’t going to be embarrassing. I approached my cover artists (who also does great video work…he made my first book’s movie trailer video) I proposed that if he put in a few special effects and music for free that I’d include in my campaign budget money for a future movie trailer project for book two. He agreed. His work, combined with my speech and some humorous elements, created a video that, if nothing else, stands out from the crowd. And doesn’t totally suck (a little silly maybe, but not suck). The video includes flashy images of the cover art of my book, samples from the first movie trailer, and images of my editor’s website to ensure viewers that I have thought this all through. My speech is clear, concise, and summarizes the text that makes up the body of my Kickstarter page. I made the speech around 4 min 15 sec, which is about average among the videos I researched. You don’t want it too long and lose your viewers attention, but you don’t want it too short and vague either. I took my time making the speech, recording take after take on my iPad until I got it right. I hate the sound quality of my voice, but others assure me it’s not that bad. The music in the final video helps cover up any distracting background noise the iPad picked up. I dressed nice and chose an appropriate backdrop (book shelves full of books). I wrapped the video up with a thank you and a call to action. Unfortunately, in the process I learned that recording on an iPad in the vertical position creates a video in a vertical format which does not fit well in the square frame of Kickstarter and YouTube. Try as I might, after internet searches and conferring with friends and associates on how to fix that, I found I basically would have to do it all over again. Fortunately, after previewing it with many people, they said the formatting issues wasn’t that big a deal. So I decided to go forward.
I explained my background, complete with information and pictures of my past success with my previous book (screen shot of Amazon ranking, quotes from reviews, etc), and what my hopes are for my current project for which I’m asking help. I told backers, as Kickstarter does in its own introduction, “Once upon a time all art was funded like this and you’ll be continuing that tradition while getting more than just a little satisfaction.”
When asking for funds, it is good to know how much you’re asking for and if it is realistic for the scope of the project. If it is not realistic, you’re not likely to get any backers. Also, you’ll want to spell out the budget, as your potential backers have the right to know how you will be spending their money. They deserve to know if you’re frugal, extravagant, or just plain foolish. It’s ok to be any of these, so long as you explain why. There are backers for the cautious and their are backers for risk takers, but you have to answer to them. You need to tell them your game plan. I’m asking for $6,600, which is also middle-of-the-road for publishing-related projects (there are some that are $20,000+ … and they get funded!). I spell out the costs and what the benefits are for paying them (especially the editing and I emphasize to potential backers; “…I want to make a product that is as professional and entertaining as possible…a product that you will be proud of).
Hand in hand with the budget is your explanation to potential backers how you will wisely spend their money. I did this by sharing details, links, and pictures of my editor and her website and my artist and samples of his work. I explained my marketing plan once the book is ready to maximize its chances for success. When backers click the final button on supporting you, they must be left feeling, “Yeah, this was a good idea and I’m glad to help.”
Not only do backers get the satisfaction of contributing to the arts, they usually get something tangible as well. I looked at what other publishing projects were doing to reward their backers and decided to go with an escalating reward system that matched increasing funds from donations. All backers, even small ones, get recognition in the back pages of the book. From there, backers get either an ebook of my first book, ebooks of both my first and second book, then the paperback of the first book, then both paperbacks (high level backers get their reward level plus everything that came before). High level backers get recognition on the dedication page. A backer of an outrageous amount of money ($1,000+) would have the entire book dedicated to them. I plan on having paperbacks for international backers sent from the UK’s Book Depository with free shipping.
I explained to potential backers that, unlike many book projects that are not even started, my cover and book are all done (and I show a screen shot of my laptop with the words “The End” at the end of the manuscript with the word count dialogue box up) and I only need the final editing and formatting done. That being said, any number of unforeseen things could slow the process down or stop it altogether (I could die suddenly from a bear attack. You never know).
That’s the summary of my Kickstarter. You can see the final project here.
Finally, in addition to any feedback or comments from you, I’d like to ask that if nothing else you tell your friends about my project to fuel the viral-ness (is that even a word?) of the “Ripples in the Chalice” Kickstarter.
Also, consider being a backer at even $1, $5, or $10. That may sound like a pointlessly small amount, but even small amounts like that will register as activity on my Kickstarter campaign, and an active campaign is far more appealing to potential backers than an inactive campaign.
Thank you very much,