Adam’s Kickstarter Experience: Final Analysis

This is the final analysis of my Kickstarter experience.

Though I learned a lot and and I can say I dared to venture where few do, it still did not go great. With only $902 from 25 backers, I only reached 13% of funding.

Much feedback I received pointed out that maybe I was asking for too much money. I’m not entirely in agreement with that, because the amount I was asking for was actually less than the successful campaigns I modeled mine after. What that tells me, and some folks have supported my reasoning, is that for publishing-related Kickstarter projects to be successful you need to already have a fairly large fan base. Though I have loyal readers who leave great 5 star reviews, I don’t have a huge number of them. I had hoped that after my personal support group who were able to contribute (and just about everyone I expected did), the well spring of supporters reached through viral marketing would kick in. It did not. Outreach through social media, or any media for that matter, is a very contentious topic on what works and what doesn’t. In my past few posts I outlined what I did and the adjustments I made based on feedback. You can take from it what you will (however, the way things are these days, my information may very well be outdated and “quaint” before long).

The only thing I can think of which I didn’t do a lot was direct email people on a frequent basis (weekly was what most people suggested). Others who had done Kickstarters told me that even after their campaigns were over they still had plenty of friends and family who hadn’t heard of their project. I’m finding that to be true too, despite having felt like I’d spammed it to death beyond good taste. A bit of advice I got from a guy in a NaNoWriMo group was that I needed to be absolutely obnoxious about getting the word out. He must have been right. Another thing I didn’t do that maybe I should have was to try the $5 “boost” on Facebook that allegedly gets your message in front of 100% of your followers. For $5 it just might have been worth it at least once.

Some interesting stats from my experience:

The average contribution was $36.08.
32% of backers were complete strangers (as far away as Sweden, Ukraine, and Brazil) and they were most likely to be the ones to leave personal messages.
32% of backers were from my primary writing community NIWA (though you could argue that they should be categorized under my “friends”, but I wanted to distinguish how important it is to have a writing community when you’re a writer).
36% of backers were friends and family.

Kickstarter has already encouraged me to re-submit and others have suggested I try another crowdfunding site like IndieGoGo who let’s you keep the money you do raise, but right now I’m feeling beat up, exhausted, and need to apply my energy towards other more pressing matters in my life. I will finish my book, however daunting it maybe, but it will get done.

My last duty was to send personalized emails to all the backers, then send a general update thanking everyone. You can bet when my book is done, I’ll be contacting those people to let them know.

Regards,

Adam Copeland.

Adam’s Kickstarter Experience: Week 3 Update

This is the third update from my #Kickstarter fund raising experience for my novel #RipplesintheChalice. You can see the project (and donate if you like) at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1953310134/ripples-in-the-chalice

Not much to report this time around. There were even fewer backers this week, but more friends and family shared the information. I gave another Toastmasters speech to an audience of 27 people (probably one of my best speeches ever). I received a lot of positive feedback, but no backers. I’ve accomplished $842 for 12% of funding with 23 backers. Having 23 backers is a fairly large number of people for only 12%, which tells me I have a lot of well-wishers, but they don’t have a lot of money. I’m rich in friends, so I have that going for me. :)

What to do now? I’m at my wits end. I’ve done most everything that I could think of, as well as what others suggested. All there is left to do is see how it all shakes out at the end of next week when the campaign comes to a close. Then I will evaluate and speculate on how things ended and others can take from it what they will.

Adam.

Adam’s Kickstarter Experience: Week 2 Update

This is the second update from my #Kickstarter fund raising experience for my novel #RipplesintheChalice. You can see the project (and donate if you like) at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1953310134/ripples-in-the-chalice

There were fewer backers this week, but those who did tended to donate larger sums. I found a cool feature in my project page that I hadn’t noticed earlier: The Dashboard. It makes it easier to see your progress with statistics and charts.

Summary:

* After two weeks I have 21 backers donating $773 for 11% of funding, averaging $36.21 per backer.

* I’ve found that the breakdown of backers and funding as reported on the front public page does not correspond to the dashboard data. Not sure why this is. The overall funding amount is correct on the public page, but there are discrepancies in the individual reward tiers. For example, I noticed the public page only showed 1 x $50.00, when I knew for certain there are several more. Same with the $100 tier. The dashboard is accurate though.

* According to the dashboard, a surprising number of backers came directly from Kickstarter, having found my project by browsing their site.

* The video has been played 152 times (though if I’m reading the data correctly, only 26.32% of viewers have watched it to completion). Most video plays (131) were played directly on Kickstarter and not some other location (Facebook, YouTube, Google+, website, etc).

* The majority of funds (41%) were donated by people who requested NOT to receive a reward.

* I implemented several of the changes suggested by those giving feedback. For example, my posts on Facebook and Twitter now include hashtags. Also, in my last project update to backers, I’ve asked for a “call to action”¬† to share the project on their social medias.

* My project has been shared another 5 times by supporters that I know of.

* I’ve learned if you post directly to Twitter from Kickstarter the video will post with it. If you just include a link in your Tweet it won’t show the video.

Some things I forgot to mention in earlier posts:

* Not hours after my project went live I already had people contacting me for Kickstarter related services. One guy offered to provide three $5 backers for a fee (how much, I don’t know because I didn’t look into it). Another person contacted me to offer their promotion services for spreading the word of my project. Again for a fee, but again I did not look too much into it.

* Kickstarter tells you that you’re chances of success are greater if you yourself have a history of backing projects (which shows in your profile). That makes sense, plus my research showed that to be the case. Many of the failed projects were by people who hadn’t backed others and didn’t put a lot effort into connecting with the larger artist community.

What’s up next? I just gave a Toastmaster’s speech to a captive audience of 15 people about my book and Kickstarter. People looked at the video afterwards, but no backers and no shares that I’m aware of. I’ll be giving the speech again to a bigger audience, 50+, tomorrow so we’ll see how that goes.

For now, it’s time to share my update and hope somebody somewhere is finding all this useful, otherwise it’s a lot of hot air going into the ether. :)

Regards,

Adam.

Adam’s Kickstarter Experience: Week 1 Update

This is the first update from my #Kickstarter fund raising experience for my novel #RipplesintheChalice. You can see the project (and donate if you like) at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1953310134/ripples-in-the-chalice

Week one has gone by in a flash, leaving me both hopeful and nervous. I’m not on a great pace to be funded, but on the up side more funds are coming in quicker.

To summarize:

I held off announcing my Kickstarter publicly for one day just to see how many, if any, strangers would back the project. One stranger backed it at $1.00.

* After that, I reached out to my community through my personal Facebook page, the Facebook page for my first novel, all the writer groups I belong to on Facebook, Twitter, a blog post on my website (which was the link I gave to the writers groups), direct emails to people I know who don’t use social media much, direct emails to friends on Goodreads, Google+, YouTube, direct emails to bloggers and reviewers whom I’ve worked with through my website, I shared the link with my artists and editor, and my personal major writers community, NIWA. I feel like I’m missing something, but I’ve done at least that much I’m certain.

* One week later I have 15 backers donating $411 (putting me at 6% of funding). The average donation is close to $30. A breakdown of donations goes as such: 3 x $1.00, 1 x $5.00, 3 x $10.00, 2 x $20.00, 2 x $30.00, 1 x $50.00, and 1 x 120.00. I could have sworn there was one other $50.00 backer but am not seeing now.

* So far there seems to be an even mix of close friends, family, acquaintances, and complete strangers contributing. The complete strangers, understandably, have been the lower tier backers. I’m surprised at those close to me who had seemed totally gung-ho to support me have been silent so far. Some have said that they are waiting for their next payday, which makes me wonder if Kickstarter is similar to a Goodreads Book Giveaway where the majority of supporters show up towards the end of the period. I’ve gotten a nice comment from a stranger couple who are supporting me.

* At least ten people have shared my information through various social medias (re-tweets, shares on FB), half of them have had their people re-share. Two of them have blogs of their own with a wider reach.

* Someone on one of my writer groups on FB caused a minor stir when she pointed out that she felt that the amount of money I’m paying for editing seemed way too much. A healthy debate ensued among group members on exactly how much money someone should pay for editing.

The marketing aspect of promoting my Kickstarter has been a learning experience and I’ve received lots of feedback. Which includes:

* I should provide a tangible award for $10 backers. It’s not possible to edit existing award tiers once a project goes live, but you can create a duplicate $10 award tier, but this time with a new award. I decided to do this and offer up another ebook, a novella related to my first book. I pointed this out in my first update to the backers-to-date. KS doesn’t make you write updates to your backers, but it’s just plain common sense that you should communicate with those who gave you money.

* It’s true what they say about posting on Facebook: only a fraction of your community see the post at any give time. Even though I’ve been posting it almost daily (which irks me because it makes feel like a dirty, dirty spammer) not that many people see it or like/comment (however I find it suspicious when I post a cute cat meme about the same time I get plenty of likes/comments. Hmm…). I’ve learned to target certain audiences with a drop down menu item when posting. I can target just people I went to high school with, college, or my hometown. I seem to get better results when I do that.

* I’ve learned that just because people are watching the video and get excited about it, they often don’t understand how to follow up and go to Kickstarter dot com and make a pledge. I have to work on better communicating this in my posts. The video at the end has arrows pointing down and with me saying, “see below for more details,” which works great on KS because the arrows point to the text of the project page. On other sites where the video plays, it is just confusing. Arrows. Bad idea. Probably.

* Other ideas I’ve heard I probably should implement include adding hashtag keywords to my posts and including a a link to my Kickstarter project in my email signature line and in my Facebook page cover image.

* I wish I could afford to print business cards with all the pertinent info on it so I could give to people to walk away with, leaving them with a tangible reminder to back me.

A new opportunity to promote just came up. I’m a Toastmaster (public speaking club) and they have asked me to give a speech at an upcoming meeting on any topic I like. So, you guessed it, I’m going to talk about my book and the Kickstarter campaign promoting it to a captive audience of 50 or so.

My next blog post will be in another week. Thank you for tuning in.

Adam.

Indie Writers: Benefit from my Kickstarter Experience

Adam’s Kickstarter

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:

The Video:
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.

The Body/Text:

Introduction/Backstory:
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.”

The Budget:
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).

The Plan:
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.”

The Rewards:
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.

The Risks:
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,

Adam Copeland.

 

Ripples in the Chalice Final Cover is Here!

Here it is. The final image for the cover of “Ripples in the Chalice,” complete in all its mysterious glory.

If me and artist David Greene did our jobs right, new readers will be enticed by the imagery and will want to satisfy their curiosity as to what the story is all about. Previous readers of “Echoes of Avalon” will recognize many elements, but they should be shocked at their condition and what it possibly could mean: The spilled wine (or is that blood?) and the distressed shield with the Avangarde emblem indicates trouble has happened. The reflection in the pool states that there is more to the story than meets the eye.

There is only one way to find out. You’ll have to read the story.

Cheers!

Colored Cover Draft gets Closer

The latest from David Greene (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hyliantights-Art/580407152008490 ). Yep. Almost there. A few more tweaks (cup moved to one side slightly, the spear looking more “spear-ish,” ) and we’ll be ready. Can’t wait for the digital rendition.

 

“Ripples” gets a final Candidate for Cover Art

Here is a final rough draft from artist David Greene (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hyliantights-Art/580407152008490 ). The final steps will include a colored version of the rough here, then onto the actual work for the cover:

 

Narrowing Down Concepts for the Cover of Ripples in the Chalice

Almost there. Identifying the necessary elements, just need to figure out which combination makes the most sense and conveys the most meaning…

Rough Color Images for Cover of “Ripples in the Chalice”

And now in color. Which one do you like best?

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