Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I'm Surprised at Who Doesn't Use Kickstarter

Tell me this. If you self-publish a book, and aren't wealthy enough to write the check without blinking, why wouldn't you consider Kickstarter?

I started doing Kickstarter Mondays then stopped. There weren't that many writing projects posted that weren't funded--or many people commenting on these projects as I posted them. I just didn't understand the lack of interest. When someone approaches me about needing money to self-publish, I immediately send them to two places...their state arts commission and Kickstarter. I'd bet serious money that most never speak to either one.

Let's say you have this great children's book, or fantasy, or romance, or even a how-to book. Define it in a paragraph - a short paragraph. Pump that paragraph full of passion and fine tune it so it's crystal clear. This is what you want to do and why. It's cool. It's beautiful. It's your dream. Write as if you are convincing a panel of grant judges.

Oh, wait. Remember the show Shark Tank? Entrepreneurs had to present their business proposition and answer questions from highly successful, millionaire venture capitalists? You may not have to stand in front of a television camera, but your Kickstarter page is your window to people with checkbooks.

1. Spend time on the narrative. A given. See above if you missed what I just said.

2. Come up with decent giveaway ideas. On the right of a Kickstarter project page, you see what a donation will get you, assuming the project is fully funded. An autographed copy of the book? Pins, bookmarks, signature toys? A Skype interview with a group? Gift cards? A box of books? A speaking engagement? Go to the writing/publishing section of Kickstarter and see what others give away.

3. Record an excellent video. The video is the attention-getter here. Even if it's no more than you talking to the potential supporters, it gives them a friendship with you. See this project page for the YA fantasy RiverLilly, where the author did just that. He was fully funded. The visitors know who's behind this concept. Humor works great.

4. Maintain the updates. Kickstarter allows you to have a mini-blog of sorts to keep readers updated as to the project's progress. Infuse excitement into your frequent posts. They paid to be part of your journey, so let them tag along.

5. Inform your following. Blog, Tweet, Facebook people to include the link to Kickstarter. Treat your fundraising effort as you would a new release. It's exciting and important for the following to gain momentum. Promote the giveaways. Promote Kickstarter. Be the person who's innovative and eventually accomplished when your project reaches 100 percent. Treat this outreach effort no differently than if you were selling the book itself. It's that important. Also, the word that spreads from Kickstarter becomes the same platform from which to sell the book. It's just that ... a kickstart for sales.

Bottom line, you go on a promotional campaign, marketing yourself daily to increase your odds of being fully funded. Sounds like a lot of work? Why should it? It's the same concept, the same work, the same motivation that you'll tap to make that finished and published book a bestseller. Why not jump start with Kickstarter?

Talk to me. . . what scares you about Kickstarter? Or can you possibly make this work?


amalia said...

I've have given kickstarter serious thought for various projects, but each time I start to worry about 2 things:

Will my idea be stolen by someone who can work faster than me or has more connections?

Will a book funded this way loose respect and been seen as amateur work from someone who can't get published?

If I can get over these things then I will most certainly go for it.

Donna Campbell Smith said...

I just recently learned about Kickstarter and am looking at it hard for a photo project. Also, I wonder if you've heard/read about Pubslush.com which works on a similar concept for book publishing only. Basically they pre-sell the book based on your synopsis and first 10 or so pages. When you reach the target no. of sales they publish the book. It seems new and I am waiting to see how it progresses.

Hope Clark said...


First, your concern sounds like more of a self-pubbing versus traditional one.

Second, who is going to know how you funded a self-pubbed book? And it's a very founded form of raising funds, if you've ever looked at fundraising.

Third, if you are going to write, you have to get past the idea that someone will steal your idea. Like I told someone in an email recently, seasoned writers don't want your stuff...newbie writers don't know what to do with it. Sooner or later you have to put your work out there. Trust me, in 12 years, I only recall two cases of theft - one by a scammy, disreputable agent and the other by a scammy, disreputable playwright. Do your homework on who you do business with, and you ought to be safe.

Hope Clark said...

Never heard of PubSlush, and they look brand-spanking new. I can see that slush pile getting extremely high in that structure, where you struggle finding good work amongst the weak. I'm like you, I'll wait and see how it weathers public scrutiny. Kickstarter, however, has proven itself.

amalia said...

I see what you're saying about getting over the stolen idea thing. I will most certianly try to.

I figured that if I was using Kickstarter to promote myself and that my first readers would probably be the people who funded the project, then alot of people would know I came from Kickstarter.

I forgot to mention that one of the projects was a children's graphic novel, and I know that some professionals in this genre do not respect KS because they believe it to be a form of begging.

I think I might just take the chance on Kickstarter anyway, and thank you for getting me to think about it again. :)

Hope Clark said...

Begging? But I bet they put debt on their credit cards or would accept a grant. Sorry, but that's no different. If you don't have the money in the bank, you are asking for help, and there's nothing wrong with that at all. These people who donate, are feeling like grant providers, like angel investors. And that's a very good thing. If people really liked your work, the fact you were able to be successful on Kickstarter is the first confirmation that your project is worth something!!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post, I had never heard of kickstarter. This is why I read blogs - there are so many things I don't know about! I perused the site, and it looks like a very innovative and professional way to raise funds. I even saw a film project I'd be interested in contributing to. ;-)

Hope Clark said...

I've donated to projects on Kickstarter. It's fun enabling someone.

Julie Hedlund said...

I am definitely intrigued by Kickstarter and would absolutely try it if the right project comes along (which it might. soon)

Seems like it's worth a try. The worst thing that can happen is you don't get funded and you're back where you started. No harm done.

Hope Clark said...

Yes, it's a grand opportunity. It just takes a bit of planning on the author's part, but hey, isn't the author supposed to be doing that anyway?