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Kickstarter Complete: 5 Lessons Learned

This week I sent off the last of it–my limited edition novels funded by my KICKSTARTER backers. Those who paid $25 or more received signed copies. Now that I have some space from the project as a whole, I thought I’d share some tips for those launching KICKSTARTER book projects of their own.

1. Do lots of research first. I mean this both in the empirical way and the soul searching way. I looked at many (MANY) kickstarter projects for books. I saw what others were charging and what rewards people were getting. I focused on successful projects or projects that were almost over and had most of their funding. I also thought a lot about what creative concessions I was willing to make. For example, I offered to change a character’s name for $1,000. You may not want to do that. Some other campaigns (mostly ones for fantasy chap books) offered to let backers decide plot points. That was NOT something I wanted to do. I make all plot decisions.

2. If you can complete your project with less money, raise less money. You can always do an extension. I raised 5,000 for my campaign. Other book campaigns were about that much. Friends who had successful projects said that was a good number and I could raise it. But let me tell you, that last week getting from $4,000 to $5,000 was STRESSFUL. By the last week, I was second-guessing the goal. And you can’t change the goal or the time frame once you set it. And as KICKSTARTER reminds you every step of the way, if you don’t receive full funding, you don’t get anything. Take that to heart. (Sidenote: I’m sure you can tell from the above paragraph that I’m not a business major/math-minded person. I know. I’ve been aware of this for awhile. Maybe I should’ve engaged one of my friends who doesn’t suck at math to help. Might have saved some money on TUMS that last week too.)

3. Utilize the talented people in your life. It takes a village. I mean, that’s basically the guiding concept behind KICKSTARTER, right? I got so many compliments on my kickstarter video. And it wouldn’t have been half as entertaining if I didn’t have a talented husband to film and edit it. My video was a short bit about why I need the money then outtakes of me screwing up. In short, C.K. made me look much more charming than I actually am. One thing I wish I did: get someone do create concept art. Like a picture of the main character. If I could do it all again, I would’ve called in some favors on that front. Maybe even make postcards printed with the art. That way  I could’ve given something tangible to the people who backed me for less than $25. There are lots of folks out there who don’t want another paperback, especially those who have transitioned fully to eReaders. But those people still want to support you and everyone likes getting postcards. (Right?)

Shipment from Publisher’s Graphics

4. Do the campaign in a month. No one wants to think about your kickstarter campaign for more than that. Start revving up interest prior to when the campaign starts (blog posts, facebook updates, tweets), but the actual “I need your money to make my dreams happen” shouldn’t be in people’s feeds for more than a month.

5. Order extras. I’m using the extras for giveaways on goodreads.com and my facebook page. I also had ten requests for full manuscripts from lit agents. No one offered representation because they didn’t think that North Shore South Shore had a traditional niche market. My novel is about emerging adults–a relatively new literary market that appeals to readers between YA and Adult fiction. Agents just couldn’t picture it. I’ll be sending some of these agents copies to help them do just that and prove that the novel is indeed sellable.

Special thanks to…all of my kickstarter backers, C.K. Sample, Glen Edelstein (cover design), Publishers’ Graphics, all my friends who tweeted or shared on facebook, and the good people at KICKSTARTER for accepting my project.

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