Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Kickstarting for Broke Writers by Victoria Corva #ChaBooCha

Image by 3D Animation Production Company from Pixabay/altered
I recently ran a small, successful Kickstarter campaign to publish my debut novel, BOOKS & BONE (you can view the Kickstarter here).

For me, the cost of publishing was extremely prohibitive. Editing, proofreading, cover art etc all combined to make a sum too large for my wallet. So I turned to Kickstarter in the hopes that, if my novel was good enough, people would help me publish it.

I don’t feel amazingly qualified to talk about how to run a Kickstarter campaign, but if you’d like the perspective of a first-time author and Kickstarter, then I’m happy to share what I learned.

Image from the Books & Bone Kickstarter
A Campaign and Marketing Budget of Zero 

I decided to Kickstart my novel because I didn’t have the money to publish it on my own -- and by extension, that meant I didn’t have the money for an expensive campaign page or any kind of marketing budget. Everything I did for my campaign page was free -- made of free resources, using only my own time.

For me, this meant:
  • A textual video with voice-over using stock video footage 
  • Borrowed resources - the small clip of video was using a borrowed camera, but if I’d had a half-decent phone camera I’d have used that instead 
  • No cover art for marketing - I couldn’t spend the money on the cover until I knew the book would be published. Instead, I got permission to share some of the images from the artist’s gallery as examples of the art quality.
This also meant that my rewards were not physical. I had no idea whether the campaign would fund or not, or if it did, how many rewards of each tier people would want. It made it hard to price up how much things like paperback copies or bookmarks, etc would ultimately cost, and I made the decision not to include them so that, no matter what, I would be able to afford reward fulfillment.

Focusing My Campaign Efforts

Kickstarter recommends that you share your campaign on social media at least once a day. AT LEAST. To me, someone who tries not to take up too much space, that seemed a horrifying prospect. 

As well as a couple different pitches for my project (instead of saying ‘come check out my kickstarter’ talk about what your book is like!), I found that not all audiences are equal. It seems obvious, but the platforms where you usually get the most engagement are the platforms where you will get the most support and backers.

What this means is that if you post about your breakfast on Facebook and everyone shares and likes it and leaves comments to chat with you about it, that’s probably a good platform for you to share your Kickstarter on. But if when you do the same thing on Instagram, you get crickets, you’re probably not going to get much traction with your Kickstarter.

It’s not about follower count, but about follower quality.

For me, I tried my different platforms and then focused on the one where I had the closest friends and most active support network. For me, that was Mastodon, but for you it could be Facebook or Twitter or really anything.

Choosing My Rewards

Your rewards will be a huge part of the success of your campaign. People are more likely to shell out for more expensive and physical rewards, like paperbacks, hardcovers, and limited edition art. But those rewards will also cost YOU more, and covering their cost will inflate the cost of your campaign, leading to a higher goal you’ll need to reach.

I chose to provide digital-only rewards that wouldn’t cost me anything so that I knew I could afford to fulfill them and so that I could keep my funding target low. But I think it’s very possible that if I’d taken a more risky reward strategy with a higher goal, that I would have funded MORE than I did with the safer strategy. It’s really up to you where you decide to draw the line, but remember to figure in the cost of reward fulfillment into both your overall goal and your reward tiers.

If a hardback of your book will cost you £20 to produce and ship to yourself ready to send out, then it needs to be in a £30 or £40 tier so that you’re actually making the money you need to publish your book.

Doing My Research

Check out other campaigns for books of similar genre and category. Find out how much people are willing to pay and for what rewards. It’s a lot easier to make a campaign that people will want to back when you understand how they are likely to make their decisions.

In my case, in addition to paying close attention to other campaigns, I also did a quick survey on crowdfunding books, which informed my decisions. It’s a bit rough but you can find the results here.

Choosing A Realistic Goal

It’s very important to choose a realistic goal. For me, I don’t have a huge network of friends and my family, while supportive, are not rich so I couldn’t ask them to fund the campaign for me.

Kickstarter is all or nothing. If you don’t hit your chosen goal, you don’t get any money. So I chose a low goal - the bare minimum I needed to publish my novel. Then, when I hit that, I kept pushing for stretch goals.

It’s hard to know how successful your campaign will be, so my advice is to choose a small goal that will be enough and then, if you hit it, keep going!

Not Losing Hope

The beginning of a kickstarter campaign is hugely exciting and those first few days are when you will get the bulk of your backers. It gets really disheartening when, a week in, your backers slow to a trickle, or plateau for days on end.

This is NORMAL for a kickstarter campaign, however, and all the advice shows that the important thing is not to give up! Keep posting, keep running special events (I did video game livestreams and microfiction games) to promote it, keep talking about it every day.

If you keep talking about it, backers will trickle in. If you stop talking about it, you’ll get nothing. So keep going! Even backers at low tiers really add up! This was absolutely my experience. There were days where I thought: ‘Nothing is really happening with this anymore. Surely I have reached everyone I could possibly reach’. 


I thought that at £500. I thought that at £800. And by the end of the campaign I had over £1000. 

Okay! So that’s what I’ve learned from my first Kickstarter campaign. I hope you find it useful. It’s a daunting prospect at first, but it’s a truly incredible experience to have so many people behind you, supporting your book, supporting you in your writing. I really couldn’t have asked for a better start to my career as a published author, and I’m very excited to start the publishing process. 


*****

Victoria Corva writes about creepy things with hope and humour. She’s a professional audiobook narrator, an outspoken cat lover, and a known SFF obsessive. Her debut novel BOOKS & BONE will be published April 2019. You can find out more about her and her work at https://victoriacorva.xyz


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Give-away



Today's prize is a copy if Writing Magic: Creating Stories that Fly by Gail Carson Levine. If you are a signed-up member of the challenge, all you have to do to enter into the drawing for this prize is to comment on this blog post. The winner will be chosen by a random number generator on March 31st and announced on the same day.

17 comments:

  1. Thanks, Victoria, for all the useful information. I never took the time to learn about Kickstarter before, but your adventure into using it has definitely given me food for thought!

    Great post!

    Donna L Martin
    Story Catcher Publishing

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    1. Hi Donna, I'm glad it was helpful! I had a good experience with Kickstarter and would definitely recommend if if crowdfunding if something you're interested in.

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  2. Thank you, Victoria, for sharing your Kickstarter dreams experiences. I am so glad that the process worked for you.

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  3. Hi Judy. Thank you! I definitely couldn't have done it without a lovely and supportive online community.

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  4. So much to learn! Congrats on reaching your goals to publish your book—very exciting!

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    1. Thank you! I'm now at the stage where I'm learning a lot about self-publishing and it's all very scary but also really exciting. :D

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  5. Brilliant idea to turn to Kickstarter! And how cool that you're a audio book narrator. Would love to hear how you got into that line of work :)

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    1. The short version is I borrowed a decent microphone and started auditioning on ACX for paid roles and worked my way up to my own mic and decent pay! You'll need to learn audio editing as well -- you can record and edit in Audacity for free. Worth giving it a go if it's something you'd be interested in -- and my strong advice is to be paid PFH (per finished hour) rather than royalty share, even at the very beginning.

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  6. Wow! This is something I knew next to nothing about. I really appreciate you sharing your experience and thoughts with us!

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    1. I'm glad it was informative! I think it's good for people to be aware of their options, especially if considering self-publishing but it looks too expensive.

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  7. Thanks for sharing your experience, Victoria! Best of luck!

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    1. Thank you! It's going well so far so barring disaster I will have my first book out this year. :D

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  8. Good for you, Victoria! It sounds like you found your path.

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  9. Thank you! I certainly feel that way. I'm excited to see this book through to publishing.

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  10. Great information - thanks, Victoria. Best of luck to you.

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  11. Thanks for the post, always interesting to look at different ways of getting your book out there.

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  12. Thanks for this post, Victoria, and for sharing your Kickstarter experiences. Good luck!

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