My Successful KICKSTARTER Campaign
by Rita Goldner
At a recent meeting of the Phoenix Publishing & Book Marketing Meetup, a few people were interested in my experience with Kickstarter, a crowdfunding company I used to fund printing of the children’s picture book I wrote and illustrated, Orangutan: A Day in the Rainforest Canopy. I’m blogging my own personal journey here, not the framework of Kickstarter, because that can be easily researched at Kickstarter.com.
My publisher suggested Kickstarter to me at an early planning meeting. Dancing Dakini Press, a small but well-established entity, had previously used this method to fund printing of some of their other award-winning books and promised to guide me through their steps. I was reticent, not fully understanding the “how”.
My only exposure to crowdfunding had been a few projects I had seen online via GoFundMe. I later learned the agenda of GoFundMe, as explained on their website, is to help raise money for “medical expenses, education costs, volunteer programs, youth sports, funerals & memorials – even animals and pets.” It’s obviously not appropriate for us in the book business.
The perfect fit for authors is Kickstarter. Their mission statement welcomes entrepreneurs in the fields of art, music, theater, journalism, publishing and technology. Their rules exclude any charity, focusing instead on projects for “creating something and sharing it with the world.” In my opinion, an author must think of the work as bigger than him/herself, and that it will make the world a little better, raising the bar for literary excellence, and/or showcasing an important concept, which in my case was an endangered species. My biggest supporter was my son-in-law, who owns a search engine optimization (SEO) business, and knows a lot more about marketing than I do. He endorsed my plan, saying that it was vital to have my followers sharing the adventure and being part of the success.
My publisher recommended that I build my followers list to a minimum of 1 person for every $10 (800 followers for $8000). For me, the list comprised Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, Pinterest, and a business Facebook page I started, named for the book’s title. On the business page, one can’t “friend” people, so I increased my list by posting the book illustrations on non-profit organizations’ pages about rainforests, orangutan rescue, etc. Then I asked people to “like” my business page to see more illustrations. I also occasionally posted a short question on these pages to elicit a response and then asked the responders to “like” my business page.
One of my questions was “Do you think education or penalties are more effective in stopping wildlife habitat destruction?” I was thrilled to see I got a response from Jane Goodall (my hero) on that one. I started this follower-building two months before the Kickstarter launch. I posted an illustration and/or a comment every other day on the business page, and shared it with all the other social media. I also bought two ads, at $5/day, which ran for six days each, but I have no way of knowing if the followers were coming from the ads or the posts. Once I launched the campaign, I emailed almost everyone I knew, and posted frequent updates on social media.
The “perks” offered to backers have to be something personal, from the person hosting the Kickstarter campaign. The obvious prize is an autographed book, but I also used notecards and color print enlargements, too. Some authors give lessons for prizes, on plot or character development, pacing, climax, conflict resolution, or any tricks of the trade they’ve learned along the way.
It was an exciting (although sometimes bumpy) ride, and I have not only the money to show for it, but a group of interested followers who share my passion. While the campaign is now closed, you can still visit my Kickstater page to see the video and perks we offered.
Rita Goldner is the author of the children’s eBooks Jackson’s History Adventure and Jackson’s Aviation Adventure, both titles in Jackson’s Adventure Series. Rita’s forthcoming book, Orangutan: A Day in the Rainforest Canopy, will be released in print in May 2015. To view additional illustrations and other books in progress, visit Rita’s website. Contact Rita here. Follow Rita on Facebook.