There are so many ways to promote and publish and today we'll be studying just one of them. We'll be analysing doing a Kickstarter campaign. James Woods has been kind enough to offer his insight on this promotion as he understands this concept much more than I do. So let's start with the basic questions...
What is Kickstarter and why should you use it?
In the simplest sense, Kickstarter is crowd-based patronage of creativity. Instead of one wealthy person (or company) paying a creator, a group of people can shoulder the load.
Kickstarter allows you to solicit money for your next creative project. You have to be the one creating it, and it has to be a project with a completion and you need to reward your backers. So this isn’t a way to fund your small business or raise money for a charity, but it’s a great tool for raising support for a book.
You could, if you wanted to, just publish your book through a self-publishing service. I published a book through CreateSpace last year and it works well. I’m a fan.
So why should someone use it instead of just self-publishing?
Kickstarter gives you a few advantages over straight self-publishing.You get paid to write. Sort of like an advance from a publisher, you’re essentially pre-selling your book. But it gives you the chance to focus on your writing instead of just writing when you have the extra time.
You can afford professional help. One of the biggest critiques I’ve heard about self-published books is that the quality is so variable. When you raise money through Kickstarter, you can pay a professional publisher and a professional cover design artist. In self-publishing, quality is immensely important.
You know you have an audience before you publish your book. Kickstarter gives you a chance to vet your idea in public (it’s scary, but good). So if your idea is not connecting with people, you have a chance to fix it before the book goes to press.
You don’t have to self-publish, if you don’t want to. You can use Kickstarter to get your book polished and pretty, then you can submit it to agents and editors. But your advantage over every other author pitching will be that you have an established audience that wants your book. That makes for a much more compelling and interesting pitch than just another unknown author trying to break in to the market.
How do you get your project funded on Kickstarter?
I wish I could give you the perfect recipe for funding your next project through Kickstarter. But, just like any creative endeavor, there’s no formula that guarantees success. There’s no way I can give you the exact steps to writing a successful book either.
But, I can tell you the odds and help you to stack them in your favor. There are copious statistics available for Kickstarter, both through the site and through other researchers. When you compile it all together a picture starts to emerge letting you know what your project needs to look like if you want to have a good chance of success.
Where should someone start?
See what’s out there. Spend time looking through the publishing projects on Kickstarter. Look at the ones that have been successful and the ones that failed. Watch the videos, look at the rewards they offer, even back a couple of them just to see what the process is like.
Browse through the top sellers in your genre on websites like Amazon, Barnes and Nobel and Powell’s. See what the cover design is like, what the book pitches highlight and which topics are most popular. I’m not saying you should just do what’s popular, but you should at least know what’s popular.
Just like pitching a book to a publisher or agent, you need to know why someone would want to buy your book, right?
Correct. You need to sell yourself on the project first. Sit down and figure out why this book needs to exist. Publishers will ask three questions: Why you? Why this? Why now?
Answer them for you project. Why are you the author that needs to write this book? Why does this book need to be written at all? Why is this the moment in time for this book to exist? The answers to these questions will provide the content for your Kickstarter project.
What else is important in preparing your project?
Shoot a video.According to Kickstarter, only about 30% of projects without videos end up being successful, but about 50% of those with videos are successful.A video isn’t a magic pill, but it sure helps. Mostly it gives visual people a chance to connect with your project and it shows that you’re willing to do the work to get the word out about your baby.
The video doesn’t have to be flashy, it just has to be clear and passionate. You’ve already sold yourself on the project, now sell the world. Look into the camera and tell them why your book needs to exist. Share the story, show off your cover art, get excited.
I did my video with the free software on my computer and my digital camera. Even with that, it still took me two tries and about 20 hours of work to get the video right (and I did a simple video).
If you want more specifics on his campaign, here's how to do it.