Updated: Jun 7, 2020
This is not going to be your average ‘I ran a successful Kickstarter campaign– here’s how you should do yours’ kinda blog. This is me writing to try to motivate those of you who are struggling for guidance when it comes to mustering up the funds to bring your creative baby to life. Whether you have finished writing a book and are thinking of taking the leap of faith with a crowdfunding campaign, or maybe you are in the middle of writing your book and wondering how on earth you can cover all the costs a self-published author has to burden, this will endeavour to enlighten you!
Who you should reach out to
Family & friends
Firstly, you should reach out to your family, your friends and maybe some work colleagues or teammates. Get in touch with those that have invested in your personality, your work ethic, and what you stand for. The people who you would support in a similar way are usually willing to give you a helping hand, if not financially, then usually they will offer to share your content and spread the word. The research I carried out prior to launching my Kickstarter suggested that the first 24 hours can be make-or-break more-often-than-not. Projects which are 20% funded within the first day go from a 70% chance of failure to just a 10% chance of failure (don’t quote me on that but it’s something similar).
In the 4-6 weeks, if not longer, leading up to your Kickstarter campaign you should be active on Facebook, Instagram, and any other social media platforms you have a presence on. When I say you should be ‘active’, I’m, not implying that you should spam your content in groups meaninglessly… Sure, if you are reaching certain milestones that you are proud of, share away, people want to see others succeed as that can motivate them when they can see where their hard work can potentially take them, but don’t just post links to your website without offering something back. You need to create engaging content, ask questions, answer questions, offer advice, and challenge people, this is what happens in a community so to be part of one you must partake in these practices. You need to create relationships with strangers, by supporting them you encourage them to support you! If you’re looking for people to support your vision, you should be looking to support others with their Kickstarters! If you have seen a great project that has finished on Kickstarter, whether it was successfully funded or not, reach out to the creator, ask them if they have any advice, and see if you can support them in any way.
Creating your Kickstarter campaign
Admittedly I didn’t do in-depth research into other crowdfunding platforms but when I looked at Kickstarter's tiered reward model I thought it would be ideal for me. What better way to raise funds than by getting your message across through written content and media whilst getting your product into people’s homes.
What are your goals?
You need to go into your Kickstarter campaign confident in what it is you would like to achieve. You cannot ask for a certain amount of money without justification. Too little and you won’t be taken seriously and too much, and people may see it as unattainable. Be ambitious, yes, but make sure it is in line with what you want your next step to be. Personally, my next step is making a bulk print to keep my costs low, this in turn enables me to market my book at a competitive price which should give it a greater chance of selling.
If you want to have a successful campaign it is vital you know what success looks like. It is not immoral to check out successful children’s book Kickstarters and pick out what it is about their page which captured their backers’ imaginations. If you can learn from previous campaigns’ mistakes and draw inspiration from their success you will already have the foundations for a good-looking Kickstarter before you even begin writing your content.
I took a look at 5 campaigns in particular:
Whether you like the way the campaign is laid out or you just like the variation in rewards I think it is essential to look at your peers who have taken the time, effort and most importantly the risk and to learn from them.
Getting people to your page
It’s Cool To Be Me is my first children’s book, hopefully of many, and it has a strong message endorsed by the title. The morals of the story are important but not the be-all and end-all, I do think that having a relatable message which will connect emotionally with your audience, in this case, parents, gives you a big advantage over books which don’t. For example, my book teaches children to embrace their differences and to love themselves and this is a message every parent can relate to as they will all want their child to grow up feeling comfortable in their own skin.
So, you have a relatable, heart-warming message, fantastic; that’s not enough. If I wrote down ‘It’s Cool To Be Me’ on 26 blank pages of 150gsm satin paper, ten in one hundred people would pick it up… and walk to a trash can. Vibrant, creative, humorous, adorable illustrations are the key to catching someone’s attention. You need someone to take a moment out of their day to read all about why they should invest in you and why your children’s book is better than the 8,800 other books hoping for their support, so give them a reason to stop. Entice them. Intrigue them. Stimulate their inner child and make your project irresistible on the eye.
I think my title, message, and bright illustrations have helped my book and ultimately my Kickstarter project to gain momentum and recognition which propelled it to be the 3rd most popular children’s book in the world just 3 days after I launched the campaign on the site. It may seem like that is me bragging but I don’t have the right to brag when I’m still 50% away from my goal, I am simply suggesting that these 2 components of the Kickstarter are key, especially when you are relying on the generosity of strangers to support you and your dream.
Share your success
When you hit certain landmarks, you want to be able to share this with your community. If people can see others investing in you, it may give them the confidence to put their faith in you and your project! When you share updates make sure you let your existing backers know how grateful you are and remind them that it is an all-or-nothing campaign, if you don’t hit your goal they will not get their reward so hopefully they will help to share your project further! Do bear in mind that they have already done more than enough by just checking out your page so use your writing skills to come across in a friendly manner!
Keeping people on your page
The first thing people see when they land on your Kickstarter page is either a picture or video which should give them a good idea of what is in your book. I don’t know what the statistics are for successful children’s book campaigns with a video VS with a picture but from the feedback I have had on my video I have a strong inclination that a well-made video better represents who you are and what you are trying to achieve. You must keep in mind that you are going to be relying heavily on the compassion of strangers to help fund your project so you need to connect with them on an emotional level as best you can. The majority of backers will probably have the intention to read your book to those they care about more than anyone in the world so you must prove why your book is worth their investment.
Pictures speak louder than words
Kickstarter is different to an online shop or a bookstore, people do want to hear about your journey and will likely be more interested in the backstory of your creation because they will have that information readily available on your Kickstarter page. Having said this, people want to know what they are pledging for, in this case, it is a picture book so what do you think they are looking for on your Kickstarter page? They want to see drafts of illustrations, concept art, etc. which portrays the journey you have been on as well as a preview of some finished pages!
Creating rewarding rewards
You are more likely to entice backers when your product is at a price exclusive to Kickstarter. Obviously, you need to make a profit so make sure you factor in the cost of production, delivery, and Kickstarter fees (5% + 3- 5% payment processing fee). I am charging over 20% less than what my book will retail for and signing every copy, I have also collaborated with an artist to make beautifully handcrafted bookmarks in the style of my book! You can get creative with your rewards, create printable worksheets, a4 prints of pages or even personalised copies of the book but do not offer too many, you want to make people’s lives as easy as possible!
I will write another article or 2 as I get further into the Kickstarter and will cover other topics such as contacting media, getting on podcasts, and stretch goals!
I am only on the 5th day of my first-ever Kickstarter campaign for my first-ever children’s book. I am not an expert, but I do know that these techniques have helped position my book as the most popular in the UK and 3rd most popular in the world on Kickstarter. I turn 22 years old tomorrow so I certainly don’t have the wisdom other authors might but I w ould like to think I am up there with the most determined, innovative, and brave children’s book writers going down the self-publishing route! If you managed to get all the way through the article, please check out my Kickstarter campaign and leave your feedback of the Kickstarter and this article on Facebook! I really hope you found it useful.