3 Benefits of Joining a Masterclass

I have found that the best workshops for my learning style are like mini-boot camps. They are goal-oriented and time-sensitive with students who are enthusiastic and ready to achieve their goals. 

I want to be surrounded by people who, like me, are hitting the pavement, ready to go.

What is a masterclass?

A masterclass or mastermind group is a peer-to-peer mentoring concept used to help members solve their problems with input and advice from the other group members.

In addition to you achieving your goals (e.g., fully funding your book), participating in a masterclass has at least three tangible benefits.

1) Accountability

When you know you’re meeting every week and will have to speak up and discuss your project, you end up getting more done than when you operate in a vacuum.

I’ve met so many authors who have said that they have completed manuscripts that are collecting dust for years. YEARS! Life gets hectic and in the way of accomplishing our goals.

All of a sudden, what we once thought was a priority gets replaced by the urgency of the NOW and we end up dropping our work. It happens all of the time.

By joining a masterclass, your peers are committing to holding you accountable, and likewise, you are serving as their accountability partner. Simply by asking someone, “What are you struggling with this week?” forces a type of self-reflection that may be missing in the lone writer’s world.

2) Expert guidance

As lovely as peer-to-peer groups are, and I’m part of many of them, it’s extremely helpful to have an experienced person guiding the group. Masterclasses are generally organized by someone with experience who is not only skilled at managing people but at helping them reach their goals within a certain time period.

When I hired my marketing coach, I desperately needed direction. I needed someone to ask me questions that I didn’t know were important and hand me an extensive to-do list that would advance my career to the next level. I didn’t know what I didn’t know and I needed help. Big time.

Without an expert guiding the way, peer-to-peer mentoring groups remain largely self-serving. Yes, you will probably reach your goals, but it won’t have the time-sensitive boot camp nature that masterclasses or masterminds often have.

Really great masterclasses contain exercises and action items to help the participants cruise through the material, apply it, and advance more quickly than working solo.

3) Personalized tutoring/mentorship

Readers of blogs and listeners of podcasts are subject to the limits of the creator’s pace. A masterclass incorporates established material (courses, blogs, podcasts, etc.,) with tutoring to allow participants to advance at their pace, ask questions, and receive individualized support.

The opportunity to ask questions, gain clarification, and obtain peer and mentor support is a unique feature of the masterclass design that is lacking in other online course forums.

Helping more authors successfully crowdfund their books 

After beta testing my Crowdfunding for Authors course, I noticed that the group interaction was where a lot of the magic happened.

However, the course is self-paced, and some students didn’t launch their campaigns at the same time. That’s totally fine but I saw a missed opportunity.

By grouping together crowdfunding authors who are all launching at the same time, we can create a network where we share resources, leverage marketing opportunities, and get real-time support before and during their campaigns.

The mentoring support happens in the crucial pre-launch phase and the peer-to-peer support happens during the campaign phase.

Crowdfunding is all about community and so often, writers find themselves trying to build a community from scratch. It’s much much much easier to build momentum, rally positive energy, and battle the self-doubt when there is a network of like-minded people doing the same thing at the same time. (the whole, A rising tide lifts all ships, concept).

Interested in joining a master class?

If you want to join a group of authors who are all laser focused on crowdfunding their book between now and April/May 2024, then check out my Author Launch Accelerator Program.

Quality Printing and Fulfillment for Authors: The Porchlight Book Company

books with a yellow background

In the realm of self-publishing, authors often find themselves defaulting their publishing options to print-on-demand like Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and Ingram Spark, because breaking into the publishing supply chains is dominated by traditional publishers.

Not only that, but most companies who work with traditional printers have zero interest in working with indie authors. That is, until now. 

In the past year, we have seen an incredible shrinking of the traditional publishing world. That means, fewer traditional publishing offers, smaller advances, and smaller print runs. None of which is great news for authors.

Many authors don’t really know the process for printing and distribution once their books are published, which is why the Porchlight Book Company would like to help.

Empowering Authors Beyond Kickstarter

Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms are invaluable tools for creators, but they lack infrastructure to support authors specifically. The Porchlight Book Company has worked with traditionally published authors to fulfill pre-orders as well as deliver book swag bags to large conferences. They understand the complex world of distribution, and have been doing it for decades.

Dan Brouchoud wants to help more independent authors level up from the low-quality options offered by print-on-demand and assist authors with the printing and fulfillment.

However, there is one limitation; authors must have a minimum of 250 book orders. Beyond the 250 book threshold lies significantly more affordable printing and fulfillment costs. Beyond that, they are ready to collaborate with any author, ensuring the worldwide fulfillment of Kickstarter rewards or pre-orders.

This means they can report all sales to The New York Times and NPD BookScan, offering authors the recognition they deserve and sales evidence for future manuscripts.

Moreover, they offer the invaluable service of helping authors obtain quotes from printers or utilize their established relationships within the printing industry. 

So, if you’re looking to move away from the print-on-demand model, this option might be a more reliable and quality-focused solution for you.

Bestseller Reporting

In addition to their distribution services, Porchlight Book Company offers a unique advantage. They provide bestseller reporting, a service that authors haven’t yet been able to utilize in connection with crowdfunding. 

Previously, all of those books pledged during a Kickstarter campaign would count as one order, but Porchlight can show the proof that the books were indeed ordered and shipped to individuals worldwide and contribute Kickstarter pre-orders into the bestseller status. This means they can report all sales to New York, offering authors the recognition they deserve.

While smaller authors may not hit the bestseller list with just a few hundred sales, bestseller reporting should no longer serve as a barrier for traditional authors to pursue crowdfunding.

A Scalable Solution for Every Author

If you’re an author looking to take your self-publishing journey to the next level, Porchlight Book Company is here to help. You can contact Dan at dan@porchlightbooks.com for printing and distribution services tailored to your book project.

For more information visit their website: https://www.porchlightbooks.com/

Frances Mackay shares 8 major tips for launching your book on Kickstarter

Frances Mackay

Frances Mackay’s publishing career started during her 20 years as an educator. She’s published over 90 books for Scholastic, Oxford University Press, Folens, and more. 

Her latest picture book, Baby Worries, is live on Kickstarter (and a Project We Love), and she’s here to share her lessons learned from the pre-launch and launch process for authors looking to crowdfund their books on Kickstarter.

Frances Mackay’s 8 Major Tips for Launching Your Book on Kickstarter


I thought I’d share with you my Kickstarter journey and some tips that may help anyone considering doing a Kickstarter. My campaign has just begun – but there’s a lot to share about the journey of getting there.

My tips for getting yourself ready for your first KS campaign:

    1. Plan well in advance! I first thought about doing a campaign in April, and I planned to do the launch in July, thinking that 3-4 months would be long enough to get ready.

      I live in Australia, and I didn’t consider the summer vacations in the UK and USA, so I changed the launch date to September instead – and thankfully, I did because I just didn’t anticipate the work involved in getting everything ready.

    2. Look carefully at other book campaigns already launched on Kickstarter. Study the pages – how the video has been done, what their page looks like, the graphics, etc. Compare the differences between the successful campaigns and those that didn’t succeed – and note of what appears to work best.

    3. Back some campaigns yourself. Kickstarter likes to have creators who have backed other people before they create their own campaign. It also gives you an insight into how the platform works and the types of messages you receive as a backer. Note what you liked and didn’t like about the information you received from these campaigns.

    4. If you can afford to do so, get guidance from Kickstarter consultants. I used the services of Lisa Ferland, who is very experienced in helping children’s book authors create their campaigns. You can get one-to-one help or purchase her vault of guides and templates – it is very thorough – I couldn’t have created my campaign without this help.

    5. Purchase Canva Pro. I can’t recommend this app highly enough – it’s not very expensive per month and is invaluable in creating everything you need – videos, graphics for social media ads and posts, flyers, brochures, worksheets – you name it – Canva has customizable templates for everything. It’s the one app I couldn’t do without in my marketing creations.

    6. Build up an email list. I started with 65 people in April, and I now have 1900 emails! An email list is invaluable because over the months before the campaign, you can communicate with these people, give them freebies, tips, and ideas, etc., to build a relationship with them – and hopefully, they will be your biggest supporters when the time comes.

    7. Invest in a mailing site to send your emails out. I use Mailerlite. The main reason I chose it was because it offers 24/7 chat support – even at the lowest cost level. And this chat service has been a huge help to me when I was learning how to use the program – as it’s very tricky at first!

    8. Finally – find out as much as you can about printing, shipping, and fulfilment. Decide if you are going to use offset printing and have the books sent to you where you have to store, pack and ship everything yourself or POD – or a combination of both. Working out what was best for me took a long time. It will be different for everyone, and it’s vital that you work out the costs involved to make sure the rewards you offer are profitable.

 

If you found these tips helpful, please consider supporting Frances with a Kickstarter pledge at any level as a way to say thank you and support the crowdfunding author community.

The illustrations are adorable and kids love laughing at all of the animated characters and scenes.

Click here to see her campaign on Kickstarter

Frances Mackay

Frances Mackay

I taught primary school for 20 years in Australia and the UK and have published over 90 books for Scholastic, Oxford University Press, and others. Baby Worries is my fourth book now available on Kickstarter with bonus materials perfect for teachers, parents, and librarians.

A Behind-the-Scenes look at OpenAI DALL-E 2 AI Art Generator

Like a kid on Christmas morning, I clicked the “Get Started” button on my invitation email from OpenAI DALL-E 2.

Months ago, I joined their waitlist to beta test their powerful AI platform. For the past year, I’ve been experimenting with NightCafe Studio (NC), another AI art generator, with exciting but varied results.

Both AI art generators use text or keyword prompts to create visuals.

So, entering something like, “A wise owl wearing glasses, digital illustration” will result in a wide array of illustrations.

The more specific you are with the text prompts, the more control you can exert over the AI tool, provided you’ve trained the tool using multiple iterations.

After a few attempts, DALL-E 2 created a wide array of beautiful characters — something I couldn’t do with nearly as much ease in NightCafe Studio.

I entered the same prompt in DALL-E 2 and NC to see what both tools provided.

DALLE-2

NightCafe Studio

 

WOW! Right?

The DALL-E 2 illustration was one of 9 illustrations generated by the tool. 

I spent 6 (!!) credits on NightCafe to get an illustration of bizarre-looking vegetables. 

In order to get the NC version to look anything like the DALL-E 2 version, I would need to spend a lot more time and credits experimenting with various start images and prompts.

DALL-E 2 is incredibly, incredibly powerful. 

More results from DALL-E 2

DALL-E 2 In the News

As I was experimenting with DALL-E 2, Cosmopolitan Magazine published its first cover using a DALL-E 2 generated image.

Source: Cosmopolitan.com

 

I tried the same prompt myself and the results were not as striking — proving that AI-generated artwork is revolutionary, but still inconsistent.

The inability to duplicate the same image from the same prompt proves 2 things:

1 – Nobody can really “copy” someone else, even if using the same text prompts

2 – Creating consistent images or visuals is extremely hard

The best combination, in my opinion, is leveraging all of the tools in your toolbox.

Use AI to generate a start image and then manipulate further in another editing tool like Photoshop.

Combining DALL-E 2 and NightCafe Studio

My favorite combination is to use DALL-E 2-created images as starter images for my NightCafe Studio prompts where I have greater control over the style and output.

Perhaps it is because I’m more familiar with NightCafe Studio, but I really love how I can control the finished result using my tested prompts.

Here are a few examples:

DALL-E 2

 

Post NightCafe Studio Edits

 

DALL-E 2

Post NightCafe Studio Edits

DALL-E 2

Post NightCafe Studio Edits

Ethical Considerations of AI Artwork

A lot of people are seeing the power of DALL-E 2 and freaking out saying that this software will replace artists.

AI can be used to improve our lives, but we are really uncomfortable when it starts replacing artistic creativity.

Employment, privacy, and AI becoming self-aware, are usually always cited as the top concerns for artificial intelligence (and rightly so!).

Sure, we are ok with AI in our cars braking for us in case a child runs into the street.

We are even ok with AI in healthcare to improve health outcomes.

But using AI to generate art?? Now we are in murky waters.

As someone who has been in the AI Artwork space for the past year and interacted with artists using Midjourney, NightCafe Studio,  I can say with confidence that it does take a lot of experimentation, time, and effort to figure out how to use text prompts correctly.

A lot of artists say they use AI as their digital paintbrush.

Despite that, innovation and new technology should be approached with caution.

DALL-E 2 has strict limitations on creating artwork that resembles real people like celebrities and political figures. 

Currently, DALL-E 2-generated art is for personal use only and cannot be commercialized.

AI can be a visual tool similar to how Billie Eilish and Kanye West experiment with autotune.

Remove the tool from the talented artists and they are still amazing.

Remove the tool from the amateur and they can’t produce the art.

Current limitations of AI Artwork

Currently, one major limitation of DALL-E 2, is that the AI generates completely different images every time.

One may struggle to create a cohesive narrative story with a main character using DALL-E 2 as it is not possible to replicate similar characters or scenes.

At the moment, the tool can be used for one-off visuals, inspiration, designing mood boards, or brainstorming ideas.

While DALL-E 2 is incredibly powerful, the novice user will have a hard time getting repeated results.

If one uses CLIP-guided diffusion tools and has sets of prompts that produce a similar style of artwork, it is very possible to create a book using only AI-generated artwork.

The Future of AI Artwork

DALL-E 2 is the most powerful AI-generator currently available and the results are stunning.

AI-artwork platforms are just finding their footing and they are becoming more powerful every day as users train the AI.

I don’t think AI-artwork will disappear and if anything, we will see more and more AI-generated artwork in our illustrated books, cookbooks, fairytales, magazines, and media.

What I love most about AI artwork is that it allows us all to play in the visual world.

If you want to sign up for DALL-E 2 beta access, you can do that here.

Since the technology is open to everyone, there are other interfaces that you can use to generate start images like DALLE-Mini.

Alternatively, you can always experiment with NightCafe Studio, Midjourney, StarryAI, WomboAI and others.

What do you think of AI-generated artwork? 

Follow me on Insta!

If you love fae, elves, trolls, and more, be sure to follow me on Instagram @AIArtwork_Fantasy

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The Secret to Marketing Your Book Without Annoying People

Marketing is cited as the #1 pain in the rump for most writers, which is funny because…

1) marketing and then selling our books is the only way we can continue to write and do what we love,

2) marketing is a great way to creatively express your ideas, and

3) you’re a writer so you are already skilled in the best marketing tool there is—more writing.

But, I totally get it because I often feel the same way. We are selling books, literature, art! We aren’t marketing gadgets or gizmos.

Our stories came from our hearts and it feels wrong to “push” them onto people. We want people to love them just like we do.

Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. 

If people don’t see your books, they won’t know they are available for purchase.

As writers, writing should be easy, non?

Facebook ads and Amazon ads, etc., are all great but you gain external credibility when another website publishes your personal essays or articles that are tangentially related to your book(s).

Is it slower and more work to market in this way? 

Perhaps, but it should be part of your marketing toolkit and you’d be remiss in not trying it.

Non-annoying strategy #1 – write and publish personal essays

Here’s an example of how to market your book in a personal essay

This personal essay in Conde Naste Traveler “How My Mother’s Travels Shaped My World View” focused on a the writer’s relationship with her mother.

At the end of the personal essay, the author mentions,

“She wanted to travel the globe, and she did. Because of my mom, I decided to work in food media after college, even though I had zero connections in that world and all my peers were going into finance. I wrote a cookbook while working as a full-time journalist.”

The author bio at the bottom linked to the woman’s cookbook and voilá! This author is effectively marketing her book to a very warm audience. 

In fact, she is providing entertainment value and making herself relatable to the audience before inviting them to buy her book.

That’s how you market your book without being annoying.

Do you think readers are more or less likely to share an article about a moving emotional essay about interpersonal relationships than they are an Instagram graphic that says, “Buy my cookbook!”?

Readers are more likely to share writing that speaks to them on an emotional level than they will a clear advertisement. 

You have to wine and dine your readers before you ask them to buy. It’s how it works.

Write essays and publish them everywhere

Once you write a killer personal essay with your audience in mind, start pitching it to external outlets.

The bigger the outlet, the tougher it’ll be, but the sweeter the credibility and ultimate reward (more readers).

Research the tone of the articles featured by the publication and match your personal essay to their audience.

This approach gets your book in front of a lot of people all at once without annoying anyone.

You can (and should) feel proud pushing the article on all of your platforms because it’s not screaming, “BUY MY BOOK!”

The downside is that it’s not easy to (successfully) pitch third-party websites your essays and it requires a lot of lead time.

There is a ton of rejection involved in freelance writing and if you’re not experienced, you’re going to become quickly frustrated.

Alternatives to publishing on third-party websites

Don’t have time to pitch and get rejected over and over again?

Here are some alternatives to third-party exposure:

—Publish your essays on Medium
—Publish your writing on LinkedIn
—Publish your writing on your own website (you should have an author platform, hello!)

—Publish your personal essays directly on Facebook itself. Facebook loves long reads because it keeps readers scrolling and scrolling. End with a strong call to action and link to buy.
—Coordinate with other bloggers who might have smaller-than-Conde-Naste-size audiences and see if they take guest posts

Follow the example above—offer authentic, genuine writing that is attractive to your intended audience and weave in the fact that you’ve written a book toward the end of your essay with a link in your bio.

Non-annoying strategy #2 – Optimize your homepage

If the website doesn’t allow links to books/products, then definitely ask for a link to your homepage and make sure your homepage is optimized to send people to your book.

For my current children’s book Kickstarter campaign, I optimized my homepage to be a landing page. 

My homepage sent people directly to my Kickstarter campaign that way if any third-party website articles take off and link to my homepage, readers will be clearly directed to my book’s campaign.

So, in conclusion, forget the ‘Buy my book!” messaging and write another story. Write a behind-the-scenes story. Write something emotional or transformative.

Write your best work and when readers love your essay, they’ll rush out to buy your book when given the opportunity.

Keep your homepage simple and clean, and when in doubt, add a big button to direct people to your crowdfunding campaign.

Don’t lose that traffic that you worked so hard for!

An optimized homepage is the LEAST annoying thing you can do.

Non-annoying strategy #3 – Automated email sequences

Are you neglecting your email newsletter list?

You remember – the group of people who agreed to give you their contact information, but you never send them emails because you’re afraid of annoying them?

Here’s how to send emails to your newsletter list without fear of annoying anyone at all:

1 – Send an automated welcome email that is human, casual, and simple.

This lets your readers know that A) you received their information, B) they can learn more about you, and C) they can respond to the email and feel reassured that a real human being is behind the computer.

2 – Test out different headlines. 

If someone doesn’t open your email, it means that they didn’t see your message/content OR call-to-action (like ‘Check out my campaign on Kickstarter!”). 

Monitoring your email open rates is really important and super informative on what email headlines are grabbing people’s attention and which ones are being ignored.

When you retarget people with a new headline, send the new email ONLY to those people who never opened your first email.

You’re NOT sending them too many emails because they already aren’t reading them and you KNOW IT.


So many authors have this hang up about unsubscribe rates or “bothering people” — I mean, you don’t want people on your newsletter list to just sit there and collect dust, right?

Isn’t the entire point to generate a conversation? Add value to their lives? Get feedback from beta readers?

How can you do any of that if you aren’t regularly engaging with them?

Let’s look at it this way — if you have ZERO issues putting out content on Instagram and responding to comments there, then you should have ZERO issues sending emails to your subscribers.

It’s the same exact concept. They gave you permission to email them, so be sure to email them! 

If they don’t like your content, they’ll unsubscribe and be on their merry way — no stress, no drama.

So, test out those headlines and stop worrying about emailing “too often” – there’s no such thing as long as you’re sending them quality content that is engaging, educational, or inspirational.

 

Want 25 Creative Ideas to get your book in front of readers? 

Whether you are launching your book on Amazon, your website, or on Kickstarter, you need to put your book in front of readers 7 different times before they’ll take action.

Here are 25 ways to do it!

Click here for instant access (no email required).

I send out helpful marketing emails every Friday. Be sure to join my newsletter list to get these tips and tools!

Do you want to launch your book’s Kickstarter campaign without annoying anyone?

If you’re interested in learning HOW to create a marketing strategy for your book’s Kickstarter campaign that doesn’t annoy your readers, then you are invited to book a 60-minute discovery call.

Serious inquiries only — you must have big goals ($10k or more) and be ready to work hard and invest in your own success.

Let’s dig deeper!

 

Top 5 Cons when launching your book traditionally instead of on Kickstarter

top 5 cons to a traditional book launch

Affiliate Disclaimer: The following article contains Amazon affiliate links below.

Many authors (me included) who experience success on Kickstarter and build a large audience will then launch subsequent books directly to Amazon or host pre-orders on their websites. 

Why? 

Mostly time and effort.

Kickstarter campaigns require a lot of organization and it’s very tempting to skip over all of the hype building and coordination of multiple stakeholders and publish directly on Amazon via Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) so that your book is available TODAY and ready to buy.

Children’s book author Leigha Huggins, raised nearly $14k for her first book, Love Lottery, on Kickstarter and recently released her second book, The Giving World, in October 2021 directly on Amazon.

I asked her what her honest experience was launching in both methods and she generously shared her true feelings on a Kickstarter vs. traditional book launch. 

The following is from an interview with Leigha in her words.

What results did you see in a 30-day launch on Amazon vs. a 30-day Kickstarter campaign?

To be quite honest, the traditional book launch has been a bit of a letdown. I haven’t been really impressed with the soft launch of The Giving World on Kindle Direct Publishing.

I think we broke $100 in sales during our first week, but it was nothing compared to the excitement of reaching a goal of $4,700 on day one of my Kickstarter for Love Lottery. (See Fully Funded in 24 Hours for how Leigha did this.)

What are three pros and three cons you’ve experienced launching your book traditionally compared to your previous Kickstarter campaign?

Traditional book launch on Amazon

Pro #1 – I don’t have to fulfill orders (I’m printing with KDP so orders are all handled by Amazon).

Pro #2 – I didn’t have to create a promo video.

Pro #3 – Instant availability – readers don’t have to wait for the campaign to be over or for a print run of books.

Con #1 – There is no urgency. It’s one of those things that I think people will just check it out at some point on Amazon, but there’s no incentive for them to do so during launch week.

Con #2 – Just hitting the publish button (well a bit more than that) is kinda like getting a high-five as opposed to throwing a party!

The excitement with an Amazon launch just wasn’t as grand as having launched a Kickstarter for Love Lottery.

Both books were equal in terms of the love and the intention of bringing both books to life but the feel of the launches was very different.

Con #3 – You can’t do a Kickstarter once you publish… or could I still possibly run a Kickstarter for The Giving World hardcover edition?

(Lisa’s answer: Yes, you can run a Kickstarter campaign for a hardcover edition or limited-edition print run.)

Con #4 – You wonder what your Kickstarter launch would have raised…

Ha… one more …

Con #5 – You have no idea who bought your book on Amazon so you are unable to follow up with your customers when you launch books in the future.

Would you say that your pre-launch time and effort for a traditional book launch was more, less, or about the same amount as your Kickstarter launch?

Not at all close.

Where you put effort, you usually see a reward.

Let’s just say I put a lot, lot, lot of effort into the launch of Love Lottery – and still a good amount of time for The Giving World.

What would you change about your traditional book launch (if anything) to have more of a Kickstarter-like effect?

I wish I would have done a launch date or even promoted a date for a “Now Available on Amazon” launch.

I could have then built up some excitement with a countdown.

Do you prefer the Kickstarter model or the traditional book launch model? Does it depend on the title you’re releasing?

I’m sure it would depend on the title and the purpose of the book, but hands down the best way to introduce something into the world is with the support of other creatives, not just your book in the sea of Amazon listings.

I would 100% recommend running a Kickstarter – especially if this is your first book. But in the same breath, a traditional launch has its place too.

Would you do a traditional book launch again or do you prefer Kickstarter?

I think it would depend on the situation. Kickstarter is my preferred method of introducing my passion project into the world.

But timing and urgency – and just time, in general, lead us to launch our newest release on Amazon.

Anything else you want to mention?

I have had mixed feedback on the cover of The Giving World.

With Love Lottery, I loved the interaction on Kickstarter and allowing backers who supported you to vote and have feedback on things that were still in progress.

It would have been wonderful to have people give their insights and let them give us feedback on the cover options.

Bio

Leigha Huggins The Giving World

With love, purpose, and warmth, Leigha Huggins invites you into her world with her heartfelt stories. Leigha believes intention and words are the guiding force in life. Visit her website to learn more about The Giving World.

Website: www.thegivingworld.org

 

 

More Books by Leigha Huggins

Related

I too, had some regrets about launching my book directly to Amazon. Watch the video below for more:

Want to work together? 

If you’re serious about launching your book on Kickstarter, then I’m here to help you figure it out without needing to recreate the wheel.

I offer free tips here and on my YouTube channel as well as a personalized comprehensive 1:1 crowdfunding coaching program that keeps you on track and organized.

Click on the link below to book a 60-min discovery call and fill in the questionnaire to see if we are a good fit to work together.

What it takes to run a $40k Kickstarter campaign

It’s not every day that you see a children’s book skyrocket to $40k in funding but that’s exactly what Lizzie Charbonneau orchestrated with her debut book, Your Whole Body.

Lizzie graciously shared some of the behind-the-scenes tips on how she shared her book with readers during the pre-launch phase and how she approached her target audience.

  1. How long did you plan your campaign during the pre-launch/outreach phase?

I started thinking about the campaign almost immediately after I knew I wanted to publish my book in October.
 
I started by doing a lot of research, looking at successful Kickstarters, and getting advice from Facebook groups.
 
I also created my Instagram very early and started following and interacting with people in the spaces where my book was concentrated: early sexuality education and child sexual abuse prevention.
 
My first set of outreach was to expert reviewers in January 2021.  I had some personal connections for expert reviewers, and I also reached out to experts that I found from reading academic articles, doing internet searches, and through Instagram.
 
In early March, I started creating posts for my Instagram account, actively seeking followers, and being even more active interacting with accounts I was following.
 
My next batch of outreach was to beta reviewers, which I started in late March once we had our final draft complete.

Engaged readers

For a sensitive topic like mine, I believe expert reviewers are essential. The beta reviewers were also incredibly helpful in providing different perspectives.
 
I believe both sets of reviewers felt like they had a stake in the success of the book after they did their review, and so helped me spread the word about the book within their own networks more than they otherwise would have.
 
I started collecting massive numbers of emails (over 1,000) for organizations and individuals that supported the mission of the book in late March and invited them to be beta reviewers.
 

Mass outreach

Around two weeks before my launch, I did mass outreach to all of the contacts I had collected, letting them know about the upcoming Kickstarter and sending them a pdf of a watermarked final draft of the book.
 
Then I reached out to everyone again the day of launch.
  1. You mentioned that you didn’t have a large following on social media following but used it to connect with others in the genre who did have large audiences.

  2. Why do you think this approach has been so successful for you?

I think when you find your niche and really hone in on it, you’ll find people who are passionate.
 
If they see that you share their passion and you have something that can support their mission, they will help out. They not only want you to succeed but also want to help what you’ve created reach others.
 
I also tried to make it as easy as possible for them to spread the word, so they wouldn’t need to do extra work to support the book. In all my social media outreach, I provided a link to my media kit and attached an Instagram story and post that they could reuse quickly and easily.
 
Almost everyone used the post or story I sent them, and a handful used other images from my media kit.
 
  1. What has surprised you the most about this campaign/launch?

The level of impact that a single influential person in the space can have on your success.
 
My campaign was around $15k a week after launch. One of my Instagram contacts had over 230k followers.
 
They included my book in their monthly newsletter as well as posted it on their Instagram page the week after I launched. That got me another $15k in just a few days! If you’re able to find just one or two influential and trusted representatives in your space, that can have a huge impact!
  1. What do you wish more authors knew about (what advice or tip) before launching their books on Kickstarter or IndieGoGo?

You can have the best book and the best Kickstarter campaign, but if nobody knows about it, you won’t get funded.
 
Also, writing the book was the easiest and most enjoyable part of the process for me. The outreach and marketing were the most difficult, least enjoyable, and by far took the most time to do.
  1. Will you continue to launch future books via Kickstarter?

I’m not sure. A Kickstarter is very helpful in spreading the word because it gives people a goal they’re helping you to achieve. 

It is also a trusted middle-man and has the all-or-nothing approach, which gives people more confidence that they’ll get what they paid for. 

However, it is a lot of work and is very stressful. If I have another book in me that I’m as passionate about as this one, I’d do it again. Otherwise, probably not.
  1. Do you have any other tips for authors looking for a model for success?

I decided to share the final draft of my manuscript liberally (watermarked).
 
I sent it to everyone I requested a beta review from, which included hundreds of individuals and organizations.
 
I wanted to make it as easy as possible for people to see what they would be reviewing and supporting without needing to reach out to me again to get the content.
 
I wanted to remove as many communication links as possible.
 
I didn’t think sharing the book would lose me any future purchases because people like having physical versions of children’s books.

What great tips from a wonderful author!

As you can see, Lizzie engaged with her audience and conducted outreach for approximately five months. She made it as easy as possible for readers to know what they were getting in the Kickstarter campaign by sharing a watermarked PDF of her manuscript and a super press kit designed for easy sharing on social media.

Even with all of that success, Lizzie admits Kickstarters are still stressful and a ton of work! 

Be sure to order her book, Your Whole Body, if you’re not already one of her 1500 backers and connect with her below.

Author bio

Lizzie DeYoung Charbonneau is a children’s book author, software developer, and mother. Lizzie grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, and currently resides in Massachusetts.

Lizzie believes it is important for young children to know the names of all of their body parts. To help teach her son about his body, Lizzie looked for a picture book that discussed genitals the same way as other body parts. She wasn’t able to find one, so she decided to write it, consulting with parents, child safety experts, pediatricians, gender specialists, and educators. The result is Your Whole Body, an inclusive book for children about the entire body.

To learn more, visit arcticflowerpublishing.com.

Illustrator bio

Misha Iver is an illustrator who has made her home in Burlington, Vermont.

Because she believes that children’s literature represents inspiration, transformation, and hope, she feels lucky to work in this field where she can be a part of a significant and beautiful force.

Misha Iver draws her deepest inspiration from nature, and her love for botanical illustration has made it a specialty of hers.

You can connect with Misha at mishaiver.com.

If you’re interested in learning WHAT it takes to create a campaign that has this level of success, then you’re invited to book a free 60-minute discovery call with Lisa Ferland here.

Please, serious inquiries only — you must have big goals ($10k or more) and be ready to work hard and invest in your own success.

Lessons Learned from Launching 7 Kickstarter Campaigns

Joseph Becker is currently raising over $20k on his 7th Kickstarter campaign for his children’s book series Annabelle and Aiden. 

Joseph was kind enough to answer some questions and provide some insights to how he was able to use Kickstarter as a marketing tool for his books.

You’ve launched 7 different campaigns on Kickstarter for your books and it’s clear that your audience has grown with each success. Why do you enjoy launching on Kickstarter versus a more traditional book launch on Amazon or your website?

 
Kickstarter is a wonderful platform because it draws a large crowd who apparently browse Kickstarter for projects to fund. A surprisingly large amount of funds always come from this cold audience.
 
Also, I think of Kickstarter as free advertising: it costs nothing upfront, so there’s really no risk involved. And every pledge you get is another free signup on your email list.
 
This is a great way to gain a following and a community behind your books. It’s the ultimate marketing tool.

For each campaign, your funding goal was very low compared to how much money you raised. What do you think contributed the most to get people to back the campaign vs. waiting for the official publication of the book? 

The first thing that comes to mind is getting large (and I mean huge) Facebook pages (with hundreds of thousands or millions of ‘likes’) that align with the “mission” of your books (whether celebrating diversity, environmentalism, or childhood development) to share your campaign.
 
That is the number one thing. 
 

How much audience education do you typically do before you launch?

That’s a tough one. Now, I just post 2 to 4 “Kickstarter coming soon” posts weeks before to whet everyone’s appetites. There used to be a tool called Thunderclap that was the best tool to build excitement for an upcoming Kickstarter campaign, but they were shut down by the social media giants.
 

Do you find it gets easier with each campaign or do you face new challenges each time?

Both. It gets easier to raise money but at the same time your standards and expectations and goals get higher, so they are harder and harder to reach.

I’ve done 5 campaigns. For the first four, every single one raised $7,000 more than the last. However, the 5th one raised $3,000 less than the fourth. That was a bit tough for me, even though it still raised $17,000: a number I would have been ecstatic about just 2 years earlier.  

 

How did you meet your illustrator?

Through searching with Google. We’ve done 5 books together, all through email. I still have never spoken with her, which amazes people. She lives in Italy.  
 

What advice would you give an author who is in the middle of their campaign and still hasn’t funded?

I’d give them pointers and encouragement, and let them know the Kickstarter algorithm does kick in at the end for a strong finish. 
 

Will you continue to launch new books via Kickstarter?

Probably. 

What are you currently working on?

I have a few book ideas, and have started one or two, but I am really going to try to turn my business model over from print-on-demand to printing through China and selling through Amazon Advantage. That will take time and lots of money, but that’s my next step.

I may take a break from creating new books for a year or so, and try to up my game in selling the five titles I already have. 

 

Anything else? 

Folks could learn more at www.AnnabelleAndAiden.com

Be sure to check out his campaigns below to see how he priced his rewards and structured his campaigns.

Be sure to check out his current Kickstarter, Oh My Gods!

 LIVE now

Bio

Joseph Becker holds a B.A. in Philosophy and a Juris Doctorate from Emory University School of Law. When he’s not practicing entertainment law, playing drums, or enjoying the great outdoors, Joseph enjoys all the science and philosophy books and podcasts he can, pondering the bigger questions and dreaming up ideas for future children stories.

Visit his website at annabelleandaiden.com.

Discover the Magic and Chaos of Motherhood on Kickstarter

Lindsay Madsen discovered inspiration and ideas amidst diapers, laundry, and sleepless nights. There’s something about rocking your baby in the wee hours of the night that gets your brain cells tingling.

In Lindsay’s case, she wanted to share hope and support for fellow moms who are in the thick fog of exhaustion that comes with those early baby days.

In this author interview, I asked Lindsay what work went into planning her board book campaign on Kickstarter.

Why did you decide to use Kickstarter to launch your book, The Lovely Haze of Baby Days?

Launching a Kickstarter made a lot of sense to me. I wanted to show the world I was serious about this book, and the impact I hope to make with it.
 
Struggling with loneliness and feeling disconnected from your community after having a baby is a real issue for women, and this reality is only getting worse during the current pandemic. 
 
By choosing to Launch a Kickstarter, I was able to centralize all the information about the book and give people an opportunity to preorder the book.
 
This was important because it let me showcase the important message of support, AND get the funding organized (hopefully!) in a more efficient way to bring the book to life. 
 
The last thing I ‘ll mention is the compressed time frame. 
 
As you’ve said yourself, it’s a really concentrated marketing effort in a short window of time. I’m a mom of four kids 5 years and younger, so time is not something I have an abundance of.
 
While the intensity of the work was heavy lifting, I could  map the time out in my mind of all the things I wanted to do over the weeks leading up and the weeks running the campaign.
 
As a first time author, I felt it helped bring structure and goals into my launch planning. 

What type of preparation did you do before you launched?

The most important preparation I did was creating a website and starting a mailing list. You engage a lot of people during your time preparing the book, the rewards, the marketing, etc. 

Having a mailing list was a great asset for communicating important messages to everyone and building excitement for the upcoming campaign.

Time wise – I spent at least 8 weeks from the moment I decided to run the campaign to launch day, but I knew from the start this was part of my plan – so I always had the pieces of it in mind as I researched & prepared.

I guess the preparations fell into a couple of categories:

  • Audience building,
  • Book development,
  • Pre-launch marketing, and
  • Kickstarter research. 

What has surprised you the most about crowdfunding your book?

A good surprise was how much I loved connecting with people in the audience/community.

I really enjoyed the process of building both my author and my mom network as part of my preparations. It is a logical thing to happen, I am passionately working on a book to support new moms – so of course I would love learning from authors and engaging with the people I hope to help with my book!

Something I struggle with is the unexpected loss of sleep. I am really excited about the project and the Kickstarter, and my best opportunities to work a lot are in the evenings.

IT can be hard to turn my brain off when I finally get to bed. So there is a big emotional/mental attachment to running a Kickstarter, and I wasn’t as prepared for that!

What advice would you give an author who is considering crowdfunding their book?

Marketing: Know your message and articulate it clearly.
 
General: Share your enthusiasm! People get excited when you are excited.
 
Practical: Build your audience as big and early as you can! Include an email list. 

What advice would you give a parent (of young children) who is also planning to launch a crowdfunding campaign?

First, give yourself more time than you think you need to do things, something child related often pops up and it’s so stressful if you haven’t built in time buffers to accommodate surprise tasks.  

Second, be creative with how you get things done. I let me kids look at illustrations and give me feedback, I listen to podcasts when I play on the floor with my babies, I have started sending voice messages while on a walk.
 
After the campaign, I hope to compartmentalize more , but efficiency is critical right now.
 
I am trying to share the journey with my family too, so they can be excited for the project wins with me and also be a little more understanding when I need to work more than ever before. 

Any final words of advice? 

Build your author community as you go along. There are things my family and real world friends don’t understand and can’t provide advice on, while creating a book or running a Kickstarter campaign.

I am so grateful for the author friends and Kickstarter buddies I have met and developed friendships with. We support each other – and that is a really valuable resource while on the author journey. 

Bio

Lindsay Kellar-Madsen is a writer, business developer, and twin mama with  four young children.

Although Canadian, she lives with her family in the Danish countryside where they explore, go on adventures, and thrive in their everyday chaos.

Her first picture book, The Lovely Haze of Baby Days, is currently available for preorder through her Kickstarter Campaign: https://bit.ly/2RsXMdL

Fully Funded in 24 hours: Love Lottery Success on Kickstarter

love lottery cover photo

Leigha Huggins has worked on her Kickstarter campaign since mid-2019, when she first started to conduct the market research and campaign preparations.

She knew her book about the love and joy children bring into our lives was an important message to share, but she was unsure about how to approach her Kickstarter campaign.

After some help and encouragement, Leigha made the leap and launched her campaign in May only to find herself rocketing to success.

Fully funded in 24 hours, and currently exceeding $10k with a $4k goal, Leigha has discovered the power of sharing a positive message that resonates with readers. 

Below are Leigha’s tips on what made her campaign a huge success.

Tip #1: Let people know how to help and what it means to you

I feel like lots of people like to help as long as they know how.

I have tried my best to reach out to my top people and ask them directly to please help me.

I let my early supporters know that I was going live and how important it was for the success of the campaign, and my ultimate goal was to get Kickstarter Project We Love badge.

Here’s the message I sent out to my friends and fmaily:

I’m so excited!!! Love Lottery is now available to order. We would love your support if you are able, and if you would share to help us spread the message of this beautiful book, we would be so grateful! https://bit.ly/lovelotterybook

I sent out this message to every person in my Facebook friends and on my phone (still not done…) And no group texts!!!

People discard group text (and sometimes personal ones too… but I felt like this was the step I wanted to go).

I let everyone know how thankful I was for their support.

I made no mention of stretch goals until I was almost to my first one…

Not even to people who were going to be my early supporters.

I revealed the stretch goals as each one came into view and we zoomed through so many that I had to create additional stretch goals! Not a bad problem to have.

Tip #2: Reach out to everyone you know

Mostly I believe in my book, the purpose, the message, the love it shares.

I have no issue about sharing it… with everyone.

My hairdresser, acupuncturist, (from years ago), my realtor, past neighbors, co-workers…

Pretty much if you have ever been in my life, I’m reaching out to you… ha!

love lottery our story

Tip #3: Don’t be in a rush to build your audience

I’m okay with hearing no, and I have been building my audience for a long time…

This whole book process I’ve referred to as the gift of delay.

Every time I would get a setback (and there were lots, I used it to get better, find resources, learn, let people know what I was working on). 

I just went with the flow, I didn’t want to rush it!

Building a book from the letters up is like building a foundation for the success of your effort.

Tip #4: Perfection is overrated

I spent so much time flip flopping like a pancake worrying about if I was going to launch or not. 

I booked an hour session with Lisa and she gave me the encouragement I needed when I needed it the most.

I showed up first day, without everything figured out…and perfection is overrated anyway…that’s too much pressure.

Tip #5: Overcome discomfort with research and preparation

I had never even heard about crowdfunding until I came across Lisa’s website. 

Lisa gave me so many tools, resources, ideas and lastly motivation to push through my discomfort to crowdfund my book on Kickstarter.

To me, crowdfunding is like testing the water before you commit to a large print run.

It means launching in front of a group of people you know, and many you don’t.

I think anytime you have the opportunity to launch something new… having a crowd is the best platform to have.

It gives you extra motivation and drive to have your best foot forward as you introduce your project to a beautiful crowd of people. (only safer because it’s online).

Lisa’s note: Leigha has been an ideal (!!) crowdfunding author in that she is not afraid to try new things and she really gives every effort 110% energy and enthusiasm.

The path to successfully crowdfunding your book is different for everyone and it’s important to try as many things as possible so you find what works for you.

I hope Leigha’s path to success is an inspiration for you all.

 

Resources Leigha used to help plan her campaign:

Crowdfunding Vault

1:1 Crowdfunding Consulting session

She is a member of the All-In Authors Community

Bio

Leigha Huggins
Photo credit: Leigha Huggins

Leigha Huggins is a mother and children’s book writer.

For Leigha, her hard times turned to gratitude when she looked at these precious gifts of young innocence and celebrated them—her Love Lotteries.

​She is confident you will feel her loving intention and connect to this story, as it is now a piece of all of us to share.

Please visit Leigha’s Kickstarter page now and show your support before her campaign ends on June 11, 2020.

Is crowdfunding the right strategy for you to launch your book?

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