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.

Why the #web3lit community should pay attention to what Sitka World is doing

TLDR – Because Sitka World is doing everything the right way – giving project leaders a roadmap, writers a community, and readers a great story.

If you haven’t heard of Sitka World before, it is an upcoming fantasy novel that uses a mix of web3 and web2 technologies and business cases to grow and engage with its community. 

We recently had a great conversation with them and were really impressed with what they are building. Not only with the actual story (the prologue they’ve released seems fantastic!) but with some of the key strategic choices they’ve made along the way.  

The roadmap they’ve laid out is textbook, and their decision-making can provide invaluable lessons to future web3lit project leaders and authors.

As we’ve discussed before, a number of key challenges show up in almost every web3lit project.

1) How do you build a community?

2) How do you keep the community engaged in the long term?

3) How do get average readers onboarded into web3?

We can’t say what will happen with Sitka World (as always, this is NOT investment advice), but they’ve done an amazing job of answering these questions at the start. 

Let’s dig in….

How Sitka World is building a community

Building community is hard for authors in web3 (and in web2, web1, and pre-web. It will likely be the hardest question to answer in web5, too.

What they’ve done is they have talked with EVERYONE. 

Over the last few weeks, they have been featured on Twitter Spaces, Podcasts, and Newsletters. They have announced partnerships, competitions, and collaborations. The quick count has them working with about a dozen crypto teams. Each of these partners has its own community that now knows about Sitka World’s story, background, and vision. Getting yourself heard within the web3 space is never easy, but they’ve done a good job of standing out in this way.  

They’ve also created three distinct customer segmentations with specific messaging and offerings for each. When you login into their website, it allows you to pick whether you are interested in the reader, author, or investor perspective. By segmenting this message, it lets the visitor know that they have a community with benefits for everyone. 

How Sitka World keeps the community engaged in the long term

Once you have a community, keeping them engaged and interested is a really challenging task (as my dozens of unattended discord groups unfortunately prove).

This is a challenge for many web3 projects, but books – especially GOOD books – take a long time to write! This means that there is a lot of time between novels where there aren’t a lot of reasons for the community to stay involved.  

Knowing this, Sitka World is planning to launch numerous initiatives which will engage their community throughout the writing cycle. 

For investors, they will offer Royalty Sharing (which can help maintain an organic marketing push).

For authors, they have multiple initiatives. First, they will integrate fan-fiction into their world. They will also offer writing classes with Rae (the author of Sitka World) and other writing camps. 

For readers, they are working on offering games (including metaverse-compatible options). Readers will also enjoy the fan-fiction works that the authors will be creating.  

Overall, they have something for everyone, which can help provide some “stickiness” within the community. 

How will Sitka World get average readers onboarded into web3?

They won’t.

This is the part that we kind of like the best. We love crypto stuff as much (more?) than most people. But we can also understand that it’s not perfect for everyone, it’s not super easy and it doesn’t always give the best user experience. Within crypto, different technologies (i.e Ethereum vs Solana) have different costs, benefits, and tradeoffs.  

Sitka World understands this too and is trying to use web3 tools when they make sense, rather than trying to “force” anything. They seem willing to experiment with different platforms and chains. Especially with so much innovation happening, being flexible right now is essential.

They are also apparently willing to sell physical books through traditional channels – basically, whatever gets people reading and engaging.   

They care about providing the best experience for their community, not ensuring an anonymous “laser-eye” on Twitter is happy.  

This flexibility ties into point 1 from earlier – they are doing everything possible to find community members. They will not put up artificial walls that could limit who reads their book.  

For a lot of authors who are interested in exploring NFTs and web3lit but are concerned about giving up paperback or Kindle sales, this is fantastic to see. This type of web2.5 can be the bridge that gets more people into seeing the value of crypto.

Exciting things are happening in Sitka’s World and we are here for it.

We hope you reach out to them on Twitter and request to join their Discord to experience the story-led journey. Be sure to follow them on Twitter to learn more about the web3lit space.

Sitka World’s Website

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SitkaWorldNFT

Sitka World’s artist: https://www.instagram.com/crandallart/

If you’re crypto-curious or crypto-critical, we have a newsletter for you that brings you information on what’s happening in web3 for writers. The literature space is still developing, and we send out weekly emails to interested people.

.Click here to sign up for our Gutenb3rg newsletter!

What you need to know about Netflix’s Bridgerton Lawsuit

netflix bridgerton lawsuit for writers

At what point does fan fiction cross the line into copyright infringement?

netflix bridgerton lawsuit for writers

You might’ve seen in the news that Netflix is suing “The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical” creators Barlow & Bear for copyright infringement.


Short summary:
Two women (Barlow & Bear) went viral on TikTok for their musical adaptation of Bridgerton, and they went on to win a Grammy for their work.

Apparently, they had been in contact with Netflix and established as long as their work was for non-profit, they could continue with their musical adaptation.

However, a few weeks ago, B&B staffed a musical production and sold out an international tour of their “Unofficial Bridgerton Musical” (definitely for a profit) after turning down Netflix’s offer for a non-profit licensing deal.

B&B did exactly what Netflix said they could NOT do, and Netflix replied with a big, “Oh, no, you don’t…” and has issued a copyright and trademark infringement lawsuit on the indie musical composers.

The outcome of the Bridgerton lawsuit can determine how fan fiction, fan art, and derivative works are published.

This entire situation raises an interesting thought experiment for what constitutes fair use derivative work and what crosses the line into copyright infringement.

But first, let’s get into some details about copyright, derivative work, and fair use

Disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer; this is not legal advice, just my opinion.

So, copyright laws protect the creator of the work as soon as anything is publicly available. That means that Julia Quinn’s copyright is protected and the main reason why Netflix purchased the rights to adapt her books into a Netflix series. 

Netflix owns the copyright to the original work and all derivatives of said work.

However, some derivative work falls under Fair Use, which means that it is unique enough to become a stand-alone work separate from the original and, therefore, falls under the creator’s copyright.

It is said that B&B are confident that their musical falls under fair use and, therefore, does not need to be licensed.

What are the four factors of Fair Use claimed under the Bridgerton Lawsuit? 

1. The purpose of the use and if it is transformative from the original – is it commercial or for nonprofit educational purpose? 

2. The nature of the copyrighted work

If you’re using factual work in the public domain, it’s more likely to be considered fair use than fictional works. 

3. The amount of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole

4. Does your version harm the value or potential market of the copyrighted work

You can see how these four factors of fair use are completely subject to interpretation and could be argued either way.

This will be an interesting intellectual property/copyright infringement case that will affect fan fiction and writers, so I’ll be following it closely and will report on the outcome when it’s all over.


How does this affect you as a writer? 

The outcome of this lawsuit WILL affect everyone in this space — creators of original works, whether they be derivative and fair use or original original.

It will be interesting to see how a huge content producer like Netflix defends their copyright, and I’m interested to hear B&B’s justification for why they feel the musical falls under fair use.

Also, as writers, we want to ensure we don’t infringe on anyone’s copyright and that nobody else infringes on OUR copyright.

If someone wants to take your story and turn it into something else, you deserve to be paid for others adapting your work.

If someone wants to read your book aloud on YouTube, they need your permission (or your publisher’s permission) before doing so.

Be sure to defend your copyright if you feel people are infringing upon your hard work.

Alternatively, if you want to retell an existing story, you can skip the fair use debacle and adapt works already in the public domain (see Project Gutenberg linked below).

What are your thoughts?

Do you think B&B are infringing on Netflix’s copyright and trademark with their musical? 

What would you do if you found your book turned into a musical adaptation? 

What crosses the line for you between free promotion by a fan and exploitation of your work?

Reply to this email and let me know your thoughts.

Keep Reading:

 

Side quest: if you want to launch your book on Kickstarter this year:

If you’re planning to launch your Kickstarter/IndieGoGo campaign in 2022, we are running out of time on the clock.

My schedule is limited for new clients, so if you’re interested, please book a free discovery call ASAP and complete the questionnaire so we can have a great call!

3 Ways Authors Can Use CC0 NFTs

typing on a laptop with no rights reserved CCO text

Tuesday: This Bridgerton fan-fiction/IP stuff is crazy. Do you think web3 could change things?

Wednesday: A huge crypto-centric venture capital fund just released a report on CC0-based NFTs (no copyrights reserved)

Thursday: One of the hottest “traditional” NFT projects out there just announced that they were converting to the CC0 model.

…..

Welcome to CC0 summer everyone! Now that we are here, the first step is to figure out what this means.

(Note – as always, this is new and we are figuring this out at the same time. None of this is legal or financial advice. We are not lawyers nor IP experts, so please do your research!)

What is CC0?

This is explained in much more detail in other places on the internet – notably this a16z report from earlier this week.

But, instead of releasing creative work with “All Rights Reserved” like we normally expect to see, CC0 work is released with “No Rights Reserved.” Notably, this means that creators waive their COPYRIGHT, but NOT the TRADEMARK or PATENTS.  

This means that anyone – NFT holder or not – is immediately allowed to build on top of the original creative work. For visual art NFTs, that can mean that a project’s distinctive style can be used for new NFT collections or other types of products. 

Creators of the NFT proactively choose this legal framework (it is a strategic choice) because they believe that more people using their art or their story can build brand awareness and add value to the original creation.  

This means that NFT creators are skipping the “95 years after your death” IP protection and going straight to converting their work into the creative commons domain.

At a high level, this is kind of weird and counter-intuitive to the “make sure creators get paid” ethos of web3, but it’s a choice that teams are making currently.  

So let’s see how authors can take advantage of this new experiment.

(Note – these are NOT all recommended and benefits can change based on each author’s situation)

1) Release a Story NFT as CC0

We are starting with the BOLDEST choice.  

This is for authors with a full novel with immersive world-building or a children’s story with lots of fun characters.  

By releasing as CC0, you would be allowing anyone (including non-NFT holders) to create fan-fiction based on the world you have created.  

If Julia Quinn, the original Bridgerton author had done this, there wouldn’t be any lawsuit between Netflix and the Musical right now.

On the flip side, if she had done this, she wouldn’t have gotten all of the licensing revenue that Netflix paid her for the film rights. She would be hoping that fans of the show went out and bought the books as well.  

But, what if instead of looking at the traditional successes like Bridgerton, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, etc., we imagined the stories that NEVER made it?

The stories that were pretty similar in quality or style to those famous works, but never got on a Bestseller List or were optioned for a show. What if, by releasing the IP to the world, they were able to foster a community of fan fiction and branding that propelled them into that top tier?  

It is a gamble – not necessarily one we endorse – but a gamble that could pay off big for a risky author.

(Side note: Lisa doesn’t see this is a great model for stories, but could be a source of writing prompts, novel ideas, movie ideas, outlines, etc.)

2) Release a Story NFT with “Licensed Commerical Rights”

Technically, this isn’t CC0, but this might be more palatable to authors. This is the model that Bored Ape Yacht Club (another leading NFT project) used to strong success.  

In this example, if you own a particular NFT, you can commercialize that particular NFT.

E.g., if JK Rowling originally sold NFTs for lesser-known characters from Hogwarts, people could create their own back stories and fan fiction around the characters they own.  

Or if Pokemon sold NFTs for each animal, the owners could monetize any that they owned. 

This is more similar to a traditional licensing deal, and the success of the monetization could drive interest in the projects, raising the value of any resales (a portion of which goes back to the original creator).

3) Writing a story using CC0 NFT characters

We THINK this should work (but each contract is different, so please verify) and could be a really interesting way to start exploring the space.

Here, a writer could find an already launched CC0 NFT project that they like – i.e., GoblinTown, Nouns, or Tiny Dinos and create a story around it.

Whether it was a children’s book or a full-fledged novel, the art would be available to use and has an existing community that would likely support the book. Piggy-backing on the existing community could help a story stand-out in this competitive industry.

Overall

The NFT space is a playground of experimentation, and CC0 models are the latest iteration of that.  

Any author with existing IP will need to think long and hard about the tradeoffs of giving up IP rights, but it COULD be worth the gamble.  

Writing on top of a CC0 project could be a fun, interesting way to explore the space and stand out from the crowd.

Either way, enjoy your #CC0summer!!!

********

Want to learn more about the Bridgerton Musical vs. Netflix legal drama that could impact fan fiction?

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How authors can use POAPS to help their readers step into web3

POAP
Reading time: 3 mins 38 secs, 912 words 
(Read to the end for a special POAP NFT for our readers!)
POAP
Last week, we dug deep into how authors can look at reader blockchain data to gain reader insights. However, one major gap with blockchain data was that it didn’t allow authors to connect with their readers directly.  
 

This week, we want to highlight one way to solve this issue by exploring how authors can use Proof-of-Attendance-Protocol (POAP) NFTs.

(…and how this could be the precursor to a read-to-earn app.)

What are POAP NFTs?

The creators of POAPs describe them as “digital memories minted in celebration of life’s remarkable moments. A gift from an issuer to a collector in celebration of a special shared memory.” 

They have become increasingly common “gifts” in both in-real-life and online events, with some Dune Analytics dashboards from @greywizard showing sharp increases in usage. (IMAGE)

So, let’s say someone attends your panel discussion at a conference. You can display a QR code on your last slide, and everyone attending can scan it and get a limited edition NFT showing they were at the session.  

The digital equivalent would be if someone listens to a Twitter Spaces (or even a TikTok) and gets a secret code word at the end that allows them to download a POAP.  

The basic idea is that these are low-stakes rewards for being an active and engaged community member.  

Other “real world” examples of low-value participation rewards include the “I Voted” stickers given to voters during elections, stamps or badges given for hiking the 46 mountains in the Adirondacks, or balloons handed out to children by McDonald’s staff.

3 ways authors can use POAPs to engage with their readers

So now that we have a basic idea of what POAPs are, what can authors do with them? 

We looked through several use cases and examples and found three use cases that were really interesting for authors specifically.

1) Provide POAPs for IRL or Digital Speaking Engagements.

Whenever an author is giving a reading or a talk, offer readers the ability to download a POAP afterward. It wouldn’t be required of them but would allow you to better understand how many of your fans are crypto-enthusiastic.

2) POAPs as Lead Magnets.

While seeing who has bought your NFTs using blockchain data is great, like we talked about last week, connecting with them off-chain is not accessible if you don’t have their email addresses. By providing a sign-up form that offers a POAP in exchange for their email address, you can reach out to your on-chain readers.  

3) Proto-version of “Read to Earn.” 

Not going to lie; this is why we did this write-up. We’ve been talking about Read-to-Earn since our very first article. Full Read-to-Earn could be the key to unlocking DEMAND for on-chain books by readers. However, many obstacles still remain.

POAPs could be the first step in the direction of read-to-earn or rewarding your readers for doing what they love — reading! 

How to do it?

Place a QR code or secret password at the end of your book to download that book’s POAP and see who starts collecting them.

This would reward readers for reading in a potentially fun and new way. 

This strategy gamifies reading all of the books in a series or an author’s entire catalog of titles.

Imagine if an author like Stephen King put POAPs at the end of each of his books. Passionate readers would love to read through and show off that they have read the entire collection. 

Or if Goodreads worked with authors and instead of just clicking “read” on a new novel, readers actually received an NFT when the book was completed.  

This reminded us of passport stamps in a way because each stamp becomes a bit of a memory for the traveler. We always keep our outdated passports to look through them and reminisce about our travels. The same can be done for avid readers. 

Potential downside of POAPs

The downside is that authors are already wary of losing reader, and most prefer to place a call to action to leave a review on Amazon/Goodreads. 

If authors place a POAP instead of a request to leave a review, readers might have to choose between that and a link to write an Amazon Review. 

Lisa’s advice is for authors to stop caring about reviews on Amazon, but that’s for another day.

Get Your Gutenb3rg POAP for free! 

If you are interested in testing POAPs out with your community, https://poap.xyz/ does a great job explaining how it all works.

One important thing is that these are engineered from the start to be low/no cost, so there is no expense to issuers or collectors for the NFTs.

We talk a lot about testing out different technologies as we go, so we wanted to reward our Gutenb3rg readers with a POAP just for you! 

To get it, you need to:

1) Download the POAP App and follow the directions

2) Click on the MINT button in the bottom right and Select Secret Code

3) Enter: gutenb3rg_1  (all lowercase)

NOTE! We only have 50 POAPs available, and you need to mint them in the next 12 hours (they disappear at 6 pm EST today)!

Side note: As an update, we are powering down in Sweden so we can recharge in the sun and nature, and we won’t be coming out with in-depth articles until August. 

Once we are back, we look forward to digging deeper into a number of exciting projects and technologies to see how web3 can improve how stories are written and how authors are paid! 

Thanks again for reading!

Don’t miss one of our articles!

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Gain New Insights about your Readers using Blockchain Data

Reader Data in Web2

As authors, we begrudgingly acknowledge that Amazon is the largest platform on which we can sell our books. The biggest downside to selling your books on Amazon is that we have zero customer data of our readers. Sure, we can add a call to action to sign up for our newsletter in the hopes that we’ll get their emails, but really, we have no clue who is buying our books. We spend all this money acquiring readers for our books and can’t even retarget them.

Facebook ads are a bit nicer because we can retarget former customers or website visitors using Facebook Pixel. Even if we don’t know who visits our website, we can put one of our book’s ads in front of them again.  

But what if you could see every web3 purchase your readers have ever made?  

Keep reading for how authors can gain new insights about their readers using blockchain data.

New world of Blockchain Data

We’ve been hearing and thinking a lot recently about how blockchain data can provide different insights to creators, we wanted to dig in more. (Note – a really good and in-depth discussion of this is from Mint’s recent podcast – The Web3 Creator’s Guide to Blockchain Data with Erik Reppel. Recommended if you want more details!)

One of the confusing parts for us is that blockchain data is BOTH primarily anonymous AND primarily transparent. While this seems a bit contradictory at first, it makes sense once we understand how it works.

Blockchain data are anonymous because you cannot connect them to real people. Using blockchain data, there is no way to send an email to all your customers (or potential future customers). All you can see from the data are all transactions tied to an account number.

But that is where the transparent part kicks in – and WOW – there is a lot of data there.

(Note two – these next steps are not super easy or straightforward at this stage. But as always, remember that we are SO EARLY)

Gain New Insights about your Readers

OK, so we all agree that Amazon and Facebook (ahem, Meta) are super powerful platforms that are happy to take our money to advertise our books to THEIR users. The only way to transform THEIR users into OUR readers is in hopes that our readers love us enough to subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on social media.

Let’s be honest — how many of you have LOVED an author and then immediately gone and signed up for their newsletter?

Maybe once? Twice in your life? OK, so that strategy means you’re only capturing a teeny tiny percentage of your readers — they are hardcore fans of your writing, and you’re still missing information on 99.99% of your readers.

Using blockchain data, however, web3 authors can now have high value, individual and traceable purchasing data FOR FREE. It’s all RIGHT there for anyone to look at (kind of scary, huh?)

After spending a bit of time on Dune Analytics (a great free platform to make sense of messy blockchain data), we’ve found a handful of dashboards showing the type of aggregated data potentially available for authors.

Dune Analytics Community-Centric Examples

1 – Your overall web3 project activity and sales – built by @RantumBits

2 – Top customers for your project – built by @lukerfrazier (i.e., some projects will see customers buy multiple NFTs to give them more utility and/or more financial upside)

3 – Web3 purchasing history indicating how much previous experience your readers have with crypto – built by @kristineberth

4 – The number and types of NFTs your customers hold in their accounts – built by GreenHaro

5 – The amount of ETH your customers have in their account

(very frustrating, but we can’t find the link / screenshot of this one.  But trust us, it exists and was a pie chart showing how many ETH were in each account, by buckets (i.e. less than 1, 5-10, more than 50, etc.)

Using these data, you can better understand what content would be most engaging and relevant for your readers. 

You can also benchmark your project against your peers to evaluate marketing or other strategies.

With another few clicks, you can even go one level deeper and get account-by-account details of your readers. 

Individual Transaction Data

If someone new purchases your NFT book, you can copy and paste their account number into Etherscan and see every on-chain transaction they have ever made and the current value in their wallet. 

For example, here is Jimmy Fallons account that links to his twitter and shows he has 33 Ethereum, a number of NFTs/Tokens and has made 32 traceable transactions. 

What could you do with this information? 

A lot…actually.

It would increase your knowledge of who your readers are and what they purchase in web3.

You’d know if they’ve purchased any other books in web3, supported art NFTs (you’d get a sense of what type of art they like), and if they are a newbie or a power-user in web3.

You could always team up with other web3 authors and airdrop (or “gift”) a preview of your NFT book to their readers or vice versa if you are in the same genre.

The possibilities are endless, and those are all quick ideas off the tops of our heads.

What we would like to reiterate is that with great transparency, comes great responsibility.

While people trust Amazon with their data because they know it won’t be released to anyone, users might shy away from web3 if they feel their data will be misused.

Don’t abuse web3 reader data, and definitely don’t contact your readers on web2 if they haven’t consented. 

As a web3 creator, it is important that you respect people’s privacy regardless of how transparent transactions are on blockchain.

Your sales data is also available

Another downside of this public transparency is that it makes your sales and purchases public. 

Here is one NFT collection we launched last November based on our trip to Jordan (our trip to Petra, Jordan was amazing, btw!).

As you can quickly tell, no one has bought anything.

These data are like a supercharged Amazon ranking. Now anyone can see your projects’ success (or failure) with specifics. 

Not necessarily a problem, but very different from our usual expectations of privacy (especially financial privacy). 

Next Steps

As we mentioned at the beginning, the central part of this article required a decent amount of playing around and exploring what is available currently. 

Unfortunately, blockchain data are inherently messy, so it isn’t easy to dig into the raw data unless you are very technical.

Luckily though, several tools make it more accessible. Zora from the podcast we mentioned earlier seems to be doing a great job. Dune Analytics provides free access to aggregated data through publicly available dashboards (and you can make your own if you know SQL). 

Etherscan is a fantastic tool for quick analyses of individual accounts. 

Unfortunately, due to the current nature of the space, most of the dashboards we found on Dune Analytics are focused on the INVESTOR community rather than the CREATOR community. We hope/expect that to change in the future.

Overall, we think that blockchain data have the potential to transform what authors know about the communities that own their books. By combining this knowledge with the web3-enabled ways authors can interact with their communities, major opportunities for community building and engagement are unlocked. 

If you know SQL/Dune Analytics and want to work together on a creator-centric dashboard, reach out!

Don’t miss one of our articles!

We highlight web3lit projects and creative pioneers every Friday and send a friendly email to our Gutenb3rg Readers.

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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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Why a crypto winter shouldn’t stop you from building in web3

crypto winter meme

Reading time: 2 mins, 26 seconds

Disclaimer: We are not financial advisors and do not offer financial advice. Always do your own research. Consult a professional investment advisor before making any investment decisions. Our content is for entertainment only.

Crypto Winter 2022

Well – this has been a chilly WEEK for the crypto community with talks of a crypto winter.

When we were writing this newsletter last week, the Total Market Cap of crypto was about ~$1,2 trillion. As we write this today, it’s down to ~$0,9 trillion. We aren’t used to working in trillions, but quick math says that $300 billion of value has disappeared in the last seven days.

That’s a lot.

If you follow the crypto space much on Twitter, discord, podcasts, etc., you know that the tone has changed very quickly. Before, web3 newsletters focused on “how to best build community within your DAO.”

Now we are hearing warnings that we are approaching a “crypto winter” where everything freezes, nothing grows, and the community goes into pause mode.

crypto winter meme

We’ve survived a crypto winter before

There have been two previous crypto winters — in 2014, 2018, and potentially, now again in 2022 (Bloomberg 2022: The Crypto Winter is Here). Where traditional markets have “bear” cycles, crypto seems to have four-year cycles of winters.

What’s different about this time versus previous crypto winters was that people worried that the fundamentals of blockchain were flawed. We are already 8-10 years past that worry. 

This winter reflects the general financial issues we are seeing in high-interest rates, inflation, and market hesitation. 

Still, this does not reflect problems with the functionalities of blockchain or crypto itself, implying that the concepts are sound, but the market is tough for everyone, everywhere.

Without a crystal ball, we don’t know what will happen and wouldn’t want to hazard a guess.

Cryptocurrencies are highly variable, and while Bitcoin has crashed to the lowest value seen since July 2021, we’ve also seen it rise just as quickly.

We believe web3 is still relevant, necessary, and revolutionary

This downturn has caused us to think deeply about why we are so interested in the overall crypto space and, even more importantly, why we are interested enough to put out this weekly newsletter.

1) We still believe that web3 enables new ways for authors to get fairly compensated for their work.

2) We still believe that web3 makes it easier for books and authors that mainstream publishers have traditionally overlooked (i.e., due to audience size, not having the right network, etc.) to be published.

3) We still believe that web3 allows new ways for authors and readers to connect and for communities around stories.

4) We still believe that web3 unlocks new ways to write stories- through community engagement, integration with NFTs, and more.

5) We still believe that both authors and readers will value all of the above.

6) We still believe that the billions of dollars that Venture Capital funds have invested in this space improved web3 technologies, tools, and experiences. We all know that these things take time to launch.

7) Overall, we still believe that we are just beginning to see traditional firms (i.e., banks, consumer-facing companies, etc.) put money in the space by launching NFT projects, investing in companies, and making crypto available to the broader public, etc.

Passionate communities will always prevail

So while we have NO IDEA what will happen in the crypto/web3 markets in the future, we feel comfortable with these core beliefs.

We’ve been around long enough to know that anything built by determined, passionate groups of people won’t disappear with a little tumult and hardship. 

The people who continue to explore and build in the space are the ones who will hit the ground running when crypto resurfaces again.

We will keep those beliefs in mind and get inspiration from the amazing project’s building and growing within the web3lit community.

So whenever we get too bummed out about our portfolio value, we’ll look at what we see from Sitka World, SolType, Readl, Jenkins the Valet, Page DAO, StoryPrima, and so many more and realize that we’re in good hands.

Until next week!

Jon and Lisa Ferland

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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!

 

What are We Most Excited About for Authors in Web3?

why are we excited for authors on web3

2 min, 8 sec reading time

Last week, we sent out a deep dive focused on StoryPrima DAO. As we mentioned then, we are very impressed with their dual focus areas.

Their first goal is to help authors launch their books using NFTS by educating authors and readers and incubating projects.

Their second goal is to create content to spark discussions within the web3 and literature communities. 

Their new podcast series is a huge part of that, and luckily, they were able to get some pretty good-looking and super smart guests for their 7th episode on Wednesday.

(Hint, it was us!)

We were super excited to talk with the team there and enjoyed the conversation with Devin and Barry. 

We think you will enjoy the entire discussion, but we wanted to give you the highlights below:

Topics we discussed:

1) Differences between Web2 Kickstarter/Patreon vs. Crypto

The main difference between web2 and web3 is that in web2, you’re exchanging money for a product. In web3, you can exchange money for equity and invest in an indie publisher or small press.

Both models can have long-term patronage and co-creation, but it’s only in web3 that facilitates easy investment for equity.

2) What determines an author’s success in the web3 space?

Devin: Lisa, with your experience guiding authors in the self-publishing space to raise money for their projects, what are the things you think might be technical barriers to authors joining web3 today?

Lisa: I think the authors anywhere who are most successful are the ones who are willing to experiment and try new things and persevere. I think those are the core qualities for taking on anything. Of course, you have to have a good story, but if you have no readers, it doesn’t matter. So you have to embrace putting yourself out there, explaining why your story is wonderful, fantastic, transformative, etc., and translate the value to the reader. 

Web3 is no different than web2, and if you try to shortcut or do things out of order, you’re just going to stumble and Bumble and take ten times as long. If you build up your audience and build excitement and buzz, you’ll have a big launch no matter what platform you’re launching on.

3) What are we most excited about for authors in web3?

Suppose self-published authors want to direct their community to web3 for the opportunity to participate in a new kind of equity-based model or invite their readers to invest in them as a writer or creator. In that case, that’s a great way to build an authorship business.

Also, what about read-to-earn? That’s a great idea that incentivizes both authors and readers to join the web3lit space and consume stories in a new way.

We also think dynamic art or dynamic storytelling is possible in web3 in a way that isn’t possible currently. The possibilities are endless.

4) How long will it be until a web3 author gets a Pulitzer or a mainstream award in the future?

Lisa: I think it’s tough because traditional publishing really looks down upon alternate ways of storytelling and is reluctant to make big moves outside the box. I’d rather see web3 authors create their own awards than seek the validation of the traditional literature gatekeepers.

This space moves quickly and you won’t want to miss a thing! 

We put out new web3lit articles every Friday.

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