10 Lessons Learned from Launching on IndieGoGo

Sheri Wall, children’s book author, recently finished her IndieGoGo campaign that raised over $5k for her book, Maiden Mermaid, a folktale in Salado, Texas.

Here are the lessons learned from her IndieGoGo campaign.

Please note that Sheri ran a flexible funding IndieGoGo campaign, so even though her goal was $9k and she raised $5k, she gets to keep the funds. If you have questions about the different types of crowdfunding platforms, click here to read more.

My IndieGoGo campaign is over. Thank goodness! 

While I’m very pleased with the orders I received and the amount I raised, it was way more work than I anticipated. 

I lost sleep. I lost confidence. 

Then the mood goes back up and you feel invincible, and you know your book is amazing. 

Then tears. 

It’s an emotional roller coaster, at least it was for me. 

Ten things I learned from my IndieGoGo campaign in no particular order, not sure any of them are original, and not sure these would all apply to other campaigns, but here goes:

#1 Keep your campaign page as simple as possible

I LOVED how my page looked and all the clever names I came up with for perks. I asked some folks a question like, “Did you see (something on the campaign page)?”

They had to come clean and say they didn’t read anything as it was too confusing and overwhelming. They looked for a dollar amount they were comfortable with and clicked it.

#2 Assume your audience knows nothing about crowdfunding

If it’s your first campaign, underestimate your audience’s understanding of crowdfunding—I had no idea so many folks had never heard of IndieGoGo. I would then follow with “What about Kickstarter?”

Blank stares.

#3 Don’t rely on influencers

Don’t put too much weight on outside influencers’ influence.

I had three influencers with large email lists that were on board to share my campaign at least once with their newsletter subscribers.

They were “so excited” to help, really loved the book, and “couldn’t wait to be part of it!”  

Not one of them actually included the campaign in an email. I got a few shares on Facebook, but that reach is just not the same.

#4 Watch your email open rates

Carefully calculate how many email reminders you will send. Your open rate goes way down the more you send.

I felt I was very conservative, but in the end, I just stopped sending them as they weren’t getting opened anyway.

#5 Be flexible with your social media plan

I had a calendar mapped out that basically went out the window. Sometimes until you’re “in it” the creative ideas don’t come (for example,  my video with the statue).

#6 Upload your campaign video directly to Facebook

Facebook prefers “native video uploads”—meaning, you upload the file and don’t link it from YouTube and will show it more.

I didn’t know this when I started, but when a friend told me, I uploaded my campaign video as a post and the views shot up in comparison to a post with just the link to the video.

#7 Don’t be afraid to reach out to acquaintances

Don’t be afraid to message folks that you don’t talk to on a regular basis. I’m going to have to be extra nice at my high school reunion.

I was blown away by distant folks that preordered and some that even just donated funds. I also messaged folks that “Liked” a post but didn’t comment. Many responded favorably to my private message.

#8 Some promises will be broken

Know that some folks will never follow through on their order or pledge—even after they call you and ask what they can do to support you.

Sigh, but life happens.

#9 Focus on the why

Educate your friends on how to share your campaign. Kindly remind them to always start with a personal message as to why they are sharing and just don’t hit the share button.

#10 Engage early and often on social media

Start engaging early with your friends and followers on Facebook so your posts will be seen by them later.

The more you comment on other’s posts, the more likely Facebook is to show your posts back to them.

At least it seemed that way.

Instagram is all about engagement as well, but I did very little on Instagram just because I’m not that familiar with it.

In conclusion

Will I ever do another one?

It’s too fresh in my mind to say.

I started producing books in my empty nest stage, and it was never actually with the intent to be able to live off the income or grow a large network. But it is all a bit addicting.

If I do ever have a repeat, I will at least know what to expect and be able to prepare mentally.

When Sheri’s not writing, she likes to cook, eat, decorate, bargain hunt, and stay active.

You can see all of Sheri’s titles on amatterofrhyme.com and follow her on Instagram @sheri.amatterofrhyme.

Bio

When Sheri’s not writing, she likes to cook, eat, decorate, bargain hunt, and stay active.

You can see all of Sheri’s titles on amatterofrhyme.com and follow her on Instagram @sheri.amatterofrhyme.

Sheri’s Books

If you like children’s books, be sure to check out my children’s book, When the Clock Strikes on Halloween, now available for pre-order on Kickstarter until May 15.

Click here to check it out! 

How to Build a Collaborative Author-Illustrator Relationship

A great book is always created in collaboration.

There are writers, editors, designers, illustrators, and printers who all work together as a team.

An essential component of the team is the relationship between the writer and the illustrator. If you’re not the illustrator yourself, you have to explain your vision for each page.

If you don’t have a vision for your book, you should hire an illustrator who has a style that you love. By hiring them, you are asking them to create your vision in their style.

How to build a strong collaborative author-illustrator relationship

Short answer: develop a relationship built on mutual respect and trust

Long answer: read below

Synchrodestiny

Synchrodestiny, coined by Deepak Chopra, is about taking advantage of unpredictable moments in your life.

“You need to notice things that happen in your life that are out of the ordinary,” Dr. Chopra. “Seize that moment of unpredictability and ask ‘what’s the opportunity?'”

What are your goals?

If you are writing a stand alone book and you aren’t going to have a long-term relationship with your illustrator, then “dating around” might not be as important to you. Finding the right personality fit isn’t as important as finding an artist with the style you love and budget to match your bank account.

If you’re going to create a series, you’ll want to have consistent illustrations in all of the books, so finding someone you can work with long-term is important.

Finding the right person who is open to building that relationship with you takes time, effort, and energy, but it is so worthwhile.    

Work with people you trust

So many indie authors are looking for illustrators and they search portfolios, scan websites, and proceed with necessary caution and hesitation.

There is a real fear of intellectual property theft and copyright infringement on both sides of an author-illustrator relationship.

You also have to balance creative style, personality, method of working together, and of course, budget.

When people ask me about how I chose my illustrator, I tell them that we had a relationship established first.

That’s quite an unpopular answer because most people don’t want to invest the emotional labor in creating that relationship.

Finding an illustrator

You can search Facebook groups, Instagram, or artists’ websites and portfolios but in all cases, I recommend casting the net far and wide.

There is the right illustrator out there who matches your style and budget perfectly, you just need to find them.

I’m a firm believer in serendipity, or as Dr. Chopra says, synchrodestiny, because the best collaborations in my life have all sort of “fallen together.”

Over the past few months, I’ve been contacted by authors and illustrators asking for help and advice with their Kickstarter campaigns.

Pei Jen, a new illustrator on the scene, contacted me when her first book went live on Kickstarter. She had some questions on how to get more eyes on the campaign.

Building a relationship

A few weeks turned into months and we communicated back and forth via Facebook Messenger.

We chatted about the business aspect of self-publishing, as it’s not always straightforward, and over time, we developed a relationship built on mutual respect and trust.

Because I knew I’d be working closely with my illustrator over the next year to develop the three books in my series, I really wanted to be sure that I had a collaborative relationship with my illustrator.

I also wanted them to be somewhat interested in the books they were illustrating and not just a transactional “gig” like you find on Fiverr.

Building something together

Once you start working with your illustrator, be sure to understand each other’s work flow.

  • Are you going to communicate via email, messenger, WhatsApp? 
  • Will they send you a sketch first?
  • Will they place the text on each illustration or will you hire someone else to do that?
  • Talk with them about empty space for text as they’ll need to accommodate that into their art
  • Do you want single page or full page spreads? Maybe a combination of both.
  • Where will they place the final image files?

Pei Jen and I discussed the concept of the book and the direction of the entire series as a whole. She immediately had ideas and brought her creativity to the table.

“I want to be sure there are diverse characters in the story, so please include kids of different races and ethnicities.”

“Of course. Every child should see themselves in the book,” she replied.

Perfect.

New sketches and illustrations came through Facebook Messenger and my heart raced every time I got a ping from Pei Jen.

The book was coming together in ways that I never could’ve imagined.

She took my vision and brought her own creativity to the book to elevate the entire story.

She was incredibly responsive to my suggested edits and together, we found a harmonious way of working together.

Nurture relationships—both professional and personal

You never know who will become central in your life and when you’ll need their help the most, so my advice is to nurture relationships and see where they lead.

Build trust through communication, consistency, and generosity and you may be surprised what happens.

Take a look at Pei Jen’s artwork in our first collaborative effort together, 

When the Clock Strikes on Halloween

The Story Behind the Story: The birth of a silly Halloween rhyme

The story behind how When the Clock Strikes on Halloween came about. You can grab your copy here.

It was a dark and stormy Halloween night…actually, it was.

October in Sweden is really dark, and it wasn’t nighttime per se, but rather 3 pm which is quite night-like in terms of daylight.

The kids and I were at the dentist’s office for my daughter’s wellness check-up. She opened her mouth wide, and we discovered she had one cavity.

Given that it was Halloween and the kids were about to eat more candy than usual, we had a brief discussion about sweets and tooth brushing while on our way to the car.

As we walked through the parking lot, my son asked me, “Why does everything spooky on Halloween happen ‘when the clock strikes twelve?’”

I don’t know where this thought came from—my kids usually throw bizarre questions and ideas at me—but this one started a conversation between us.

“I don’t know. Maybe something happens every hour on Halloween. When the clock strikes one, mummies come undone…” I said in a spooky voice.

“When the clock strikes two, witches stir their brew.”
“When the clock strikes three…what happens at three-o’-clock?”
“Goblins need to pee!” he chimed in, giggling maniacally.

And so it went, on and on until we had a few rhymes.

Capturing the magic

The kids climbed into the car, and it dawned on me that I needed to write these rhymes down before they disappeared and became a hazy memory of “that fun conversation we had on Halloween.”

I’ve lost so many good ideas by thinking that I’d remember them later only to have no idea what we talked about.

The kids buckled in, and it was after 10 minutes of frantic scribbling in my notebook later that I remembered they were back there.

“Can we go home now?”

“Why haven’t we left yet?”

The backseat was getting complainy.

“Guys, Mama’s busy writing something. Hang on one more minute, ok? Then we can go.”

It wasn’t one more minute.

I had a problem

Nothing rhymed with twelve. Nothing.

Also, seven and eleven were tricky unless I wanted to rhyme them with one another, which I didn’t.

I left those rhymes as blank spaces and vowed to revisit them later.

Seeking validation

Being the obsessed-with-a-new-idea type person, I had to validate my idea and see if it was any good. I created some Instagrammable images with clip art, added the text, and published them on my account.

It was Halloween evening…I didn’t have much time left in the day to be timely.

The hearts and comments started to pour in.

“So fun!”
“Lovely!”
“Haha, love the goblins.”

The initial reader feedback was good enough for me to take it to the next level.

I shared the images in a children’s book writer’s Facebook group and asked for more feedback—this time from my peers.

“I think you just wrote your first board book,” came some encouragement from Sheri Wall, “it’s really fun!”

It was vital for me to test the quality of the story before moving to the illustration phase. Illustrations can hide a bad story well—they are really good at that.

I wanted my contribution—the nucleus, the purpose of the story—to be solid before hiring an illustrator.

Hiring an Editor

I hired an editor, Tamara Rittershaus, who told me that my meter was a mess.

What meter did I even want anyway?

My story was a jumbled mix of iambic trimeter, tetrameter, and pentameter. Did I want anapestic?

Ana who

I had no idea what Tamara was talking about, and, feeling like I didn’t know English as well as I thought I did, I set off to Google and YouTube different types of meter.

After a lot of thinking and reflection, I settled on iambic trimeter. That had the best rhythm and was the simplest for the age range. Also, most of my verses were already in iambic trimeter, so I wanted to keep it easy.

My next two books can expand in length and complexity, but the beauty of this story was its simplicity.

Iambic trimeter felt right.

Making it more than just a cute story

Cute stories are great but I know that teachers love books with a teachable element to them.

My books dealt with time, and my son was struggling to understand the concept of time in first grade.

A friend suggested placing a large analog clock opposite each illustration to introduce young kids to the concept of time.

The story could hold water on its own and now I had a teachable aspect of the book.

Parents and teachers would appreciate it for more than just a cute story and kids would learn something new while reading it.

“Am I crazy? Does this work?”

I sent an advanced copy of my book to a few kindergarten and first grade teachers.

“Oh, it definitely works! I was surprised at how much my kids didn’t know about time until we started the questions at the end of the book. We had a good class discussion about the differences between morning, afternoon, and evening. I’ll be reading this to my class during the Halloween season.”

And with that, a book was born…

Actually, it wasn’t that easy. (It never is, is it?)

Luckily, my illustrator Pei Jen understood the vision I had for the book and elevated it beyond what I could imagine with her creativity.

The final illustrations are so much fun and the kids love looking for the little clues on every page.

Be sure to order your copy of When the Clock Strikes on Halloween TODAY because the special rewards are expiring soon and only available to supporters of the Kickstarter campaign.

So, hop on your broomstick and place your order for a copy (or two) today. 

when the clock strikes notebook
My original notes from that 20 minutes in the parking lot on Halloween 2018

Behind-the-scenes of my first children’s book’s Kickstarter campaign

Updated May 14, 2019

1
Number of backers

Strategies—Both Failing and Succeeding

This post is LIVE, meaning I’m updating it throughout the campaign with my strategies, thoughts, and reflections.

There are strategies here that could be considered failures and successes depending on what your goals are. 

Most books raise $5k on Kickstarter but only 30% of children’s book campaigns are successful. 

 

Primary goals

Always know what your goals are as they will probably differ from mine. Different goals require different strategies.

For this campaign, I wanted to:

—raise a modest goal of $3500

—gain the Kickstarter Project We Love badge

—get the Kickstarter algorithm to work in my favor to show my project to people on the platform

—grow my audience beyond those who already know me

—not annoy my friends and family

If my goal was to raise a large sum of funds, as it was for my first campaign that raised $10k, I would’ve priced my reward tiers and campaign goal differently.

Mini Goals

I set mini goals for myself every day. “Today, I want to reach X number of backers.” “Today, I want to raise $X.”

Doing these mini goals really helped me focus on tangible goals and see progress. It’s very easy to feel like you’re doing a ton of work and not seeing results if you aren’t setting these goals. 

Public Gratitude

Before I dive into marketing strategies, I just wanted to say that the most fulfilling posts I ever created were my Wall of Gratitude posts where I publicly thanked every single backer on Facebook.

I loved creating the graphics and typing out everyone’s names. I loved trying to tag everyone in the post and ensure that they saw the thank you, and I loved their comments and responses.

When you lead with gratitude and show genuine thankfulness, you will feel so much better about your campaign and people will feel good about being a part of your project.

Always lead with love.

Facebook Ad Strategy

Disclaimer: I’m not good at Facebook ads even though I took a course and have been experimenting for a while.

Facebook usually gobbles up my money without any click throughs so I wasn’t going to run any ads.

I decided to boost my “We’re live on Kickstarter!” post because it had 19 organic shares, a bunch of comments and hearts on it from launch day.

I boosted it for the equivalent of $10 for one day and ended up with a bunch of clicks coming to $0.50/click.

Nice. The average cost per click in the US is $1.01 according to Google, so this ad is performing well. 

Let’s keep it going.

I just increased the budget to 300 kr ($35) and will monitor it to see if the costs are still around $0.53/click.

If I start hemorrhaging, I’ll pause the ad and try something else.

What Launch Day Looked Like

I sent my two kids off with my husband to his office because I knew I needed to focus without interruptions.

So, off they went with their headphones and iPads to draw on whiteboards at the headquarters. 

Launch Day Timeline

8:15 am—I pressed the Prepare to Launch button on Kickstarter and followed their directions (eek!)

—Created Kickstarter referral tags so I could track traffic from different sources. I labeled them Facebook, Instagram, Email, Homepage, etc., 
—Changed my homepage to a landing page design to send people to my campaign.

All digital roads on websites that I own lead to my Kickstarter page.

—Changed my sign-up landing page to redirect folks to my campaign. I don’t want people signing up for my newsletter, I want them heading to my Kickstarter campaign. 

—Updated my blog sidebar widget

–Posted an update to LinkedIn

—Scheduled my book-specific newsletter to go out at 11:30 am CET/5:30 am ET

9:17 am—received first spam email offering promotional support

9:50 am—Updated my Instagram profile picture, link, post, and stories

—Added “offers” to my Facebook Shop on my professional pages

10:19 am—Sent out newsletter to 181 people (not specific to the book but to crowdfunding)

—Updated my email signature to just send people to my campaign

10:30 am—started emailing friend and family. Most are on the east coast of the US, so they were still asleep, so I focused on my EU-based friends first.

11:09 am—Received second spam promotional email offering “help” with my Kickstarter campaign

—Boosted “We are live” posts on Facebook for $5-$10/day for one day on both of my professional pages

11:55 am—received third promotional spam email promising exposure

12:00-13:30—took a lunch break, screen break, read a book and sat in the sunshine

13:30—got back emailing friends, family, and fellow authors

15:00-15:30—took a break, answered the front door, puttered around a bit

16:00—started emailing and messaging people again and scheduled an automated newsletter to go out at 21:00 for everyone who hasn’t opened my first newsletter

18:46—Kickstarter emailed me notification that the project was selected as a Project We Love!  

19:00—ate dinner with my family (I remember those people)

19:30—20:30—client call with an author

21:00—received another spam promotional email

22:00—finalized my Launch Day Heroes visual to share on social media

Phew. Good night!

Strategy

Setting my goal

There are two different goal-setting strategies that I see on Kickstarter:

    1. Setting an artificially low goal and work hard to exceed it
    2. Setting the goal amount you need even if it means you might not reach it

There are different reasons and methods behind each strategy, but I’m going with strategy #1.

My goal for this campaign is to grow my audience, so I want to price my reward tiers with maximum “no-brainer” appeal. I’d rather have 350 backers than $5k, so that’s why I’ve priced my main reward at $15 including shipping.

This might come back to haunt me later, with a smaller margin for error, but we’ll see.

Emailing friends and family

I’ve been emailing personal emails directly to my close contacts so they understand how critical their support is on launch day.

I really don’t like emailing promotional emails to my friends and family, so I led with the story of the book—why I’m publishing it and why I’m excited to share it with others.

My emails don’t feel spammy or pushy to me (I asked my friends to check my language), and I feel good sharing them.

Emailing superbackers

I tried to hire someone to help me reach superbackers on Kickstarter and he TURNED ME DOWN saying that my goal was too low to draw much attention. 

First of all, I appreciate him not just taking my money if he thinks I won’t be successful, so kudos to him, but this is not the first time I’ve been turned down by PR folks for one reason or another.

Hence, why I offer consulting services to indie authors. NOBODY ELSE WANTS TO WORK WITH US. Frustrating beyond belief.

Homepage takeover

I created a new homepage that will go live when I launch that will drive any traffic landing on lisaferland.com to head to the Kickstarter campaign instead.

Doing this required a bit of time and technical knowledge, so I got this all set up 10 days before launch.

Talk it up

I talked up my campaign to A LOT of people before I launched. I attended a conference in Amsterdam the week before launch and told everyone there what I was doing and got their emails if they were interested in learning more. That effort probably yielded 3-5 backers.

I posted blogs on my website and sent emails to my newsletter discussing the importance of backing authors on launch day to prime the pump and educate people before I launched my campaign.

I created informational images and sent those to my newsletter folks and posted it on my personal Facebook page that explained why I was crowdfunding my book and how Kickstarter worked.

In essence, I discussed Kickstarter and how people can support authors non-stop on all of my social media platforms, blogs, and videos 30 days before I even launched.

Honestly, by the time launch day rolled around, I was so sick of hearing myself talk about it.

It’s hard to keep in mind that there is so much noise on social media these days and people are only hearing and seeing a fraction of what you’re putting out.

It feels like a TON of overload for you but most people aren’t seeing what you’re doing.

 

 

Kickstarter Campaign Page

The campaign page was completely finished about 15 days before launch.

I worked on it over the course of several weeks, commissioned graphics by my illustrator, and researched reward tiers by other campaigns.

The campaign video took one day to create (it’s 1:26 long) and I used Camtasia as my video editor.

Someone commented saying I needed to add more “personality” into my video (apparently, my voice was too chill), so I edited it a bit and added in some personal aspects about my kids reading the book into the middle of the video. 

I kept the length the same because short and sweet works for me.

I received feedback and input on the content, rewards, and goal amount two weeks before launch.

Blogs

Podcasts

External Press

Advanced Reader Copies

I printed off advanced reader copies via KDP Print so that bloggers and teachers could have books in hand to review, photograph, and read to their kids.

I sent off five copies to teachers (three responded with quotes and images), and six copies to bloggers for book reviews and giveaways on their websites during the campaign.

I also sent everyone on my newsletter list a PDF copy of the book. Of the 150 people on my newsletter list, 47 people opened that email and 38 people downloaded the PDF.

I used Bookfunnel to deliver the PDF seamlessly and ensured that only my newsletter folks could access it.

Additional Content

In creating the graphics for the campaign, I upgraded my Canva subscription to Canva for Work so I could easily resize images, use color palettes, and have access to Premium stock photos. This alone saved me a ton of time.

I batched my efforts and created 15 promotional gifs/videos during Ripl’s free trial for 5 days. I don’t need Ripl’s services beyond this campaign, so I canceled after the free trial.

Ten days before launch, I updated my Facebook personal cover photo and profile image with links to the campaign as a sneak peek and started including more book-based promotional images in my IG and FB stories.

Website Modifications

In addition to creating a new temporary homepage featuring the book, I changed up my footer and blog sidebar widgets to feature  hyperlinked images that would direct people to the campaign and to rewards specifically for authors.

Basically, all roads lead to my campaign. 

Screenshot of lisaferland.com's current landing page

Coming soon…

—Where did my backers come from? I’ll give you a detailed breakdown of my sources.

—Was all of the effort worth it?

—How I created my campaign video

 

Total raised on Kickstarter
When the Clock Strikes on Halloween 136%

If you want to visit the campaign and see how it’s going, click the button below: 

Lessons Learned from Launching 5 Kickstarter Campaigns

Joseph Becker has raised over $75k on Kickstarter over the course of his five campaigns for the books in his Annabelle and Aiden series.

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 5 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 all five campaigns below to see how he priced his rewards and structured his campaigns.

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.

Rad Girls Start a Revolution

Sharita Manickam and Jen Bruno want young girls to envision their futures as anything—CEOs, astronauts, artists—absolutely any dream at all. 

The photo book shows real girls modeling future professions and it caught fire on Kickstarter raising over $21k with 616 backers.

Turns out, stoking the fires of a revolution is popular business.

Sharita was kind enough to share some insights and experiences of her campaign.

With 139 backers on launch day, you must’ve done a ton of behind the scenes work to prepare everyone for your campaign’s launch. 

What types of “behind-the-scenes” work did you do that contributed most to that huge first day?

Before launching, we held a Thunderclap campaign (Thunderclap is a service that has since been discontinued).

Basically, it was a way of getting your early supporters (family, friends, social media contacts) to sign up to help spread the word about your Kickstarter launch.

We asked our contacts to support us by signing up by linking their social media accounts to our Thunderclap campaign. Then on the day of our KS launch, Thunderclap posted a one time, free message to all of those supporter’s social media feeds telling their friends/followers about our launch! Thunderclap was likened to a “social media flash mob”.  

In the weeks leading up to the launch, we made social media posts and graphics explaining how Kickstarter worked as we learned many of our friends and family members were unfamiliar with crowdfunding and pre-orders. 

We also sent out a market survey and received 700 responses and about 200 people signed up for our newsletter.

We also had some early bird specials for the first 48 hours that we promoted heavily. We sent out an email blast the morning of our launch to friends and family.

“It’s a lot of work, relationship building, and strategy, but one of the main things we would like to express is that you can’t be afraid to sell yourself and ask for help.”—Sharita Manickam

How long did you engage your audience and potential backers before launching? 

We began our social media campaign about a month before we “intended” to launch, but ended up having to push back about a month.

We used social media to increase enthusiasm about empowerment, count down to our impending launch, and collaborate with other accounts with like-minded missions.

How large was your audience before you launched?

We had about 900 followers on each platform, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and about 700 email addresses (500 friends and family and 200 survey respondents) collected.

The ever-changing, always elusive social media algorithms of FB and IG make marketing a product so much more difficult than ever before.

Since we didn’t have the budget to pay to boost our posts, we created “boost groups” of our biggest supporters and each time we posted something on FB and IG, we send a link to our “boost group” so they can go like or comment that post. It increased our exposure quite a bit.

What has been the most surprising aspect of your Kickstarter campaign? 

We were blown away by the immediate support—the link sharing, the enthusiastic posting, etc. We didn’t expect that to happen right away, and then when we were selected as a “Project We Love” by Kickstarter within a few hours of launch, we were really surprised.

We’d been advised by several Kickstarter veterans that sales were likely to stall once we hit our goal, so that didn’t come as a huge shock, but had we not been prepared for it by others, I think that would have been a really difficult pill to swallow.

Your video is brilliant. Where did you find all of your sweet young models to participate? Did you do the video yourself or hire an expert?

Thank you! Since the photo illustrator, Jen and I have young children, we were lucky to have a fairly large pool of children to reach out to who are friends of our kids.

We ended up with 72 models in total and found many through word of mouth. Our video model is a friend of my daughter and her older sister did the voice over. Jen’s son is also in the video, as is another book model and her mom and brother.

Our video was filmed with an iPhone and I put it together using apps.

How was your experience with IndieGoGo InDemand after your Kickstarter ended?

We just haven’t had time to build our own website yet so IndieGoGo InDemand seemed like a good way to continue taking pre-orders.

We currently just have URLs (www.radgirlbook.com and www.radgirlrevolution.com) redirect to our Amazon page, and previously they directed to Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, and BackerKit. 

I don’t think we received much new exposure from IndieGoGo, but we ended up raising about $2500 through inDemand from people who either missed our Kickstarter or were just learning about the book through social media.

With so many backers, has fulfillment been an issue? What solution would you recommend for authors who find themselves overwhelmed with logistics? Did you go with BackerKit?

 Our shipment of books from China was held up for weeks at the Port of New York, so we were about a month behind schedule on fulfillment. Once we received the books, we sent them all out within days.

We did use BackerKit.

It took a lot of time to setup but in the long run it simplified our fulfillment. 

I hesitated about the cost at first, but it more than paid for itself from add-on items our backers purchased through Backerkit. I would recommend Backerkit, especially for those with more than a few hundred backers.

Also a label printer is a must for quick shipping!

What advice would you give a fellow author who is looking to crowdfund their book?

Sales don’t happen automatically.

Kickstarter doesn’t sell anything for you.

It’s a lot of work, relationship building, and strategy, but one of the main things we would like to express is that you can’t be afraid to sell yourself and ask for help.

We reached out to many other successful Kickstarter brands along the way to gather advice and to partner and cross promote.

We also asked our friends and family to help be an extension of our sales team by using their social media and word of mouth channels to spread the word.

We couldn’t have done this alone, and we advise anyone considering a crowdfunding campaign to rally their troops before they launch.

What are you working on at the moment and do you have plans for more books?


At the moment we are working on driving traffic to our Amazon listing through influencer marketing and ads.

We keep a running list of occupations for a sequel and have ideas for other books, but at the moment we are just focusing on this one!

Bio

Sharita Manickam grew up in Maryland. After graduating from the University of Maryland, she moved to New York City, where she worked in marketing until her first daughter was born. During the next couple of years, Sharita discovered a passion for writing and co-wrote a television drama script for a major network. Her love of writing, coupled with her love of reading to her daughters, sparked the idea for a children’s book. Sharita lives in Forest Hills, NY, with her husband, Maurice and their two RAD girls. RAD Girl Revolution is her first book.

Jennifer Elliott Bruno grew up and attended college in Kansas before relocating to Tallahassee, FL to pursue a career in property management. She met her husband, George, in Tallahassee, and the couple moved to New York City where they soon became parents to a little boy named Henry. Shortly after his birth, Jennifer pursued her passion by opening a photography business. She currently resides with her family and miniature dachshund in Forest Hills.

Join the revolution!

Be sure to read and review Rad Girl Revolution on amazon.

Bonus resources from Sharita and Jen—feel free to model your graphics after theirs

The Adventures of Lily Huckleberry Raises Nearly $40K on Kickstarter

It’s not every day that a children’s book raises nearly $40k on Kickstarter, but that’s exactly what Audrey Smit and Jackie Knapp did with their first book, The Adventures of Lily Huckleberry in Scandinavia.

As we all know, or should by now, fundraising is a full-time effort and the end result of months or years of audience building and engagement.

I spoke with Audrey about all of the preparation and work she and Jackie did to garner such stunning success.

Note: Whenever somebody makes something look easy and effortless, understand that a TON of effort and work went into it on the front end even if you can’t see it. There are no shortcuts to success.

Let’s go under the hood of their Kickstarter campaign and find out what worked and what didn’t.

You raised ~50% in the first 24 hours—can you describe a bit of the pre-launch work you did to make that happen? We all know it’s not easy to generate that much energy on launch day.

Yes, the first days are everything!

Before the launch we reached out to influencers that we thought would be interested in the concept of Lily Huckleberry – travel influencers, book influencers etc.

I contacted people I already had a connection with (that’s always the easiest) but also reached out to tons I didn’t know at all that I thought would be interested in our idea.

We got maybe 7% positive responses back when we reached out. It was a lot of work but every person we could find to help spread the work made a difference.

You have to be shameless, talk about what you are doing with pride + passion— it’s contagious. And keep knocking on doors, you’ll get a LOT of no’s but keep reaching out to new people.

Another thing did as we launched: Jackie (my co-author) and I had made a bet with my husband (which we included at the end of our Kickstarter video) that if we funded under one week, he would have to let his Viking beard grow to be a foot long so we could braid it for the book release party.

For some reason that got a lot of people fired up to pledge early, haha! I guess lots of people (including many of our friends) wanted to see him do something a little ridiculous. I think it really helped people connect with our campaign from the beginning in a genuine way.

It’s all about thinking outside of the box. In the end you never know what is going to stick so you have to try a lot of different approaches.

“In the end, you never know what’s going to stick so you have to try a lot of different approaches.”                – Audrey Smit

It looks like you have a very large audience already established from your design business. What types of outreach would you recommend to authors who may not have a large audience already established?

Yes, a bigger pre-established audience definitely helped,  but you can definitely make it with a smaller audience.

Use what you’ve got and again, think creatively!

Start with friends and family, of course, but don’t stop there.

Promote to whatever audience you have on social media and try to reach out to the press ahead of time about your project/idea.

Very often local newspapers are happy to run an article/interview about you and or your book—you will just have to do a little research on how to best approach them and how you can make them look good with your amazing story.

Other ideas:

    • set up a booth at local events during your Kickstarter
    • team up for giveaways with other influencers on social media to increase your reach,
    • and if you have a little bit of marketing money to play with, consider things like Facebook/Pinterest ads.

What would you say surprised you the most about running your Kickstarter campaign?

It takes SO MUCH time and energy! Ha!

Setting up the campaign is only the tip of the iceberg, you have to put a lot of effort into promoting it along the way, getting back to people, etc.

BUT it is so amazing to see people gather around your idea and put their weight behind it, and the work is completely worth it. It’s truly amazing.

Are you planning additional campaigns for future books in the series?

Absolutely!

We are in the process of writing our second Lily Huckleberry book and we’ll be doing a Kickstarter campaign for it.

Having the ability to raise money for editing, printing, marketing is game changing.

We would not be able to self-publish without Kickstarter. 

I also find that Kickstarter campaigns to be an incredible marketing tool —people love getting behind ideas they love and it helps build a community around your book. 

What unexpected opportunities have resulted from running your Kickstarter campaign? 

We were stunned that we raised well over our initial goal—nearly $40K!

That allowed us to invest more in the book, to make a stunning products that people are raving about. That also allowed us to invest in marketing a little more, have a book trailer made etc.

Also unexpected: my husband was quite stunned he lost his bet with Jackie and me.

Being a sales manager in the corporate world, he couldn’t believe he had to let his beard grow for months on end.

Quite a few of his clients asked him about it, and he had to boast about his wife beating her funding goal on Kickstarter. 

Anything else you’d like to mention? Future book plans?

Well, as I mentioned, our second Lily Huckleberry book will be coming out later this year!

After wandering in Scandinavia with her Viking friends, Lily will be going somewhere in Asia to solve another big mystery…but I can’t tell which country yet, it’s still a secret.

We LOVE self-publishing—it is so much work, but also gives us  so much creative + business control.

We are really excited to do another Kickstarter campaign and see if can turn our dream of a series into reality! Our goal is to release one new Lily Huckleberry book every year, and have her travel to all the continents so our readers can dream far and wide with our brave Lily.

Bio

Audrey Smit is the founder of This Little Street, a design company whose colorful and happy aesthetic has built a following of nearly 20K. She has worked as a pattern designer since 2015, recently launching several successful product lines of her own. 

Originally from France, Audrey lives in Berkeley, CA with her Danish husband and their four adventurous little girls, who are constant sources of inspiration for her work. 

Follow her on Instagram: @thislittlestreet  

Click here to buy the book on Amazon

Click here to check out her Kickstarter campaign for The Adventures of Lily Huckleberry in Scandinavia

How does a Crowdfunding Consultant Kickstart Their Own Book?

Real talk:

Planning my own book’s Kickstarter campaign has resulted in a bit of strategy analysis OVERLOAD, some momentary doubts of failure that I promptly kicked to the curb, and then the realization that I ALREADY have all of the tools I need.

Reasons Why I’m Not Worried About Failure

Tools: Fortunately, I have a handy Excel spreadsheet calculator so I know exactly how to price my rewards and calculate my profit margins (thank you, past me, for being so smart).

If you want this calculator/calendar/supercharged Excel spreadsheet PLUS email templates, PR templates, and all of the tools you need to manage your crowdfunding campaign, you can buy it here.

Knowledgeable network: I already have a network of crowdfunding-savvy authors because I’ve been COACHING THEM—oh yeah, another good move, Lisa.

Hard work always pays off.

Superbacker status: I’ve spent oodles of my own money investing in other authors on Kickstarter and now it’s time for me to call in some chits.

Participate and invest yourself into a community and you can rightly call on that community to support you when it’s your turn.

I believe in my book: My book has been vetted by 300 students already, parents, and teachers and everyone thinks it’s totally awesome and the book series as a whole has legs.

I’m also working with an amazing illustrator who is a DREAM to work with (no, you can’t have her until we’re done) who is doing a brilliant job at bringing my book to life.

So, yeah, I’m not worried about failure. BESIDES, I know that failure won’t kill me. I’ll learn a TON of valuable lessons going through the process again myself and I plan to run this campaign as I did my original $10k.

Want to follow along/support me?

You’ll get good KARMA and I’ll pay it back/forward/sideways, don’t worry, sign up for my VIP newsletter here: yes, I love supporting children’s books on Kickstarter

Learn about crowdfunding YOUR book and see if it’s right for you:

Enroll in my free crowdfunding mini-course here: https://bit.ly/mini-crowdfunding

Children’s Book Authors use Kickstarter to Launch Their Businesses

Children’s book authors often face steeper costs when creating their books than adult fiction or non-fiction writers.

There are the additional costs of illustration (ranging from $1200-$10,000 for a 32-page picture book), and often the cost of a print run of 3,000-10,000 books from either local printers or printers overseas. Then there are warehouse and fulfillment fees to cover for orders placed on Amazon.

Many children’s book authors are turning to Kickstarter and IndieGoGo to not only fully fund their books but also boost their marketing efforts.

  • In the Facebook Group, Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators, which I recommend joining, many of the authors have successfully Kickstarted their books and subsequently, their self-publishing businesses to great success.

Why Crowdfund Your Book?

Crowdfunding does a few things that waiting to market your book launch doesn’t.

When you crowdfund your book, you…

  • Validate your book’s idea with your audience before you get too far down the road of creation
  • Engage with your audience in a more personal way and offer them special rewards in addition to your book—something you can’t do on Amazon.
  • Communicate directly with your backers—Amazon does not provide you any information about who buys your book
  • Generate more funds for your book than you can selling the same number of books during a pre-launch (profit margins are a bit larger than royalty rates) 
  • Boost your confidence when your book is demanded by the readers. There is a feeling of incredible pride and humility when you realize that your readers are helping you create your book.
  • Create a viral buzz about your book. By cramming three months of marketing efforts into 30 days, you generate a veritable swirl of energy around your book.
  • Can afford a better team. When you crowdfund your book, instead of footing the bill from your own pocket, you can pay thousands for an experienced illustrator. You can opt for the thicker paper that’s more expensive. You can end up with a higher quality book when you have a larger budget (all things considered equal, of course).

And magic takes place during and after a crowdfunding campaign.

Like local news coverage, radio spots, cross-collaborations, and other opportunities that occur when you start reaching out to anyone and everyone who might be interested in your campaign.

The time-limited nature of the campaign forces creators to be bold and take action when it comes to marketing outreach that doesn’t usually happen during other book launches.

Examples of Children’s Book Crowdfunding Campaigns

While some campaigns are more successful than others, almost every campaign listed has resulted in an incredible boost to the visibility of the book, the sales, and/or the audience who is ready to purchase subsequent books from the author.

Note: *All of the following book images are linked to my Amazon affiliate account which results in tiny donations in my tip jar when you click at no extra cost to you.*

Title: ‘You Stole my Name’, Dennis McGregor’s new children’s book

Author: Dennis McGregor

Backers: 407

Total raised: $27,302 (137%)

Link:  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dennismcgregorsbook/you-stole-my-name-dennis-mcgregors-new-childrens-b?

Click here to buy on Amazon

Title: I’m NOT just a Scribble—Children’s Book that Inspires ART!

Author: Diane Alber

Backers: 423

Total raised: $15,343 (153%)

Link:  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/282178178/im-not-just-a-scribble-childrens-book-that-inspire?

Click here to buy on Amazon

Title: Into Your Dreams

Author: Roger Blonder

Backers: 197

Total raised: $16,760 (111%)

Link:  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/76408786/into-your-dreams?

Click here to buy on Amazon

Want to go behind-the-scenes?

Get even more insights with in-depth interviews by crowdfunding authors…

Kathleen Cruger and Thankful Frankie

Stacy Bauer and Cami the Kangaroo

Roger Blonder and Into Your Dreams

Rebecca Hamer and Where Oh Where is Monty Bear?

Now, don’t be fooled by the amazing successes of the authors who have funded their books using crowdfunding

There is nothing easy about crowdfunding even though these authors make it look effortless.

One in three crowdfunding campaigns on Kickstarter fail (1 in 3!).

Click here to get on my calendar for a free 20-min chat to see if a) crowdfunding is right for you and b) if I can help you. 

Crowdfunding is tough, but I’ve created tools and templates to make it easier.

Click here to hop on my calendar.

Also…grab my freebie below and avoid some pitfalls when planning your campaign.

Download my solutions here

Rebecca Hamer Introduces Kickstarter to Australia

Paving the way for others is never an easy task and one that children’s book author, Rebecca Hamer, discovered when she launched her Kickstarter campaign to her mostly-Australian audience.

Rebecca’s Where Oh Where is Monty Bear? picture book series helps kids deal with both big life transitions and small everyday challenges.

Knowing that Monty Bear was heading to Australia next, Rebecca decided to launch her third book, Where Oh Where is Monty Bear Australia using Kickstarter as a launch mechanism. 

Rebecca’s YouTube channel is great. I mean, just look at this video!

Scroll down for Rebecca’s insights about bringing the concept of crowdfunding to Australia.

What surprised you the most about running your Kickstarter campaign?

It was shockingly hard to get everyone on board. This was my third book, so I knew the publishing process and felt confident taking on a new marketing strategy.

Preparing for the campaign was extremely time-consuming and I knew I had to get everything done by a hard deadline.

So many people don’t realize how long it takes to build your campaign page and even though I have experience making videos, it still took me forever.

What would you have done differently?

I would’ve done more Facebook group interaction and started engaging with people 2-3 months before launch. 

I joined a lot of teachers’ Facebook groups and had connections from my previous two books but didn’t want to bug them too much.

“Find your people who are looking for what you’re delivering. They may be homeschoolers, teachers, parents, babysitters, who knows? But find them and nurture your relationships with them.”

Did you pay for any advertising?

No, not really. I paid $50 in Facebook ads but those didn’t convert. I didn’t do a press release or anything formal.

I was able to land some visibility in Offspring Parenting Magazine’s newsletter and I reached out to Big Life Journal because they added my YouTube channel as one of their recommended resources.

All of the parenting and teacher blogs want payment for sponsored posts (~$700/post). I had lined up exposure with some bloggers but many of them didn’t follow through.

What advice would you give an indie author thinking about crowdfunding?

Spend a lot of time building relationships. Teacher bloggers are super supportive and were the best source of support for my books on emotional literacy.

Don’t put all of your eggs into one basket.

Develop a cult-ish following of your work and build an audience who can’t wait to support you. Find your people who are looking for what you’re delivering. They may be homeschoolers, teachers, parents, babysitters, who knows? But find them and nurture your relationships with them.

Your audience is largest on Instagram (5k), did you find most of your backers came from that platform?

I grew my audience after making baby sleeping bags and I learned about social media over the past five years.

My Instagram followers are all from my first business and surprisingly, most of my backers were coming from Facebook. Most of them were not friends and family but one circle removed.

I also have a huge network of expat supporters who were great at sharing the campaign but weren’t backing it themselves.

Was having an Australian audience tough with your crowdfunding campaign?

I’d say so. People need to be educated about what crowdfunding is. Nobody in Australia is familiar with Kickstarter and most of my backers were first time backers.

The email templates in the Crowdfunding Vault  were really helpful in doing that audience education and outreach.

Would you do it again?

No. I burned through all of my goodwill in Australia and I’d really have to work my tail off to build a new audience.

Despite raising funds to cover the cost of your book, did running your Kickstarter help in any other way?

Yes, it really opened doors to new opportunities that I didn’t anticipate.

Maggie Dent is the Queen of Common Sense and is huge on the speaking circuit with her Maggie Moments.  I sent her a Monty Bear package and she is open to future collaboration.

Creating the Kickstarter campaign really gives you a lot of content and testimonials that you can use in future marketing efforts.

What are your future plans for Monty Bear?

My immediate plans are to tackle the Amazon machine and get my books on that platform for a new audience. That should be…a lot of work! 

Bio

Rebecca Hamer, BA Arts Psych, Grad Dip Ed, Masters Management….. Is an Early Childhood Education Specialist with over fifteen years teaching experience in Australia, Indonesia, Russia and Singapore. She has a passion for literacy development and believes that home and school co-operation is essential in facilitating children’s literacy learning.

She uses MONTY BEAR as an interactive way to engage children with all facets of literacy, including, speaking, listening, reading and writing. Rebecca loves seeing students and parents since fifteen years ago who still cherish photos and stories about their real life experiences with MONTY BEAR.

Visit her website: http://montybear.com.au/

Kickstarter campaign link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/461149098/where-oh-where-is-monty-bear-australia