4 Reasons Why Indie Authors Should Crowdfund Their Books

After successfully crowdfunding my book on Kickstarter and helping other indie authors find success on IndieGoGo and Kickstarter platforms, I fully believe that more indie authors can successfully crowdfund their books with some research and strategic planning.

The average book on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo raises $5k, but my clients raise above average levels ranging from $7k-$27k USD.

Here are my reasons why you should consider crowdfunding your book:

#1 Proof of Concept

Erin Nelsen Parekh Kickstarted her debut children’s board book and felt that the crowdfunding process proved her book was worth creating.

“Going through the crowdfunding process really made me feel like the entire project was vetted.”

If you can get more than 150 people to pre-order your book based on a sales page and campaign video, then you have a really strong message that resonates with people. Chances are good that you should create your book.

If you can’t raise the necessary funds to make your book a reality (i.e., your campaign doesn’t successfully fund), then it means that you need to reevaluate your idea, your audience, or your marketing efforts. 

Something is flawed and a failed crowdfunding project doesn’t mean your idea isn’t valuable, it just means you need to rework your approach.

Crowdfunding in a do-or-die scenario is a really good test of your book’s concept and will undoubtedly improve your future marketing efforts.

#2 Expand and engage your audience

When I launched the Kickstarter campaign for Knocked Up Abroad Again, I only had a newsletter size of 140 people and a Facebook page around 700. That was it. Scary, right?

Traditionally markers said that I wouldn’t reach my $10k goal with those numbers and normally, they’d be right. The difference is that crowdfunding isn’t like traditional marketing campaigns.

Crowdfunding forces you to create valuable content that people will want to share with their friends and family—organically—and those articles, videos, and images all have the link to your campaign on them. 

Fortunately, I had the help of a team of 5-8 contributors who developed their own blogs, videos, and graphics to share with their networks.  Crowdfunding is truly a team effort that undoubtedly results in expanding your audience.

One of the best parts about crowdfunding is that you engage your audience. 

As the creator, you provide them an inside peek into the development process of your book. They are along with you on the ride and are excited to share your concept.

This type of audience engagement is rare during the development process. Normally, writers will create a book and release it on a launch date.

Not many readers get the chance to influence a book during its development and that’s what keeps people coming back to platforms like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo.

#3 Condense 3-6 months of marketing efforts into 30 days

This condensed marketing effort really takes a lot of strategic planning and development. You can’t just throw up a campaign page and expect the backers to support your project. 

All of the marketing efforts that other authors spend over the course of the year are condensed into a very short timeframe. 

This can be exhausting, which is why all crowdfunding campaigns should end after 30 days or so.

During your crowdfunding campaign, you’ll write press releases, create videos, reach out to bloggers, social media influencers, and hopefully, get the attention of a few news outlets.

Stacy Bauer made a few appearances on her local TV news station during her Kickstarter campaign for her children’s book.

Erin Parekh’s campaign link was retweeted twice by Neil Gaiman out to his 2.72M followers.

You’re not supposed to be able to sustain this level of a marketing media blitz longer than 30 days, so please, don’t try. 

#4 Your book is funded

The best part about crowdfunding your book is that aside from your marketing budget during the crowdfunding campaign, your wallets aren’t entirely empty.

Many indie authors struggle with finding the thousands of dollars necessary to hire a quality editor, illustrator, and cover designer. As a result, their books aren’t as well made and don’t sell as well. 

Crowdfunding offers a unique proposition to readers that basically says, “Invest in this idea and you’ll get a much better product than you could’ve if I did this on my own dime.”

Believe me, people will invest a few extra books if it means they get a better book plus a few extras.

To Summarize

More authors are turning to Kickstarter and IndieGoGo to launch their books and provide additional bonuses to their readers. 

In a saturated market, it’s important to stand out.

Offering your readers MORE than what they can get if they order your book on Amazon is a real benefit for everyone.

Crowdfunding isn’t easy and it requires a ton of planning, effort, and energy on your part, but it’s very worthwhile. 

You’ll create materials that can be used to market your book throughout the year and you’ll make connections with podcasters, journalists, and bloggers who you might not meet otherwise.

If you’re interested in learning more about crowdfunding your book, I’m available to help.

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Find out if crowdfunding is right for you with this free video course

Thinking more seriously? Schedule a free 20-min consultation below

If you’re more serious about crowdfunding your book on Kickstarter or IndieGoGo, then click below for a free 20-min chat with me.

I’ve helped author raise over $150k for their books and I’m confident that I can help you.

Filling in the application doesn’t obligate either of us to work together—let’s see if we’re a good match.

Why Stories About Failure Are So Helpful

Failure.

It’s no longer a dirty word to utter or admit in entrepreneurial and corporate circles. In fact, many entrepreneurs and businesses are embracing sharing stories of failure because they understand the value of these stories.

Sharing what doesn’t work is just as valuable (maybe more) as sharing what does work.

In science, it is every researcher’s dream to test a hypothesis and find statistically significant results confirming that they were right. However, publishing research findings showing that there were no statistically significant results for those elements is equally important to the research community. It shows that those confounders aren’t relevant to your problem.

Failure in a Public Health Study

Case study: In 2005, Michael Watson and his public health colleagues conducted a randomized controlled trial where 3,400 some odd families with children under 5 were provided child safety equipment to prevent injuries.

They studied whether a child in the family had at least one injury that required medical attention and if they sought hospital admission for injuries over the course of a two year period. Their hypothesis was that providing safety equipment and medical advice to these families would reduce the number of injuries seen in the family. Afterall, safety equipment provides a protective effect, no? Seems logical.

However, they found NO SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCE in the number of medically attended injuries between the families who had the safety equipment and those who didn’t. Basically, kids will be kids regardless of the safety equipment they have. You can satisfy your nerdy side with the full article here.

Was their study a failure or did it provide interesting results?

I’d argue that these non-significant results were very helpful in directing future researchers to various study designs when it comes to studying families and child injury prevention. Their study informed pediatricians and crafted the advice doctors gave their worried parental patients.

One can argue, quite successfully, that publishing non-significant results (or stories of failure) are extremely valuable in how we view our world and test our own hypotheses.

Failure is the new trend in business

“I’m still shocked at being considered an authority on robotics when I’m known for making robots that don’t work.” – Simone Giertz

Fail stories are finally being seen as something of worth in the business world and entrepreneurs are embracing their failures with open arms. Failory.com provides written interviews with start-up founders to dig into the reasons why their ideas failed. Entrepreneurs are sharing their F**kup stories on vlogs with Stefanie Koch on We Fucked Up, and the videos are entertaining to watch and reassuring to see.

Because learning what not to do is as valuable as learning what to do in business, young entrepreneurs are gobbling up failure stories for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Take a look at all of the books related to failure: The 10 Commandments for Business FailureSecret to Startup Failure: Fail fast. Fail cheap. Fail happy.How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big.

On Alie Ward’s Gizmology podcast, she chats with Simone Giertz from Shitty Robots (a super entertaining YouTube channel, by the way), about how her robot fail videos made her famous. Simone admits, “I’m still shocked at being considered an authority on robotics when I’m known for making robots that don’t work.”

Failure makes you human. Failure makes you relatable.

The Old Guard (looking at you, my lovely gray-haired/bearded experts in your field of choice) have kept their mistakes a secret—always wanting to be perceived as the all-knowing, wise, and knowledgeable specialists. But, when those all-knowing experts are always on the conference call, they stifle their colleagues’ desire to speak up and offer their ideas.

Former Florida State Epidemiologist, Richard Hopkins, is a tall, white-bearded man who would regale me with stories about his bassoon playing vacations in Bozeman, Montana. During a “long table discussion” (you know, those where all of the experts sit at a long table and rabble on at one another) he pulled me close and whispered in my ear, “I’m not going to answer any questions so, you’d better be ready to speak up. You know as much on this topic as I do.”

Other people’s fear of failing in front of an expert actually hinders growth and progress.

Being a young, relatively inexperienced female epidemiologist sitting at the table next to a veritable expert with over 30 years of experience, I took his permission to heart. I was grateful that he explicitly gave my ideas equal validity as his own despite the discrepancy of years of experience in the field.

Later, during one of the coffee breaks, he said, “I’ve found that whenever I offer up my opinions on a topic, it shuts everyone else down and a lot of good ideas go unsaid. We need more new ideas coming to the table, not less.”

In short, other people’s fear of failing in front of an expert actually hinders growth and progress.

This is why we need more experts to share more of their stories of failure with their colleagues and especially with people seeking to enter their field. In doing so, we will all understand that growth cannot happen without failing and that it is only through failure that we can improve.

Share your failures story with someone and you’ll find that sharing your mistakes makes you more human, more relatable, and more empathetic toward others. You’ll gain more admiration and respect in your field of expertise.

Failure shows persistence

Tim Ferriss sent his 4 Hour Workweek book to 25 publishers before someone finally accepted it. Dr. Seuss’s first book was rejected by 27 publishers before it was accepted. Walt Disney filed bankruptcy after starting several businesses and failing at them all. Continuously failing means that you improve the next time and the next until you reach greatness.

So, head out there and fail your heart out. You might just inspire someone.

Are you ready to learn from my mistakes? I share all of my failures with my clients so they can learn what not to do when it comes to self-publishing and crowdfunding their book.

Kickstarter vs. IndieGoGo vs. Publishizer

When it comes to crowdfunding platforms, you really only have a few options—Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, and Publishizer. Of course, there are other, smaller crowdfunding platforms out there, but I do not recommend those for crowdfunding your book.

Full disclosure: I have successfully crowdfunded books on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, so I prefer those platforms over others. I’ll go over the reasons why below.

Regardless of what you decide, you first need to research the types of projects featured on each platform to find the best “home” for your book.

The average book campaign raises around $5K. If you have a larger goal in mind, I suggest you read about how Don Moyer used serial campaigns to successfully fund his creative projects.

Let's Start With The Basics

A key thing to remember: the vast majority of your readers don’t understand the concept of crowdfunding. Plain and simple.

Whenever you launch a crowdfunding campaign for your book, most of your time will be spent educating your Aunt Mary why you are crowdfunding your book and why it’s important that she shares your campaign link.

Without a doubt, she will brush you off thinking that you are begging for money, and you’ll be left feeling frustrated with the entire thing.

So, given that, does the platform you choose matter?

Absolutely.

Crowdfunding companies like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo are homes to crowdfunding campaigns that have gone viral—gadgets, gizmos, and a never-ending supply of travel neck pillows.

However, creative projects like performing arts and books have struggled to find the same success as the games and apps have on these platforms.

The average book on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo receives $5k in funding. However, there have been notable exceptions, and I’ve seen books reach over $100k.

Science Wide Open put out a series of science books for girls and leveraged their established audience from their online games to find success on Kickstarter. Their campaign ended with $136,520 (2275%). 

It doesn’t mean it can’t happen, but it’s rare. Those with wild success have already built their audiences before they launch.

Enter…Publishizer

Publishizer was invented in 2016 with books in mind and I really really wanted them to be the answer and provide an amazing platform for books.

It might because they are still growing as a company, but in browsing their current and past book proposals, I simply cannot recommend them to any of my crowdfunding clients.

Publishizer is kind of like a literary agent who takes 30% after you’ve used their platform to drum up 1,000 pre-orders of your book.

The thing is, if you can successfully garner 1,000 pre-orders for your book, you don’t need the Publishizer platform, and you certainly don’t need to give them 30% of your funds raised.

Why?

Because if you are popular on Kickstarter or IndieGoGo, you can use that social proof to get the attention of a traditional publisher. I know because it has happened to one of my clients on IndieGoGo, but they never paid someone 30% for that visibility—only the 8% in IndieGoGo and payment processing fees.

So, why automatically give a platform money for what you can do yourself?

The benefits of a community

Kickstarter has some benefits—there is a vast Kickstarter community of super backers who browse the platform and offer up their support to random projects. Since Kickstarter backers aren’t charged until the project is successful, many backers will support a project in the early stages when things are relatively low-risk for them. It’s been known to happen.

The publishing projects on IndieGoGo tends to be fertile ground for books, and they will often share popular campaigns on their Facebook and Twitter social media accounts resulting in a huge boost in your visibility to new readers.

The main problem I have with Publishizer, and I have a few, is that they will put you in front of the Big 5 publishers if you have 1,000 pre-orders, but their most successful books usually only raise $1,000-$5,000 in funds—the same average as Kickstarter and IndieGoGo.

Publishizer basically equals higher fees and lower success rates than Kickstarter and IndieGoGo.

So, in short, their fees are higher, the projects on the platform tend not to compete as well as those on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, and the community is smaller than the other crowdfunding platforms.

What’s wrong with Publishizer?

My personal opinion is that the Publishizer website isn’t as visually appealing as Kickstarter or IndieGoGo.

Publishizer also has a bit of a “Chicken or the egg?” dilemma. Meaning that the authors who are posting on the platform are seeking funding because they don’t have an audience but you can’t successfully crowdfund ANY book without an audience.

While I absolutely love the concept of Publishizer because they are focused on books, they missed a huge part of the equation essential to all crowdfunding campaigns and book campaigns are no different than neck pillows.

You need to offer something someone wants.

Often, the authors on Publishizer aren’t offering books anyone wants and therefore, their campaigns flop. Without a funding do-or-die strategy like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, authors aren’t motivated to push their campaigns to success. 

Wah, wahh, waaaaah.

Authors use Publishizer because they want to get the attention of a publisher—indie, hybrid, or traditional. That means that they aren’t really committed to putting out the book on their own and readers don’t want to back a book that’s unlikely to happen.

Holy horrible cycle of destruction, Batman! 

Consider the perspective of your reader (aka the backer)

Let’s look at it from the reader’s perspective. Am I more likely to pre-order a book from an author who is waiting for a publisher over one who is committed to self-publishing and delivering the book to me according to a specific timeline?

I can tell you right now, readers who are truly interested in the book and want you to be a success are going to want reassurances that you’re going to deliver the book.

The uncertainty factor that is inherent in Publishizer’s approach doesn’t send waves of confidence to the author or the reader. It’s a big shoulder shrug as to the outcome of the campaign.

Homework: After you’re done with this article, head over to all of the platforms and comb through their current book projects, and you tell me which is your favorite.

But wait, there’s more

If you have one (only 1) pre-order on Publishizer, you’ll be put on the list of service publishers—the folks who will gladly take your money to help you “self-publish” without any quality control or guidance.

No, thanks, Publishizer. I don’t want Xlibris to have my email whatsoever as they are notorious for horrible service and hundreds of writers have written reviews warning others about their “services”. The fact that Xlibris is even included on Publishizer’s website indicates that they have not done quality control for their authors.

Uh…if you’re not familiar with Xlibris or Authorhouse, proceed cautiously and read this article.

With Publishizer, your book won’t be seen by traditional publishers (the big guns we all hope for) if you don’t have 500+ pre-orders.

For Knocked Up Abroad Again, me and my contributors worked around the clock for 30 days to generate the equivalent of 302 pre-orders from 277 backers and $10K on Kickstarter.

Had I launched my project on Publishizer instead, I would’ve gotten the attention of 10-15 independent and service publishers (no big guns, sadly), but I would’ve had to fork over the 30% fee to Publishizer which would leave me with less money to self-publish the work myself if a publishing contract fell through.

If I were in your shoes, I’d take my chances and save 22% of my fees by crowdfunding on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo.

You bring the audience to the platform

Remember, authors have to bring their readers to the crowdfunding platform, so it really doesn’t matter which platform you direct them to as long as it contains enticing information, is visually appealing, and will get done what you want to accomplish.

In my opinion, Kickstarter and IndieGoGo will give you a better chance at success over Publishizer.

Now, should you choose Kickstarter or IndieGoGo? That’s another question for another day.

If you’ve created or backed a project on Publishizer and have a different experience, please let me know. I’m open and receptive to other people’s opinions.

Kickstarter Creator and Self-Published Children’s Book Author: Erin Nelsen Parekh

Erin and I first connected when we were both live with our Kickstarter campaigns. (You can see hers here.) Activities during a crowdfunding campaign involve reaching out to strangers and supporting one another on the platform, and I absolutely loved what Erin was doing with Behowl the Moon.

UPDATE: Erin has launched another Kickstarter campaign for her second book, The Wild Waves Whist that is live now until May 19, 2018 so be sure to back it!

Check out her Kickstarter campaign here.

I mean, how many Shakespeare board books for babies are out there?

What I loved about what she was doing was that it wasn’t really for the babies. I mean, it was a book for babies, but the book was just as much designed for the parent reader. Believe me, no baby is going to appreciate that artwork like an adult.

As Erin is a Kickstarter creator of a children’s illustrated board book and a self-published author; this interview covered a lot of topics.

You have experience with traditional publishers so why did you go the self-publishing route?

I thought I had a fairly strong idea, but there was no reason I could think of that a traditional publisher would want me to do that idea.

This was something I wanted for myself, and I knew other people like me would want for themselves, but I didn’t know if it was a big enough market segment for a traditional publisher to take a risk on it.

Board books are expensive [to produce] and almost nobody debuts with a board book.

For me, I would pay $25 for a board book instead of $3 for something I really wanted, and I knew that if other people were willing to do the same, then we could do it ourselves.

| Going through the crowdfunding process really made me feel like the entire project was vetted. | 

I have an extensive background in traditional publishing and I’ve done a lot on the editorial side. I knew how it was done distribution-wise and the technical details regarding the printing, so I wasn’t intimidated by the prospect of doing it myself.

Self-publishing meant that I got to pick everything—the illustrator, the title, the content. I wanted to have creative control for my project.

Self-publishing was a really empowering option.

Why did you decide to crowdfund your book?

Going through the crowdfunding process really made me feel like the entire project was vetted. If I hadn’t done the crowdfunding, I’m not sure I would’ve had the confidence to push it so far.

We had 384 backers for the project so we weren’t trying to please the entirety of the world. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and I know my audience is extremely sophisticated and has high standards for quality and production.

My illustrator was fabulous. And I also worked with a very talented professional book designer. I understand the need for getting the technical details right, but I don’t know how to make the book spine a certain width or how to reverse a template—she does.

Someone who is creative but not experienced in this industry wouldn’t know how to make my vision come to life like she did.

No one really wants to compromise on their project except in areas where you don’t know any better.

I really liked Kickstarter’s all-or-nothing approach because I wouldn’t be able to produce the book with only $5K. We truly needed to reach 100% funding to put this book together.

How much work did you do before the campaign?

Before the campaign, I did a ton of research on where to find potential backers.

I tried to think of every possible audience who might be interested in this book and how I was going to talk with them (Marketing 101, right?).

Then, I started finding where Shakespeare people were, parents, board book people, theatre people, kids who are into theatre, and then all of the blogs, websites, friends, etc. and made massive lists of every possible angle.

During the Kickstarter campaign itself, I tried reaching out to multiple groups each day so I wasn’t exhausting one interest demographic, but I was connecting with new people every day.

Did you do it yourself or did you have a team of people helping you?

I had a few wonderful friends and relatives who were interested in the project who helped me out sharing and looking for places to share.

Shakespeare Geek, who has been blogging since the dawn of blogs, picked up my campaign from Reddit, and he was my first stranger cheerleader.

It’s so incredibly compelling when someone else in the void of the internet likes your idea and has the authority of a background in your topic.

Neil Gaiman tweeted about the book and then did it again as the campaign was closing. I really admire him as an artist, and it was extremely exciting to see that momentum build.

At the same time, I was like, “Yeah, I need 100 more backers or all of this is for naught.”

You reached 100% with a few days to go in your campaign. Were you sweating it out?

Toward the end of the Kickstarter campaign, I’m thinking, “I have already said everything I can think of to say to everyone I can think of who might be interested. I have run out of ideas. What’s going to happen here?”

You get hung up at 92% for a few days, and it’s stressful.

 

How did you set your different reward tiers?

Crowdfunding campaigns are incredibly short, and there are only so many people who are going to back you at the higher reward levels in the short amount of time you have. It’s simply the nature of crowdfunding. You’re only going to reach so many people at those upper levels in the time you have.

People who really love you or your project may support you at the higher levels, but it has to be viable with a reasonable number of supporters at not too high a contribution point.

What’s your advice for authors with illustrations?

If you’re selling a print to go along with your book, you’re selling either a souvenir of the campaign, in which case they have to really like the campaign; or a physical piece of artwork, in which case they have to really love that piece of art; or a way for them to support your campaign, in which the actual piece of artwork doesn’t matter at all.

It’s hard to know what motivates people to choose a print, so you have to cover all those possibilities when you’re making your decisions about production and shipping.

Some people will want to buy the print, and some people will want to support the campaign at a higher level.

| Too many options weaken your entire campaign. | 

Kickstarter always gives you the option to donate to the campaign without any rewards. But too many reward options weaken your entire campaign. For me personally, I like the stuff, so I designed my rewards based on stuff that I like.

The artwork is beautiful and calls to mind a fairly beloved play, and the artwork was one of the main items I was trying to fund, so postcards and prints turned out to be the most practical and transportable with the highest added value.

The success of the campaign filled me with all of this gratitude, and I wanted to send everyone everything related to the campaign. But you also have to keep an eye on costs, and postage is one that will add up fast.

I had one quarter of the artwork paid on spec (by me) for the campaign, and we did the rest of the artwork as soon as it funded. I was seven months pregnant, so I needed to get that book off to press!

We finished in November 2016 and went to press December 12, 2016. My daughter was born two days later. I was approving final carton markings in the hospital! But then I had a couple of months where the book didn’t really need anything from me.

What’s next? Can readers expect another Behowl the Moon anytime soon?

Yes! I just sent out a survey to my backers to see if they would be interested in a second one, and the response was so positive and gratifying.

I have a new project percolating along now. I’m hoping to announce some details soon, and if anyone is interested they can find out about it from my mailing list: http://drivelanddrool.com/contact.

What would you say to someone who wants to farm out their publishing or crowdfunding campaign to someone else?

The misery of rewriting is the author’s alone, and I think that applies to crowdfunding too. If you try to outsource it, it’ll end up “okay” and okay isn’t good enough.

You have to own the entire process, and if you want the victory, you have to go through the slog.

Not that the slog guarantees victory…

But I love seeing the content that is out here that wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for crowdfunding. It really does democratize so much.

Bio

Erin Nelsen Parekh is an editor, writer, and copywriter with experience in book and magazine publishing, both business to business and consumer-facing. She has always loved kids and kids’ books, and now that she is a parent herself, she finds it particularly fun to explore children’s literature with a tiny critic in her lap.

You can find out more about Erin at drivelanddrool.com

 
Buy the book here

A New First: Learning New Skills when Self-Publishing

People always ask me if it was a lifetime dream to publish a book and honestly, it was never a dream of mine.

Throughout my academic career, I have written so many papers, technical reports, and research articles that the thought of writing a book had never crossed my mind until relatively recently.

However, once the idea was in my head and I discovered that there were a lot of viable options to self-publish a book of high-quality, I knew I had to do it.

Academia— always on someone else’s timeline

I’m used to the “publish or perish” mindset in academia—which insanely combines high quality with a sense of dire urgency. You must put out your best work before your colleagues. 

Academic publishing can be brutal. You are at the mercy of multiple rounds of revision, fact checking, and peer-review testing that are beyond your control and yet, you are expected to publish before everyone else.

There is a lot of hurry up and wait when it comes to academic publishing. Your best work is almost always in someone else’s hands.

With that in the back of my mind, I knew that if someone else published a book with the same idea and concept, I would be upset with myself for not pursuing it.

I relished the idea of being in control of the timeline but I was a harsh (still fair) boss and I held myself to self-imposed deadlines.

As much as I hate to admit it, it was the drive to be the first to publish the idea in book format was what spurred me to work those long nights for months on end. Because let’s face it, there aren’t many firsts left for most adults.

A new challenge

As an experienced professional, I had already gone through the ringer from graduate school, learned how to behave professionally in a traditional 9-5 office job, and presented at enough conferences to shake off the nerves.

The idea of creating and publishing a book was a new challenge.

A new set of steps to figure out and an exciting hike off my usual beaten path.

I felt confident that I could leverage my experience with traditional publishing in academia and apply my project management skills in self-publishing. I wasn’t leaving anything behind—I was taking all of my skills and utilizing them in a new way. It felt refreshing. It also jazzed up my daily tasks.

“You don’t have many “firsts” these days, babe. I’m proud of you.”

My husband made a valid point. As professional adults, a lot of our “firsts” are behind us. I’m a huge believer in always learning, studying, and researching new things but the idea that publishing a book would be a new “first” stuck with me.

The first time…

Self-publishing a book would be the first time I ever held a book in my hands with my name on the spine.

  • The first time I took an entire project from start to finish on my own inertia.
  • The first time I cared more about a project than anyone else.
  • The first time they were my deadlines and not someone else’s.
  • The first time I could create the sequence of steps and follow them how I wanted.
  • The first time someone else wasn’t asking me for project updates—I was the one managing a team.

My book wasn’t anyone else’s project. It was mine.

My first.

And it felt great.

If you’re looking for a new “first” and are considering self-publishing a book, let’s have a quick chat to see if I can help.

Want to do it on your own like I did? Check out my comprehensive course on self-publishing.

Book Marketing Ideas

“Content is fire, social media is gasoline.” -Jay Baer

When it comes to marketing your book, you have to do what every business does—get your product (that’s your book) in front of people who might be interested in reading it.

How you go about doing that will need to vary based on your audience.

In my lecture, Identifying and Connecting with Your Ideal Reader, I walk you through how to define your reader and think about where you can find them on the internet and in real life. (Click here to head to that lecture.)

Your marketing strategy for 25-35 year old women who are interested in yoga and aromatherapy will be slightly different than another author’s strategy who is targeting men between the ages of 55-65 years who are American classic car enthusiasts.

While the messages will differ depending on your ideal reader, you can still reach them in similar ways.

Here are a few ideas to market your book:

1. Book reviews on blogs

I guarantee that someone out there has a blog and is enthusiastic about your book’s genre. It’s up to you to track them down and make the connection.

Google your fingers off and create a list of potential book review bloggers and start contacting them with a friendly request for a book review.

You’ll need to send them either an e-book file or physical book for their review. You must give your book to reviewers freely and don’t even hint to them that you are looking for positive feedback.

According to Amazon’s book review policies, you cannot solicit positive reviews in exchange for a free copy of the book. Authors cannot incentivize or compensate reviewers in any form.

Ask the blogger to copy/paste a version of their review on your Amazon sales page and Goodreads when they are finished and ask them to let you know when the review on their site is live so you can share their blog post far and wide on your social media platforms.

If it helps sweeten the deal, you can offer one physical book for them to run a reader giveaway. They’ll run the promotion and send you the mailing address for you to ship once the giveaway ends.

As always, be genuine, be grateful, be nice and you’ll go far.

2. Let your voice be heard! Podcast interviews

Similar to your blogger outreach, you should repeat the same process for various podcasts. Hop on iTunes and start searching for pods related to your topic.

If you’re going to be a guest on podcasts, you need to know a few things:

1. Get a decent microphone. Sure, you can do it with your ear buds, but really, a nice microphone makes a huge difference and it’s not that expensive.

I use the Blue Yeti Microphone and I got it at a discount during a Black Friday sale. Get the foam filter that goes over the head so we don’t hear every spittle and click. Your listeners will thank you for spending an extra $7-$9 on your equipment.

If you find yourself on more than two podcasts, it’s time to invest in a microphone. Who knows? Maybe you’ll start your own podcast…storytelling in the author’s own voice is always nice to hear.

Whenever preparing for an interview, remember to relax. It’s just a conversation. Prepare some talking points around why you created the book, your inspiration, and what you want readers to take away from your book and let the words flow.

The more you do, the better you will be at interviews so do some mock interviews to calm your nerves.

3. Take ALL of the pictures. Share on Instagram

Someone who does this really well is Lola Åkerström who created an Instagram account for her book, Lagom.

 

A post shared by LAGOM Book (@lagombook) on

Readers send her pictures of her book in their house and she reposts them on her Instagram account. 

The end result: a stunning display of creativity and engagement with her readers around the world.

Seriously, follow her and do one better, buy her book here.

4. Put things in motion with a moving gif or video of your book

Want a high-quality image or video of someone reading your book but you don’t have any models around?

You can head to websites like Placeit.net and create a mockup of your book.

This can turn into a rabbit hole so don’t get lost. Get in and get out!

Here’s an example of a one that I tested out.

Buuuut, if you want to DIY it, which you might, you can create your own by animating your own book cover images.

Here’s an example of what I did for my Knocked Up Abroad books. You can see it on my homepage here.

Steps (super easy and free):

1. Take some flat lay pictures of your book(s)

2. Make the scene somewhat interesting

3. Make slight changes between snaps

4. Animate them using iMovie OR do what I did and create an animated slideshow using the Elementor WordPress plugin on your site.

5. Join a few marketing groups

There are TONS of other ideas for marketing your book—this is only scratching the surface.

For more ideas, I recommend reading Book Marketing Made Simple by Karen Williams and joining marketing groups on Facebook.

Internet Marketing for Authors and Books

and 

Marketing Across the World if you’re looking to connect with international entrepreneurs.

I’m in both groups, so come in and say helloooo.

6. Blog in your own words

This one is the most obvious but I almost forgot to mention that you should be blogging and continuing to put your ideas out there.

Add a link to your book at the bottom of every blog or in the sidebar widget of your site to encourage your readers to read more.

Put the link to your book everywhere. Make it easy for readers to find you.


Okay! That’s it for me. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments.

Lessons Learned from a Serial Crowdfunder

If you are interested in using crowdfunding to fund your book, then you would do well by studying Don Moyer’s success on Kickstarter.

Don is a serial creator with 32 projects on Kickstarter (probably more if you are reading this a few months after publication.)

Not only does he successfully crowdfund books on Kickstarter but he also creates unique ceramic pieces that he sells on calamityware.com.

After browsing through only a few of his projects, you’ll find that he is consistent, his style is distinct, and his work is high-quality. You’ll need those qualities as well if you want to replicate his success.

How I Discovered Don’s Work

Kickstarter has a great social feature that allows backers to follow one another. Every time someone backs a project, a notification email is sent out to all of their followers alerting them to the new project. This is a great benefit to Kickstarter and generates a community built on common interests and trust.

However, none of my friend’s had backed Don’s latest project—I actually saw his campaign shared on Facebook.

I watched the 1-minute video and was immediately charmed by the campaign’s goal.

Don’s content was authentic, the video was on point, and everything resonated with me as a reader. Home run.

The Campaign

Let’s dig deeper into Don’s successful campaign.

Campaign title: Stay Home: The Ugly Truth About Space Travel

Funding goal: $2,500

Total raised: $21,150 (846%)

Total backers: 843

Campaign Content

Don Moyer delivers a hilarious, snappy, and succinct 1-minute pitch in his campaign video about why it’s much better to stay home than suit up and explore the stars.

Seriously. Go watch it.

Coupled with his unique illustrations featuring aliens and his robot and alien themed porcelain creations at Calamityware.com, the reader can easily find a lot to pair with this fun book.

Rewards

Don kept it really simple by focusing on the book with the highest level reward being $100 for original artwork plus four signed copies of the book.

He charged $11 for international shipping, which I thought was cheap. I normally see $15 for international shipping rates on Kickstarter.

One signed copy of the book was $13—$2 less than retail price.

Two signed copies of the book—$22

Four signed copies of the book—$42

Original artwork + four copies of the book (limited to 25)—$100

Communication with Backers

Let’s take a look at the one email I received from Don during the campaign. Note how his message is in keeping with his personality and the book’s tone which keeps things light, entertaining, and informative.

“Lisa,

I’m so happy you’re supporting Stay Home, my latest Kickstarter project. These books tell the truth about the perils and inconveniences of space travel and may make you laugh.

If you know anyone who needs encouragement to stay home, be sure to tell them about this project before it closes tonight, November 22.

Watch for my updates as the project advances. I’ll try to keep you up to date without being an email pest. The latest update is here.
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/159974695/stay-home-book-reveals-the-ugly-truth-about-space/posts/2043134

Thanks for your amazing support.

Don

****
PS: Breaking news: Cheese factory explosion. De Brie everywhere.

****
PPS: Left-overs from my previous Kickstarter projects are available at www.calamityware.com, while supplies last. A great place to find some unusual gifts, including the world’s most delightful shower curtain.”

Don’s humorous personality is really what makes his video fun to watch but then his call to action in his email reinforced my desire to share.

In fact, I did share it on my Facebook page because I sincerely wanted to share this project with my friends. I knew they would like it too.

Don is back at it with another Kickstarter project that currently has reached $70k as of this writing and has two more weeks to go before it closes.

He’s projected to reach 4878% of his goal.

How does he do it?

Don is a Kickstarter veteran and has created 32 projects. Not only is he a super creator but he is also a super backer.

If you are going to venture into the world of crowdfunding, you need to understand that becoming a backer of other people’s projects is vitally important.

Check out Don’s stats: he has backed 152 projects, created 32, and commented 292 times on Kickstarter.

He’s an active member of the Kickstarter community in both creating and supporting other creators.

Don told me,

“I’m always deeply suspicious of people who launch a project when they have never supported even one. Ridiculous.”

You heard it directly from the pro, folks, go back a few campaigns before you launch your project.

Serial backers who support random campaigns on the platform look at creator’s profiles to assess reliability.

You don’t have to create 32 projects like Don, but you will need to support at least one project before you launch your own.

What happens when you support other people’s crowdfunding projects

You will learn a lot when you support other people’s crowdfunding projects. I have had many email communications with fellow backers and they were fonts of knowledge and tips.

After backing someone’s project, email them with a simple request to chat if they have a moment. Ask them if they can share any lessons learned with you or give you any advice. You’ll learn so much from them and who knows? Maybe, just maybe, they’ll support you when you launch your campaign.

Back to Don’s success…

How can we find success on Kickstarter?

No doubt, Don’s past projects have garnered quite the devoted following. But look at his funding targets—they are insanely reasonable.

Across his 32 projects, his funding goals range from $2500-$5000 and he exceeds them by tens of thousands of dollars.

Setting a low funding target does a few things:

  • Guarantees funding which, in turn, guarantees happy backers. Nobody wants to back a project that looks like it has zero chance of reaching their funding goal.
  • Funding XXX% over your goal means that your campaign is WILDLY popular and you’ll hit the top posts on the Kickstarter homepage. More eyes will see your campaign, see how many people are on board, and will throw in their support as well. Exceeding your target builds social capital. Everyone wants to be a part of the latest cool thing.

Here’s a screenshot of the Most Popular projects on Kickstarter under Art

As a backer, I’m going to check out the one that’s 1,034% funded first because that one is clearly the most popular and I want to find out why.

Consistency

Don is consistent in delivering high-quality products that are unique, interesting, and best of all, downright fun.

His messaging is consistent throughout everything he does—his campaign page, reward descriptions, communication with backers, and his public updates.

Even better was his book, you know, the thing I wanted from the beginning, had the same style and voice as his campaign.

Anyone who can insert humor into the copyright page is someone I want to continue to support.

Don used Fulfillrite based in NJ, USA—a third-party service to fulfill his orders—and everything was seamless. I completed a quick survey and my book arrived in the mail a few weeks later (most likely due to my international address).

Shared on my Instagram account @knockdupabroad

What can you learn from Don’s success?

Be yourself. Be quirky. Be weird.

Put out high-quality stuff, set small goals, fulfill your projects consistently, and be yourself in all of your communications with your backers.

If you have a project with a big funding goal, think about what you can do to break it down into pieces.

Don has amassed a huge collection of porcelain creations that are part of his Calamity Ware store, but he didn’t get there by asking for $100k in funding.

He raised funds for each mug, plate, platter, and book, and delivered them one at a time building success upon past success.

Engage in the community

Back other projects, communicate with fellow backers, and comment regularly so you build a presence.

You’ll get the same advice from the Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter social media wizards—you have to be a genuine part of the community to benefit from it.

Don’t reinvent the wheel

Don has successfully created a store full of related items and once he figured out the format that connected with his audience, he repeated the process time and time again.

Do loads of research before you start and evaluate what works and what doesn’t work from other creators.

Want more crowdfunding help for your book? 

Feel free to send me an email for a free 20-minute chat where we can figure out what works best for you.

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Writers: Increase Your Visibility on Instagram

Your writing lives on your computer but your fans, followers, and potential readers live on their phones.

Sharing snippets of your writing with your followers in Instagram is a great way to build a loyal readership.

There are some new apps designed for writers to share their work visually and since they are on your phone, it’s much easier to create an Instagrammable image of your latest blog, poem, or chapter.

Readers are visual people

These apps are designed with the poet in mind, but you can use them to highlight attention to anything you’d like your readers to know about.

The latest data from Statista states that 52.99% of global web traffic came from a mobile device in Q3 2017—a significant rise up from the 44% 2016.

More and more readers are surfing on their phones every day and let’s face it, people respond to visuals.

Creating an image is a great way to get more attention to your text.

I tested out two mobile apps for you to consider enhancing your Instagram feed.

YourQuote

YourQuote is an app developed in India that has a huge writing community behind it.

The wallpapers are beautiful and you can add them as the backdrop behind your text to enhance the emotions or imagery behind your words.

The app is a little buggy—it would suddenly close on me or freeze in the middle of my typing—but there are daily writing prompts to spark your creativity.

The app has Facebook and Instagram integrations which makes it easy to share across platforms.

There is also an option to copy your caption so you can easily copy/paste over somewhere else.

Lisa’s unbiased review: B

-This rating is due to the app’s instability. It keeps crashing my phone despite having the latest update. 

Mirakee

Mirakee is another app with a writing community behind it. The Explore feed looks like an Instagram feed full of poetry. The tap to heart options makes it easy to share encouragement to other writers and to find a little inspiration if you’re in a rut.

The compose and edit features are similar to YourQuote and navigating the app is easy.

So far, it hasn’t crashed my phone on me, so this less buggy version earns a…

Lisa’s unbiased review: A


Both apps are great options for sharing your writing on Instagram or Facebook and bringing more attention and visibility to your writing. 

What’s great about the apps are the writing communities behind them.

The writing communities are a great way to feel connected to other writers instead of home alone writing at your desk surrounded by sheafs of paper and empty cups of coffee.

Canva

While Canva is not a writing app, you can use this photo editing app to create your own images and overlay the text manually. 

Canva has great free templates with suggested fonts and styling straight from the box.

Unlike YourQuote and Mirakee, there is no Canva watermark attached with the images you create using the app.

The app is seamless and has a desktop version as well, so you can access your images from your Canva account wherever you want to write.

You can upload your own images as the wallpaper which means that nobody will have the same background as you. Your imagery and text will truly stand out from the crowd.

Lisa’s unbiased review: A

-Canva requires a bit more manipulation but has greater control.

-With more options comes more decisions but I love the ability to upload your own images as the background wallpaper.

What hashtags to use?

There are a million hashtags on Instagram but the ones I frequently use are:

#supportindieauthors (4500 posts)

#creativewriting (1.5M posts)

#poetryofinstagram (750k posts)

#writersofinstagram (6.6M posts)

#tellyourstory2018 (my hashtag–use this and I’ll support you with likes and reshares.)

 

And last but not least, be sure to follow me on Instagram @knockedupabroad.

I discuss defining and connecting with your ideal readers in the first section of my Beginner’s Guide to Self-Publishing course because it is so important to know where to find your readers. 
It is crucial to get them excited about your book before it is published.

Instagram is a great platform for sharing your writing if you create visuals that connect and inspire your audience.

Learn more about my step-by-step guide for self-publishing your story this year here.

5 Reasons to Share Your Big Ideas

Doers are people who get things done. We all know who they are.

They are the person who is always busy launching their next project, speaking at conferences, and is rarely sitting still…ever.

They are agents of action.

As a writer, there is a natural tendency to shy away from sharing our ideas with these productive, efficient people with the fear that they will steal and act on our novel ideas.

However, in doing so, you are cutting yourself off from their valuable resources, networks, and the potential for a positive collaboration with someone who can help you take your idea to the next level.

It’s okay to share

The truth is, other entrepreneurs aren’t looking to steal business ideas from their friends. Has it happened? Sure, but in most cases, the value of someone’s business reputation is worth more than taking a blog idea for a few clicks or a new product venture from a friend.

Doers are acutely aware of:

A) the level of work required to take an idea to market,

B) they are too busy working on their own ideas to steal anyone else’s projects and

C) they don’t have the amount of passion that you do for your idea to bring it to fruition.

Let’s be real: no amount of clicks or shares on a plagiarized article is enough to justify ruining my ethical and moral code—resulting in a blackballing from the writing community and damaging my reputation.

When I conducted outreach to fellow writers and described my idea for an anthology, I was initially cautious about someone stealing the idea for themselves.

After going through the self-publication process myself and I experienced the exhausting grunt work firsthand, I finally appreciated the monumental amount of effort required to transform an idea in my head into a physical book on a shelf.

Nobody was going to steal that idea and beat me to market. It is way too much work.

What you get from sharing your ideas

A positive result from both of my anthology projects with other writers was that I developed an extensive network of people with whom I share my ideas for articles.

We serve as sounding boards for one another and help problem solve, critique, and provide helpful ideas when someone hits a stumbling block.

5 Benefits from sharing your big ideas

Here are five benefits you’ll receive when you share your big ideas with people who get things done. Surround yourself with doers, build trust and rapport, and you’ll see the advantages of sharing your big ideas with a supportive network.

  1. You’ll gain confidence and accountability.
    It is easy to hold onto an idea and not take the necessary next steps to bring your concept to completion. Those next steps are hard, but when you confide your big idea with a doer, they will give you the feedback necessary and resulting confidence to either change course or move forward.
  2. They can help you troubleshoot obstacles—both known and unknown.
    There is a steep learning curve when you enter any field, and brainstorming with someone experienced in that field can help identify challenges that you may not know existed. They can also help you avoid common pitfalls.
  3. They may know of other resources that can help you get to the finish line.
    Doers know other doers and tapping into their vast experience can help put you in contact with the right people to transform your project from “just a good idea” into a complete product.
  4. An insider’s perspective is priceless.
    Some days you need a safe space to vent, and no person better understands what you are experiencing than someone who has walked the path before.
  5. By having a sounding board, you can get experienced advice to see if your idea is possible before investing valuable resources.
    The expert opinion of someone who has been there and done that can help advise you on whether you can proceed with a green light or if you should pump the brakes.

You get out what you put in…maybe more

In summary, sharing your big ideas with people who get things done will benefit you tenfold. Don’t be afraid to give voice to your dreams and commit to taking them to the next level.

Share your ideas with a few friends, be prepared for honesty and hard work, and watch your dreams come to life.