110 Backers on Launch Day: Advice for Getting Your Personal Network onto Kickstarter from D.K. Ackerman

princess pirates

D.K. Ackerman went into her book’s Kickstarter campaign with a very small social media presence.

By connecting with people individually, Dana was able to connect and leverage her personal network to make a big impression on Kickstarter. 

She exceeded her a goal of $5k and raised $7,085 from 214 new readers on Kickstarter for her children’s illustrated book, Princess Pirates.

Knowing the importance of launch day, Dana conducted extensive audience outreach and education prior to launch.

Find out how she secured 110 backers on Day 1 of her campaign while avoiding social media entirely in this interview with D.K. Ackerman. 

Establishing an Audience

In terms of reaching outside of my own personal network of friends and family, I didn’t do very much. Full disclosure, I hate social media!!

So, while I did get a professional Instagram and Facebook page and even looked into hashtags and did some “follow for follow” stuff, it didn’t do very much.

Probably because I just hate posting all the time though!! It’s something I’m realizing I especially need to work on now, though!

“I sent somewhere close to 300 emails or Facebook messages the week leading up to my launch date.”—D.K. Ackerman

Pre-launch campaign preparation

I did quite a bit of research into other successful campaigns in the children’s books genre. I looked at their campaign pages and videos and even messaged a few of them to ask their advice on what were the biggest things they did to gain momentum.
 
I joined author Facebook groups which were super helpful and I still learn a lot from. I talked with my brother in law who ran a super successful campaign himself about what he did, and his approach is what I really owe my success to. 
 
So, as a preface, I already said I was pretty bad at getting an audience before the campaign started, but just so you understand how small even my personal network is: I was home schooled my entire growing up years, went to two years of community college as a teenager and then transferred to a University and graduated from there after just two years. 

I married really young and had our first child and decided to stay home with her very soon afterwards, so I didn’t have any connections in the workplace really.
 
I’ve been a stay at home mom for years, and my average Facebook post gets around 30 likes or so. Not so encouraging when you are about to launch something like this!!
 
But, something my brother in law did was he sent individualized e-mails to friends and family. So, that’s what I did!
 
I sent somewhere close to 300 either emails or Facebook messages the week leading up to my launch date.
 
I tried to make as many messages as personal as I had time to.
 
I asked everyone 1). if they would back my project on DAY ONE and stressed why that was important and 2). share it with people they thought would appreciate a project like mine on day one as well.
 
That really made the biggest difference and I think was the biggest reason I was able to do what I did on my first Kickstarter. Not all of those people responded or could back my project, but a lot of them did and shared, too. 
princess pirates
Click to pre-order

Surprising aspects of the campaign

I was actually really surprised at 1). How much support I got on day one! I really stressed to everyone how important it was to get momentum on day one, but I was still so excited to see how many people paid attention ha!

And 2). I was surprised at how much support I got from Kickstarter itself.

Over 20% of my sales came directly from Kickstarter’s platform.

I was selected as one of their favorite projects and was able to become really visible.

I chose Kickstarter because I thought it would be a good way to launch my book, but I never imagined I’d get that much support just from people cruising the site!

Best advice for others

People underestimate the power of their own personal network and overestimate how much of that network sees their Facebook posts.
 
Friends and family WANT to support you, but don’t get discouraged if you post about your book and no one responds–they either didn’t see it, or didn’t realize how important it is to you.
 
Let people know what you’re doing in personal ways so they can recognize the work you’ve actually put into your project and of course they will want to support you!

Worth doing again

It is a pain in the butt getting everything done, not gonna lie!

But, not only did Kickstarter offer me a way to reach a whole set of people I couldn’t find on my own, but it also gave me the push to make sure when I launched my book to pre-order, I did it right.

Lessons learned

Oh man, this being my first Kickstarter there are so many things I’ve learned!

Next time I would make my page more fun and focus on adding graphics so it looks more engaging.

Due to a lot of complicated reasons, I didn’t actually know my start date until two weeks before I launched, which meant I couldn’t really reach out to a lot of outside sources with enough time to get the word out.

Next time I’d have a fixed launch date months before and so I can go to news organizations, influencers, and other outlets with enough time for them to get my messages and be able to create content that can come out during the Kickstarter.

As it is, I’m getting responses from people who want to feature my book now that my Kickstarter has ended.

I am also looking forward to creating a bigger following on social media (as much as it pains me to say!) before my next launch.

Advice for other authors

Having a book launch, whether through Kickstarter or on your own platform is invaluable!!

It forces you to do so may vital things like solidifying your message and why your book is important; creating content that helps people connect with your book; seeing if there is actually a market for your book; not to mention not having to invest your own money before you jump into something this big!

Kickstarter is especially awesome for finding new people who are interested in your book, but I recommend have a really clear message if you’re going to go that route.

You can have a successful pre-order launch on your own site and use your own personal network.

However, if you want to reach other groups of people Kickstarter can offer that, but the only way those other people are going to see your project is if you have a fantastic first day and make your message clear and important.

I really feel like there were so many more things I could have done.

Bio

Dana Ackerman headshot

D.K. Ackerman was schooled at home by a stay-at-home feminist and a dad who always encouraged her to chase her dreams. She graduated from BYU-Hawaii at age 19 and was married and started a family soon after.

She is now mother to three girls and boy and spends her day going on adventures with them. When she’s not with them she is helping her husband run his businesses and writing about her children. She is passionate about letting children be children and believes that creating spaces where their creativity can be limitless means their futures can be too.

Click here to pre-order Princess Pirates: https://dkackerman.com/

You might also enjoy

How to set up your own crowdfunding-esque pre-order system

The best month to launch your book’s campaign

5 Obstacles Crowdfunding authors want you to know before you launch

Need more help?

Schedule a free 20-minute session with Lisa to get customized help for your book’s crowdfunding campaign.

Click here: https://go.oncehub.com/lisaferland

 

5 Things Crowdfunding Authors Wished You Knew

Crowdfunding a book is not an easy task. It requires a lot of research, planning, and preparation.

Then, you deal with people’s misconceptions and misunderstandings about your goals (most people think you’re begging).

Worse yet, your well-meaning friends and family reassure you that they’ll “buy it when it’s available on Amazon,” even though you both know they won’t.

So, before you start your crowdfunding journey, here are 5 things crowdfunding authors want you to know:

#1 It’s difficult to educate people on your reasons for crowdfunding your book

Elisavet Arkolaki at Maltamum.com was shocked at how difficult it was to educate her readers on the time-sensitive nature of crowdfunding.

When the clock is ticking and the stakes are high, you have to educate your audience well in advance of your campaign launch so that everyone is on board.

Additional resources: Book Pre-launch Audience Education: Why it’s so important

Elisavet’s behind-the-scenes look at her Kickstarter campaign

#2 It’s hard to be heard on social media these days

Lindsay Achtman was surprised to discover that even posting 2x/day on her social media pages wasn’t enough to move the needle in pledges to her Kickstarter campaign.

“I need to be posting in multiple groups, at least 10 per day, to get the engagement I wanted. I had a lot of luck posting in garage sale sites (on Facebook)!”

Additional resource: The Secret to Marketing Your Book Without Annoying People

#3 Most people are confused about Kickstarter vs. GoFundMe

Rebecca Hamer says that most of her friends and family confused her Kickstarter campaign as a charity fundraiser.

“Most people had no idea how crowdfunding and Kickstarter worked. They thought it was a charity thing… I had to educate my audience on Kickstarter…”

It’s important to make clear in your audience education efforts what crowdfunding is and how it works.

Rebecca Yee Peters also struggled with the pre-order vs. donate concept during her fixed funding IndieGoGo campaign.

“Most people kept saying in posts “Donate to Rebecca’s movie.’ Even after I kept telling them it’s not a donation. People also don’t seem to realize what “all or nothing’ means. Even at 10% funded, everyone is like “you’re doing well!” I say every time “No, I don’t get to keep that money.”

Tip: Be sure to create multiple visuals explaining your goals, the process, and how they can support you. Feel free to borrow the text from the images below.

Giving thanks to the authors is always appreciated if you use these resources—share our books on social media, buy our books, or recommend them to a friend. 

#4 You can’t always rely on friends and family to support your campaign

Some authors have very generous friends and family patrons who go above and beyond (AND WE LOVE AND APPRECIATE YOU), however, some authors do not.

For those who don’t have friends and family who are interested in our books, we must rely on connecting with strangers to pre-order our books.

Connecting with strangers requires more touch points (getting the same message in front of the same people before your deadline), more time, and convincing copy.

Jennifer Senne discovered how difficult it can be to make these genuine connections during her IndieGoGo campaign and warns other authors not to rely solely on friends and family. 

Not only is it difficult to convince strangers to pre-order your book, they often cancel their pledges at the last minute, which is extra gutting when you’re running an all-or-nothing campaign.

Additional resources:  What Actually Motivates Someone to Support a Crowdfunding Campaign

Why You Can’t Copy Someone Else’s Campaign Strategy

#5 External press doesn’t usually convert into new backers

Getting external validation (bloggers, news articles, radio features, etc.,) is GREAT social proof that your book is well-received by people outside of your friends and family network but frustratingly, doesn’t always translate into new backers.

Elisavet Arkolaki explains,

“My press coverage was great but it did not lead to sales as I expected it would (0 conversion rate). I proceeded to use the press features as proof that I was doing something noteworthy.”

Sheri Wall had a disappointing outcome with the social media influencers for her IndieGoGo campaign and said, 

“I had three influencers with large email lists who said they’d share my campaign with their followers. Not one of them actually included the campaign in an email.”

Tip: Use customized links via bit.ly or Kickstarter/IndieGoGo itself to track backers coming from various sources and evaluate your return on investment. 

Want to work together 1:1?

Find out if I can help you reach your crowdfunding goals and schedule your free 20-min consultation here.

 

Why We Need More Kid’s Books About Farts

Ask any kid if they think farts are funny and 99% of them will giggle and say yes. 

Despite a clear flashing green light from our target audience (KIDS), many children’s book writers respond with strong negative emotions when confronted with farts in kid lit.

“I will never buy a book like that for my kids. Not ever.” 

“We don’t discuss those things in our house. It’s not proper.”

“Literature doesn’t need to stoop to such levels to entertain. We need better kid lit than this.”

Clearly, even talking about books about farts makes people uncomfortable.

If you’re a parent or a writer (or both) who thinks that fart books are gross and inappropriate, please hang in there with me and read until the end.

In this essay, I’m going to present 5 reasons why we need more fart books in our kids’ lives. 

1—Laughing about taboo topics opens a dialogue between adult and child

Having frequent conversations about small issues (like farts) paves the way for parents to have future discussions about much more important topics.

Life changing topics like sex, pregnancy, rape, homosexuality, abuse, and other things that are much weightier topics than stinky airy flatulence.

If a parent struggles with talking about natural bodily functions, how do you think future conversations about the darker topics like sex and rape are going to go?

I volunteer with my local women’s shelter and believe me, we need to be having lots of conversations about sex, rape and abuse with our daughters and sons. 

Reading books that make your kids laugh about a silly taboo topic (like farts) shows them that you’re open and willing to have these conversations with them.

You become and remain their safe space for these types of things.

By reading to them about all topics, you’re telling your kids that they can come to you about any problem they may be facing.

Reading a book about farts at age 5 can lead to a conversation about teenage pregnancy later one, which might prevent one and wouldn’t that be great?

See? Books about farts may prevent teenage pregnancy albeit, in a very indirect but important way. 

Conversation starters about farts may lead to other interesting conversations you didn’t know you needed to discuss.

As a parent, it’s our job to have these difficult conversations with our kids regardless of how uncomfortable we feel.

2—Silly books improve literacy

Stinky things are funny.

Kids like to laugh. Kids like to watch movies and read books that make them laugh.

Do we need poetic books with elegant prose? Of course. But we also need books that kids like to read.

My mother has been an elementary teacher for over 35 years and as soon as I became pregnant, we instantly acquired an extensive children’s library in our house.

Her most consistent advice about developing literacy in children is to first develop a love for reading.

When it comes to books, parents should take the fun job—make reading as fun as possible for your kids and they’ll learn to love to read.

Make the teachers force the boring literature onto our kids.

If your kid will devour books about underpants or farts then stock the library up and watch them read. In my opinion, it’s better that the kids read something, anything than nothing at all.

There will be plenty of time for the classics but without a foundational love of reading, they’re never going to want to read the classics.

3—We need more books that normalize our body images and self-worth

Fart books are really good for girls to read. Why? Because girls aren’t supposed to fart.

Uh huh, riiiight.

The sooner girls accept their bodies as they are, the sooner they stop hating their bodies for how they are made.

We’re not supposed to acknowledge that everybody farts because it’s taboo.

As a result, we have girls thinking it’s wrong and boys thinking girls who fart are gross.

Proud mama moment: My 8 year old son had his friend over to play and they were sitting together when she let an audible toot slip out.

“Oh! I farted. I’m sorry!” she said, embarrassed.

“No problem. Everyone does it.”

And they went back to playing as if nothing happened at all.

There was no body shaming, no guilting, and no weirdness at all. Total acceptance of something totally natural.

We need more books that normalize the human body for kids. 

4—There’s a huge gap in the market for funny books

From a writer/business perspective, this should get your attention. There is a huge hole in the market for smart humor that is well done in this genre.

Traditional publishers are looking for high quality work that makes kids laugh.

We’ve already established that kids laugh at fart books and pee jokes are always crowd pleasers.

If you have a smart idea and execute it well, your book on farts should perform really well.

Just look at I Need a New Bum which has 450 5-star reviews on Amazon at the time of this writing. 

Walter the Farting Dog has 600 5-star reviews.

Every writer knows how difficult it is to get reader reviews on Amazon and there’s no denying that these books are a hit with tons of readers.

While some writers may turn up their noses at fart books, they are overlooking a very viable marketplace that could pay their bills.

Pay the bills with fart books and write your less lucrative high brow literature on the side. 

The market is telling you what it wants.

5—There is power in having fun with your kids

The time you have with your child in your lap is limited and precious. Reading a funny book that makes your kid giggle can relieve tensions and stress at the end of a long day.

The time before bed is some of the best parent-child bonding time we have during the day. It’s nice to fill it with books that are fun.

Books represent safe fun—nobody can get hurt reading a book and they’ll learn something new about themselves or others.

Making space in your child’s life for fun at the end of their day is a great way to heal some of the stresses or worries they may have experienced at school or while you were at work.

Don’t underestimate the healing power of laughter.

Takeaway message:

Don’t take farts or books about farts so seriously. They will help you bond and connect with your kids which will help you have rich conversations about important matters later on in life.

What do you think?

Sound off in the comments below.

Writer’s Block is a Privilege

Did you know that the keyword, “writer’s block” is Googled 9,000 times/month?

Nine thousand times. It looks like a lot of writers experience writer’s block and while we all feel blocked or discouraged at times, writer’s block is a privilege.

“I don’t know what to write.”

“I know what to write but the words come out all wrong.”

If you are in a position where you don’t have to write to pay your bills, you are privileged. 

I’m privileged—tremendously. I’ve been blocked on my Christmas story for months. I had something written but it’s ridiculously awful and I can’t bring myself to mold it into something better.

Why?

Because I don’t have to.

I can work on other projects, tackle  my marketing logistics for my other books, and distract myself with other shiny objects. 

The privilege of being blocked

Cassie Gonzales cited writer’s block as privilege at the Stockholm Writers Festival when asked how she overcomes occasional blockages.

“It’s a total privilege to have writer’s block, isn’t it? My mom is a copper mine truck driver in Arizona and she has written her books on her iPad while sitting in the cab of her truck.

She has one minute while the truck is being loaded up and in that minute, she writes as much as she can. Her books read like they’ve been written in one minute chunks because they have. But she has manuscripts written down on paper.

Anytime I want to complain about writer’s block, I think about my mother and what she’s overcame to write her books.”

Tips from other writers on overcoming writer’s block

“I have a Spotify playlist for each of my characters and mood boards for each character. Whenever I start to feel stuck, I start to listen to that character’s playlist to get me back into the mood.” —Jess Lourey

“Set word count goals. Everyone can write one sentence at a time.” —Paul Rapacioli

Manipulate your emotions to break a block—it doesn’t mean your writing will be good but you’ll get unstuck.”—Cassie Gonzales

 

Everyone gets stuck sometimes

Your first draft is going to be horrible but nobody is going to see it so keep writing.

Everyone is really uncomfortable with their writing at first and it’s only until draft #10-#70 that you start to feel like a genius.

To break through my Christmas story rhyming disaster, I’m listening to Christmas music on YouTube, reading rhyming quatrains for inspiration, and putting words down on paper that will never see the light of day.

The best way to break writer’s block is to write.

Write down any words that come into your mind and eventually, your mind will spit out something worth keeping.

Angela Castillo Launches a Little Narwhal on Kickstarter

Angela Castillo has authored 30 books ranging from Christian fiction, random fairy tales, and now children’s fiction.

She decided to launch her latest children’s book on Kickstarter with a modest goal of $1200 and I wanted to find out more about her experience.

But even modest goals require a TON of work and effort and Angela details her work below.

You’ve successfully published a lot of other books—mainly adult fiction—what made you decide to set up a Kickstarter campaign for your children’s book?

I chose to launch a Kickstarter for this book mainly because kid’s books are more expensive! Since I’m not an artist, I needed help with funding for art and formatting. Also, I’m a marketer at heart, so I saw Kickstarter as an excellent way to reach a new audience.

What type of research did you conduct before launching?

I grilled authors who had done crowdfunding projects similar to mine. I also spent hours and days scrutinizing other Kickstarter campaigns, studying their reward tiers and videos.

The great thing about Kickstarter is they keep a project up for all eternity after it ends so that you can look at thousands of projects relating to yours.

I also read tons of very helpful blog articles, including several by an amazing Kickstarter Queen. Lisa, what was it? Ferland? You might have heard of her. Anyway, she’s great.

What was the most time-intensive part of the planning or crowdfunding process?

My established audience was primarily adults, so I started from scratch to find an audience interested in children’s books.

I spent about five months before my Kickstarter campaign launched creating giveaways, writing blog articles geared toward parents, and sending out a kid-related newsletter.

I was building my kid-focused audience while trying to maintain my adult audience. Not easy!

What surprised you the most about crowdfunding on Kickstarter?

Even though my goal was to reach new readers, I was amazed by the number of backers who were drawn in by Kickstarter alone–about 60 percent.


(Lisa’s note: 60% Kickstarter-only backers is fairly high for books. Most book campaigns garner 1%-20% new folks from Kickstarter)

You received a Kickstarter Project We Love recognition—do you think you saw an increase in backers due to that?

Kickstarter has a nifty tool that shows you where your backers are drawn from. I had exactly one supporter because of the Projects We Love. Not complaining—every supporter counts!

Even though it was an honor to be chosen, it’s something they give out to a lot of people, so you end up being one of maybe a dozen per day. I was still thrilled to receive it. Very validating after working your guts off on something.

What advice would you give someone considering crowdfunding their book?

a. Listen to advice from people who’ve had success and failure.


b. Make sure you have an excellent product with commercial appeal.


c. Do the math. Have someone help you run through every possible expense.


d. Prepare for international backers. I charged extra for international shipping and I had over a dozen backers from other countries who paid way more than I would have expected for a little paperback book. But you have to prepare; otherwise, international shipping can eat up your profit very quickly.


e. Set realistic goals. For instance, let’s say you want hardcover copies, but that would add 3,000.00 to your budget. If you think it’s doable, go for it. But publishing your book and paying for illustrations out the gate is more important, set your focus on that. You can always do hardcover as a stretch goal.


f. Remember, you have to deliver. I only had to ship out about 50 books but manually package, address, and stick on the postage. It’s a lot of work and was rather daunting.

g. Set aside a few months of your life. It takes a ton of time and effort to do this right. Don’t expect to launch it and let it run by itself.

Do you think you’ll crowdfund your books in the future?

I’m too fresh off this one right now. Ask me again in a year!

If you could do anything over again, what would it be?

I would not stress so much in the middle. I was freaking out because I hadn’t fully funded in three days.

It’s really a marathon, not a sprint.

Anything else you’d like fellow authors to know?

This publishing journey is an expression of art and creativity.

When we get caught up in the finances of fundraising, I think we can lose sight of that.

It’s important to take time and remember why we are creating this book. In my case, it’s because I love it. I don’t ever want to lose that passion because of stress.

Check out Little Narwhal's Day on Amazon

Bio

Angela Castillo is an Amazon best-selling author from Bastrop, Texas who loves to ramble in the woods and explore eccentric shops. She writes Christian fiction, children’s fiction, and random fairy tales, as well as freelance blog articles. Her work has appeared in publications such as Thema and The First Line. She homeschools four little explorer/creators. Click here to find her books on Amazon. 

Click here to check out her Kickstarter campaign.

 

Avoid these common mistakes—click here to get more info

The Secret to Writing Great Dialogue: Three layers

Confession: I am horrible at writing dialogue. 

At the 2019 Stockholm Writers Festival, I took Cassie Gonzales’ dialogue workshop and within minutes, I understood what made good dialogue and why I struggled so much with it.

My characters were communicating clearly.

Clear communication between characters = bad dialogue.

Quick clarification—every piece of dialogue advice in this article came from what I learned in Cassie’s workshop at the Stockholm Writers Festival.

I highly encourage every writer to continue to learn about the craft of writing and push themselves to be better.

What makes bad dialogue?

  • Too much exposition
  • Doesn’t sound real/sounds forced
  • Not plot driven
  • Too many tags, “As you know, Bob…”
  • Repetitive
  • Mundane—”You don’t look well. How are you feeling?” (BOOOORING)

What makes good dialogue? 

  • Contains drama
  • Evokes emotion
  • Descriptive of the personality of a character
  • Creates curiosity for the reader
  • Raises a question

The secret to writing good dialogue:

Every piece of dialogue contains three layers: the said, the unsaid, and the unsayable.

1) Said: “Would you like some coffee?”
2) Unsaid: “…I hate you”
3) Unsayable: “but I’m afraid of being alone”

The unsaid and unsayable can never be in the dialogue. Characters cannot say exactly what they mean.

What is great for your marriage is horrible for your fiction.

If you need to clarify something for the reader, do it in the narrative, not the dialogue.

Every piece of dialogue should have the three layers—said, unsaid, and unsayable.

Start with strong characters in an interesting setting. 

The setting is where the dialogue will play out and the said, unsaid, and unsayable layers will be revealed.

Cassie Gonzales, Creative Writing Fellow at Emory University and overall creative fiction badass, introduced a simple rubric for evaluating all dialogue in literature, film, and your everyday interactions with friends and family.

Writing Exercise 

For example, imagine a story in which two characters are on the brink of divorce.

They can never say they hate each other and are on the brink of divorce, that must be revealed to the reader through their interactions and what they are not saying to one another (the unsaid).

The setting in which this plays out can be something with low stakes—picking out a birthday cake for their child’s fifth birthday party.

Put them in a bakery looking at cakes together.

What they say to one another (the said) is about the cake—but must convey the reader that their marriage is falling apart (the unsaid) and they are terrified about how they are going to co-parent this child together (the unsayable).

The unsayable is the engine for your fiction.

Trust your reader

Trust that your reader is intelligent—more intelligent than you are—and doesn’t need everything spelled out.

Build a puzzle for them to solve if you want to keep their interest. Your reader will be able to read between the lines and feel like the smartest person in the room (because they are).

Dialogue in children’s literature

While reading a bedtime story to my daughter, she chose Fancy Nancy and the Dazzling Jewels (aff link), I realized that the dialogue in Fancy Nancy, a book intended for kids 4-8 years, had these three layers—said, unsaid, and unsayable.

I knew that good dialogue is required for literary fiction but it often goes unnoticed in children’s literature.

We take good dialogue for granted.

In Fancy Nancy, the two characters, Nancy and Bree, have too much jewelry.

Their boxes are overflowing and they come up with the idea to swap out pieces with one another to refresh their collections.

Everything is going well until Bree selects a piece that has emotional value to Nancy and vice versa.

The characters are torn between wanting to be a good friend and needing to be honest about how they feel about the jewelry swap.

Without ever saying the words, author Jane O’Connor effectively tells the reader that both girls are feeling guilt and regret—two tough emotions for kids to understand at this age—about the swap.

The unsayable in this story is that both girls are afraid that if they are honest with one another they’ll damage their friendship.

Pretty deep for what initially looks on the surface like a silly story about jewelry.

It’s that type of complex storytelling and dialogue done in a simple way that keeps parents happy and kids wanting more.

Dialogue in everyday life

After taking Cassie’s dialogue workshop, I began to notice all of the dialogue around me and evaluate what was being said, what was unsaid, and what was unsayable.

I must admit that some people are horrible at communication (they’d make great fictional characters except they are REAL).

There is a lot unsaid in everything they say.

The unsaid is where the power lies.

One character can have physical or emotional power over other characters and this never needs to be said.

Start paying attention to the conversations you have with your friends and family about various topics. 

You’ll probably notice that the more difficult the conversation or topic, more is left unsaid.

Give your characters an interesting setting

People often suggest having conversations about difficult topics while doing something else—the third place setting. This enables the characters to focus on something other than what they really want to say.

Talking while going on a walk or while fishing is a great way to have difficult conversations.

Remember, characters can’t ever say what they really want to say or it becomes boring. Keep them at odds with themselves and one another.

The more insane the “third place” where the “said” things are happening, the more layers you can build into the scene.

If your characters are making funeral arrangements for their father at the county fair, there are tons of smells, sounds, and action happening all around them while they grapple with grief and loss. 

Read, write, write, read

The only way to get better at writing dialogue is to read more of it.

Flash fiction is a great genre for learning how to communicate a lot of information in a very short word count.

Here’s a free course about writing interesting and engaging flash fiction: https://learn.flashfictionmagazine.com/p/free-course

Flash Fiction Magazine has some great pieces and you can have them delivered to  your inbox for inspiration: https://flashfictionmagazine.com/

“If it bores you, it’s not working.” —Cassie Gonzales

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

Top 10 List of Books on Crowdfunding Platforms—April 26, 2019

In an effort to bring more book lovers and readers to platforms like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo on a regular basis, here is my list of Top 10 campaigns for this week (in no particular order).

Be sure to visit them TODAY as these campaigns are time-sensitive and the opportunity might be gone if you wait too long.

Click on the images below to check out these fun books.

#1 A book about global solutions you can do in your backyard

#2 Chapter One

#3 Don't Give In!

#4 Cafe Macabre

#5 A Bestiary of Fantasy Creatures

#6 Resilient ME Journal for Kids

#7 Sleeping Around America: Revisiting the Roadside Motel

#8 The Moon is Following Me

#9 Echoes of Silence

#10 Femme Type Book—Women in the Type Industry

There are so many awesome, innovative, and exciting books available only on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo that not only deserve extra eyes but will help improve the diversity we see in literature.

Supporting authors on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo helps these books come to life in ways they can’t via traditional publishing.

Every week, I’ll post my Top 10 List of interesting and unique books that are on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo. The list is curated and covers a variety of genres.

You cannot buy your way onto this list—these are books that I’ve found organically while searching the platforms.

10 Reasons Not to Crowdfund Your Book

I’m a crowdfunding consultant for authors so why one earth would I discourage someone from crowdfunding their book?

Well, crowdfunding on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo is NOT right for everyone. I make that clear in just about every video, blog, and interview I create.

Here’s a list of 10 reasons why you should NOT CROWDFUND your book.

If after reading this, you’re still like, “Nah, I could do it…” then by all means, proceed.

#1 It's a ton of work

I’m not sure who is crowdfunding thousands of dollars without doing months of preparation beforehand, but it certainly isn’t many people I know personally. 

Garnering a lot of attention and then converting that attention into pledges takes a ton of effort. Don’t underestimate how much work is involved in a 30-day campaign. You’re looking at 60-120 days of work from the beginning concept to fulfilling the rewards.

#2 Everyone is watching

People can see exactly how many pledges you get every day of your campaign. If you don’t like that kind of transparency or to have your marketing actions under a microscope like that, then crowdfunding might not be right for you.

#3 It's harder than ever to get noticed

Social media is noisy and now crowdfunding platforms are getting “crowded” with more and more commercial products. 

In order to stand out from the pack, you need to develop your audience, educate them, and deliver what they want day after day.

#4 Ads don't really work

For whatever reason, Facebook ads don’t convert for Kickstarter and IndieGoGo campaigns for books. They just don’t. Readers want books NOW and they want to start reading right away. It takes a special stranger who is willing click on an unknown link and then give a stranger money for their book.

#5 PR experts don't want your money

Most authors are launching campaigns between $5k-$10k. It’s not worth a marketing expert’s time and effort to take 15% of that total amount to help you. They are more interested in the >$500k-$1M campaigns.

I’ve been turned down three times by PR experts because my Kickstarter goal amount wasn’t high enough to get their attention.

#6 Readers don't usually browse crowdfunding sites to find new books

I’m doing my best to change this with my Top 10 lists every week, but it’s no secret that Kickstarter is still dominated by the gaming sector.

I try to get readers in the habit of scouting Kickstarter and IndieGoGo to support indie authors and illustrators, but it’s going to take time before people start to realize that there are great books on these platforms.

Kickstarter authors have to bring readers to the platform which means that it doesn’t really matter where (Kickstarter or IndieGoGo) you launch because leveraging traffic on the platform is unlikely unless you’re in STEM.

#7 Crowdfunding is stressful

Writing articles, press releases, getting reader reviews, and doing podcast interviews are all things you’ll need to do for your traditional book launch anyway, but you can do it with a fraction of the stress involved with crowdfunding.

#8 Without early traction, you're somewhat dead in the water

Unlike traditional marketing efforts where it doesn’t matter when the sales come in, so long as they come in by the deadline, crowdfunding is the exact opposite.

You need a BIG launch day and then a pretty large Days 2-4 in order to make it to your goal at the end of 30 days. If your readers don’t know that (i.e., you didn’t educate them or they never read your emails) and you don’t keep the pressure on, you’re more likely to fail.

I’ve seen people pull it off in the end but not without serious hustle and stress.

#9 People think you're begging for money

You have to do a ton of reader education to let them know how much value they are getting for their money.

Readers are not donating to your book, they are getting the book AND MORE in exchange for their pledge. 

#10 Public failure is never fun

Failing can occur in many ways—setting too high of a goal, pricing rewards incorrectly, running a successful campaign but not delivering in time, running a successful campaign but underestimating shipping costs, and even more scenarios (you get the idea).

Nobody likes to fail and nobody likes to fail in front of people but that often happens with around 70% of all crowdfunding campaigns. Ouch! 

How are you feeling?

Do you still want to crowdfund your book?

If you’re still interested in crowdfunding your book then book a 10-minute session with me to see if I can help you reach your goals.

Book your free consult here: https://go.oncehub.com/lisaferland