Tevah Platt is a first-time children’s book author and decided to use Kickstarter to fund the production of her book, Snail, I Love You.
Find out what Tevah and her illustrator did to catapult their book over $10k on Kickstarter (433% of its goal).
What did you do before or on launch day that helped you rocket to success?
A little backstory first: I was working on it every day and 24 hours before the campaign was set to launch, we realized that the bank account information we had added to the campaign was incorrect. Worse yet, that information was locked and we could not change it.
I had to rebuild an entirely new campaign page, change all of our links to direct people to the new page, and everything in six to seven hours.
It was 4 pm on launch day and we were wondering if we shouldn’t just wait one more day and go live in the morning. We decided to hit the Go Live button right then and we hit 100% in two hours.
My illustrator and I created a list of 25 people we knew who would champion our campaign. Having other people share your work is critical to your success. We also reached out to friends and family and included, “If you’re going to back us, will you back us on launch day to help us have maximum impact?”
We found personal emails to be the most effective method for promoting our campaign.
Here’s how we did it:
I made a huge spreadsheet of 150 people who would pass my, “Would this person come to my funeral?” test or if they had a kid and was in my target audience. I wrote two sentences that were personalized to them and then mail merged those sentences into my general marketing copy in my email using the Gmail add-on, Mail Merge. (See this article for the Top 5 Mail Merge Add-ons)
I wrote everything before we launched and then sent out the emails to my list of contacts. My contributor sent out her emails on Day 2.
Were you able to relax after Day 2 when you were at 292% funded?
Yes, we very much relaxed. We tested out some Facebook ads but we weren’t seeing much traction. I ended up writing a press release but I didn’t send it anywhere. We didn’t really gain traction with the outside world.
Take me through the $2,500 goal vs. your $7,500 goal amounts. Why did you set your Kickstarter at the first goal instead of the second?
We did the math on a really small print run and $2,500 was the bare minimum we’d need to do that.
In retrospect, $2,500 was too small of a goal and we were being really modest. We knew that $7,500 would cover our costs but we were being risk-averse gamblers.
What types of marketing efforts had the best reach?
As I mentioned earlier, personal emails were the best. We incorporated the feedback from our cheerleaders and that made them feel more invested in the project. It also improved the project a lot.
What didn’t work out so well?
Facebook ads but we didn’t experiment beforehand.
We added new rewards and add-ons but we should’ve added more rewards while the momentum was happening. We weren’t able to generate much momentum past those first two days.
Are there going to be future books?
I would love to create more books. Because of Kickstarter and other routes to indie publishing, I knew this was a possibility. I wrote this book with my daughter and now she’s writing books, which I absolutely love to see. I’d definitely do another Kickstarter but it is so much work.
How did you meet your illustrator?
She’s my neighbor and she went around to our community offering to embroider vector images so she could practice using a new tool she bought.
I really loved the fact that her illustrations are with a sewing machine—a traditional symbol of domesticity for women—and yet her illustrations break every traditional convention. It’s a real statement on feminism.
I want readers to see the beauty of these illustrations and know that a woman created them. That’s the message I want to send to my daughter.
What is your affiliation with your local library?
We are publishing through the Ann Arbor District Library, which provides an amazing service for local authors. It is in their budget to support local authors and illustrators. You have to submit your manuscript and if selected, they will edit, and layout your book. They give you the digital files for your printer and the rest is up to you. They are hosting our launch party in November. I recommend them to all indie authors in the Ann Arbor area.
What piece of advice would you give an indie author considering crowdfunding?
Do the work in advance to line up your people and your champions. Get feedback and consult all of the resources you can find available.
Take into account every comment on your video, campaign page, and rewards. Be open to feedback and be personable and warm.
The Kickstarter made me feel like this was a personal project involving everyone I love. The notes I got from people were so nice and supportive. It was a great experience.
Read more crowdfunding case stories by indie authors
About the authors and illustrator
Tevah Platt is a public health researcher, science writer, and former news journalist. You can find her work at www.snaililoveyou.com.
Willa Thiel worked on this book between the ages of 3-6 and just finished first grade at Honey Creek Community School.
All three are neighbors in the Great Oak Cohousing Community, Ann Arbor, Michigan.