Shine Your Light Books—Surprising Lessons Learned from 2 Kickstarter Campaigns

Children’s book author, singer, and all-around super talent, Jessica Collaço, launched her children’s books on Kickstarter.

Her first campaign raised over $12k and her second raised over $20k!!

Find out some major lessons in audience building, publishing, and crowdfunding in this interview with Jessica.

Jessica found success on Kickstarter in 2013 and 2016 and while social media strategies may change over time, her advice is timeless.

How much audience building did you do before launching your first campaign?

 
By nature, I’m not much of a planner—I tend to go for things and figure out how fly while I’m free-falling. Not always the smartest way to conduct things, but, in this case, it worked out well.
 
For both campaigns, I did very little audience building before the campaign started, save for my usual social media posting.
 
My audience before my second campaign was built very much by my first campaign and the other readers I gained from “Firenze’s Light“.  
 

What type of preparation, education, or research did you do before launching your first campaign? 

 
I had no intentions of self-publishing. The more research I did on traditional publishing, the more I realized I would have to grind just as hard to market my book, but for less of a cut in the traditional model.
 
Each time I tried to blow off the idea of self-publishing, the perfect resource or information would show up.
 
For instance, I had no idea how to find an illustrator. A friend of mine happened to work for Jim Henson Productions and put me in touch with some interns in their art department.
 
I had no idea how to get a book printed. My cousin happened to know someone who worked for a printer in China and she talked me through the process and estimated costs.
 
Most of my research was focused on the process of self-publishing and the costs. 
 
I have a rebellious streak and have a sometimes-good-sometimes-bad habit of ignoring “the way things are supposed to be done”.
 
For my second campaign, I did a lot of research on crowdfunding and how it had evolved since my first campaign for “Firenze’s Light”. The “Firenze’s Light” campaign happened when crowdfunding was relatively new.
 
By the time I campaigned for “And So Much More”, everyone and their lost dog had a crowdfunding campaign.
 
It felt much harder to get people’s attention.
 
There were also many campaigns that raised hundreds of thousands of dollars because they had a huge marketing budget to put behind it.
 
Rather than get discouraged by the slick, meticulously planned campaigns, I stayed simple. 

As a rule, I stopped researching and worrying about too much planning, and just stuck with what worked the first time: a good story and a clear, simple campaign.
 
I did reach out to more bloggers and publications for my second campaign, but I almost felt like it would have been more valuable to spend that time directly approaching new potential backers. 
 

“I stopped researching and worrying about too much planning, and just stuck with what worked the first time: a good story and a clear, simple campaign.”

Did you get a lot of repeat backers who supported Firenze’s Light to support your second campaign?

 
I did get a lot of repeat backers and a lot of new ones as well. I made it a point to approach my original backer list first because I had faith that they would be excited about my next book. 

 

What surprised you the most about launching on Kickstarter?

I knew it would not “just happen”  after my campaign went live, but I was surprised how it was a full-time job for 30 days.
 
I spent that time texting, emailing, messaging, social media posting, singing songs, making up new reward categories, doing FB live, making videos—anything I could think of—to get more eyes on my campaign. It was non-stop—and I have 3 kids LOL. Thank goodness for my husband!
 

What advice would you give someone considering crowdfunding their book?

Keep it simple.
 
A lot of people replicate their campaigns off of the most-funded campaigns that have a huge budget and staff that can support crazy, swaggy reward tiers.
 
Even if you’re not looking at the big dogs, the smaller dogs replicated the medium dogs who replicated the big dogs.
 
Shipping and random rewards like t-shirts, plushies, and toys can eat your budget so quickly and steal your focus from getting your book made when your campaign is over.
 
My rewards were mostly books.
 
Some of my higher level rewards were illustrating people into my book, self-publishing consultations, original songs, author readings—all things that are easily deliverable and that are services rather than products.
 
None of those items had shipping costs—speaking of which-spend a lot of time budgeting out your costs including your reward shipping, taxes (you have to pay taxes on your donations), Kickstarter’s cut etc. 
 
I also love the idea of having some “back-pocket” rewards to add value throughout the campaign.
 
These are rewards that you add to the 5 or 6 base rewards after the campaign is running.
 

When you’re on day 21 of 30, no one wants to hear about your book one more time. 

But they may want to hear about that original poem you will write their kid when they pledge $100 or tier up from $25 to $100. 

It keeps things fresh and can goose someone who already backed at a lower tier to a higher one. 
“Crowdfunding is great, but I find it takes me on a detour away from selling the books I already have.
 
I simply can’t wear all of those hats at once.”

Would you launch future books (or other creative projects) on Kickstarter?

 
I am very proud that the two books I have written have funded the beginning of my third.
 
My goal has been to self-fund the rest of my books by reinvesting all my profits.
 
If I get to Spring 2020 and I need printing funds, I might consider doing a small campaign to finish up, but I’d honestly rather publish a Kindle book or two this fall and get it printed that way.
 
Crowdfunding is great, but I find it takes me on a detour away from selling the books I already have.
 
I simply can’t wear all of those hats at once.
 
If I had to chose between 30 days of Kickstarter and 30 days of creating two Kindle Books, I’ll take Kindle.
 
However, if I were starting all over again today and didn’t have that choice, I would most likely do it. 

What would you do differently?

From a crowdfunding point of view—not much.
 
From a publishing point of view—I’d have the knowledge I have now, 5 years later.
 
I know so much more about writing for the market, good covers, great titles, smart writing.
 
I’ve spent a lot of time backtracking or working around those mistakes. 
 

Anything else you’d like fellow authors to know?

 
When you are doing a crowdfunding campaign, any time you talk about it, in any group, list your link.
 
I see so many people post in FB groups about their campaign and they don’t have a link.
 
Also, have fun  and enjoy the ride! It can be thrilling.
 

Bio

jessica collaco

Tired of searching for books that both empowered and entertained, Jessica set out to write ones that do both. She loves writing books that cultivate a world with more kindness, love, peace, compassion and connection.

Connect with Jessica at shineyourlightbooks.com.

 

Check out Jessica’s books here

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