Children’s Book Authors use Kickstarter to Launch Their Businesses

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

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

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

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

Why Crowdfund Your Book?

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

When you crowdfund your book, you…

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

And magic takes place during and after a crowdfunding campaign.

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

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

Examples of Children’s Book Crowdfunding Campaigns

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

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

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

Author: Dennis McGregor

Backers: 407

Total raised: $27,302 (137%)

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

Click here to buy on Amazon

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

Author: Diane Alber

Backers: 423

Total raised: $15,343 (153%)

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

Click here to buy on Amazon

Title: Into Your Dreams

Author: Roger Blonder

Backers: 197

Total raised: $16,760 (111%)

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

Click here to buy on Amazon

Want to go behind-the-scenes?

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

Kathleen Cruger and Thankful Frankie

Stacy Bauer and Cami the Kangaroo

Roger Blonder and Into Your Dreams

Rebecca Hamer and Where Oh Where is Monty Bear?

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to hop on my calendar.

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

Download my solutions here

Rebecca Hamer Introduces Kickstarter to Australia

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

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

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

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

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

What surprised you the most about running your Kickstarter campaign?

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

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

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

What would you have done differently?

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

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

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

Did you pay for any advertising?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Was having an Australian audience tough with your crowdfunding campaign?

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

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

Would you do it again?

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

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

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

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

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

What are your future plans for Monty Bear?

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

Bio

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

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

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

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

Thankful Frankie: Recovering from a Failed Kickstarter Campaign

I backed Thankful Frankie before I even met Kathleen (yes, I’m one of those strangers backing campaigns), because I absolutely loved the book’s message.

It broke my heart to see the campaign fail when the book had so much potential and I was delighted to see Kathleen relaunch Thankful Frankie with a new goal.

I asked Kathleen to share a bit about her experience and what she changed during the relaunch.

Be sure to check out her relaunched campaign here and support the campaign with a social media share or pledge.

If you’re scared of failing, and who isn’t(?), then be sure to read Kathleen’s encouraging messages and advice about how to handle a public failure on Kickstarter.

I have put so much love and work into Thankful Frankie, and I believe so strongly in its message, that giving up was not an option.”

 

Why did you decide to crowdfund your book?

Crowdfunding offered an opportunity to share the message behind my book and get the word out about Thankful Frankie.  I also knew that paying an illustrator/designer, printing copies, shipping books, and a handful of other expenses add up to quite a lot of money.  Raising funds offset the financial risk required to self-publish.

Almost everyone is terrified of failure but your campaign failed and you decided to relaunch on Kickstarter. Can you explain a bit about your experience and how you decided to relaunch?

I’ll be honest, failure is the worst.

It doesn’t feel good and for a few days after the campaign ended it was difficult to stay positive.  After getting over the set-back and disappointment, I reconnected with the purpose of my book.

The book encourages readers to list things they are grateful for each day, a practice I believe can change your life.  I have put so much love and work into Thankful Frankie, and I believe so strongly in its message, that giving up was not an option.

Aside from changing your overall campaign goal from $20k to $4444, what other changes did you make to your strategy and communication with your audience?

My initial campaign launched when I was working with a hybrid publishing company (hence the crazy $20,000 goal).  After parting ways and deciding to tackle this on my own, I realized I needed significantly less funding and was able to lower my goal.  

I also changed the rewards I offered. Most of my backers were family and friends and were supporting out of love. I realized they didn’t want or need the rewards I had initially offered.

This time around the rewards are simple and straightforward, which also allowed me to keep the funding goal low.

I am still in the middle of my campaign, but communication and connection with my audience has been more consistent and I post on my social media accounts every day.  

Allow yourself to be upset for a couple days, scream a little, cry a little, throw some things around a little, and then get over it.

What strategies or resources did you find most helpful when planning your campaigns?

I referenced a lot of successful and unsuccessful campaigns to see what worked and what didn’t.  This gave me ideas for rewards, price ranges, and strategies for communicating with backers.

Your blog has been a game changer for me as well.  When starting out I connected with your blog to help decided which crowdfunding platform to use.  I read and re-read your post “5 Biggest Mistakes Indie Authors Make While Crowdfunding” and got so much out of it.  I have about 2 ½ weeks left in my campaign and will implement your suggested strategies as I continue to work toward my goal.

I also connected with other authors who ran campaigns and asked for any tips, advice, or suggestions they could give.  There are many great groups on Facebook and social media that provide a supportive community to bounce ideas off of.

Lastly, I supported projects and other campaigns that resonated with me.  

What has surprised you the most about crowdfunding?

Great question!  I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but I didn’t expect it to be this hard.  Crowdfunding is currently my full-time job!

What has been your biggest source of support?

I wouldn’t have gotten this far through the process without my family and friends.  I owe them so much gratitude and several giant hugs. Another source of encouragement has been seeing other self-published authors achieve success. It’s great motivation to keep at it despite the challenges.

What advice would you give to an author who is considering crowdfunding their book?

-Believe in your book and its message.  Passion will keep you moving forward when things get tough.

Team up with a coach or someone who knows what they are doing.  Their experience and perspective can be hugely beneficial. I have a great suggestion if you need one 🙂   

I know this is a tough financial decision to make since you are crowdfunding to earn money not spend it, but this could be the difference between making your goal or falling short.

Start early.  

Make genuine connections and support others when you’re able.

What would you tell that same author about recovering from a failed campaign?

If you believe in your book and your heart tells you to try again, try again. Allow yourself to be upset for a couple days, scream a little, cry a little, throw some things around a little, and then get over it.  

An unsuccessful campaign isn’t necessarily the sign of a bad book, perhaps it’s a sign of bad campaign.

Check out Thankful Frankie on Kickstarter

Bio

Kathleen Cruger is a former educator, a musician, a lover of nature, travel and kindness. In addition to writing, Kathleen teaches yoga in Los Angeles, CA. She is a firm believer in the power of gratitude and kindness and does her best to practice both each and every day.

 

Join my closed Facebook group of Crowdfunding Authors to share ideas, get feedback, and collaborate with one another.

Elisavet Arkolaki Uses Kickstarter To Secure A Traditional Publishing Deal

Many indie authors think that publishing is black and white. One either gets a traditional publishing deal or one goes it alone on the indie road and turns toward Kickstarter and IndieGoGo to help cover the expenses.

Creatively, Elisavet Arkolaki used Kickstarter as a proof-of-concept to show that her book, Where Am I From?, had a market to Faraxa Publishing based in Malta. The stakes were high for Elisavet as a failed Kickstarter campaign would mean that the traditional publishing doors would slam shut on her. This was her only chance. 

We chatted about her experience, her strategies, and what she found surprising about running a crowdfunding campaign as an author.

How much research did you do before launching your Kickstarter? Can you recommend any resources to other authors that you thought were helpful?

I had been reading and researching successful and unsuccessful Kickstarter campaigns for about 10 months before the launch of my campaign. I googled the creators of the successful campaigns I liked the most and read their interviews, posts, and advice.

I watched several Kickstarter videos. I reached out to other creators like Joe Biel from Microcosm Publishing (20 years experience as a publisher with tons of successful KS campaigns)  and asked for advice.

To anyone interested in a crowdfunding campaign I would recommend to start by backing projects themselves so they can have a hands-on experience on how it works from the backer’s perspective. I would also recommend joining active marketing and crowdfunding groups.

It requires a lot of planning, skills in sales and marketing. If someone lacks these skills, I would recommend to reach out to professionals like you, Lisa, and get things straight and right from the start.

What types of “behind-the-scenes” work did you do that you think contributed most to your success?

I compiled a list with the people from my direct network who might be interested in backing my project and contacted each one of them explaining what Kickstarter is, what we wish to achieve, and why are we doing it this way.

I also compiled a list with blogs and media I thought would be interested in featuring Where am I from?.

Write copy in advance

I wrote lots of unique content in advance, and most of the newspaper’s features (5 newspapers, 3 countries) were based on my writings. I started contacting the media people about 2-3 weeks before the launch.

I posted on social media about 3 times per day, and I shared ‘Updates’ on Kickstarter whenever there was a new milestone to keep people engaged.

Incentivize sharing

We also incentivized sharing by including a big button on our Kickstarter campaign page that unlocked a free PDF for anyone who shared the campaign on their Facebook timelines using the WordPress plugin, Social Locker. It was around $30 for the plugin and worth it, in my opinion.

I placed a PDF ebook called, How to Raise Confident Multicultural Children, and two stories of mine available to download free of charge after someone used Social Locker on my website to generate an automatic share of my Kickstarter campaign.

(Side note: if you are planning to create a free PDF download in exchange for shares, you have to plan well in advance as this takes time to create.)

Collaborate with libraries

When we were approaching the end of the second week, and we were still far from reaching our funding goal, I was contacted by the Libraries Counsellor of the Vestfold Municipality of Norway.

She had read a newspaper article, pre-ordered 20 books for the public libraries and invited me as a speaker at a cultural event. This was also fantastic from a marketing perspective.

Combined with all the newspaper features it added an extra layer of credibility to our book project, and I could display it on our Kickstarter page. It also gave us the insight that a book about diversity might be a good fit for schools and public libraries. These could be our customers.

After that, my publisher (Faraxa Publishing) in Malta, small publisher run by Joanne Micallef and mum of multicultural children herself) managed to secure a pre-order for 200 books from the National Literacy Agency of Malta. These copies will be distributed to public schools in Malta.

We also had some backers who loved our book concept and pledged on the expensive rewards; all of the main characters (except 1 which we didn’t commission) will be painted after real kids, a real baby, and a real mum. All but one are multicultural/multiracial individuals.

Why did you do a KS campaign if you had a small traditional publisher already lined up?

Thinking outside of the box, I pitched the idea using the Kickstarter campaign as a proof-of-concept that the book was worth publishing. That reduced the risk on their side (taking on an unknown author), and I was highly motivated to ensure the campaign was a success so that the door to traditional publishing wasn’t closed.

I don’t have time to learn all aspects of book publishing, but I knew that working with a small publisher would allow me to learn more about the process while creating a professional book.

This also ensured the traditional publishing contract terms for the artist and me which were much better than the norm.

“Kickstarter can be a great marketing tool and a way to test the market provided there is a solid plan in place to support it.”

How many people do you think you’ve emailed/reached during the campaign? What was your most significant source of backers?

Hundreds of people, probably. These were a mix of media people and potential backers. I don’t remember what the ratio was.

My biggest source of backers came from my ‘Friends’ on Facebook, which comprises of people I personally know and people I have met online, who are people who have traveled a lot and/or have families of mixed cultural backgrounds.

What was the most surprising aspect of your Kickstarter campaign? What did you not expect to happen that happened and vice versa?

Positive: I did not expect to get so much support from the public sector, so much exposure from the media and so many high pledges from individuals.

Negative: I did not expect people in Europe were that unfamiliar with crowdfunding. I didn’t realize how severely I would be ‘punished’ by Kickstarter regarding visibility for not having enough pledges during the first 24 and 48h.

Instead, I would have skipped the Thunderclap campaign entirely and focused solely on raising awareness. I should’ve done more work educating potential backers about Kickstarter; why we need their support right away, explain they have nothing to lose and that there are 0 charges unless we are fully funded.

I had also not anticipated how time-consuming running a Kickstarter campaign would be. My youngest does not attend daycare and my working hours were limited. I had to accept my limitations that I could only do the best I could, hoping it would be sufficient.

Did you have to change your strategy mid-campaign? If so, why?

Yes, I did. We wouldn’t have made it without changing the strategy. 

I had several obstacles to overcome:

-Mainly European audience who was not very familiar with crowdfunding
-Foreign currency displayed which appeared in thousands (NOK, Norwegian Kroner)
-No illustrations to show
-The book wouldn’t be ready until a year after the campaign
-We didn’t give out the story

It was too much and it wasn’t working.

I had to do something drastic, and the only thing I could give out was the text of the story.

I asked for advice from experienced people. I reached out to Steve Tanner from TimeBomb Comics who has created several successful Kickstarter campaigns and was our very first backer.

He told me that if the book were to be released in a short time frame, i.e., 3 months, I wouldn’t have to publish the story. But, in my case, since the book wouldn’t be out for a year, I should. He was right.

Parents often want to know what they will be reading to their children. If the parents liked the story, combined with the skills of the artist which they could see on our page, they would support the campaign even if it was a year to publication.

And it worked. Even though the text still needs to go through the last rounds of editing, people loved it, and we made our goal in time.

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

If you have no idea about marketing and how to set up a book crowdfunding campaign, and do not have the time to learn how to do it the right way, reach out to an expert like Lisa Ferland who can guide you through the whole process.

I know that like birthing babies, you never ask a new mother if she’s planning on having another baby, but could you see yourself doing another Kickstarter campaign for books in the future?

Maybe I would, I am not sure. It’s very intense and emotionally draining. When I had my first baby, I was sure I wouldn’t have another one. I didn’t wish to go through pregnancy and giving birth again. Well, we now have two children 🙂 I’ve learned to never say never in life. Kickstarter can be a great marketing tool and a way to test the market provided there is a solid plan in place to support it.

Bio

Elisavet Arkolaki is a mother of two young children, entrepreneur, professional writer, online marketer, and a certified teacher of two foreign languages. She runs the top parenting blog in Malta www.maltamum.com, and is the exclusive retailer in the country of two of the biggest international babywearing brands, and the co-founder of All-in Translations, a multiple-award winning translations company.

She has lived in six countries, and has travelled around the world.  Her biggest passion has always been and still remains, the written world.

Be sure to check out her Kickstarter campaign for Where Am I From? 

Click image to pre-order

Want to keep reading about other authors’ experiences on Kickstarter?

Find out how Snail, I Love You showcased unique quilt art illustrations to connect with readers (funding 433%).

Learn how one client of mine went from $6k-$15k and used her event hosting skills to save a floundering campaign.

 

Funded 433% on Kickstarter—Snail, I Love You

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.

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.

Becky Grover is a fiber artist whose work has traveled in shows nationally. See more of her work at beckygroverdesigns.com and beckygrover.etsy.com.

All three are neighbors in the Great Oak Cohousing Community, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Why “free” content will only take you so far

After listening to hundreds of free webinars, and free video courses, I realized that I was past the “free” stage. Indie publishing is great because one can do so much on your own and I had but it wasn’t enough. I published two anthologies that were huge feats of collaboration among 50 women living around the world and I got pretty far considering I had more or less stumbled my way through the process. I was looking to elevate my game and take it to the next professional level.

The free webinars weren’t cutting it anymore but I still wasn’t ready to spend money on myself. I needed professional advice but I wasn’t willing to pay for it. All of the experts were saying that investing in yourself would pay off in spades but I saw that as self-serving.

“Of course, they are going to tell me to invest in their courses and consultations. They want the sale.”

And naturally, free content is used mostly to demonstrate that a particular person has expertise in a topic. I should know, I offer free webinars myself and try to make them as valuable as possible so my future clients understand that yes, I can help them reach their goals.

But despite all of that, I had to admit that there was value in getting advice from someone who had done it before me.

I needed someone to tell me what to do next. Someone who had either walked in my shoes or knew people who had.

What was holding me back?

After a few conversations and soul searching, I admitted that a few things were holding me back from hiring an expert:

– I wasn’t treating my business like a business

– My money mindset was focused on scarcity, not abundance (I was focused on everything I had to lose instead of what I had to gain)

– I was scared of spending money on something that might not work

– I was partially afraid of success. Hiring an expert meant that I was really taking the next step in my business

With those points mapped out, I could tackle them one by one. If I wasn’t treating my business like a business, why was I doing this?

Did I want to monetize my knowledge? Absolutely.

My money mindset was focused on scarcity and I was scared of spending what little money I did have on something that wasn’t guaranteed to increase my income. However, I kept hitting the same wall in front of me and I needed help to get over it and move onto the next level.

Like when I played video games when I was a kid, it was a different experience when I was playing by myself than when I was playing with my brother next to me who would warn me about what obstacles to avoid in the next scene. He’d tell me what was going to happen so I could be prepared and make the best moves.

Could I continue on my own? Sure.

But would I get there faster and easier with help? Absolutely.

Nice words from a client

Hiring an expert

After months of hemming and hawing and talking with other people who had done the same, I finally took the plunge and hired a marketing coach. I invested in myself.

It was scary and I said so during our first call but within seconds, all of my anxiety was addressed. I felt confident that I had made the right decision. Her excitement about what I had done so far gave me the boost of reassurance that I was looking for.

Taking the next steps outlined by my marketing coach would be my responsibility but she’d be there to amplify my actions and cheer me on.

I figured that if I was going to give my hard-earned money to someone, it might as well be someone who I knew and trusted. She was the perfect fit for me and her approaches to marketing resonated with my core values. Nothing salesy, only authentic.

What happened

After a few sessions with my marketing coach, I realized that other people started to take me more seriously.

They saw me investing in my business and were, therefore, more likely to invest in me. I sold more courses and I started receiving more queries for more private consultations.

When you pay for a course or service with real money, you take yourself more seriously, too.

I carved out time for marketing and created more content. I followed up with potential leads and started emailing more people who I hadn’t reached out to before.

I had someone holding me accountable and routinely checking in with my progress. I kept putting one foot in front of the other.

And then it starts to work.

All of the things your coach told you to do starts to get traction and you see results.

You make progress which increases your confidence, which leads to more progress and you find yourself in a place you’ve never been before doing things you weren’t doing before.

Success follows on success and the setbacks you encounter don’t seem so stressful anymore because deep down, you know this will work because you’re making it work.

So, does investing in yourself pay off or is that just something people say?

I think it does, or at least, it has for me, but I had to exhaust all of the free content options before I was ready to put my money on the table.

Not all experts are worthwhile, which is why it’s always good to do your research and ask their former clients about their experiences.

So, make your own list of what you think is holding you back from investing in yourself and see if any of it rings true.

What’s holding you back? Fear of failure? Fear of success? Fear of spending money? Fear of admitting you need help? All of the above?

Send me an email if you think you want to work together.

I’d love to help you reach your goals self-publishing or Kickstarting your book.

Keep reading

More on being an indie author or illustrator—”Being great isn’t good enough. You have to be at the top of your game to break into the traditional publishing market.” – Natalie Merheb

How to Make Money as an Illustrator

Stand out from the crowd—”There’s no room in today’s market for more run-of-the-mill books.” —Bobbie Hinman

Why Stories About Failure are so Helpful

Why free content will only take you so far | Lisaferland.com
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From $6500 to over $15k on Kickstarter

How one indie author raised over $15k on Kickstarter after a two week dry spell.

Tania DeGregorio found herself in a slump.

Her Kickstarter campaign for her book, Skydancer: Adventures of a Monarch Butterfly had stalled at $6,500. She needed to reach $15,000 in the next two weeks and it didn’t look like she was going to make it.

She felt exhausted, defeated, and out of ideas.

“For a while, it seemed like there wasn’t any traffic and nobody was listening.”

None of her efforts were working and she had already reached out to everyone she could think of who might be interested in supporting her book.

With only two weeks to go, Tania was stuck at 43% and her campaign was essentially dead.

In a last ditch effort, Tania booked a Pick my Brain session and we spent an hour and 20 minutes strategizing creative ways to revive her campaign.

 

Armed with confidence, a new reward tier idea, and support from a stranger, Tania felt reenergized to succeed at Kickstarting her book.

“Getting some direction and someone to hold my hand along the way gave me more confidence in moving forward. I was getting tired it helped to get the direction to move it forward after the $6500 lull.”

You were averaging $100-$200/day and all of a sudden, you had a day where you surpassed your launch day pledges with $2k. Then you had a $3k day and another $1k day. What was happening?

I was doing events at gardening centers and connecting with like-minded people. It was really easy to share my enthusiasm for the project during conversations with people at these events.

It feels good once you know there is an audience who is interested in your book, which in turn, helped my confidence. I felt better pushing it toward the end to reach my goal.

Toward the end, I posted on my Facebook that I really needed help to reach my goal. Coming from a personal place, where I admitted that I was vulnerable, really connected with people.

It was a happy place and I saw the good in people coming out. My friends came through for me in such a huge way and I’m so grateful.

Do you think doing events saved your campaign?

I had a huge backing from some teachers and that really helped infuse more money and energy into the campaign at a crucial point.

I think the events helped a lot because I was connecting and having conversations with people who were directly interested in the book’s topic.

At some of the events, I had coloring pages and crayons for the kids, tacos for the adults, and I handed out a little informational flyer with the campaign details to people who were in the gardening center.

You created a new reward tier and even though nobody backed it, do you think it still helped?

I know! Nobody backed that new level, which surprised me, but in creating that new reward, I collaborated with The Nectar Bar, and they shared the campaign with their audience. A lot of people forwarded the announcement that I created a new reward which was definitely helpful in raising awareness of the campaign.

Are you happy that you did Kickstarter with the all-or-nothing model or would you have rather done a flexible funding model with IndieGoGo?

During the $6,500 lull, I had kind of given up and just accepted it but the all-or-nothing aspect really pushed me harder. If I had done an IndieGoGo with flexible funding, I would’ve given up and we wouldn’t have raised as much money.

This style (all-or-nothing) really engages people and a lot of people were watching it who I didn’t think were paying attention. As stressful as it was, I’m so happy I went with Kickstarter.

Would you ever do another Kickstarter campaign again?

I would, actually, I think it worked out really well once I had all of the pieces in place. (Now I know better.)

What would you do differently the next time around? 

I would’ve spoken to someone like you, a Kickstarter creator or coach, before I launched. I didn’t know all of the things I needed to have lined up before I launched.

I also would’ve engaged my audience more prior to launching so that more people were aware of it beforehand.

Well, a big congratulations to you, Tania. You worked very hard for this success. 

Thanks! It’s going to take me a while to come down from the shock that we actually made it happen. Now I need to get working on the book!

Bio

 

Tania DeGregorio is the indie author of Skydancer: Adventures of a Monarch Butterfly living in Austin, TX, USA.

You can visit her website and pre-order the book here: www.skydancerbook.com

From $6500 to over $15k on Kickstarter | lisaferland.com
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Want to learn more about what’s involved with crowdfunding your book on Kickstarter or IndieGoGo?

Enroll in my free mini course here

The Power of the $1 Reward on Kickstarter

You may be thinking that a $1 reward is a waste of your time. Who is going to pledge $1 if they are truly interested in your book? Why would someone even bother running a $1 charge against their credit card? It’s just not worth it…right?

As a former restaurant server, I equated the $1 reward to the penny tip on a bill. It can be viewed as insulting to the creator, so why include it?

Well, I’m changing my tune on the whole $1 reward thingy and here’s why.

1. $1 is an easy gesture of support

Whenever approaching strangers about your crowdfunding campaign for your book, you may feel reluctant to pitch a large pledge amount but with the $1 reward option, you’re giving those folks an easy way to say, “Yeah, I’ll support you at little-to-no cost to me.” It’s a no-brainer for people who may not know you personally but like your campaign and want to follow along.

2. The $1 reward acknowledges gratitude at all levels of financial support

Anyone, even those who are not in a financial position to support you at a higher level will be able to support the $1 reward. By placing it there, you’re giving them an option and telling them, “This is a legitimate option to support my campaign and I won’t view it as an insult.”

3. $1 backers receive all campaign updates

It’s really tough to reach people via email if they haven’t backed your campaign. Getting more people onto your email list at the $1 level means that they’ll receive your campaign updates and emails. They may decide to modify their pledge to a higher reward later on during your campaign.

4.  It can’t hurt to include it

I was surprised when people skipped over my discounted Early Bird Reward and pledged higher amounts than was available. In the same way, you’d be surprised how many extra people you’ll get at the $1 level who you might not have engaged without it. It can’t hurt to include it, so put it in there.

5.  Every dollar counts

When fundraising, every dollar counts, even in $1 increments. Some creators have gotten really creative in the types of rewards they offer for $1 and you can read about them here.

One creator reached out to contacts and asked them to commit to pledging at the $1 level on launch day. To his surprise, many of those backers pledged at a higher level and helped him create that much needed launch day momentum.

One reason not to include the $1 reward on Kickstarter (not applicable on IndieGoGo) is that Kickstarter lists rewards in increasing monetary value and that extra reward takes up valuable real estate when it comes to directing backers to the higher valued rewards.

It does take up real estate so keep your description short and make it fun. Use the $1 reward area to showcase your personality and gratitude.

Did I miss anything?

Be sure to leave a comment below if you think the $1 reward is a good or bad idea.

Should you offer $1 rewards on Kickstarter for your book? | Lisaferland.com
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Kickstarter vs. IndieGoGo for Indie Authors—Which one to choose?

You can successfully crowdfund books on either Kickstarter  and IndieGoGo platforms. In this article, I will make suggestions to help you decide which one is best for you and your book. 

Be sure to read the “About us” part from both websites bearing in mind that they are giving you the FAQs with a natural bias to promote their platform.

Writing and Publishing projects on both platforms

Kickstarter does a great job of making their statistics on successful and failed projects easy to find. See their statistics for publishing projects here: https://www.kickstarter.com/help/stats?ref=about_subnav

Kickstarter has launched 42k projects in the Publishing category with a success rate of 31%.  

IndieGoGo is much less transparent about their stats and requires a bit more digging. 

Here’s their comparison chart between IGG and Kickstarter.

I often get frustrated with IndieGoGo because they bury their Writing and Publishing projects on the front page of the website. One has to know exactly where to look to “stumble upon” those projects whereas Kickstarter makes it very easy to navigate from the homepage.

I have no idea how many Writing and Publishing projects have been launched on IndieGoGo because they haven’t published category-specific statistics and many of their campaigns are acquired through their InDemand program (described below).

You really need to head over to the Writing and Publishing category and poke around to see what the average funding levels are for books in your genre.

Winner: Kickstarter

Coming soon landing pages

IndieGoGo wins over Kickstarter in this category. IndieGoGo provides a landing page where you can collect emails from people who are interested in your book. 

This is just a screenshot—don’t enter your email here 🙂

 

Not only will they help you collect emails but they feature your landing page on their website under “Launching Soon.”

Pretty cool, right? 

Creators on Kickstarter will need to collect emails using a separate lead generator or on their own websites. 

Winner: IndieGoGo

Pro tip: Don’t lose your emails!  IndieGoGo creators need to grab those emails before your campaign goes live because that same page turns into your campaign page and those emails disappear. Grab those emails and enter them into your newsletter provider like Mailerlite or MailChimp if you want to hang onto them.

IndieGoGo’s InDemand Program

If you launch on Kickstarter your Kickstarter page will no longer accept backers once the campaign ends.

IndieGoGo wisely sees this as an opportunity to swoop in and acquire successful projects to their platform.

You’ll be contacted by IGG to feature your campaign as part of their InDemand Program.

The InDemand program allows you to redirect backers who missed your original campaign to order your books through their website.

It won’t really hurt you to do this, but I’d rather direct folks to buy my book directly from me using PayPal or Stripe and pay those fees (~6%) rather than the IndieGoGo platform fees plus payment processing fees.

Either way, when you’re on IGG doing research on books in your genre, be sure to look out for books that were actually acquired through this program. Those books were not successfully funded on IGG.

Here’s what it looks like—you have to hover over the question mark icon to get the truth about where that author found success.

 

Winner: IndieGoGo

Name recognition factor

A lot of people mistakenly think that the general population has heard of a Kickstarter more often than an IndieGoGo campaign and therefore, they are better off launching on Kickstarter.

Not so! 

Most people who you will want to support your campaign have zero clue what crowdfunding is and will need a step-by-step explanation. They really don’t care if it’s on Kickstarter or IndieGoGo because it’s all foreign to them anyway.

Choose the platform that feels right for you since you’re going to be directing your audience to that page anyway.

Winner: Draw

Featured rewards

Rewards on Kickstarter are listed in ascending value (cheapest reward is listed first) which means that more backers are going to select the first thing they see unless they scroll down.

And who wants to scroll down?!? Such work.

IndieGoGo campaigns have a neat “Featured Reward” designation that pins whatever reward you want to the top of your campaign so people are more likely to select that reward.

Winner: IndieGoGo

Pro tip: Set your featured reward to the average pledge you’d like to have for your campaign. Don’t set your reward value too low and lose out on awesome conversion opportunities.

Setting rewards too low is a common mistake that indie authors make

Backend Analytics

Kickstarter and IndieGoGo have similar analytical features on the creator-side of their projects but Kickstarter creators can utilize Kicktraqa Chrome extension plugin that provides predictions for how a Kickstarter project will ultimately end. 

IndieGoGo’s backend analytics are pretty cool but they won’t show you how your campaign is trending into the future—only past contribution levels.

Winner: Kickstarter

Grabbing backers’ emails

Communicating with your backers is a huge part of engaging and encouraging your backers to share the campaign. Unfortunately, Kickstarter holds your backers’ emails hostage during your campaign and only allows creators to communicate using the Kickstarter platform itself. 

In doing so, Kickstarter backers (usually a distant relative who has never backed a campaign before) thinks that they are getting emails from Kickstarter itself and not you directly. They generally ignore these emails and wonder why you’re not communicating with them (insert eye roll emoji here).

Kickstarter also has a new “anonymous backer” option which allows backers to hide their identities from creators.

This anonymous feature may result in more backers but it also makes it impossible to properly thank your Aunt Mary for generously contributing to your campaign. 

 
IndieGoGo gives you backers’ emails as the pledges come in, which is great for adding them to your newsletter provider and communicating with them directly.  

Kickstarter has added a “Live” feature which is similar to Facebook Live videos but I don’t think they are very helpful for indie authors’ campaigns who are relying on readers from outside of the platform itself.

Winner: IndieGoGo

Running a referral contest

IndieGoGo has a great feature that automatically makes every backer into a referrer if they share the project link when they are logged in. Here’s more information on their referral program. 

Kickstarter doesn’t have this feature built into the platform so you’ll have to do it using another referral program. Here’s how one Kickstarter creator incentivized shares via a referral contest.

Winner: IndieGoGo

Overall results

Which platform you choose is really up to your personal preference. When I launched my second book on Kickstarter, I was wholly convinced that it was the platform for me. 

When My Super Science Heroes found amazing success on IndieGoGo and I got to see firsthand how the email capture, Featured reward, and referral options worked, shockingly, I discovered that I preferred IndieGoGo’s features over Kickstarter’s.

But don’t take my word for it. Hop over to both websites, back a few projects, and decide for yourself.

 

5 Biggest Mistakes Indie Authors Make While Crowdfunding

I’ve analyzed a lot of crowdfunding projects over the years and there are a TON of mistakes that indie authors can easily avoid.

In this article, I’ll explain the mistake, how I can tell someone is making a mistake, and how to fix it. 

Mistake #1: Zero marketing strategy

Many indie authors think that backers will come flocking after they put up their campaign page. They have a cute video, good graphics, and nice rewards but absolutely no strategy for marketing the campaign to potential backers (readers).

How I can tell you have zero marketing strategy

Most indie authors without a solid marketing strategy happening behind the scenes will not reach more than 100 backers. I look at the number of backers a campaign has every day (thanks to Kicktraq) and if you have a few days in a row with 0 backers/day, I can tell that there either is no strategy or the strategy isn’t working.

The Fix

It’s really tough to create a solid marketing strategy mid-stream but all is not lost if you act quickly. Try to reach at least 30% within the first 5 days of your campaign or prepare to fold up camp and relaunch after you’ve built up your audience a bit.

You can start reaching out to big bloggers, journalists, and influencers who might be interested in your book, add a new reward that you KNOW will entice more backers, and do a full-out media blitz everywhere you think your readers might be lurking.

That said, with a short campaign timeline, you really don’t have time to develop a new strategy on the fly and your time, effort, and energy might be spent better on a relaunch a few months later.

Mistake #2: The rewards are all wrong

Many indie authors actually price their rewards too low. Remember, we are crowdfunding which means that backers are willing to pay a bit more than retail to help you create your project. That means you need to price your rewards higher than you would if you were selling them on the street.

If your goal is $15k, then you’re going to need a lot of people to buy your $20 reward…

How I can tell your rewards are bleh

Usually, I can see right away if your rewards are reasonable based on if I’d be willing to take out my wallet and enter in my credit card information based on what you have. 

Are your rewards structured in a way that makes it enticing for me to “level up?”

Are you offering an early bird discount or special reward to spur action on my part? 

No? Big mistake. 

The Fix

What else does your audience want besides your book that is of value? What else can you offer?  Bundle that together and slap a $50 price tag on it and get people to level-up to that reward.

Mistake #3: Video is too long and rambles on and on and on…

Your video does not need to be professionally created, although that does help, but it needs to be relatively short. Remember, you are trying to get people’s attention very quickly so jump straight to the point with a call to action.

How do I know your video is boring?

Because I’m bored and want to click away but I won’t because I’m analyzing your page.

The Fix

What do you want someone watching your video to do? You want them to back your book so you can do X for Y.

So say that. 

Say, “Back our project to introduce classical music back into the classrooms of 4th and 5th graders in New Jersey,” or whatever your awesome book brings to readers.

Say your call to action loud and clearly within the first 30 seconds of your video.

Mistake #4: Your goal is too high

wish we could all raise $30k on Kickstarter by simply creating a campaign and posting the link to our Facebook pages a few times but that’s not how it works.

Behind the scenes of every crowdfunding campaign is a tremendous amount of emailing, outreach, article creation, videos, podcasts, and other activity on the Internet. 

If your goal doesn’t match your audience size (remember, the average backer will spend $45-$50) then you’re not going to be successful.

How I know your campaign goal is too high

I look to see if someone has created a campaign in the past, I evaluate the activity on their social media pages, and I do a bit of market research on other crowdfunding campaigns on similar topics in the past.

The Fix

Unfortunately, your goal is locked in once you launch your campaign.

IndieGoGo allows you to extend your fixed campaign one time if you need it, but you can only extend it one time.

You cannot, I repeat, cannot have a $30k goal without knowing how you’re going to secure at least 600 backers.

Factoring in a 2% conversion rate, you need to reach at least 30,000 people. 

You can always relaunch with a more reasonable goal.

Mistake #5: No interactions or updates on the campaign page itself

A stranger wanders onto your crowdfunding campaign page and is looking for more information…more personality…an update or two to find out how the campaign is going.

Many indie authors don’t post any updates on their campaign’s page and this is a lost opportunity to get more backers.

How I can tell you aren’t utilizing updates to their biggest potential

It’s all quiet on your page and I’m wondering what’s up? How are things going? What else can you tell me about your project? Are you grateful for all of the support so far? 

The Fix

Use the public updates on your page as a way to showcase your personality and share insights into the project that weren’t already covered in your campaign’s description.

Can you share something from your illustrator? Have you decided to add a new reward? Have you been featured in the Washington Post, Forbes, or some other fancy website that people would think is cool?

Share your social proof that others are on board and link back to your campaign.

Why include a link to your campaign that’s in an update about your campaign?

Both Kickstarter and IndieGoGo email backers all public updates but Kickstarter (annoyingly) doesn’t automatically link the reader back to your campaign.  

That means that if someone wants to forward the email they received from Kickstarter about your campaign to a friend, they can but then the person just gets a body of text—no link—and you’ve lost a potential backer.

Make it super easy for people to find your campaign by always including a link back to it.

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