What are We Most Excited About for Authors in Web3?

why are we excited for authors on web3

2 min, 8 sec reading time

Last week, we sent out a deep dive focused on StoryPrima DAO. As we mentioned then, we are very impressed with their dual focus areas.

Their first goal is to help authors launch their books using NFTS by educating authors and readers and incubating projects.

Their second goal is to create content to spark discussions within the web3 and literature communities. 

Their new podcast series is a huge part of that, and luckily, they were able to get some pretty good-looking and super smart guests for their 7th episode on Wednesday.

(Hint, it was us!)

We were super excited to talk with the team there and enjoyed the conversation with Devin and Barry. 

We think you will enjoy the entire discussion, but we wanted to give you the highlights below:

Topics we discussed:

1) Differences between Web2 Kickstarter/Patreon vs. Crypto

The main difference between web2 and web3 is that in web2, you’re exchanging money for a product. In web3, you can exchange money for equity and invest in an indie publisher or small press.

Both models can have long-term patronage and co-creation, but it’s only in web3 that facilitates easy investment for equity.

2) What determines an author’s success in the web3 space?

Devin: Lisa, with your experience guiding authors in the self-publishing space to raise money for their projects, what are the things you think might be technical barriers to authors joining web3 today?

Lisa: I think the authors anywhere who are most successful are the ones who are willing to experiment and try new things and persevere. I think those are the core qualities for taking on anything. Of course, you have to have a good story, but if you have no readers, it doesn’t matter. So you have to embrace putting yourself out there, explaining why your story is wonderful, fantastic, transformative, etc., and translate the value to the reader. 

Web3 is no different than web2, and if you try to shortcut or do things out of order, you’re just going to stumble and Bumble and take ten times as long. If you build up your audience and build excitement and buzz, you’ll have a big launch no matter what platform you’re launching on.

3) What are we most excited about for authors in web3?

Suppose self-published authors want to direct their community to web3 for the opportunity to participate in a new kind of equity-based model or invite their readers to invest in them as a writer or creator. In that case, that’s a great way to build an authorship business.

Also, what about read-to-earn? That’s a great idea that incentivizes both authors and readers to join the web3lit space and consume stories in a new way.

We also think dynamic art or dynamic storytelling is possible in web3 in a way that isn’t possible currently. The possibilities are endless.

4) How long will it be until a web3 author gets a Pulitzer or a mainstream award in the future?

Lisa: I think it’s tough because traditional publishing really looks down upon alternate ways of storytelling and is reluctant to make big moves outside the box. I’d rather see web3 authors create their own awards than seek the validation of the traditional literature gatekeepers.

This space moves quickly and you won’t want to miss a thing! 

We put out new web3lit articles every Friday.

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4 Ways in Which StoryPrima DAO Educates and Accelerates Authors on Web3

4 min, 35 sec reading time

One of the most common phrases you’ll hear if you spend as much time as we do in crypto-Twitter (note – not recommended!) is – “We’re so early!!!”

The phrase is an invitation to everyone who hasn’t been mining bitcoin from their basement since 2014 that they haven’t missed out on all the fun times to come.

It also warns people that the space isn’t fully mature yet, and there are hurdles ahead. Technologies are improving with each innovation, but the road is still unpaved.

If you step away from the space for a month or two, you’ll be blown away by the changes you see when you come back.

Exponential growth and development are especially true with StoryPrima DAO, which launched in March 2022.

Last week, we discussed the potential of DAOs. If you haven’t read that yet, you can here.

It’s important to remember that DAOs are like neighborhoods. The communities will be different, so be sure to do your research to find your people.

What’s great about StoryPrima is that you can get a really good sense of their personalities, mission, and approach to web3lit from their podcast.

Click here to listen: #STORYFIRST Podcast
(We’ll be guests on this podcast in a few days!)

Intro & Background 

StoryPrima DAO started after the founders of “Legends of Cypher” created their story-led NFT project. While doing so, they realized that writers in web3 required more assistance. 

As they write on their site, their DAO was “founded to help make the journey of other individuals and teams seeking to harness NFTs to drive powerful and enduring storytelling easier.” 

Their goal is to give authors “tools, resources, and funding to help them develop rich, story-oriented NFT projects.”

Building a Web3 Publishing House

If you build it, they will come

StoryPrima announced that their first research publication will be a “census and taxonomy of story-oriented NFT projects” published this summer. So we are looking forward to seeing what they eventually publish.  

Their podcast is exciting, and they have released seven episodes so far, all delivering on their promise to “highlight the mavericks who are leveraging the power of NFTs to tell the blockbuster stories of tomorrow.”  

Image Credit: https://storyprima.io

We generally listen to one crypto-related podcast each morning when we walk the dog, and their episodes feature entertaining and thought-provoking conversations.

If you’re interested in learning more about the importance of stories in the NFT world, check out their episode on “How to Build a Blockbuster Franchise.”

Also, their interview about “AI & Community-Powered web3 stories” raised many questions about how AI and web3 technologies can be combined in the future.

Overall, the “getting readers excited” workstreams are off to a promising start, which should create a DEMAND for story-led projects.

For all the Authors in the House

If you’re an author who is interested in web3 for future publishing projects, then you’ll want to head to StoryPrima’s website for more information and contact them if you want to join their DAO.

StoryPrima states that their goal is to educate authors by explaining the “benefits and drawbacks” of web3 technologies and business models. 

StoryPrima can provide authors with a safe place to learn how web3 unlocks new community engagement and storytelling capabilities. 

It can also ensure that authors understand the “chaotic NFT market” demands and don’t expect that simply launching an NFT of their book will make them a million dollars overnight. 

Educating writers about realistic expectations will benefit the whole space and bring much-needed content and readers to the space.  

Attracting Readers to web3

StoryPrima DAO is also focused on building a readership for the writers within their DAO. This is unique as some other DAOs are focused on the more technical aspects of web3lit.

Building a readership is core to every publishing project and if you can have DAO community members help you with that aspect of your publishing journey, that’s a huge value add.

Incubating Selected Publishing Projects

StoryPrima DAO plans on offering an incubation program for projects selected by the DAO members themselves.  

While the application process isn’t yet finalized, the goal is to provide up-front investment to the project in exchange for “royalty or revenue shares.”  

In other words, an advance.  

This is very common in the traditional publishing world, but now the book deal decision-makers aren’t a major publishing house – they are anyone holding a Prima Token.  

Because we care about you, we promise NOT to go into the technical details of how they create and allocate these tokens (i.e., what is known as token economics or, more commonly, tokenomics.) 

Just know that holding these tokens will allow someone to help make strategic decisions in the organization (i.e., which projects to incubate). 

The tokens will be able to be traded for other crypto coins (i.e., Ethereum or Bitcoin), which can be exchanged for actual money. 

(Note – StoryPrima has a lot of details on their site that do go into these details if you want further reading.) 

Is StoryPrima Similar to a Traditional Publisher? Well, not really.

Last week, we showed some examples of how DAOs can be considered the “corporations of web3.” Now let’s see how that works with StoryPrima. 

Traditional publishing houses are corporations that identify books they think should be published. They then (may or may not) help promote and market the books to readers.  

Web3 publishing houses (i.e., StoryPrima DAO) are decentralized and empower the community to identify books they think should be published. 

Using their established podcast, social media, and community members, book promotion will be a DAO-led effort.

One notable difference is that anyone passionate about publishing in web3 can help make decisions for the DAO, while traditional publishing decision-making is top-down.

Hopefully, this can allow amazing new authors to connect with the communities waiting for their stories authentically.  

Summary

We know we’re so early, and StoryPrima DAO launched in early 2022, so there is a lot of potential there. 

It’ll be great to see how they grow in the future.

By focusing their priorities on growing the demand side (i.e., readers) and the supply side (i.e., authors) of web3lit, they are creating the potential for a “virtuous flywheel.”

  • Have a great story
  • Promote Story on Podcast/Media Channels
  • The story reaches passionate readers and is a financial success
  • More authors hear about it and become interested in the web3lit space
  • Incubate more great stories and begin again

Overall, we think this DAO would be great for anyone with publishing industry experience who is disenfranchised, frustrated, or recently quit their publishing job. 

 Also, this DAO is perfect for any author with talent, passion, and a niche audience currently underrepresented by traditional publishing.

Be sure to contact them for more information about what it means to join StoryPrima DAO.

Website: https://storyprima.io/

Podcast: https://storyprima.io/story-first-podcast/

Twitter: @storyprima_dao

This space moves quickly and you won’t want to miss a thing! 

We put out new web3lit articles every Friday.

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Can DAOs disrupt traditional publishing as we know it today?

2 min, 45 sec reading time

We understand if your eyes immediately glaze over in confusion when you hear the term DAO, but we think this overview is worthwhile. 

Web3Lit DAOs are still very, very new, but we can only imagine what they can offer to authors and readers over the long term. 

In all honesty, we believe DAOs can help web3 disrupt and redefine the publishing industry.

Because this is a bit of an “out-there” topic, we’re going to do a quick intro to the idea of DAOs today with the promise to do a Deep Dive next week.

annakin and padme meme about dao complexity

Background

 

 

There are two high-level views of DAOs right now:

1) They are “group chats with bank accounts”

OR

2) they are an “essential tool in the new set of crypto-economic primitives that will change how humanity coordinates capital and resources.”

DAO vs Company_Aragon
Image Credit: https://aragon.org/

While they differ in scale, both describe the idea of a “web3-native” business.

And based on what is taking place in the crypto-marketspace, that seems to be about right. 

While some of these businesses are smaller – more like collectives or co-ops – a number of them are big businesses that have millions or even billions of dollars in their bank account (treasury).

They work in very different ways than traditional companies as well. Instead of a traditional hierarchy of processes and rules, DAOs are much “looser.” 

DAO members can decide what projects to fund, what decisions to make, and even how much contributors are paid. 

And lastly, DAOs are being found across almost every industry. 

This DAO Landscape graphic shows a bit of the complexity – and it was completed in the summer of 2021 – BEFORE DAOs really became popular.

Image Credit: https://coopahtroopa.mirror.xyz/

Now you can easily find DAOs that:

1) Run Podcasts (we are part of this!) – https://www.rehashweb3.xyz/

2) Launch Wall Street style investment tools – https://indexcoop.com/ https://syndicate.io/

3) Fund big projects that benefit the Open Web – https://gitcoin.co/

4) Are trying to buy a professional sports team https://www.krausehouse.club/ or a country club https://linksdao.io/

5) Fund BioTech Longevity research https://www.vitadao.com/

6) Create a crypto-media network 

7) Literally anything…there is a DAO for basically everything now! 

(We even joined a DAO that tried to buy a copy of the US Constitution so that it could be kept in a museum for everyone to see…that didn’t work out so well.)

Overall, DAOs create a super democratized approach for how people work together to develop businesses within the crypto/web3 space. 

 It can get MUCH more complicated than what we’ve described, but we’ve promised not to go too deep here. 

If you want further reading, feel free to dig into these articles:

 

With all that said, what do DAOs mean for web3lit?

Glad you asked!

Get excited for next week when we dive into StoryPrima DAO and what that could mean for the future of publishing.  

This space moves quickly and you won’t want to miss a thing! 

We put out new web3lit articles every Friday.

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Our disappointing experience using mirror.xyz – the lights are on but no one’s home

a woman in a red shirt sitting at her laptop with her head in her hands in frustration

3 min, 26 sec reading time

What is mirror.xyz?

Mirror could be a potential onramp for Web2 writers to enter the Web3Lit space. However, at the moment, some of the bugs and issues with Mirror can complicate, frustrate, and discourage new users from using the tool.

If you follow the crypto space at all, you know that mirror.xyz is THE publishing platform for Web3 creators. 

Billing itself as the “essential Web3 toolkit for sharing and funding anything,” it’s been valued at over $100m USD. 

It became extremely popular in 2021 because of the success of its “$Write Race” competition that had authors competing for “articles of the week.”

Since then, the reason it is viewed as the best publishing platform for Web3 is because it allows authors to easily generate value for their work. 

How does Mirror Differ from Medium?

Compared to most publishing platforms (i.e. Medium, etc.), Mirror allows creators to monetize their content with Web3 plugins for crowdfunding, minting their articles as NFTs, and even setting up a crypto-based “tip jar”. 

It also promises easy “splitting” of any funds across multiple authors, so if for instance, you were part of an amazingly-attractive-and-intelligent-husband-and-wife-team writing together, you could easily split any funds received from your work.

Because of this monetization strategy (and cache among the Web3 community), Mirror has become the site where authors publish technical documentation, deep dives on topics that they care about (like Meagan Lloysts “Metaverse 101”), and even crowdfund their novels (like Emily Segal in April 2021). 

Testing Out Mirror Ourselves

So, before we can help more authors figure out how mirror.xyz works in Web3, we had to try it out ourselves and report back. 

In our case, Lisa is an expert in Web2 publishing tools and has extensive experience collaborating using cloud-based platforms with authors worldwide. 

Jonny is not an expert by any means, but has played around with a number of Web3 platforms and has minted a few NFTs in the past.

Together, we make the perfect semi-experienced novices who would seek out publishing on Mirror as the first step into Web3Lit.

With all that said, we have been really disappointed in our Mirror experience and won’t be recommending it to others until some things are fixed.  

Our Experience Publishing on mirror.xyz

Initial Setup

When first going to Mirror, you find a polished background about the site and some promoted articles/projects. Only once you connect your Metamask/crypto wallet do you get to a completely different toolbox site that allows you to start creating.  

screen shot of mirror.xyzs homepage says create and connect your world on web3
jonny stockholm's mirror dashboard with two articles

Off the bat, things were easy. 

We were able to quickly create an entry and the content blocks to embed images, tweets, and URLs were all simple and easy to use. 

So far so good.  

But then we started running into three major issues:

1. Outdated/Confusing Guides

Again, we are not experts in the Web3 space, but we also aren’t brand new.  And we really struggled to get our first publication posted correctly.  

While they have a guide available, a lot of the directions are incorrect.  

For example, the $writerace that mirror.xyz became famous for was discontinued months ago, but that first day we were trying to figure things out and found a page saying that we “need $WRITE tokens in your wallet to compose, publish, or create an account on Mirror.”

This is simply untrue – and we know this because we follow the space closely – but a new entrant in the Web3 space would be really confused. 

The Editor Guide’s instructions were not the most helpful either. 

Definitions and terminology in the Editor guide differed to what was on the site, and so without a helpful Editor Guide to assist us, we headed to Mirror’s Discord server for more help. 

However, once there, we could not view any previously asked questions or get an answer to any question we posted. 

The Discord server sat empty and erased our posted question clean after a few minutes like we were never there. It was an experience that was not only unhelpful but also quite frustrating.

2. Inability to Collaborate

This was a huge disappointment – mirror.xyz does not enable authors to co-create on the platform itself. We had to draft our article in Google Docs, edit using Grammarly, and copy/paste the final version into Mirror. 

To co-create our initial draft, we needed multiple tools in Web2 before dropping in the final version into mirror.xyz that needed to be reformatted.

We wish mirror.xyz enabled authors to share the same drafts and co-write articles prior to publication.

3. Features Not Working Properly

Embeds not working

We used the URL feature to visualize people’s Tweets in our main article. While that feature worked during drafting and preview, they reverted to ugly links upon publication. 

The same happened with the image link display on social media. 

When we shared the published article on Facebook, the assigned main image displayed properly, but it showed up as a blank square on Twitter.

How are Twitter folks going to recognize our genius with a blank square next to our headline?

It looked unprofessional and incomplete. 

Issues Splitting Royalties

One of the huge benefits of publishing in Web3 is the promise of easier royalty management among co-authors.

Despite two wonderful people minting our article, neither of us has any ETH in our wallets from the SPLIT. We’ve tried to “claim” the split, and spent ~$10 worth of ETH in transaction fees, but didn’t actually get any of the value. 

Will we ever be able to access it? We don’t know!

split screen image of a man smiling saying

Actual Site not Loading

After we published our second article, we received a comment from a reader who had tried to access the article using multiple browsers and devices and could never get it to load.

If people can’t even read our content, then Mirror is not doing its most basic job. 

Lisa attempted to create a new entry in Mirror and was met with text that simply said, “Patience” in the center of a blank screen. 

What is going on? Is the site down? Should we come back later? Never?

Patience
Unfortunately, not a joke, this is what Lisa’s screen looked like when she tried to create a new entry in mirror.xyz

Suggestions for Mirror

At the moment, if you decide to publish on Mirror, know that you’re going to experience some challenges. 

Even though Lisa has coded in SAS, R, and designed WordPress websites for years, we were left scratching our heads numerous times during this process. 

We suggest the following:

  • Update the directions on the site and have them user-tested.
  • Conduct a user-experience test with non-Web3 people to find holes in directions.
  • Allow for all articles to appear in all Dashboards that have linked wallets. 
  • Update the Editor Guide
  • Update the website to remove aspects that are no longer relevant ($WRITE token)
  • Explain to users why there is a super ugly URL slug to those who are used to customizing Web2 slugs. I learned recently that the URL is linked to the location in the blockchain, but I had no idea that was what was happening and the URL is usually optimized for SEO.
  • Link to your Mirror blog that explains helpful tips rather than direct people to a vacant Discord server. I found some articles here helpful but again, I had to search for them: https://dev.mirror.xyz/
  • More user support is needed, even if it’s from the community. Mirror could provide Frequently Asked Questions or allow fellow users to help one another on the Discord server. No community Discord server should be radio silent.

When all of these issues are fixed, I think mirror.xyz will be great, but until then, proceed with caution…and patience.

We do not recommend using Mirror for crowdfunding until you are experienced in extracting funds from your crypto wallet.

From now on, we will not be publishing our articles on mirror.xyz, but instead, will house them here and incorporate Web3 tool plugins to our WordPress backend.

What about you? 

Have you published on mirror.xyz?

How was your experience? 

Let’s chat in the comments below.

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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.

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

Behind-the-scenes of my first children’s book’s Kickstarter campaign

Updated May 14, 2019

1
Number of backers

Strategies—Both Failing and Succeeding

This post is LIVE, meaning I’m updating it throughout the campaign with my strategies, thoughts, and reflections.

There are strategies here that could be considered failures and successes depending on what your goals are. 

Most books raise $5k on Kickstarter but only 30% of children’s book campaigns are successful. 

 

Primary goals

Always know what your goals are as they will probably differ from mine. Different goals require different strategies.

For this campaign, I wanted to:

—raise a modest goal of $3500

—gain the Kickstarter Project We Love badge

—get the Kickstarter algorithm to work in my favor to show my project to people on the platform

—grow my audience beyond those who already know me

—not annoy my friends and family

If my goal was to raise a large sum of funds, as it was for my first campaign that raised $10k, I would’ve priced my reward tiers and campaign goal differently.

Mini Goals

I set mini goals for myself every day. “Today, I want to reach X number of backers.” “Today, I want to raise $X.”

Doing these mini goals really helped me focus on tangible goals and see progress. It’s very easy to feel like you’re doing a ton of work and not seeing results if you aren’t setting these goals. 

Public Gratitude

Before I dive into marketing strategies, I just wanted to say that the most fulfilling posts I ever created were my Wall of Gratitude posts where I publicly thanked every single backer on Facebook.

I loved creating the graphics and typing out everyone’s names. I loved trying to tag everyone in the post and ensure that they saw the thank you, and I loved their comments and responses.

When you lead with gratitude and show genuine thankfulness, you will feel so much better about your campaign and people will feel good about being a part of your project.

Always lead with love.

Facebook Ad Strategy

Disclaimer: I’m not good at Facebook ads even though I took a course and have been experimenting for a while.

Facebook usually gobbles up my money without any click throughs so I wasn’t going to run any ads.

I decided to boost my “We’re live on Kickstarter!” post because it had 19 organic shares, a bunch of comments and hearts on it from launch day.

I boosted it for the equivalent of $10 for one day and ended up with a bunch of clicks coming to $0.50/click.

Nice. The average cost per click in the US is $1.01 according to Google, so this ad is performing well. 

Let’s keep it going.

I just increased the budget to 300 kr ($35) and will monitor it to see if the costs are still around $0.53/click.

If I start hemorrhaging, I’ll pause the ad and try something else.

What Launch Day Looked Like

I sent my two kids off with my husband to his office because I knew I needed to focus without interruptions.

So, off they went with their headphones and iPads to draw on whiteboards at the headquarters. 

Launch Day Timeline

8:15 am—I pressed the Prepare to Launch button on Kickstarter and followed their directions (eek!)

—Created Kickstarter referral tags so I could track traffic from different sources. I labeled them Facebook, Instagram, Email, Homepage, etc., 
—Changed my homepage to a landing page design to send people to my campaign.

All digital roads on websites that I own lead to my Kickstarter page.

—Changed my sign-up landing page to redirect folks to my campaign. I don’t want people signing up for my newsletter, I want them heading to my Kickstarter campaign. 

—Updated my blog sidebar widget

–Posted an update to LinkedIn

—Scheduled my book-specific newsletter to go out at 11:30 am CET/5:30 am ET

9:17 am—received first spam email offering promotional support

9:50 am—Updated my Instagram profile picture, link, post, and stories

—Added “offers” to my Facebook Shop on my professional pages

10:19 am—Sent out newsletter to 181 people (not specific to the book but to crowdfunding)

—Updated my email signature to just send people to my campaign

10:30 am—started emailing friend and family. Most are on the east coast of the US, so they were still asleep, so I focused on my EU-based friends first.

11:09 am—Received second spam promotional email offering “help” with my Kickstarter campaign

—Boosted “We are live” posts on Facebook for $5-$10/day for one day on both of my professional pages

11:55 am—received third promotional spam email promising exposure

12:00-13:30—took a lunch break, screen break, read a book and sat in the sunshine

13:30—got back emailing friends, family, and fellow authors

15:00-15:30—took a break, answered the front door, puttered around a bit

16:00—started emailing and messaging people again and scheduled an automated newsletter to go out at 21:00 for everyone who hasn’t opened my first newsletter

18:46—Kickstarter emailed me notification that the project was selected as a Project We Love!  

19:00—ate dinner with my family (I remember those people)

19:30—20:30—client call with an author

21:00—received another spam promotional email

22:00—finalized my Launch Day Heroes visual to share on social media

Phew. Good night!

Strategy

Setting my goal

There are two different goal-setting strategies that I see on Kickstarter:

    1. Setting an artificially low goal and work hard to exceed it
    2. Setting the goal amount you need even if it means you might not reach it

There are different reasons and methods behind each strategy, but I’m going with strategy #1.

My goal for this campaign is to grow my audience, so I want to price my reward tiers with maximum “no-brainer” appeal. I’d rather have 350 backers than $5k, so that’s why I’ve priced my main reward at $15 including shipping.

This might come back to haunt me later, with a smaller margin for error, but we’ll see.

Emailing friends and family

I’ve been emailing personal emails directly to my close contacts so they understand how critical their support is on launch day.

I really don’t like emailing promotional emails to my friends and family, so I led with the story of the book—why I’m publishing it and why I’m excited to share it with others.

My emails don’t feel spammy or pushy to me (I asked my friends to check my language), and I feel good sharing them.

Emailing superbackers

I tried to hire someone to help me reach superbackers on Kickstarter and he TURNED ME DOWN saying that my goal was too low to draw much attention. 

First of all, I appreciate him not just taking my money if he thinks I won’t be successful, so kudos to him, but this is not the first time I’ve been turned down by PR folks for one reason or another.

Hence, why I offer consulting services to indie authors. NOBODY ELSE WANTS TO WORK WITH US. Frustrating beyond belief.

Homepage takeover

I created a new homepage that will go live when I launch that will drive any traffic landing on lisaferland.com to head to the Kickstarter campaign instead.

Doing this required a bit of time and technical knowledge, so I got this all set up 10 days before launch.

Talk it up

I talked up my campaign to A LOT of people before I launched. I attended a conference in Amsterdam the week before launch and told everyone there what I was doing and got their emails if they were interested in learning more. That effort probably yielded 3-5 backers.

I posted blogs on my website and sent emails to my newsletter discussing the importance of backing authors on launch day to prime the pump and educate people before I launched my campaign.

I created informational images and sent those to my newsletter folks and posted it on my personal Facebook page that explained why I was crowdfunding my book and how Kickstarter worked.

In essence, I discussed Kickstarter and how people can support authors non-stop on all of my social media platforms, blogs, and videos 30 days before I even launched.

Honestly, by the time launch day rolled around, I was so sick of hearing myself talk about it.

It’s hard to keep in mind that there is so much noise on social media these days and people are only hearing and seeing a fraction of what you’re putting out.

It feels like a TON of overload for you but most people aren’t seeing what you’re doing.

 

 

Kickstarter Campaign Page

The campaign page was completely finished about 15 days before launch.

I worked on it over the course of several weeks, commissioned graphics by my illustrator, and researched reward tiers by other campaigns.

The campaign video took one day to create (it’s 1:26 long) and I used Camtasia as my video editor.

Someone commented saying I needed to add more “personality” into my video (apparently, my voice was too chill), so I edited it a bit and added in some personal aspects about my kids reading the book into the middle of the video. 

I kept the length the same because short and sweet works for me.

I received feedback and input on the content, rewards, and goal amount two weeks before launch.

Blogs

Podcasts

External Press

Advanced Reader Copies

I printed off advanced reader copies via KDP Print so that bloggers and teachers could have books in hand to review, photograph, and read to their kids.

I sent off five copies to teachers (three responded with quotes and images), and six copies to bloggers for book reviews and giveaways on their websites during the campaign.

I also sent everyone on my newsletter list a PDF copy of the book. Of the 150 people on my newsletter list, 47 people opened that email and 38 people downloaded the PDF.

I used Bookfunnel to deliver the PDF seamlessly and ensured that only my newsletter folks could access it.

Additional Content

In creating the graphics for the campaign, I upgraded my Canva subscription to Canva for Work so I could easily resize images, use color palettes, and have access to Premium stock photos. This alone saved me a ton of time.

I batched my efforts and created 15 promotional gifs/videos during Ripl’s free trial for 5 days. I don’t need Ripl’s services beyond this campaign, so I canceled after the free trial.

Ten days before launch, I updated my Facebook personal cover photo and profile image with links to the campaign as a sneak peek and started including more book-based promotional images in my IG and FB stories.

Website Modifications

In addition to creating a new temporary homepage featuring the book, I changed up my footer and blog sidebar widgets to feature  hyperlinked images that would direct people to the campaign and to rewards specifically for authors.

Basically, all roads lead to my campaign. 

Screenshot of lisaferland.com's current landing page

Coming soon…

—Where did my backers come from? I’ll give you a detailed breakdown of my sources.

—Was all of the effort worth it?

—How I created my campaign video

 

Total raised on Kickstarter
When the Clock Strikes on Halloween 100%

If you want to visit the campaign and see how it’s going, click the button below: 

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

Why Indie Authors Should Always Hire an Editor

There are some non-negotiable aspects in self-publishing that are needed for your book to compete in this oversaturated market—flawless text and a professional cover.

While many authors understand their writing can always be improved by a good editor, some children’s book authors think that editors aren’t necessary because they are writing for children.

I asked editor Tamara Rittershaus to share her thoughts on the importance of editing every book, but especially children’s books.

Here’s what Tamara has to say:

People will buy a great product.

 
“Self-published books have a bad reputation because they are often bad products. They’re often not edited, have cheap-looking illustrations, and grammatical errors in the blurb.
 
But with a good product and focused marketing, it can be successful. 
 

The Traditional Publishing Process

 
In traditional publishing, an author should have their manuscript critiqued, beta read, and professionally edited before sending it to their agent.
 
The agent offers editing. The agent sells the manuscript to a publisher, which would also have an editor.
 
So a book that is traditionally published has a stamp of approval from at least three editors (sometimes more than that).
 
Readers can trust these to be quality products. 
 
The indie-author community needs to focus on putting out better products.
 
In order to compete against traditionally published books, indie authors must hire professionals to work with them on creating the best book possible.
 

Here is what I recommend to an indie author:

 
After you write and revise a manuscript, find a critique partner!
 
Starting out, I swapped my picture book manuscripts with dozens of other writers through  a Facebook group called “KidLit411 Manuscript Swap.” 
 
Over time, I have found the four or five critique partners who I trust the most.
 
Once you’ve had it critiqued and made revisions, hire an editor!
 
Ask for developmental editing. A good editor will have an eye for how to really enhance the story.
 
They will explain how you can improve your story arc, the tone of the story, how to create better scenes, and more.
 
If you make significant changes, send it back to your critique partner or hire your editor for a second round of developmental editing. 
 
 
When your story is solid, have another round with your trusted critique partner(s) or look for “fresh eyes” in a beta reader.
 
Now is the time to have the story line edited. This is the final check through for grammar, punctuation, syntax and minor inconsistencies.
 
If you’re hiring an illustrator, I suggest you wait to start illustrations until the manuscript is ready for line editing.
 
A change to the manuscript text is easy, but changes to illustrations will cost you. 
 

Create a relationship with your editor.

 
Editors want our clients to succeed, especially the loyal clients that we know well. I offer my picture book clients a free once-over before publishing, because I don’t want to see any avoidable mistakes getting published. 
 
If you write in poetry, I suggest having your manuscript checked over by a poetry specialist.
 
I offer “poetry coaching” for clients who feel compelled to write in rhyme, but haven’t been trained in writing in meter.
 
I use the client’s own manuscript to teach them how the meter could sound. This is a very effective teaching method and my clients have great success learning to write in meter.”

Bio

Tamara Rittershaus offers editing services for children’s literature authors as a picture book editor. She will give you a thorough and honest critique of your work.

Connect with Tamara on Facebook or Twitter for more information: