Why Stories About Failure Are So Helpful

Failure.

It’s no longer a dirty word to utter or admit in entrepreneurial and corporate circles. In fact, many entrepreneurs and businesses are embracing sharing stories of failure because they understand the value of these stories.

Sharing what doesn’t work is just as valuable (maybe more) as sharing what does work.

In science, it is every researcher’s dream to test a hypothesis and find statistically significant results confirming that they were right. However, publishing research findings showing that there were no statistically significant results for those elements is equally important to the research community. It shows that those confounders aren’t relevant to your problem.

Failure in a Public Health Study

Case study: In 2005, Michael Watson and his public health colleagues conducted a randomized controlled trial where 3,400 some odd families with children under 5 were provided child safety equipment to prevent injuries.

They studied whether a child in the family had at least one injury that required medical attention and if they sought hospital admission for injuries over the course of a two year period. Their hypothesis was that providing safety equipment and medical advice to these families would reduce the number of injuries seen in the family. Afterall, safety equipment provides a protective effect, no? Seems logical.

However, they found NO SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCE in the number of medically attended injuries between the families who had the safety equipment and those who didn’t. Basically, kids will be kids regardless of the safety equipment they have. You can satisfy your nerdy side with the full article here.

Was their study a failure or did it provide interesting results?

I’d argue that these non-significant results were very helpful in directing future researchers to various study designs when it comes to studying families and child injury prevention. Their study informed pediatricians and crafted the advice doctors gave their worried parental patients.

One can argue, quite successfully, that publishing non-significant results (or stories of failure) are extremely valuable in how we view our world and test our own hypotheses.

Failure is the new trend in business

“I’m still shocked at being considered an authority on robotics when I’m known for making robots that don’t work.” – Simone Giertz

Fail stories are finally being seen as something of worth in the business world and entrepreneurs are embracing their failures with open arms. Failory.com provides written interviews with start-up founders to dig into the reasons why their ideas failed. Entrepreneurs are sharing their F**kup stories on vlogs with Stefanie Koch on We Fucked Up, and the videos are entertaining to watch and reassuring to see.

Because learning what not to do is as valuable as learning what to do in business, young entrepreneurs are gobbling up failure stories for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Take a look at all of the books related to failure: The 10 Commandments for Business FailureSecret to Startup Failure: Fail fast. Fail cheap. Fail happy.How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big.

On Alie Ward’s Gizmology podcast, she chats with Simone Giertz from Shitty Robots (a super entertaining YouTube channel, by the way), about how her robot fail videos made her famous. Simone admits, “I’m still shocked at being considered an authority on robotics when I’m known for making robots that don’t work.”

Failure makes you human. Failure makes you relatable.

The Old Guard (looking at you, my lovely gray-haired/bearded experts in your field of choice) have kept their mistakes a secret—always wanting to be perceived as the all-knowing, wise, and knowledgeable specialists. But, when those all-knowing experts are always on the conference call, they stifle their colleagues’ desire to speak up and offer their ideas.

Former Florida State Epidemiologist, Richard Hopkins, is a tall, white-bearded man who would regale me with stories about his bassoon playing vacations in Bozeman, Montana. During a “long table discussion” (you know, those where all of the experts sit at a long table and rabble on at one another) he pulled me close and whispered in my ear, “I’m not going to answer any questions so, you’d better be ready to speak up. You know as much on this topic as I do.”

Other people’s fear of failing in front of an expert actually hinders growth and progress.

Being a young, relatively inexperienced female epidemiologist sitting at the table next to a veritable expert with over 30 years of experience, I took his permission to heart. I was grateful that he explicitly gave my ideas equal validity as his own despite the discrepancy of years of experience in the field.

Later, during one of the coffee breaks, he said, “I’ve found that whenever I offer up my opinions on a topic, it shuts everyone else down and a lot of good ideas go unsaid. We need more new ideas coming to the table, not less.”

In short, other people’s fear of failing in front of an expert actually hinders growth and progress.

This is why we need more experts to share more of their stories of failure with their colleagues and especially with people seeking to enter their field. In doing so, we will all understand that growth cannot happen without failing and that it is only through failure that we can improve.

Share your failures story with someone and you’ll find that sharing your mistakes makes you more human, more relatable, and more empathetic toward others. You’ll gain more admiration and respect in your field of expertise.

Failure shows persistence

Tim Ferriss sent his 4 Hour Workweek book to 25 publishers before someone finally accepted it. Dr. Seuss’s first book was rejected by 27 publishers before it was accepted. Walt Disney filed bankruptcy after starting several businesses and failing at them all. Continuously failing means that you improve the next time and the next until you reach greatness.

So, head out there and fail your heart out. You might just inspire someone.

Are you ready to learn from my mistakes? I share all of my failures with my clients so they can learn what not to do when it comes to self-publishing and crowdfunding their book.

Ibari’s Curls—How Nicholette Thomas Created A Dialogue With Her Readers

Nicholette Thomas wrote and illustrated her first children’s book, Ibari’s Curls, that focuses on creating a dialogue with her young readers. I know this because my kids love “answering” the main character’s questions throughout the book. I’ve never seen anything like that before and we have quite the collection of children’s books in our house.

It turns out that creating that conversation was the main reason why Nicholette decided to self-publish her book. That style of writing is not commonly found in children’s books (but it should be because it is quite effective).

Read more about my conversation with Nicholette and how she plans to educate kids (and their parents) through this type of interactive reading style.

Why did you decide to self-publish your illustrated children’s book?

I always wanted to write a story, and I set a goal to publish a book. I wasn’t sure traditionally publishing was right for me because it takes a long time and I can be really shy. With self-publishing, I felt in control, I didn’t need approval from anyway, and I could accomplish it all by myself.

The illustrations are really unique in your book. What was your process?

I sketched in pencil, did the watercolor, outlined in marker, and then scanned and enhanced them to make them transparent. I wanted a painted background to make the illustrations more unique. I didn’t use any fancy tools—I dropped the scanned file into Word and clicked the tab “Set to transparent,” and that was it. I upgraded my Canva account so that I could control more of the settings, but that was really it.

You really used Word to manipulate your images? That’s crazy. Word is not designed for that at all. I’m impressed.

Yeah, I did! I made it work.

You ran a quick Kickstarter campaign to cover some of the fees of your book. Can you explain what the campaign covered?

I wanted the Kickstarter campaign to cover the costs of the ISBN 10-pack ($395), the Canva upgrade ($12/mth), and then the set-up and printing costs of the book (Ingram Spark $49 and CreateSpace $75).

Next time I self-publish a book, I want someone to take my artwork and make it digital, but for this book, I didn’t hire any editors or cover designers.

How long did it take you to create the book from start to finish?

It took me about a year. I ordered a bunch of copies from Ingram Spark to have on hand, giveaway, and sell on Multicultural Children’s Book Day. (Set your calendars for the next one Jan 25, 2019) 

Ingram Spark ($8/book) ended up being much cheaper than CreateSpace ($13/book) for me to produce since my book was full color and there was no noticeable quality difference that I could find.

What advice would you give an indie children’s book author?

My advice is to hire a cover designer and illustrator if you don’t know how to do it yourself. Also, have kids look at it and make sure that the words make sense to them. I got a lot of great feedback from the kids who read the book and pointed out things that I wouldn’t have thought about. Getting group feedback is really good even if it means you have to change things.

Do a lot of research and keep testing before you publish.

Your book used to have a different title. What made you decide to change it?

During the research phase, I noticed that a lot of children’s books had really unique names. Golden Girl and Her Curls (the original title) just didn’t seem unique enough to stand out. I asked for feedback in a book group, and Ibari’s Curls was overwhelmingly more popular.

Be careful in how you share your work publicly as you might still be working through things and changing things right up until publication.

Has self-publishing your book resulted in any new opportunities for you?

Self-publishing definitely forced me to put myself out there more than I was already doing writing for my blog. A book is a much more visible product of your work, so it’s easy to feel more vulnerable because it is being seen and judged by others.

What’s next for you? Are there any new books in the works?

I’ve started illustrating another book about unique families and want to show different makeups of families. There will be all sorts of families with two dads, two moms, one mom, one dad, etc., and I want kids to know that this is normal.

For any book I create, I want there to be a dialogue with the reader, so they learn as they read while still having fun.

Any last takeaway messages for indie authors?

Make sure publishing a book is something you feel passionate about.

Don’t do it to try to make money, do it because you love it.

Even if you don’t sell one copy, you’ll still feel great when you hold your book in your hands.

Bio

Nicholette Thomas writes at mixedfamilylife.com about her interracial marriage and family life.

Be sure to read her book, Ibari’s Curls, and follow her on Facebook.

Kickstarter vs. IndieGoGo vs. Publishizer

When it comes to crowdfunding platforms, you really only have a few options—Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, and Publishizer. Of course, there are other, smaller crowdfunding platforms out there, but I do not recommend those for crowdfunding your book.

Full disclosure: I have successfully crowdfunded books on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, so I prefer those platforms over others. I’ll go over the reasons why below.

Regardless of what you decide, you first need to research the types of projects featured on each platform to find the best “home” for your book.

The average book campaign raises around $5K. If you have a larger goal in mind, I suggest you read about how Don Moyer used serial campaigns to successfully fund his creative projects.

Let's Start With The Basics

A key thing to remember: the vast majority of your readers don’t understand the concept of crowdfunding. Plain and simple.

Whenever you launch a crowdfunding campaign for your book, most of your time will be spent educating your Aunt Mary why you are crowdfunding your book and why it’s important that she shares your campaign link.

Without a doubt, she will brush you off thinking that you are begging for money, and you’ll be left feeling frustrated with the entire thing.

So, given that, does the platform you choose matter?

Absolutely.

Crowdfunding companies like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo are homes to crowdfunding campaigns that have gone viral—gadgets, gizmos, and a never-ending supply of travel neck pillows.

However, creative projects like performing arts and books have struggled to find the same success as the games and apps have on these platforms.

The average book on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo receives $5k in funding. However, there have been notable exceptions, and I’ve seen books reach over $100k.

Science Wide Open put out a series of science books for girls and leveraged their established audience from their online games to find success on Kickstarter. Their campaign ended with $136,520 (2275%). 

It doesn’t mean it can’t happen, but it’s rare. Those with wild success have already built their audiences before they launch.

Enter…Publishizer

Publishizer was invented in 2016 with books in mind and I really really wanted them to be the answer and provide an amazing platform for books.

It might because they are still growing as a company, but in browsing their current and past book proposals, I simply cannot recommend them to any of my crowdfunding clients.

Publishizer is kind of like a literary agent who takes 30% after you’ve used their platform to drum up 1,000 pre-orders of your book.

The thing is, if you can successfully garner 1,000 pre-orders for your book, you don’t need the Publishizer platform, and you certainly don’t need to give them 30% of your funds raised.

Why?

Because if you are popular on Kickstarter or IndieGoGo, you can use that social proof to get the attention of a traditional publisher. I know because it has happened to one of my clients on IndieGoGo, but they never paid someone 30% for that visibility—only the 8% in IndieGoGo and payment processing fees.

So, why automatically give a platform money for what you can do yourself?

The benefits of a community

Kickstarter has some benefits—there is a vast Kickstarter community of super backers who browse the platform and offer up their support to random projects. Since Kickstarter backers aren’t charged until the project is successful, many backers will support a project in the early stages when things are relatively low-risk for them. It’s been known to happen.

The publishing projects on IndieGoGo tends to be fertile ground for books, and they will often share popular campaigns on their Facebook and Twitter social media accounts resulting in a huge boost in your visibility to new readers.

The main problem I have with Publishizer, and I have a few, is that they will put you in front of the Big 5 publishers if you have 1,000 pre-orders, but their most successful books usually only raise $1,000-$5,000 in funds—the same average as Kickstarter and IndieGoGo.

Publishizer basically equals higher fees and lower success rates than Kickstarter and IndieGoGo.

So, in short, their fees are higher, the projects on the platform tend not to compete as well as those on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, and the community is smaller than the other crowdfunding platforms.

What’s wrong with Publishizer?

My personal opinion is that the Publishizer website isn’t as visually appealing as Kickstarter or IndieGoGo.

Publishizer also has a bit of a “Chicken or the egg?” dilemma. Meaning that the authors who are posting on the platform are seeking funding because they don’t have an audience but you can’t successfully crowdfund ANY book without an audience.

While I absolutely love the concept of Publishizer because they are focused on books, they missed a huge part of the equation essential to all crowdfunding campaigns and book campaigns are no different than neck pillows.

You need to offer something someone wants.

Often, the authors on Publishizer aren’t offering books anyone wants and therefore, their campaigns flop. Without a funding do-or-die strategy like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, authors aren’t motivated to push their campaigns to success. 

Wah, wahh, waaaaah.

Authors use Publishizer because they want to get the attention of a publisher—indie, hybrid, or traditional. That means that they aren’t really committed to putting out the book on their own and readers don’t want to back a book that’s unlikely to happen.

Holy horrible cycle of destruction, Batman! 

Consider the perspective of your reader (aka the backer)

Let’s look at it from the reader’s perspective. Am I more likely to pre-order a book from an author who is waiting for a publisher over one who is committed to self-publishing and delivering the book to me according to a specific timeline?

I can tell you right now, readers who are truly interested in the book and want you to be a success are going to want reassurances that you’re going to deliver the book.

The uncertainty factor that is inherent in Publishizer’s approach doesn’t send waves of confidence to the author or the reader. It’s a big shoulder shrug as to the outcome of the campaign.

Homework: After you’re done with this article, head over to all of the platforms and comb through their current book projects, and you tell me which is your favorite.

But wait, there’s more

If you have one (only 1) pre-order on Publishizer, you’ll be put on the list of service publishers—the folks who will gladly take your money to help you “self-publish” without any quality control or guidance.

No, thanks, Publishizer. I don’t want Xlibris to have my email whatsoever as they are notorious for horrible service and hundreds of writers have written reviews warning others about their “services”. The fact that Xlibris is even included on Publishizer’s website indicates that they have not done quality control for their authors.

Uh…if you’re not familiar with Xlibris or Authorhouse, proceed cautiously and read this article.

With Publishizer, your book won’t be seen by traditional publishers (the big guns we all hope for) if you don’t have 500+ pre-orders.

For Knocked Up Abroad Again, me and my contributors worked around the clock for 30 days to generate the equivalent of 302 pre-orders from 277 backers and $10K on Kickstarter.

Had I launched my project on Publishizer instead, I would’ve gotten the attention of 10-15 independent and service publishers (no big guns, sadly), but I would’ve had to fork over the 30% fee to Publishizer which would leave me with less money to self-publish the work myself if a publishing contract fell through.

If I were in your shoes, I’d take my chances and save 22% of my fees by crowdfunding on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo.

You bring the audience to the platform

Remember, authors have to bring their readers to the crowdfunding platform, so it really doesn’t matter which platform you direct them to as long as it contains enticing information, is visually appealing, and will get done what you want to accomplish.

In my opinion, Kickstarter and IndieGoGo will give you a better chance at success over Publishizer.

Now, should you choose Kickstarter or IndieGoGo? That’s another question for another day.

If you’ve created or backed a project on Publishizer and have a different experience, please let me know. I’m open and receptive to other people’s opinions.

A New First: Learning New Skills when Self-Publishing

People always ask me if it was a lifetime dream to publish a book and honestly, it was never a dream of mine.

Throughout my academic career, I have written so many papers, technical reports, and research articles that the thought of writing a book had never crossed my mind until relatively recently.

However, once the idea was in my head and I discovered that there were a lot of viable options to self-publish a book of high-quality, I knew I had to do it.

Academia— always on someone else’s timeline

I’m used to the “publish or perish” mindset in academia—which insanely combines high quality with a sense of dire urgency. You must put out your best work before your colleagues. 

Academic publishing can be brutal. You are at the mercy of multiple rounds of revision, fact checking, and peer-review testing that are beyond your control and yet, you are expected to publish before everyone else.

There is a lot of hurry up and wait when it comes to academic publishing. Your best work is almost always in someone else’s hands.

With that in the back of my mind, I knew that if someone else published a book with the same idea and concept, I would be upset with myself for not pursuing it.

I relished the idea of being in control of the timeline but I was a harsh (still fair) boss and I held myself to self-imposed deadlines.

As much as I hate to admit it, it was the drive to be the first to publish the idea in book format was what spurred me to work those long nights for months on end. Because let’s face it, there aren’t many firsts left for most adults.

A new challenge

As an experienced professional, I had already gone through the ringer from graduate school, learned how to behave professionally in a traditional 9-5 office job, and presented at enough conferences to shake off the nerves.

The idea of creating and publishing a book was a new challenge.

A new set of steps to figure out and an exciting hike off my usual beaten path.

I felt confident that I could leverage my experience with traditional publishing in academia and apply my project management skills in self-publishing. I wasn’t leaving anything behind—I was taking all of my skills and utilizing them in a new way. It felt refreshing. It also jazzed up my daily tasks.

“You don’t have many “firsts” these days, babe. I’m proud of you.”

My husband made a valid point. As professional adults, a lot of our “firsts” are behind us. I’m a huge believer in always learning, studying, and researching new things but the idea that publishing a book would be a new “first” stuck with me.

The first time…

Self-publishing a book would be the first time I ever held a book in my hands with my name on the spine.

  • The first time I took an entire project from start to finish on my own inertia.
  • The first time I cared more about a project than anyone else.
  • The first time they were my deadlines and not someone else’s.
  • The first time I could create the sequence of steps and follow them how I wanted.
  • The first time someone else wasn’t asking me for project updates—I was the one managing a team.

My book wasn’t anyone else’s project. It was mine.

My first.

And it felt great.

If you’re looking for a new “first” and are considering self-publishing a book, let’s have a quick chat to see if I can help.

Want to do it on your own like I did? Check out my comprehensive course on self-publishing.

Kickstarting Cami the Kangaroo—How one author reached 100% in 9 days

Did you do any research before launching your Kickstarter? If so, what did you do?

 
Yes! I started researching Kickstarter campaigns three months ago (in November), when I first read about it on one of the author Facebook groups I’m a part of.
 
I did several things:
– I asked for advice and tips from several authors who had already run successful Kickstarter campaigns,
– I searched “Kickstarter” on Facebook author group pages and read all I could that people had already posted, and
– I went onto the Kickstarter website and studied people’s campaigns (past ones and ones that were running at the time) to see what they did that made them successful and
– I read several articles on the Kickstarter website itself to learn more about the program.
 
I also spent time backing several authors who were running campaigns.
 
 

Why did you select Kickstarter over IndieGoGo or another crowdfunding platform?

 
The main reason I chose Kickstarter was because it was the platform most other authors in my Facebook groups used and were using. It was the one I could get the most advice about from others! 
 
 

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

 
As stated above, research, research research! I spoke with other authors, reading about Kickstarter and crowdfunding. Then in December, came the marketing.
 
Being a teacher, I literally knew nothing about marketing, so once again, I enlisted the help of other authors for ideas. I had magnets made and a press release and took them around town, dropping them off at local coffee shops and stores.
 
I called and visited numerous dentist offices. I called and emailed local TV and newspaper outlets and told them about my project and scored two newspaper stories and two TV interviews.
 
I researched and emailed parenting bloggers asking for support. I joined teacher and parenting groups on Facebook. I contacted local libraries, schools and just started passing out my magnets to anyone and everyone!
 
I had to think about the rewards, shipping costs and make a video (which my colleague Jim made for me). I also started my author Facebook, Instagram and websites and started building support for those as soon as I could. 
 

It sounds like you reached out to tons of people. How many people do you think you’ve emailed during the campaign? 

 
Oh gosh! Hundreds! Family, friends, my book club, my church, my school I teach at, newspapers, TV stations, bloggers, other authors, libraries, schools, dentist offices, the MN Dental Foundation (who I hope to donate books to)…I’m sure I’m forgetting some! 
 
 

How did you get your local TV coverage? Did you have that connection before you launched?

 
Nope! I just prepared and sent an email about my journey from teacher to author and they contacted me about doing a segment! 
 
 

What has been the most surprising thing about your Kickstarter campaign? What did you not expect to happen that has happened?

 
So many people have helped me. I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am just so grateful!
 
From my friend, Malina, who gave me the idea to choose a kangaroo for my main character, to my friend Jen who put me in contact with someone to help create the bookmarks I plan to give all backers. The ladies in my Bible study who have prayed for me and supported me through this entire thing to my friend and colleague Jim who created the video for my campaign.
 
From people like you and other authors (especially Diane Alber) who have given me so much great advice and support to my friends (old and new) who have championed for me this whole time.
 
My family (parents, sisters and my extended family in WI, TX and CA) has been especially supportive—every time I make a new post on my author page, they are right there sharing it and supporting me.
 
My #1 fan and cheerleader has been my husband Will. He has supported me every step of the way—I definitely couldn’t have done any of this without his unconditional support and love.
 
 

Have you had to change your strategy mid-campaign? If so, why?

 
Yes! I was surprised and excited AND grateful when I found out that we made our goal about 9 days into the campaign! So, I then had to start thinking about stretch goals.
 
Once again, I had to research, talk to my author friends and do a lot of thinking about how to go about that. I really wanted to be able to donate books to schools and also to the MN Dental Foundation and since I have over two weeks left of my campaign, I’m hoping to keep the momentum going to be able to do that. 
 

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

 
Reach out and talk to people! Ask questions. Start researching and building up support for your book a couple of months before you launch. 
 

I know you’re still in the midst of your campaign but would you pursue crowdfunding again or recommend it for other authors like yourself? If so (or not) why?

 
Yes! It’s been so fun! I’ve loved every minute. The amount of support I’ve had has been overwhelming and exciting.
 
I am so grateful to have had this experience. I have learned so much, made so many new friends and have had so many new experiences. 

Watch the video below to back Stacy’s book and help her reach her stretch goals, Cami the Kangaroo has too many sweets!

Want more crowdfunding help for your book? 

Perspectives From a Fellow Self-Publisher: Kiran Prasad

In this interview, I sat down and chatted with Kiran Prasad, author of A Mindful Move: Feel at home again, to pick her brain on what she loved and would recommend to anyone thinking about self-publishing.

Why did you decide to self-publish your book?

I tried to go the traditional publishing route and got nowhere with it. I spent a lot of time researching how to do it and sent off book proposals only to receive one rejection after another. I was lucky to get any response at all. Felt a bit like applying for jobs in a tough economy!

It seems that these days it is not enough to write a good book, you need a social media following of thousands before you can get noticed by traditional publishers.

Publishing is essentially a business and they need to be sure your book will sell well.

In the end, I was glad I self-published because I got to have autonomy over the entire process.

What aspects of the publishing process did you do yourself and what did you hire out?

Being an English Literature major and teacher, I value quality writing, therefore, I paid for professional editing. I also paid for a cover design because I know how important a polished look is to selling a book.

I set up my own website and social media following on my own after attending a writing workshop, reading books, and watching video tutorials.

I found it tough to justify spending much money upfront on my book not knowing if I would get a return on my investment.

Since we’re talking about investment, how much did your book cost to produce?

Most of my cost was for professional editing. But the total cost for editing, proofreading and cover design was around $3,000 dollars.

We all know that royalties won’t pay the bills but what types of things have happened after you published your book that surprised you?

At a webinar that I attended, we were advised to think of our book as a glorified business card. Really, I haven’t done much marketing of the book since it’s publication but I’ve still had a lot of people, like you, contacting me about it.

I’ve been on a few podcasts, blog interviews, and a New York Times journalist contacted me to write a column about mindfulness and moving. I’ve also been contacted by a women of color empowerment workgroup to give a 60-minute workshop and potentially give a talk at a university too.

None of those things would’ve happened if I hadn’t published my book.

What surprised you about the self-publishing process?

I was surprised how long the cover design ended up taking me and how the cost of professional editing could be variable as I went through the different stages of editing.

A pleasant surprise was how quickly my book went live on Amazon Kindle! It was the most incredible feeling to see my book up there for the world to purchase!

What advice would you give someone thinking about self-publishing? 

Research the process before jumping in so you know what you’re getting into. It can become overwhelming to learn and do at the same time.

Build a following before you publish so that you’re not tackling the marketing aspect at the end.

I recommend reading Michael Hyatt’s book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, for marketing ideas.

Research who the leaders are in your subject area and reach out to them for connections. I sent a free copy of my book to Naomi Hattaway, the community leader of I am a Triangle, and she’s been a great help.

I also recommend joining the Alliance of Independent Authors. You can join before you are self-published and put the member badge on your website that lets your readers know that you’re a professional.

I suggest following Joanna Penn at The Creative Penn. She has a ton of great advice, podcasts, tutorials, and e-books that really helped me while I was researching everything.

You need to set a deadline and hold yourself to it. Make it public if you need to. I posted to my Facebook page that I would release my book on my birthday and I hadn’t even started the process.

Without a deadline and someone holding you accountable, it’s easy to just keep on writing and writing.

What’s next for you, Kiran?

I’m going to keep moving forward and publicly announce that my next book will be released on my birthday in 2019. I have so much to say about my plant-based diet and how it has truly changed my life but more on that to come soon!

I really want the books I write to make a difference in people’s lives.

Bio

Kiran Prasad is a teacher, speaker, and author of A Mindful Move: Feel at home again.

She is a New York Times featured author and her work can be found at http://www.jaskiranprasad.com

Connect with Kiran on Facebook to follow her future work.

 

Click here to keep reading more perspectives from fellow self-publishers.

Lessons Learned from a Serial Crowdfunder

If you are interested in using crowdfunding to fund your book, then you would do well by studying Don Moyer’s success on Kickstarter.

Don is a serial creator with 32 projects on Kickstarter (probably more if you are reading this a few months after publication.)

Not only does he successfully crowdfund books on Kickstarter but he also creates unique ceramic pieces that he sells on calamityware.com.

After browsing through only a few of his projects, you’ll find that he is consistent, his style is distinct, and his work is high-quality. You’ll need those qualities as well if you want to replicate his success.

How I Discovered Don’s Work

Kickstarter has a great social feature that allows backers to follow one another. Every time someone backs a project, a notification email is sent out to all of their followers alerting them to the new project. This is a great benefit to Kickstarter and generates a community built on common interests and trust.

However, none of my friend’s had backed Don’s latest project—I actually saw his campaign shared on Facebook.

I watched the 1-minute video and was immediately charmed by the campaign’s goal.

Don’s content was authentic, the video was on point, and everything resonated with me as a reader. Home run.

The Campaign

Let’s dig deeper into Don’s successful campaign.

Campaign title: Stay Home: The Ugly Truth About Space Travel

Funding goal: $2,500

Total raised: $21,150 (846%)

Total backers: 843

Campaign Content

Don Moyer delivers a hilarious, snappy, and succinct 1-minute pitch in his campaign video about why it’s much better to stay home than suit up and explore the stars.

Seriously. Go watch it.

Coupled with his unique illustrations featuring aliens and his robot and alien themed porcelain creations at Calamityware.com, the reader can easily find a lot to pair with this fun book.

Rewards

Don kept it really simple by focusing on the book with the highest level reward being $100 for original artwork plus four signed copies of the book.

He charged $11 for international shipping, which I thought was cheap. I normally see $15 for international shipping rates on Kickstarter.

One signed copy of the book was $13—$2 less than retail price.

Two signed copies of the book—$22

Four signed copies of the book—$42

Original artwork + four copies of the book (limited to 25)—$100

Communication with Backers

Let’s take a look at the one email I received from Don during the campaign. Note how his message is in keeping with his personality and the book’s tone which keeps things light, entertaining, and informative.

“Lisa,

I’m so happy you’re supporting Stay Home, my latest Kickstarter project. These books tell the truth about the perils and inconveniences of space travel and may make you laugh.

If you know anyone who needs encouragement to stay home, be sure to tell them about this project before it closes tonight, November 22.

Watch for my updates as the project advances. I’ll try to keep you up to date without being an email pest. The latest update is here.
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/159974695/stay-home-book-reveals-the-ugly-truth-about-space/posts/2043134

Thanks for your amazing support.

Don

****
PS: Breaking news: Cheese factory explosion. De Brie everywhere.

****
PPS: Left-overs from my previous Kickstarter projects are available at www.calamityware.com, while supplies last. A great place to find some unusual gifts, including the world’s most delightful shower curtain.”

Don’s humorous personality is really what makes his video fun to watch but then his call to action in his email reinforced my desire to share.

In fact, I did share it on my Facebook page because I sincerely wanted to share this project with my friends. I knew they would like it too.

Don is back at it with another Kickstarter project that currently has reached $70k as of this writing and has two more weeks to go before it closes.

He’s projected to reach 4878% of his goal.

How does he do it?

Don is a Kickstarter veteran and has created 32 projects. Not only is he a super creator but he is also a super backer.

If you are going to venture into the world of crowdfunding, you need to understand that becoming a backer of other people’s projects is vitally important.

Check out Don’s stats: he has backed 152 projects, created 32, and commented 292 times on Kickstarter.

He’s an active member of the Kickstarter community in both creating and supporting other creators.

Don told me,

“I’m always deeply suspicious of people who launch a project when they have never supported even one. Ridiculous.”

You heard it directly from the pro, folks, go back a few campaigns before you launch your project.

Serial backers who support random campaigns on the platform look at creator’s profiles to assess reliability.

You don’t have to create 32 projects like Don, but you will need to support at least one project before you launch your own.

What happens when you support other people’s crowdfunding projects

You will learn a lot when you support other people’s crowdfunding projects. I have had many email communications with fellow backers and they were fonts of knowledge and tips.

After backing someone’s project, email them with a simple request to chat if they have a moment. Ask them if they can share any lessons learned with you or give you any advice. You’ll learn so much from them and who knows? Maybe, just maybe, they’ll support you when you launch your campaign.

Back to Don’s success…

How can we find success on Kickstarter?

No doubt, Don’s past projects have garnered quite the devoted following. But look at his funding targets—they are insanely reasonable.

Across his 32 projects, his funding goals range from $2500-$5000 and he exceeds them by tens of thousands of dollars.

Setting a low funding target does a few things:

  • Guarantees funding which, in turn, guarantees happy backers. Nobody wants to back a project that looks like it has zero chance of reaching their funding goal.
  • Funding XXX% over your goal means that your campaign is WILDLY popular and you’ll hit the top posts on the Kickstarter homepage. More eyes will see your campaign, see how many people are on board, and will throw in their support as well. Exceeding your target builds social capital. Everyone wants to be a part of the latest cool thing.

Here’s a screenshot of the Most Popular projects on Kickstarter under Art

As a backer, I’m going to check out the one that’s 1,034% funded first because that one is clearly the most popular and I want to find out why.

Consistency

Don is consistent in delivering high-quality products that are unique, interesting, and best of all, downright fun.

His messaging is consistent throughout everything he does—his campaign page, reward descriptions, communication with backers, and his public updates.

Even better was his book, you know, the thing I wanted from the beginning, had the same style and voice as his campaign.

Anyone who can insert humor into the copyright page is someone I want to continue to support.

Don used Fulfillrite based in NJ, USA—a third-party service to fulfill his orders—and everything was seamless. I completed a quick survey and my book arrived in the mail a few weeks later (most likely due to my international address).

Shared on my Instagram account @knockdupabroad

What can you learn from Don’s success?

Be yourself. Be quirky. Be weird.

Put out high-quality stuff, set small goals, fulfill your projects consistently, and be yourself in all of your communications with your backers.

If you have a project with a big funding goal, think about what you can do to break it down into pieces.

Don has amassed a huge collection of porcelain creations that are part of his Calamity Ware store, but he didn’t get there by asking for $100k in funding.

He raised funds for each mug, plate, platter, and book, and delivered them one at a time building success upon past success.

Engage in the community

Back other projects, communicate with fellow backers, and comment regularly so you build a presence.

You’ll get the same advice from the Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter social media wizards—you have to be a genuine part of the community to benefit from it.

Don’t reinvent the wheel

Don has successfully created a store full of related items and once he figured out the format that connected with his audience, he repeated the process time and time again.

Do loads of research before you start and evaluate what works and what doesn’t work from other creators.

Want more crowdfunding help for your book? 

Feel free to send me an email for a free 20-minute chat where we can figure out what works best for you.

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Differences between traditional, vanity, and self-publishing

Learn about the differences between traditional, vanity, and self-publishing in this video below.

If you are contemplating publishing a memoir, I would highly recommend you pursue the traditional publishing route.

Here is a list of nonfiction literary agents that you can search.

If you are planning on writing a series (or you think it is a possibility), I would suggest self-publishing. I am happy to hop on a free 20-minute call with you to see if it’s right for you.

Click here to send me an email for a free 20-min consultation.

Self-Publishing Timelines—What to Expect

When I first started the Knocked Up Abroad series, I figured it would take me about 4-6 months to self-publish the first book.

Without any experience, I knew I was going to have to learn the process, pad in a bit of extra time for mistakes, and hope for the best.

I knew some friends who had self-published their books but they couldn’t really give me a sense of how long it would take me to do the same. One friend took over a year while the other publishes like a machine and produces five e-books a year.

I have no idea how long it will take you to self-publish your book since there are so many factors but here is a timeline of what I experienced while publishing my books.

Book #1 Timeline

Knocked Up Abroad

Page count: 276

Word count: 100K

  • June 2015—Call for submissions
  • October 1, 2015—Final drafts
  • October 23, 2015—Sent manuscript to beta readers
  • November 12, 2015—Sent manuscript to editor
  • Dec 7, 2015—Second round of edits from editor
  • January 7, 2015—Final manuscript received from editor
  • January 7-12, 2015—Interior typesetting
  • January 14, 2016—Uploaded manuscript to Kindle Direct Publishing for pre-orders
  • January 26, 2016—E-book publication date
  • January 28, 2016—Paperback publication date

All in all, the entire process took a solid seven months of work and collaboration and a full four months of work after the manuscript content was finalized.

Now, one might think that with experience, the timeline for all subsequent books would be faster but that was not exactly the case.

For Knocked Up Abroad Again, I did things slightly differently, which added to the timeline. I wasn’t quite happy with my gutter depth in Knocked Up Abroad, so I changed that for the second book, which required ordering two proofs from the printer (#learningpains).

Also, rather than fund the book from my personal bank account, I took on the surprisingly monumental task of using Kickstarter to fund the project.

We were successful but like all fundraising efforts, it required a tremendous amount of time and energy to pull off. It also added 60 days to the publishing timeline.

Book #2 Timeline

Knocked Up Abroad Again

Page count: 314

Word count: 85k

  • March-May, 2016—Call for submissions
  • July 2016—Final drafts from contributors
  • September 3, 2016—Sent manuscript to editor
  • September 19-October 19, 2016—Kickstarter campaign activities
  • October 31, 2016—Final manuscript back from editor
  • October 31-Nov 2, 2016—Interior typesetting
  • November 15, 2016—Paperback and e-book publication date

This book took a solid nine months of effort and the Kickstarter campaign really kicked up the stress level quite a bit but overall, it was a great experience.

So, there you have it—two different books and two different experiences. You can see that not all self-publishing projects are the same and that you might take on new challenges or do things differently as you become more experienced that will increase your timeline.

If you’ve self-published before, let me know in the comments below how long it took you to go through the process.


Wouldn’t it be even easier if you could bypass a lot of silly mistakes? If someone handed you a step-by-step guide to the self-publishing process and answered your questions if you ran into issues?

How much stress could you avoid if you had a smooth self-publishing experience? If that sounds like a good plan to you, then check out the Beginner’s Guide to Self-Publishing  course here.