3 Benefits of Joining a Masterclass

I have found that the best workshops for my learning style are like mini-boot camps. They are goal-oriented and time-sensitive with students who are enthusiastic and ready to achieve their goals. 

I want to be surrounded by people who, like me, are hitting the pavement, ready to go.

What is a masterclass?

A masterclass or mastermind group is a peer-to-peer mentoring concept used to help members solve their problems with input and advice from the other group members.

In addition to you achieving your goals (e.g., fully funding your book), participating in a masterclass has at least three tangible benefits.

1) Accountability

When you know you’re meeting every week and will have to speak up and discuss your project, you end up getting more done than when you operate in a vacuum.

I’ve met so many authors who have said that they have completed manuscripts that are collecting dust for years. YEARS! Life gets hectic and in the way of accomplishing our goals.

All of a sudden, what we once thought was a priority gets replaced by the urgency of the NOW and we end up dropping our work. It happens all of the time.

By joining a masterclass, your peers are committing to holding you accountable, and likewise, you are serving as their accountability partner. Simply by asking someone, “What are you struggling with this week?” forces a type of self-reflection that may be missing in the lone writer’s world.

2) Expert guidance

As lovely as peer-to-peer groups are, and I’m part of many of them, it’s extremely helpful to have an experienced person guiding the group. Masterclasses are generally organized by someone with experience who is not only skilled at managing people but at helping them reach their goals within a certain time period.

When I hired my marketing coach, I desperately needed direction. I needed someone to ask me questions that I didn’t know were important and hand me an extensive to-do list that would advance my career to the next level. I didn’t know what I didn’t know and I needed help. Big time.

Without an expert guiding the way, peer-to-peer mentoring groups remain largely self-serving. Yes, you will probably reach your goals, but it won’t have the time-sensitive boot camp nature that masterclasses or masterminds often have.

Really great masterclasses contain exercises and action items to help the participants cruise through the material, apply it, and advance more quickly than working solo.

3) Personalized tutoring/mentorship

Readers of blogs and listeners of podcasts are subject to the limits of the creator’s pace. A masterclass incorporates established material (courses, blogs, podcasts, etc.,) with tutoring to allow participants to advance at their pace, ask questions, and receive individualized support.

The opportunity to ask questions, gain clarification, and obtain peer and mentor support is a unique feature of the masterclass design that is lacking in other online course forums.

Helping more authors successfully crowdfund their books 

After beta testing my Crowdfunding for Authors course, I noticed that the group interaction was where a lot of the magic happened.

However, the course is self-paced, and some students didn’t launch their campaigns at the same time. That’s totally fine but I saw a missed opportunity.

By grouping together crowdfunding authors who are all launching at the same time, we can create a network where we share resources, leverage marketing opportunities, and get real-time support before and during their campaigns.

The mentoring support happens in the crucial pre-launch phase and the peer-to-peer support happens during the campaign phase.

Crowdfunding is all about community and so often, writers find themselves trying to build a community from scratch. It’s much much much easier to build momentum, rally positive energy, and battle the self-doubt when there is a network of like-minded people doing the same thing at the same time. (the whole, A rising tide lifts all ships, concept).

Interested in joining a master class?

If you want to join a group of authors who are all laser focused on crowdfunding their book between now and April/May 2024, then check out my Author Launch Accelerator Program.

Quality Printing and Fulfillment for Authors: The Porchlight Book Company

books with a yellow background

In the realm of self-publishing, authors often find themselves defaulting their publishing options to print-on-demand like Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and Ingram Spark, because breaking into the publishing supply chains is dominated by traditional publishers.

Not only that, but most companies who work with traditional printers have zero interest in working with indie authors. That is, until now. 

In the past year, we have seen an incredible shrinking of the traditional publishing world. That means, fewer traditional publishing offers, smaller advances, and smaller print runs. None of which is great news for authors.

Many authors don’t really know the process for printing and distribution once their books are published, which is why the Porchlight Book Company would like to help.

Empowering Authors Beyond Kickstarter

Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms are invaluable tools for creators, but they lack infrastructure to support authors specifically. The Porchlight Book Company has worked with traditionally published authors to fulfill pre-orders as well as deliver book swag bags to large conferences. They understand the complex world of distribution, and have been doing it for decades.

Dan Brouchoud wants to help more independent authors level up from the low-quality options offered by print-on-demand and assist authors with the printing and fulfillment.

However, there is one limitation; authors must have a minimum of 250 book orders. Beyond the 250 book threshold lies significantly more affordable printing and fulfillment costs. Beyond that, they are ready to collaborate with any author, ensuring the worldwide fulfillment of Kickstarter rewards or pre-orders.

This means they can report all sales to The New York Times and NPD BookScan, offering authors the recognition they deserve and sales evidence for future manuscripts.

Moreover, they offer the invaluable service of helping authors obtain quotes from printers or utilize their established relationships within the printing industry. 

So, if you’re looking to move away from the print-on-demand model, this option might be a more reliable and quality-focused solution for you.

Bestseller Reporting

In addition to their distribution services, Porchlight Book Company offers a unique advantage. They provide bestseller reporting, a service that authors haven’t yet been able to utilize in connection with crowdfunding. 

Previously, all of those books pledged during a Kickstarter campaign would count as one order, but Porchlight can show the proof that the books were indeed ordered and shipped to individuals worldwide and contribute Kickstarter pre-orders into the bestseller status. This means they can report all sales to New York, offering authors the recognition they deserve.

While smaller authors may not hit the bestseller list with just a few hundred sales, bestseller reporting should no longer serve as a barrier for traditional authors to pursue crowdfunding.

A Scalable Solution for Every Author

If you’re an author looking to take your self-publishing journey to the next level, Porchlight Book Company is here to help. You can contact Dan at dan@porchlightbooks.com for printing and distribution services tailored to your book project.

For more information visit their website: https://www.porchlightbooks.com/

Frances Mackay shares 8 major tips for launching your book on Kickstarter

Frances Mackay

Frances Mackay’s publishing career started during her 20 years as an educator. She’s published over 90 books for Scholastic, Oxford University Press, Folens, and more. 

Her latest picture book, Baby Worries, is live on Kickstarter (and a Project We Love), and she’s here to share her lessons learned from the pre-launch and launch process for authors looking to crowdfund their books on Kickstarter.

Frances Mackay’s 8 Major Tips for Launching Your Book on Kickstarter


I thought I’d share with you my Kickstarter journey and some tips that may help anyone considering doing a Kickstarter. My campaign has just begun – but there’s a lot to share about the journey of getting there.

My tips for getting yourself ready for your first KS campaign:

    1. Plan well in advance! I first thought about doing a campaign in April, and I planned to do the launch in July, thinking that 3-4 months would be long enough to get ready.

      I live in Australia, and I didn’t consider the summer vacations in the UK and USA, so I changed the launch date to September instead – and thankfully, I did because I just didn’t anticipate the work involved in getting everything ready.

    2. Look carefully at other book campaigns already launched on Kickstarter. Study the pages – how the video has been done, what their page looks like, the graphics, etc. Compare the differences between the successful campaigns and those that didn’t succeed – and note of what appears to work best.

    3. Back some campaigns yourself. Kickstarter likes to have creators who have backed other people before they create their own campaign. It also gives you an insight into how the platform works and the types of messages you receive as a backer. Note what you liked and didn’t like about the information you received from these campaigns.

    4. If you can afford to do so, get guidance from Kickstarter consultants. I used the services of Lisa Ferland, who is very experienced in helping children’s book authors create their campaigns. You can get one-to-one help or purchase her vault of guides and templates – it is very thorough – I couldn’t have created my campaign without this help.

    5. Purchase Canva Pro. I can’t recommend this app highly enough – it’s not very expensive per month and is invaluable in creating everything you need – videos, graphics for social media ads and posts, flyers, brochures, worksheets – you name it – Canva has customizable templates for everything. It’s the one app I couldn’t do without in my marketing creations.

    6. Build up an email list. I started with 65 people in April, and I now have 1900 emails! An email list is invaluable because over the months before the campaign, you can communicate with these people, give them freebies, tips, and ideas, etc., to build a relationship with them – and hopefully, they will be your biggest supporters when the time comes.

    7. Invest in a mailing site to send your emails out. I use Mailerlite. The main reason I chose it was because it offers 24/7 chat support – even at the lowest cost level. And this chat service has been a huge help to me when I was learning how to use the program – as it’s very tricky at first!

    8. Finally – find out as much as you can about printing, shipping, and fulfilment. Decide if you are going to use offset printing and have the books sent to you where you have to store, pack and ship everything yourself or POD – or a combination of both. Working out what was best for me took a long time. It will be different for everyone, and it’s vital that you work out the costs involved to make sure the rewards you offer are profitable.

 

If you found these tips helpful, please consider supporting Frances with a Kickstarter pledge at any level as a way to say thank you and support the crowdfunding author community.

The illustrations are adorable and kids love laughing at all of the animated characters and scenes.

Click here to see her campaign on Kickstarter

Frances Mackay

Frances Mackay

I taught primary school for 20 years in Australia and the UK and have published over 90 books for Scholastic, Oxford University Press, and others. Baby Worries is my fourth book now available on Kickstarter with bonus materials perfect for teachers, parents, and librarians.

The Secret to Marketing Your Book Without Annoying People

Marketing is cited as the #1 pain in the rump for most writers, which is funny because…

1) marketing and then selling our books is the only way we can continue to write and do what we love,

2) marketing is a great way to creatively express your ideas, and

3) you’re a writer so you are already skilled in the best marketing tool there is—more writing.

But, I totally get it because I often feel the same way. We are selling books, literature, art! We aren’t marketing gadgets or gizmos.

Our stories came from our hearts and it feels wrong to “push” them onto people. We want people to love them just like we do.

Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. 

If people don’t see your books, they won’t know they are available for purchase.

As writers, writing should be easy, non?

Facebook ads and Amazon ads, etc., are all great but you gain external credibility when another website publishes your personal essays or articles that are tangentially related to your book(s).

Is it slower and more work to market in this way? 

Perhaps, but it should be part of your marketing toolkit and you’d be remiss in not trying it.

Non-annoying strategy #1 – write and publish personal essays

Here’s an example of how to market your book in a personal essay

This personal essay in Conde Naste Traveler “How My Mother’s Travels Shaped My World View” focused on a the writer’s relationship with her mother.

At the end of the personal essay, the author mentions,

“She wanted to travel the globe, and she did. Because of my mom, I decided to work in food media after college, even though I had zero connections in that world and all my peers were going into finance. I wrote a cookbook while working as a full-time journalist.”

The author bio at the bottom linked to the woman’s cookbook and voilá! This author is effectively marketing her book to a very warm audience. 

In fact, she is providing entertainment value and making herself relatable to the audience before inviting them to buy her book.

That’s how you market your book without being annoying.

Do you think readers are more or less likely to share an article about a moving emotional essay about interpersonal relationships than they are an Instagram graphic that says, “Buy my cookbook!”?

Readers are more likely to share writing that speaks to them on an emotional level than they will a clear advertisement. 

You have to wine and dine your readers before you ask them to buy. It’s how it works.

Write essays and publish them everywhere

Once you write a killer personal essay with your audience in mind, start pitching it to external outlets.

The bigger the outlet, the tougher it’ll be, but the sweeter the credibility and ultimate reward (more readers).

Research the tone of the articles featured by the publication and match your personal essay to their audience.

This approach gets your book in front of a lot of people all at once without annoying anyone.

You can (and should) feel proud pushing the article on all of your platforms because it’s not screaming, “BUY MY BOOK!”

The downside is that it’s not easy to (successfully) pitch third-party websites your essays and it requires a lot of lead time.

There is a ton of rejection involved in freelance writing and if you’re not experienced, you’re going to become quickly frustrated.

Alternatives to publishing on third-party websites

Don’t have time to pitch and get rejected over and over again?

Here are some alternatives to third-party exposure:

—Publish your essays on Medium
—Publish your writing on LinkedIn
—Publish your writing on your own website (you should have an author platform, hello!)

—Publish your personal essays directly on Facebook itself. Facebook loves long reads because it keeps readers scrolling and scrolling. End with a strong call to action and link to buy.
—Coordinate with other bloggers who might have smaller-than-Conde-Naste-size audiences and see if they take guest posts

Follow the example above—offer authentic, genuine writing that is attractive to your intended audience and weave in the fact that you’ve written a book toward the end of your essay with a link in your bio.

Non-annoying strategy #2 – Optimize your homepage

If the website doesn’t allow links to books/products, then definitely ask for a link to your homepage and make sure your homepage is optimized to send people to your book.

For my current children’s book Kickstarter campaign, I optimized my homepage to be a landing page. 

My homepage sent people directly to my Kickstarter campaign that way if any third-party website articles take off and link to my homepage, readers will be clearly directed to my book’s campaign.

So, in conclusion, forget the ‘Buy my book!” messaging and write another story. Write a behind-the-scenes story. Write something emotional or transformative.

Write your best work and when readers love your essay, they’ll rush out to buy your book when given the opportunity.

Keep your homepage simple and clean, and when in doubt, add a big button to direct people to your crowdfunding campaign.

Don’t lose that traffic that you worked so hard for!

An optimized homepage is the LEAST annoying thing you can do.

Non-annoying strategy #3 – Automated email sequences

Are you neglecting your email newsletter list?

You remember – the group of people who agreed to give you their contact information, but you never send them emails because you’re afraid of annoying them?

Here’s how to send emails to your newsletter list without fear of annoying anyone at all:

1 – Send an automated welcome email that is human, casual, and simple.

This lets your readers know that A) you received their information, B) they can learn more about you, and C) they can respond to the email and feel reassured that a real human being is behind the computer.

2 – Test out different headlines. 

If someone doesn’t open your email, it means that they didn’t see your message/content OR call-to-action (like ‘Check out my campaign on Kickstarter!”). 

Monitoring your email open rates is really important and super informative on what email headlines are grabbing people’s attention and which ones are being ignored.

When you retarget people with a new headline, send the new email ONLY to those people who never opened your first email.

You’re NOT sending them too many emails because they already aren’t reading them and you KNOW IT.


So many authors have this hang up about unsubscribe rates or “bothering people” — I mean, you don’t want people on your newsletter list to just sit there and collect dust, right?

Isn’t the entire point to generate a conversation? Add value to their lives? Get feedback from beta readers?

How can you do any of that if you aren’t regularly engaging with them?

Let’s look at it this way — if you have ZERO issues putting out content on Instagram and responding to comments there, then you should have ZERO issues sending emails to your subscribers.

It’s the same exact concept. They gave you permission to email them, so be sure to email them! 

If they don’t like your content, they’ll unsubscribe and be on their merry way — no stress, no drama.

So, test out those headlines and stop worrying about emailing “too often” – there’s no such thing as long as you’re sending them quality content that is engaging, educational, or inspirational.

 

Want 25 Creative Ideas to get your book in front of readers? 

Whether you are launching your book on Amazon, your website, or on Kickstarter, you need to put your book in front of readers 7 different times before they’ll take action.

Here are 25 ways to do it!

Click here for instant access (no email required).

I send out helpful marketing emails every Friday. Be sure to join my newsletter list to get these tips and tools!

Do you want to launch your book’s Kickstarter campaign without annoying anyone?

If you’re interested in learning HOW to create a marketing strategy for your book’s Kickstarter campaign that doesn’t annoy your readers, then you are invited to book a 60-minute discovery call.

Serious inquiries only — you must have big goals ($10k or more) and be ready to work hard and invest in your own success.

Let’s dig deeper!

 

Top 5 Cons when launching your book traditionally instead of on Kickstarter

top 5 cons to a traditional book launch

Affiliate Disclaimer: The following article contains Amazon affiliate links below.

Many authors (me included) who experience success on Kickstarter and build a large audience will then launch subsequent books directly to Amazon or host pre-orders on their websites. 

Why? 

Mostly time and effort.

Kickstarter campaigns require a lot of organization and it’s very tempting to skip over all of the hype building and coordination of multiple stakeholders and publish directly on Amazon via Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) so that your book is available TODAY and ready to buy.

Children’s book author Leigha Huggins, raised nearly $14k for her first book, Love Lottery, on Kickstarter and recently released her second book, The Giving World, in October 2021 directly on Amazon.

I asked her what her honest experience was launching in both methods and she generously shared her true feelings on a Kickstarter vs. traditional book launch. 

The following is from an interview with Leigha in her words.

What results did you see in a 30-day launch on Amazon vs. a 30-day Kickstarter campaign?

To be quite honest, the traditional book launch has been a bit of a letdown. I haven’t been really impressed with the soft launch of The Giving World on Kindle Direct Publishing.

I think we broke $100 in sales during our first week, but it was nothing compared to the excitement of reaching a goal of $4,700 on day one of my Kickstarter for Love Lottery. (See Fully Funded in 24 Hours for how Leigha did this.)

What are three pros and three cons you’ve experienced launching your book traditionally compared to your previous Kickstarter campaign?

Traditional book launch on Amazon

Pro #1 – I don’t have to fulfill orders (I’m printing with KDP so orders are all handled by Amazon).

Pro #2 – I didn’t have to create a promo video.

Pro #3 – Instant availability – readers don’t have to wait for the campaign to be over or for a print run of books.

Con #1 – There is no urgency. It’s one of those things that I think people will just check it out at some point on Amazon, but there’s no incentive for them to do so during launch week.

Con #2 – Just hitting the publish button (well a bit more than that) is kinda like getting a high-five as opposed to throwing a party!

The excitement with an Amazon launch just wasn’t as grand as having launched a Kickstarter for Love Lottery.

Both books were equal in terms of the love and the intention of bringing both books to life but the feel of the launches was very different.

Con #3 – You can’t do a Kickstarter once you publish… or could I still possibly run a Kickstarter for The Giving World hardcover edition?

(Lisa’s answer: Yes, you can run a Kickstarter campaign for a hardcover edition or limited-edition print run.)

Con #4 – You wonder what your Kickstarter launch would have raised…

Ha… one more …

Con #5 – You have no idea who bought your book on Amazon so you are unable to follow up with your customers when you launch books in the future.

Would you say that your pre-launch time and effort for a traditional book launch was more, less, or about the same amount as your Kickstarter launch?

Not at all close.

Where you put effort, you usually see a reward.

Let’s just say I put a lot, lot, lot of effort into the launch of Love Lottery – and still a good amount of time for The Giving World.

What would you change about your traditional book launch (if anything) to have more of a Kickstarter-like effect?

I wish I would have done a launch date or even promoted a date for a “Now Available on Amazon” launch.

I could have then built up some excitement with a countdown.

Do you prefer the Kickstarter model or the traditional book launch model? Does it depend on the title you’re releasing?

I’m sure it would depend on the title and the purpose of the book, but hands down the best way to introduce something into the world is with the support of other creatives, not just your book in the sea of Amazon listings.

I would 100% recommend running a Kickstarter – especially if this is your first book. But in the same breath, a traditional launch has its place too.

Would you do a traditional book launch again or do you prefer Kickstarter?

I think it would depend on the situation. Kickstarter is my preferred method of introducing my passion project into the world.

But timing and urgency – and just time, in general, lead us to launch our newest release on Amazon.

Anything else you want to mention?

I have had mixed feedback on the cover of The Giving World.

With Love Lottery, I loved the interaction on Kickstarter and allowing backers who supported you to vote and have feedback on things that were still in progress.

It would have been wonderful to have people give their insights and let them give us feedback on the cover options.

Bio

Leigha Huggins The Giving World

With love, purpose, and warmth, Leigha Huggins invites you into her world with her heartfelt stories. Leigha believes intention and words are the guiding force in life. Visit her website to learn more about The Giving World.

Website: www.thegivingworld.org

 

 

More Books by Leigha Huggins

Related

I too, had some regrets about launching my book directly to Amazon. Watch the video below for more:

Want to work together? 

If you’re serious about launching your book on Kickstarter, then I’m here to help you figure it out without needing to recreate the wheel.

I offer free tips here and on my YouTube channel as well as a personalized comprehensive 1:1 crowdfunding coaching program that keeps you on track and organized.

Click on the link below to book a 60-min discovery call and fill in the questionnaire to see if we are a good fit to work together.

Discover the Magic and Chaos of Motherhood on Kickstarter

Lindsay Madsen discovered inspiration and ideas amidst diapers, laundry, and sleepless nights. There’s something about rocking your baby in the wee hours of the night that gets your brain cells tingling.

In Lindsay’s case, she wanted to share hope and support for fellow moms who are in the thick fog of exhaustion that comes with those early baby days.

In this author interview, I asked Lindsay what work went into planning her board book campaign on Kickstarter.

Why did you decide to use Kickstarter to launch your book, The Lovely Haze of Baby Days?

Launching a Kickstarter made a lot of sense to me. I wanted to show the world I was serious about this book, and the impact I hope to make with it.
 
Struggling with loneliness and feeling disconnected from your community after having a baby is a real issue for women, and this reality is only getting worse during the current pandemic. 
 
By choosing to Launch a Kickstarter, I was able to centralize all the information about the book and give people an opportunity to preorder the book.
 
This was important because it let me showcase the important message of support, AND get the funding organized (hopefully!) in a more efficient way to bring the book to life. 
 
The last thing I ‘ll mention is the compressed time frame. 
 
As you’ve said yourself, it’s a really concentrated marketing effort in a short window of time. I’m a mom of four kids 5 years and younger, so time is not something I have an abundance of.
 
While the intensity of the work was heavy lifting, I could  map the time out in my mind of all the things I wanted to do over the weeks leading up and the weeks running the campaign.
 
As a first time author, I felt it helped bring structure and goals into my launch planning. 

What type of preparation did you do before you launched?

The most important preparation I did was creating a website and starting a mailing list. You engage a lot of people during your time preparing the book, the rewards, the marketing, etc. 

Having a mailing list was a great asset for communicating important messages to everyone and building excitement for the upcoming campaign.

Time wise – I spent at least 8 weeks from the moment I decided to run the campaign to launch day, but I knew from the start this was part of my plan – so I always had the pieces of it in mind as I researched & prepared.

I guess the preparations fell into a couple of categories:

  • Audience building,
  • Book development,
  • Pre-launch marketing, and
  • Kickstarter research. 

What has surprised you the most about crowdfunding your book?

A good surprise was how much I loved connecting with people in the audience/community.

I really enjoyed the process of building both my author and my mom network as part of my preparations. It is a logical thing to happen, I am passionately working on a book to support new moms – so of course I would love learning from authors and engaging with the people I hope to help with my book!

Something I struggle with is the unexpected loss of sleep. I am really excited about the project and the Kickstarter, and my best opportunities to work a lot are in the evenings.

IT can be hard to turn my brain off when I finally get to bed. So there is a big emotional/mental attachment to running a Kickstarter, and I wasn’t as prepared for that!

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

Marketing: Know your message and articulate it clearly.
 
General: Share your enthusiasm! People get excited when you are excited.
 
Practical: Build your audience as big and early as you can! Include an email list. 

What advice would you give a parent (of young children) who is also planning to launch a crowdfunding campaign?

First, give yourself more time than you think you need to do things, something child related often pops up and it’s so stressful if you haven’t built in time buffers to accommodate surprise tasks.  

Second, be creative with how you get things done. I let me kids look at illustrations and give me feedback, I listen to podcasts when I play on the floor with my babies, I have started sending voice messages while on a walk.
 
After the campaign, I hope to compartmentalize more , but efficiency is critical right now.
 
I am trying to share the journey with my family too, so they can be excited for the project wins with me and also be a little more understanding when I need to work more than ever before. 

Any final words of advice? 

Build your author community as you go along. There are things my family and real world friends don’t understand and can’t provide advice on, while creating a book or running a Kickstarter campaign.

I am so grateful for the author friends and Kickstarter buddies I have met and developed friendships with. We support each other – and that is a really valuable resource while on the author journey. 

Bio

Lindsay Kellar-Madsen is a writer, business developer, and twin mama with  four young children.

Although Canadian, she lives with her family in the Danish countryside where they explore, go on adventures, and thrive in their everyday chaos.

Her first picture book, The Lovely Haze of Baby Days, is currently available for preorder through her Kickstarter Campaign: https://bit.ly/2RsXMdL

A Tree Could Be—Gina Stevens Raises $9700 in 3 Weeks on Kickstarter

a tree could be mockup

$9700 in 3 weeks on Kickstarter

Gina Stevens knew it would be difficult to crowdfund her book on Kickstarter during the COVID-19 pandemic, but she had already put in too much effort to ever consider quitting.

After 3 weeks, Gina raised $9700 in 3 weeks from 250 backers and totally crushed her original $6000 goal.

Find out how she did it in our interview below. 

What crowdfunding/marketing techniques do you think worked best for you?

9 things worked really well for me:

1—Running a shorter 3-week campaign

As everyone that runs a campaign knows, you have to be “on” 100% of the time that your campaign is running.

I am not a huge fan of social media in the first place but forced myself to be active prior to and while my campaign was running. Running it for 3 weeks was manageable compared to the usual 4-week campaign.

2—Getting the word out ahead of time

I told everyone that I was “illustrating a book” and that was exciting to my peers.

Some even came and visited my studio to see the progress.

I kept a buzz and people were always asking “how is your book coming along?”.

I really didn’t have a launch date until January or February which was just in time for the pandemic to take off.

People were itching for good news and something to make them excited.

It was a tough balance of not ignoring what was happing in the world and really being excited about my work.

3—Facebook was my best platform

I joined many groups that were related to my book “ nature groups, moms, etc.”

Once my campaign launched I went back and personally responded to EVERY SINGLE person that said they were interested in my book with my campaign link.

It ended up in me writing the same style message OVER and OVER but it seemed to really work.

I didn’t feel like I was bothering them if they already expressed interest.

4—Limiting messages to backers

I tried not to message my backers through Kickstarter too much during the campaign. Since they had already pledged, I know people get WAY to many e-mails as is.

They don’t care to see multiple emails about where my campaign is.

I might be excited, but they have their own lives and victories to be celebrating. I tried to be very modest when it came to communicating and not over-communicating.

(Lisa’s interpretation: Basically, try not to annoy your biggest supporters.)

 

5—Sharing my progress and behind-the-scenes work

I did post all of my progress work on my Facebook page during my campaign.

MOST of my backers were friends from Facebook or friends of friends of groups I was in so it gave me a spot to “dump” all of the creative work.

If people were interested, it was a landing place they could choose to look and not have it thrown in their face in an update e-mail.

As an artist, my favorite part of seeing artwork is the process and seeing how images evolve.

Because of that, I chose to use that as my basis of what I was sharing.

Admittedly, my book was successful not because of the storyline but because of the images.

I made sure to not share any of the “full” spreads on social media until I started posting my “artist updates”.

In way, it wasn’t old news for people.

The only people that saw the spreads were friends and family who lived close and came over to see them personally.

6—Planning all of my posts ahead of time

Planning all of my posts and updates ahead of time.

Lisa’s tracker was life saver (and it was only $27!!)!

I did alter and move some things around as things worked better on different days, I stuck pretty close to my initial plans.

I had to keep reminding myself that even it I was excited about wanting to post some more artwork sooner than planned, I had to remind myself of my plan and not get to ahead of myself in overposting.

tree could be expenses
Photo credit: Gina Stevens, Kickstarter page

7—Knowing my expenses

I’ve kept a really accurate list of my expenses and had a mental goal in mind as I reached my set goal of $6,000.

Once I saw that I was moving past my goal, I worked with my printer to increase my print quantity to accommodate the extra money (no, I didn’t just pocket the over).

This way my back stock of books will be covering following my campaign to set me up for future print runs or a a second book.

I made a point to not share my printer or specific costs with my backers because most of my backers are not familiar with self publishing so they don’t understand all of the extra costs associated.

Anyone who asked, I would tell them I will be lucky to break even. Honestly, with my method of increasing the quantity of books as I went, it was the truth. I needed to get the funds in my pocket before I could increase the quantity of the print run.

It was all about finding a balance of what that right number was to maximize the spend and quantity of books.

8—Expressing gratitude

I made sure to comment and thank EVERY single person that commented on my book.

9—Starting the printing process early

Because I hit my goal so early in my campaign (within a few days of launching), I was able to start the printing process early and my printer sent my proofs very quickly.

I was able to share that with my social media and it really got people excited.

Some people commented on the quality of the pages and others were just excited to see it as a whole.

It created a great buzz in the mid-campaign lull. I saw quite a bit of traffic as I shared that post.

What didn’t work as well as you had hoped?

a tree could be mockup
Photo credit: Gina Stevens

1—Printed business cards/promo cards

I made up business card sized “promotion” cards to hand out before my launch just telling people where they could follow my artwork (Instagram) as well as the dates of the campaign.

Obviously, this didn’t work as the cards arrived at my house right as the quarantine began so I wasn’t “out” in the community to hand them out.

Granted it only cost me around $20, but still, it didn’t work.

2—Instagram was a flop

I tried to create more of a following on Instagram the past 6 months prior to my campaign launch, but I don’t feel it drove much of ANY traffic.

First, Instagram (which I didn’t realize) doesn’t let you hyperlink your posts, so pushing people to your pre-launch page didn’t work well.

People don’t copy and paste a URL these days (it take too much work) so if a post isn’t clickable they won’t go to it.

3—Facebook ads also flopped

Though I am not a pro and was new to Facebook ads, I ran about $25 worth of ads over the three weeks.

Facebook said there were a certain amount of links and click-throughs but those days I didn’t see much traffic outside of my network at all.

Granted, even if I got one or two pledges from there it would cover my $25 cost but really wasn’t the best bang for the buck.

(Lisa’s note: you really need to experiment with Facebook ads before you launch so you can see what works and what doesn’t. It’s hard to get it right the first time.)

4—Cross-promotion with other campaigns didn’t work

I had multiple people reach out during my campaign (some I was familiar, most I was not) that wanted to cross promote.

As I mentioned earlier, I was very cautious on spamming my current backers as I know how I would feel receiving those types of messages if I backed a campaign.

Because I reserved my communication with my backers, maybe selfish, but I wasn’t willing to push others campaigns on my backers.

I just didn’t feel it was appropriate. I posted one or two on my Instagram but even then it seems odd with my Instagram being all about my process then throwing in someone else’s pages.

I don’t know, it may work better if it was planned ahead of time to cross-collaborate, but I didn’t have time to entertain the idea after the fact.

5—Processing post-campaign orders

To be honest, I wasn’t planning on taking additional pre-orders after my Kickstarter ended.

I’ve had multiple people reach out post campaign asking where they can get my book since they missed the campaign.

I just now set up my website to take post-Kickstarter orders, but didn’t have a plan before I launched.

6—Backers surveys are a pain

I am a big planner and I don’t want to be tracking down shipping addressed 6-8 months from now.  Although, I don’t want to keep spamming my backers to more things.

Like I mentioned before, they were already generous enough to support my project and everyone is busy and I don’t want to overwhelm them with messages about their address.

I did leave that feedback for Kickstarter that maybe they collect addresses when they pledge.

Many of my backers were first time backers and Kickstarter sends A LOT of emails.

So many lessons learned, Gina, thank you!

What would you like to say in summary?

It really was a fun experience and to be 100% honest, it has gotten me though the quarantine so far.

Having something to look forward to and dive into was a really great distraction as we have been stuck as home.

Timing wise, it really was perfect as we have been stuck inside with not great weather.

Photo credit: Gina Stevens, Kickstarter page

Gina’s Bio

Something is always growing in Gina’s world. Plants in her sprawling garden. Her son. Her own design business, Nine18 Creative.

In the rare moments she gets to herself, you’ll find her barefoot probably trying to grow some exotic plant from a seed. Also, not running.

An artist to the core, she earned a degree in Fine Art – Graphic Design from Western Michigan University, then spent six years in corporate communications at Kellogg Company.

She and her husband share their log home in Michigan with their son, medium-sized dog and cat.

Buy her book on her website and follow Gina on social media.

Website: https://www.nine18creative.com/

Facebook

Instagram

Kickstarter campaign 

You’ll Also Enjoy

Remember that $27 crowdfunding planner Gina said was a lifesaver? 

You can download it for yourself here: https://lisaferlandconsulting.vipmembervault.com/

Should I Run a Kickstarter During a Pandemic?

5 Things Crowdfunding Authors Want You to Know BEFORE You Launch

Should I Run a Kickstarter Campaign During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

should i crowdfund my book coronavirus

Last week, we heard from children’s book author Nikki Filippone about why she canceled her book’s Kickstarter campaign after reaching 50% funding in 13 days.

This week, we’ll learn from children’s book author and wildlife photographer, Dennis Glennon, about why he’s continuing with his all-or-nothing Kickstarter campaign for his book, Buddy’s Magic Window.

Below, you’ll find Dennis’ reasoning for why it’s important for writers to not give up on their dreams even in times of economic uncertainty.

Reasons to Continue Marketing Your Books During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Well, there are a lot of reasons. The most important being is that I believe my book is worth fighting for.

I believe it will bring smiles and inspiration to both children and adults. I know it will inspire children to read and want to help animals and the environment.

Despite the current circumstances, I believe that positivity, inspiration, and smiles are needed now more than ever. This book has all of that.

I also believe that when you put enough force and drive behind something that is good, and you work extremely hard to make it happen, it will find the right people to support it.

I also know this will be tough work, and it might fail to reach its funding goal. This is a calculated risk, but I still believe it will get funded.

“Despite the current circumstances, I believe that positivity, inspiration, and smiles are needed now more than ever. This book has all of that.”

Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs Need to Fight Extra Hard

Another reason I kept the campaign going is that I want more than anything to be a full-time children’s book author. It has been a dream of mine for a long time.

This book has been just about ready for over six years. I had health setbacks, which forced me to put the whole project on the back burner.

Whatever the next few weeks or months forces me to deal with will pale in comparison to what I went through to get healthy.

I also believe that when you own a small business, you must be creative, fight, and be persistent to succeed.

Owning a small business and running it full time is no easy task. By continuing a Kickstarter campaign at this time, I will need to fight and scrape for every dollar.

See it as a Learning Opportunity

I am learning new things every day. This campaign is forcing me way out of my comfort zone. The things I am learning will be invaluable as I go forward on my goal to be a full-time author.

The biggest take away is that you will always need to be thinking creatively to sell and market yourself. There are endless opportunities to market, even under the worst circumstances.

Just imagine, if I succeed in bad times, how much better it will be when the economy gets back to normal.

No certainty when that will be, but I will have books and be ready to go.

In the meantime, I will be building an online store and start branding my book. I am going to offer a whole merchandising line.

I will start offering puzzles later on today because they are in high demand since everyone is stuck at home.

With Amazon currently only delivering necessities, it is the perfect time to drive sales to your website where the profit margins are higher.

buddy dog coffee dennis glennon
Photo credit: Dennis Glennon Photography

The World Needs Artists to Continue Working

On a more philosophical note, we are artists, authors, and creatives. We take the time to pour our lifetime of thoughts into a book.

To me, it is a higher calling that we must get our stories, which we are so passionate about out into the world.

Keep in mind that this is a business, and you need an excellent book, a solid following, and a great plan to make this happen.

Competition is more fierce than ever.

To that end, we must work even harder and smarter to get people to buy our books and fund our creative projects, no easy task at the moment.

Advice if You Plan to Crowdfund Right Now

Here’s my advice if you are going to launch a campaign soon: Get professional help!!!

This is no time to play around and try to figure this out on your own. You need a solid plan and following to make this happen.

I hired Lisa Ferland to help me. Her expertise is priceless.

She will put you in the best position to succeed. She has a ton of knowledge and is super generous in helping her clients succeed.

I could not have done this on my own. An added bonus to having Lisa on your team is that she alleviates a large amount of stress. You’ll know you have proper direction or will be re-directed if things start slipping.

I also talked with and follow children’s book author, Jay Miletsky. His business advice is sound and will put you on a path to profit. His groups are awesome, and there are a lot of resources there to help in your book publishing endeavor.

Keep in mind that running a Kickstarter campaign will be a ton of work and more complicated than you think.

At this point, you might want to consider lowering your original goal (before you launch) a little and aim to go over.

I had no way of knowing this Corona scare would happen, but, in hindsight, I wish I would have gone with my original goal of $6,500 and then gone over to the $9,500 that I really need for the 2,500 copies.

I chose 2,500 copies because there is enough profit margin to be able to get a second print run paid for and sustain an adequate profit margin.

buddys magic window dennis glennon

Keep Asking for the Sale

So then there is another question “How do you ask people for money in this time of economic uncertainty? “

Ultimately, it is a personal decision, and there are no wrong answers. However, my response is, “How do you not?”

Keep in mind that this is an unusual period, and we should be diplomatic, sympathetic, empathetic, and know our audience, as we do not want to alienate anyone.

The economic uncertainty is brutal, and people are understandably stressed and holding onto their money.

Imagine that this is your full-time business. What would you do? Would you just fold up? Or would you fight for survival?

I think we are safe if we politely ask for the sale and support. People either can and will support, or they cannot at this time, and they will not, and either way, it is OK.

But without asking, we will fail.

Artists Can Help Others Heal in Times of Crisis

I will give you an example of what happened to me post 9/11 when I had an Art Show shortly afterward that may shed some light on the current situation.

I live in NJ. When 9/11 happened, I had an art show scheduled in Montclair NJ not far from Manhattan. I knew people who died in this tragedy, including the priest who baptized me, Father Mychal Judge, who was the Fire Chaplin and a family friend.

I struggled with a lot of things, and one of them is, “Do I go do this art show? How can I possibly ask people for money at this time of tragedy? I struggled with it. Not an easy decision, but I went. That is what artists do. We show up and support.

My reasoning ended up being I will set up my booth and just be there for anyone who needs the support. I will provide a pleasant distraction for anyone that was there, figuring if they were out, that is what they needed.

I did not push for any sales for those two days but talked about my work and certainly accepted the sales that came my way. I learned that people really appreciated the artists that showed up.

We help heal in a time of crisis.

Yes..sales were probably horrible, but I did make some money and provided some much-needed relief. So with that in mind, I could not give up on my current campaign.

Crowdfunding is Tough No Matter When You Launch

I truly believe I can be there for people in need of something positive, a welcomed distraction, and my book has value and that people will feel good about the purchase.

Then when July rolls around and the books are delivered, they will be thankful they helped support the campaign.

Will it be tough? Absolutely!! I was funded 50% of my $9,500 goal the first week.

The second week, when the pandemic started to become more of a reality, and people started getting sent home from work, I only gained 7%. SCARY.

I will have to gently push harder and be even more creative to get to the finish line. I realize that not all people will agree with me on this, and I respect that.

But if you gained just one bit of wisdom or insight in this article, then I have provided value, and I wish us all success in our book publishing journeys.

It is a tough journey, better traveled with the support of good friends and fellow authors who understand the difficulty.

Would I recommend launching a campaign right now??? I would consult with Lisa and Jay’s group to get a better pulse.

Ask me in 2 weeks.

Best wishes to all. Keep up the fight. Most of all, be safe.

Stay healthy and be kind to yourself and others. These are tough times. We need to come together and support one another.

Keeping it positive!

dennis glennon photography

Dennis Glennon is a professional dog, wildlife, and nature photographer. He has photographed some of the most beautiful places in North America including most of the U.S. National Parks. His focus has been on photographing landscapes and wildlife, but once he started photographing dogs it took on a life of its own.

Click here to visit and support Buddy’s Magic Window on Kickstarter
Click here to follow Dennis Glennon’s Photography on Facebook

Continue Reading

Crowdfunding Lessons 101: Is Crowdfunding Your Book a Good Idea?

Enroll in Lisa’s free mini-course on Crowdfunding for Authors to find out if it’s right for you

Insider Perspective, Nikki Filippone: Know When to Cancel Your Kickstarter Campaign

When to cancel…

The heartbreaking decision to cancel your Kickstarter campaign after months of research, preparation, and backing other campaigns is difficult for every author.

Sometimes, authors need to cancel because they need a larger audience to support their campaign goal. Other times, there are external forces beyond their control like illness, national tragedies, and weather disasters.

Nikki Filippone is no stranger to Kickstarter and she understood the potential of using the platform to launch her book to a broader audience.

But, what nobody could predict, was that a global pandemic would force a drastic prioritization of limited personal financial resources.

In this interview, you’ll hear more about what went into Nikki’s decision to ultimately cancel her Kickstarter campaign.

It is our hope that more authors will understand the amount of work involved in running a crowdfunding campaign.

Deciding to cancel your Kickstarter campaign is never an easy decision and perhaps, Nikki’s experience can help you decide the right way forward for your book.

Can you describe a bit about your vision for Rosalee the Seeker and why you decided to run a Kickstarter campaign?

I created this book because I saw a significant gap in children’s literature when it came to the topic of Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). My vision for this book is multi-faceted.

First and foremost, I want to empower young sensory seekers. I also want to help parents better understand their sensory seeking children, and offer my book as a tool to help them explain SPD to other family members and adults.

I also believe my book will be an excellent addition to any elementary school classroom so young children will better understand their sensory seeking classmates. 

Launching my campaign was an excellent way to get my book in front of a wider audience while simultaneously giving me an opportunity to print it in hardcover. I would love to offer a more durable book that families can cherish for longer and even pass down to their grandchildren. 

Can you describe the type of prep work you did before you launched?

Because of my limited personal resources (time and money), I focused my efforts on social media marketing.

Instead of working on an email list, I developed one-on-one relationships with those who expressed an interest in my book.

This allowed me to follow-up individually through FB Messenger on launch day. This proved to be extremely effective and I was able to get to 38% funded in under 2 days. 

Honestly (and I’m not just saying this), I found Lisa’s blog and other resources extremely helpful in understanding the whole process of crowdfunding. I incorporated a lot of her advice into my strategy. 

What went into your decision to cancel your Kickstarter campaign?

Unfortunately, my campaign launch coincided with the early days of Coronavirus in the US.

As the days progressed, so did the severity of the Coronavirus situation. I became less comfortable asking people to help fund my book.

I know a lot of people are currently unemployed due to the Coronavirus. Many are unsure if they will be able to pay for basic needs. 

Lisa’s note: Nikki’s campaign was ~50% funded on Day 13.

What surprised you the most about crowdfunding your book? 

Honestly? It was harder than I thought! And, this was my second attempt! (I canceled my first campaign after three days because I knew nothing about crowdfunding at the time. I quickly realized that I would not meet my campaign goal.)

What I’m saying is that even knowing everything I know now (exactly a year later), I STILL wasn’t fully prepared for just how much work it was!

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

All you can ever do is your very best.

If external circumstances throw a wrench in your efforts, try and find ways to learn from the situation so your efforts will not have been wasted. And, don’t allow yourself to feel like a failure. If you’ve learned something, you’ve already succeeded. <3 

Do you think you’ll relaunch your campaign?

I’m uncertain at this point. I’ll most likely reassess when the Coronavirus situation is behind us. 

Anything else you’d like people to know?

If you’re planning to crowdfund, do NOT expect it to be easy, and do NOT expect to be able to “wing” it.

My first campaign taught me not to wing it. I applied what I learned over the past year to my Rosalee campaign planning.

I am 100% certain that if the Coronavirus hadn’t hit, I would have met my goal, and it would have been because of the very intense planning and prep that I did. 


UPDATE

Nikki recently re-launched a 7-day Kickstarter campaign and raised $9500 in only 7 days!!!

If you are interested in crowdfunding your book, enroll in my comprehensive Crowdfunding for Authors Course using Nikki’s affiliate link at no extra cost to you.

Bio

Nikki Filippone is a fiercely passionate writer and educator. She is also a fiercely passionate mom, daughter, wife, and friend. About a year ago, she found her way into independent publishing.

She has published one book as author/illustrator, and two books as an illustrator since. She plans on creating a series out of this one. Feel free to stay tuned by following Nikki on Facebook.

Click here to visit Nikki’s Rosalee the Seeker Kickstarter Campaign

Go Deeper

10 Reasons Not to Crowdfund Your Book
Surprising Lessons from Two Kickstarter Campaigns
5 Things Crowdfunding Authors Want You To Know Before You Launch

Enroll in the Crowdfunding Mini-Course for Authors for Free here

Animal lovers take over Kickstarter: Opossum Opposites by Gina Gallois

Opossum opposite cover square

Gina Gallois knew she wanted to launch Opossum Opposites on Kickstarter.  She knew she had to build an audience and keep them engaged during her campaign.

We worked together and in only two sessions, Gina was on her way creating funny opossum memes and articles that her readers love.

In this interview, I asked Gina about her experience building an audience from scratch, her Kickstarter campaign, and her plans for her future books.

What surprised you the most about running your Kickstarter campaign?

It really is a lot of work. I was surprised about the amount of upfront work, before the first backer has even pledged.

I would not have done near as good a job making sure all of my links were consistent and working together if I had not had Lisa’s help.

It takes a long time to get all of the advertising materials together – even though I didn’t do any paid ads, I made a lot of memes and graphics to post throughout the month.

Also, the work that went into the “simple” video, the Kickstarter page was a lot more than I expected. 

However, it was a great exercise because now I have all kinds of info ready to go, and I basically pinned a post to the top of my blog with all my lovely Kickstarter info so people who visit the page will see that first.

What was the best aspect of crowdfunding your campaign?

We made our goal and went well over, so now I can invest in my Spanish translation and my French editor.

It was great to see how many of the backers came from the Kickstarter community—over $1K of the funding.

What was the worst aspect of your campaign?


Being obsessed with checking my numbers for several days! Then, thank goodness I calmed down a bit once I reached my goal at the start of day 11.

I still kept pushing through the month, but I let off a bit for about 2 weeks to give people a chance to breathe before the final call for pledges. I didn’t want people to get sick of me.

What were the best strategies you did to build your audience before you launched?

I started pushing my email list really hard, and that worked pretty well—for my particular case, I promised special exclusive memes about opossums.

I mostly needed email subscribers since I was pretty much starting that from scratch, but I already had over 1000 Facebook followers, and I’m still building that audience all the time.

I think it also helped that I wrote on Medium and got my call to action out there in lots of articles related to my book (that was Lisa’s idea, and was really helpful).

You said you build your audience from zero.

What strategies did you use to build you readership before launch?

So, I am in five or six different private Facebook groups about opossums and each day of the week for several months, I made my own memes with pictures people had posted of their rescue opossums (I always credited the photos on the meme).

I posted the memes on my IG which simultaneously posts on my FB page.

Then I shared that FB post in each group with a different little quip in each new post.

People in each group saw my FB page each time I posted and sometimes they mosey on over and follow me.

Even if they only go to my page and like a post, I could scoop them up that way by inviting them to like the page later. 
 
I think the secret is that I was always giving them something entertaining and sneaking a little info and/or link in with the meme, so it didn’t annoy the crap out of people that all I was ever doing was pushing my book.
 
I rarely shared direct marketing things for my book in these groups—only to announce the beginning of the Kickstarter and maybe one to say it was about to end.
 
Otherwise, I usually got my link in the first couple of lines, but the star of the show was always the original meme.
 
I was getting over 200 new followers every month for several months.
 

What advice did you receive that helped you the most?


To write related articles, to have things ready in advance (although I could have done much better with that, I had time to do it during the month, too, luckily).

I also emailed about 200 people individually, and I think that helped even if a lot of people didn’t reply at all.

Some people I didn’t really expect to hear from were super excited about my book.

What advice would you give someone thinking about crowdfunding their book?


Get help from Lisa Ferland! Read as much as you can, study the projects that are not working and figure out why, look at the ones that are and analyze that too.

Make it yours, make it clear, make it great.

Would you crowdfund your book again?

I would if I had to, but it was so much work (and since I did pretty well), I plan to use the funds to get my publishing empire rolling and then reinvest in my next couple of projects.

I finally found a day to draft most of the next book I’ve been percolating, so I want to use all the money the first one brings in to keep going and hopefully not annoy my friends and family with guilt trips for cash anymore. Don’t want to run out of goodwill.

Although, crowdfunding is a very good way to get to people you wouldn’t normally have reached. Those super backers are nothing to sneeze at!

Final thoughts?

I learned and am still learning so much from all of this that I wouldn’t have necessarily learned so easily if I had not gone through the process of crowdfunding my book.

I could not be happier with my results. I feel prepared for anything!

Bio

Gina Gallois bio

Gina Gallois is a longtime opossum enthusiast. She recently left teaching college French to be at home with her infant daughter and to write.

In addition to children’s books, she also writes humor and personal essays on Medium.

Gina is the proud, incredibly lucky mother of two bilingual children. She’s married to an imported Frenchman who recently became a US citizen.

Connect with Gina on her website: https://livingimperfection.com/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/LivingImperfection/

Instagram @artemisopossum

 

Are you interested in crowdfunding your book in 2020?

Do you want four weeks of free coaching, an accountability group of fellow authors, video tutorials, email templates, and resources to help you save time?

I have a new program that is perfect for you but I’m only taking in a few authors.

Want to know more?

Email me at admin@lisaferland.com with the email headline,

“I want more info on group coaching” and I’ll get back to you right way.

Seats are limited, so email me TODAY if you’re interested.