Why You Can’t Copy Someone Else’s Crowdfunding Strategy

It would be nice if we could just model our campaign after someone else’s successful campaign and see the same results but alas, that isn’t how it works.

Be sure to watch the video below for my reasons why you can’t just copy what someone else is doing.

If you try to copy someone else’s crowdfunding strategy without understanding all of the work that happened in the background and during the pre-launch phase, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

Take the time to study as many campaigns as you can, support campaigns in your subject area/genre so you see what types of email messaging authors are sending, and ask other creators about their experiences.

Types of questions to ask other crowdfunding authors

—What surprised you the most about crowdfunding your book?
—What was the biggest source of backers?

—What one piece of advice would you give someone thinking about crowdfunding their book?

Understand that a lot of different strategies can be successful but 70% of authors still fail at crowdfunding their books so you’re going to need to change strategies as soon as you see it’s not getting traction.

Enroll in my free mini-course to find out if crowdfunding your book is right for you.

10 Lessons Learned from Launching on IndieGoGo

Sheri Wall, children’s book author, recently finished her IndieGoGo campaign that raised over $5k for her book, Maiden Mermaid, a folktale in Salado, Texas.

Here are the lessons learned from her IndieGoGo campaign.

Please note that Sheri ran a flexible funding IndieGoGo campaign, so even though her goal was $9k and she raised $5k, she gets to keep the funds. If you have questions about the different types of crowdfunding platforms, click here to read more.

My IndieGoGo campaign is over. Thank goodness! 

While I’m very pleased with the orders I received and the amount I raised, it was way more work than I anticipated. 

I lost sleep. I lost confidence. 

Then the mood goes back up and you feel invincible, and you know your book is amazing. 

Then tears. 

It’s an emotional roller coaster, at least it was for me. 

Ten things I learned from my IndieGoGo campaign in no particular order, not sure any of them are original, and not sure these would all apply to other campaigns, but here goes:

#1 Keep your campaign page as simple as possible

I LOVED how my page looked and all the clever names I came up with for perks. I asked some folks a question like, “Did you see (something on the campaign page)?”

They had to come clean and say they didn’t read anything as it was too confusing and overwhelming. They looked for a dollar amount they were comfortable with and clicked it.

#2 Assume your audience knows nothing about crowdfunding

If it’s your first campaign, underestimate your audience’s understanding of crowdfunding—I had no idea so many folks had never heard of IndieGoGo. I would then follow with “What about Kickstarter?”

Blank stares.

#3 Don’t rely on influencers

Don’t put too much weight on outside influencers’ influence.

I had three influencers with large email lists that were on board to share my campaign at least once with their newsletter subscribers.

They were “so excited” to help, really loved the book, and “couldn’t wait to be part of it!”  

Not one of them actually included the campaign in an email. I got a few shares on Facebook, but that reach is just not the same.

#4 Watch your email open rates

Carefully calculate how many email reminders you will send. Your open rate goes way down the more you send.

I felt I was very conservative, but in the end, I just stopped sending them as they weren’t getting opened anyway.

#5 Be flexible with your social media plan

I had a calendar mapped out that basically went out the window. Sometimes until you’re “in it” the creative ideas don’t come (for example,  my video with the statue).

#6 Upload your campaign video directly to Facebook

Facebook prefers “native video uploads”—meaning, you upload the file and don’t link it from YouTube and will show it more.

I didn’t know this when I started, but when a friend told me, I uploaded my campaign video as a post and the views shot up in comparison to a post with just the link to the video.

#7 Don’t be afraid to reach out to acquaintances

Don’t be afraid to message folks that you don’t talk to on a regular basis. I’m going to have to be extra nice at my high school reunion.

I was blown away by distant folks that preordered and some that even just donated funds. I also messaged folks that “Liked” a post but didn’t comment. Many responded favorably to my private message.

#8 Some promises will be broken

Know that some folks will never follow through on their order or pledge—even after they call you and ask what they can do to support you.

Sigh, but life happens.

#9 Focus on the why

Educate your friends on how to share your campaign. Kindly remind them to always start with a personal message as to why they are sharing and just don’t hit the share button.

#10 Engage early and often on social media

Start engaging early with your friends and followers on Facebook so your posts will be seen by them later.

The more you comment on other’s posts, the more likely Facebook is to show your posts back to them.

At least it seemed that way.

Instagram is all about engagement as well, but I did very little on Instagram just because I’m not that familiar with it.

In conclusion

Will I ever do another one?

It’s too fresh in my mind to say.

I started producing books in my empty nest stage, and it was never actually with the intent to be able to live off the income or grow a large network. But it is all a bit addicting.

If I do ever have a repeat, I will at least know what to expect and be able to prepare mentally.

When Sheri’s not writing, she likes to cook, eat, decorate, bargain hunt, and stay active.

You can see all of Sheri’s titles on amatterofrhyme.com and follow her on Instagram @sheri.amatterofrhyme.

Bio

When Sheri’s not writing, she likes to cook, eat, decorate, bargain hunt, and stay active.

You can see all of Sheri’s titles on amatterofrhyme.com and follow her on Instagram @sheri.amatterofrhyme.

Sheri’s Books

If you like children’s books, be sure to check out my children’s book, When the Clock Strikes on Halloween, now available for pre-order on Kickstarter until May 15.

Click here to check it out! 

Lessons Learned from an Entrepreneurial Conference

In March, I presented at the annual Spark Conference, a female entrepreneurial conference and spoke about how crowdfunding can help entrepreneurs grow their audience. (Shameless plug: visit my book’s crowdfunding campaign here.)

While there, I learned how to SEO my website, connected with old friends, and made new connections that surprised me.

I was one of the only people who had flown into the conference—everyone else was local to Amsterdam—so I felt a bit like an outsider.

One can easily identify other outsiders at a conference because they often stand at the edges of conversation and hang around the coffee machine.

Those were the people I approached first and introduced myself. Once two outsiders join forces, they’re no longer “outside” and the group grows less intimidating.

Here are some additional lessons I learned while at Spark: 

Success means something different to all of us

Defining your version of success is so important because it means something different to every single person in the room. Some women had left their office jobs and were just starting the entrepreneurial journey whereas others were celebrating selling 100k books.

We’re all at different stages of our careers and maturity as entrepreneurs, so it’s important that you define your goals and understand that the conversations you have with others will be through their lens of what success means to them.

A rising tide raises all ships

This motto was said a lot during the conference and there was great emphasis on approaching all conversations with how we can help one another.

A panel discussion covered competition and envy and explained how those thoughts and emotions are not only destructive but they come from a scarcity mindset instead of an abundance mindset.

When we focus on the abundance around us, we no longer compete with others, and we are given the unique opportunity to lift one another to a higher level.

I turned to the woman next to me and said, “I really enjoy hiring fellow entrepreneurs because I know that the money I give to that person will allow her to pay another entrepreneur for her services and so on and so on.”

It’s like micro-economics in a small circle. The more you invest in one another, the more you all succeed.

Creativity is not magic, it just looks like that to people who don't know how much work goes into creating something

Creativity is not magic. It’s also unlimited. We all have the capacity to be creative.

It’s the whole 1% vs. 99% inspiration vs. perspiration thing. Creativity is really just the outcome of a lot of hard work and perseverance. 

If you work hard and don’t give up, you’ll make it farther than most people. 

Don’t approach creativity like it’s some magical process only available to a select few—we all have the ability to create wonderful things.

LinkedIn makes it easy to connect

This one was a practical tip, but if you have the LinkedIn app on your phone, which I recommend installing before going to a conference, you can turn on the Bluetooth option and connect with everyone who is in your same vicinity. 

This took away the pressure of having to print and collect (and not lose) people’s business cards but it also took away a bit of the face-to-face interactions.

Once the conference is over, follow up with everyone who you connected with and let them know what you’re working on. You never know who might be interested in what you do.

Building a business takes time

Building a business takes a long time. Building a successful business takes even longer. How long? The answer was different for everyone.

One speaker said he changed directions multiple times in the past 20 years. He also admitted that as an entrepreneur, he suffered from Shiny Object Syndrome (you can read more about that here) and that he learned to punt interesting opportunities to other people rather than try to take them all on himself.

We have limited time, resources, and bandwidth, so being picky about your projects is a good thing.

As entrepreneurs, we have that indefatigable “can do!” spirit but it can often distract and derail us from getting things accomplished.

Ready to raise the tide and lift some ships?

Go check out my book’s campaign here and share it with one person you know will love it.

https://bit.ly/clockstrikeshalloween

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.

These 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.

Example of how to market your book in a personal essay

Here’s an example to follow: this Conde Naste Traveler article “How My Mother’s Travels Shaped My World View” focused on a woman’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 voila, this woman is marketing her book without being annoying.

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

Write essays and publish them everywhere

So, that’s my #1 tip—pitch essays like the one above for publication on third-party websites.

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.com
—Publish your writing on LinkedIn
—Publish your writing on your own website (you should have an author platform, hello!)
—Coordinate with other bloggers who might have smaller-than-Conde-Naste-size audiences and see if they take guest posts

Follow the formula 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.

Don’t forget to 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 currently sends 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.

You can see how I set it up here: https://lisaferland.com

So, my fellow writers, keep writing and getting your book in front of new readers.

10 Reasons Not to Crowdfund Your Book

I’m a crowdfunding consultant for authors so why one earth would I discourage someone from crowdfunding their book?

Well, crowdfunding on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo is NOT right for everyone. I make that clear in just about every video, blog, and interview I create.

Here’s a list of 10 reasons why you should NOT CROWDFUND your book.

If after reading this, you’re still like, “Nah, I could do it…” then by all means, proceed.

#1 It's a ton of work

I’m not sure who is crowdfunding thousands of dollars without doing months of preparation beforehand, but it certainly isn’t many people I know personally. 

Garnering a lot of attention and then converting that attention into pledges takes a ton of effort. Don’t underestimate how much work is involved in a 30-day campaign. You’re looking at 60-120 days of work from the beginning concept to fulfilling the rewards.

#2 Everyone is watching

People can see exactly how many pledges you get every day of your campaign. If you don’t like that kind of transparency or to have your marketing actions under a microscope like that, then crowdfunding might not be right for you.

#3 It's harder than ever to get noticed

Social media is noisy and now crowdfunding platforms are getting “crowded” with more and more commercial products. 

In order to stand out from the pack, you need to develop your audience, educate them, and deliver what they want day after day.

#4 Ads don't really work

For whatever reason, Facebook ads don’t convert for Kickstarter and IndieGoGo campaigns for books. They just don’t. Readers want books NOW and they want to start reading right away. It takes a special stranger who is willing click on an unknown link and then give a stranger money for their book.

#5 PR experts don't want your money

Most authors are launching campaigns between $5k-$10k. It’s not worth a marketing expert’s time and effort to take 15% of that total amount to help you. They are more interested in the >$500k-$1M campaigns.

I’ve been turned down three times by PR experts because my Kickstarter goal amount wasn’t high enough to get their attention.

#6 Readers don't usually browse crowdfunding sites to find new books

I’m doing my best to change this with my Top 10 lists every week, but it’s no secret that Kickstarter is still dominated by the gaming sector.

I try to get readers in the habit of scouting Kickstarter and IndieGoGo to support indie authors and illustrators, but it’s going to take time before people start to realize that there are great books on these platforms.

Kickstarter authors have to bring readers to the platform which means that it doesn’t really matter where (Kickstarter or IndieGoGo) you launch because leveraging traffic on the platform is unlikely unless you’re in STEM.

#7 Crowdfunding is stressful

Writing articles, press releases, getting reader reviews, and doing podcast interviews are all things you’ll need to do for your traditional book launch anyway, but you can do it with a fraction of the stress involved with crowdfunding.

#8 Without early traction, you're somewhat dead in the water

Unlike traditional marketing efforts where it doesn’t matter when the sales come in, so long as they come in by the deadline, crowdfunding is the exact opposite.

You need a BIG launch day and then a pretty large Days 2-4 in order to make it to your goal at the end of 30 days. If your readers don’t know that (i.e., you didn’t educate them or they never read your emails) and you don’t keep the pressure on, you’re more likely to fail.

I’ve seen people pull it off in the end but not without serious hustle and stress.

#9 People think you're begging for money

You have to do a ton of reader education to let them know how much value they are getting for their money.

Readers are not donating to your book, they are getting the book AND MORE in exchange for their pledge. 

#10 Public failure is never fun

Failing can occur in many ways—setting too high of a goal, pricing rewards incorrectly, running a successful campaign but not delivering in time, running a successful campaign but underestimating shipping costs, and even more scenarios (you get the idea).

Nobody likes to fail and nobody likes to fail in front of people but that often happens with around 70% of all crowdfunding campaigns. Ouch! 

How are you feeling?

Do you still want to crowdfund your book?

If you’re still interested in crowdfunding your book then book a 10-minute session with me to see if I can help you reach your goals.

Book your free consult here: https://go.oncehub.com/lisaferland

Lessons Learned from Launching 5 Kickstarter Campaigns

Joseph Becker has raised over $75k on Kickstarter over the course of his five campaigns for the books in his Annabelle and Aiden series.

Joseph was kind enough to answer some questions and provide some insights to how he was able to use Kickstarter as a marketing tool for his books.

You’ve launched 5 different campaigns on Kickstarter for your books and it’s clear that your audience has grown with each success. Why do you enjoy launching on Kickstarter versus a more traditional book launch on Amazon or your website?

 
Kickstarter is a wonderful platform because it draws a large crowd who apparently browse Kickstarter for projects to fund. A surprisingly large amount of funds always come from this cold audience.
 
Also, I think of Kickstarter as free advertising: it costs nothing upfront, so there’s really no risk involved. And every pledge you get is another free signup on your email list.
 
This is a great way to gain a following and a community behind your books. It’s the ultimate marketing tool.

For each campaign, your funding goal was very low compared to how much money you raised. What do you think contributed the most to get people to back the campaign vs. waiting for the official publication of the book? 

The first thing that comes to mind is getting large (and I mean huge) Facebook pages (with hundreds of thousands or millions of ‘likes’) that align with the “mission” of your books (whether celebrating diversity, environmentalism, or childhood development) to share your campaign.
 
That is the number one thing. 
 

How much audience education do you typically do before you launch?

That’s a tough one. Now, I just post 2 to 4 “Kickstarter coming soon” posts weeks before to whet everyone’s appetites. There used to be a tool called Thunderclap that was the best tool to build excitement for an upcoming Kickstarter campaign, but they were shut down by the social media giants.
 

Do you find it gets easier with each campaign or do you face new challenges each time?

Both. It gets easier to raise money but at the same time your standards and expectations and goals get higher, so they are harder and harder to reach.

I’ve done 5 campaigns. For the first four, every single one raised $7,000 more than the last. However, the 5th one raised $3,000 less than the fourth. That was a bit tough for me, even though it still raised $17,000: a number I would have been ecstatic about just 2 years earlier.  

 

How did you meet your illustrator?

Through searching with Google. We’ve done 5 books together, all through email. I still have never spoken with her, which amazes people. She lives in Italy.  
 

What advice would you give an author who is in the middle of their campaign and still hasn’t funded?

I’d give them pointers and encouragement, and let them know the Kickstarter algorithm does kick in at the end for a strong finish. 
 

Will you continue to launch new books via Kickstarter?

Probably. 

What are you currently working on?

I have a few book ideas, and have started one or two, but I am really going to try to turn my business model over from print-on-demand to printing through China and selling through Amazon Advantage. That will take time and lots of money, but that’s my next step.

I may take a break from creating new books for a year or so, and try to up my game in selling the five titles I already have. 

 

Anything else? 

Folks could learn more at www.AnnabelleAndAiden.com

Be sure to check out all five campaigns below to see how he priced his rewards and structured his campaigns.

Bio

Joseph Becker holds a B.A. in Philosophy and a Juris Doctorate from Emory University School of Law. When he’s not practicing entertainment law, playing drums, or enjoying the great outdoors, Joseph enjoys all the science and philosophy books and podcasts he can, pondering the bigger questions and dreaming up ideas for future children stories.

Visit his website at annabelleandaiden.com.

Rad Girls Start a Revolution

Sharita Manickam and Jen Bruno want young girls to envision their futures as anything—CEOs, astronauts, artists—absolutely any dream at all. 

The photo book shows real girls modeling future professions and it caught fire on Kickstarter raising over $21k with 616 backers.

Turns out, stoking the fires of a revolution is popular business.

Sharita was kind enough to share some insights and experiences of her campaign.

With 139 backers on launch day, you must’ve done a ton of behind the scenes work to prepare everyone for your campaign’s launch. 

What types of “behind-the-scenes” work did you do that contributed most to that huge first day?

Before launching, we held a Thunderclap campaign (Thunderclap is a service that has since been discontinued).

Basically, it was a way of getting your early supporters (family, friends, social media contacts) to sign up to help spread the word about your Kickstarter launch.

We asked our contacts to support us by signing up by linking their social media accounts to our Thunderclap campaign. Then on the day of our KS launch, Thunderclap posted a one time, free message to all of those supporter’s social media feeds telling their friends/followers about our launch! Thunderclap was likened to a “social media flash mob”.  

In the weeks leading up to the launch, we made social media posts and graphics explaining how Kickstarter worked as we learned many of our friends and family members were unfamiliar with crowdfunding and pre-orders. 

We also sent out a market survey and received 700 responses and about 200 people signed up for our newsletter.

We also had some early bird specials for the first 48 hours that we promoted heavily. We sent out an email blast the morning of our launch to friends and family.

“It’s a lot of work, relationship building, and strategy, but one of the main things we would like to express is that you can’t be afraid to sell yourself and ask for help.”—Sharita Manickam

How long did you engage your audience and potential backers before launching? 

We began our social media campaign about a month before we “intended” to launch, but ended up having to push back about a month.

We used social media to increase enthusiasm about empowerment, count down to our impending launch, and collaborate with other accounts with like-minded missions.

How large was your audience before you launched?

We had about 900 followers on each platform, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and about 700 email addresses (500 friends and family and 200 survey respondents) collected.

The ever-changing, always elusive social media algorithms of FB and IG make marketing a product so much more difficult than ever before.

Since we didn’t have the budget to pay to boost our posts, we created “boost groups” of our biggest supporters and each time we posted something on FB and IG, we send a link to our “boost group” so they can go like or comment that post. It increased our exposure quite a bit.

What has been the most surprising aspect of your Kickstarter campaign? 

We were blown away by the immediate support—the link sharing, the enthusiastic posting, etc. We didn’t expect that to happen right away, and then when we were selected as a “Project We Love” by Kickstarter within a few hours of launch, we were really surprised.

We’d been advised by several Kickstarter veterans that sales were likely to stall once we hit our goal, so that didn’t come as a huge shock, but had we not been prepared for it by others, I think that would have been a really difficult pill to swallow.

Your video is brilliant. Where did you find all of your sweet young models to participate? Did you do the video yourself or hire an expert?

Thank you! Since the photo illustrator, Jen and I have young children, we were lucky to have a fairly large pool of children to reach out to who are friends of our kids.

We ended up with 72 models in total and found many through word of mouth. Our video model is a friend of my daughter and her older sister did the voice over. Jen’s son is also in the video, as is another book model and her mom and brother.

Our video was filmed with an iPhone and I put it together using apps.

How was your experience with IndieGoGo InDemand after your Kickstarter ended?

We just haven’t had time to build our own website yet so IndieGoGo InDemand seemed like a good way to continue taking pre-orders.

We currently just have URLs (www.radgirlbook.com and www.radgirlrevolution.com) redirect to our Amazon page, and previously they directed to Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, and BackerKit. 

I don’t think we received much new exposure from IndieGoGo, but we ended up raising about $2500 through inDemand from people who either missed our Kickstarter or were just learning about the book through social media.

With so many backers, has fulfillment been an issue? What solution would you recommend for authors who find themselves overwhelmed with logistics? Did you go with BackerKit?

 Our shipment of books from China was held up for weeks at the Port of New York, so we were about a month behind schedule on fulfillment. Once we received the books, we sent them all out within days.

We did use BackerKit.

It took a lot of time to setup but in the long run it simplified our fulfillment. 

I hesitated about the cost at first, but it more than paid for itself from add-on items our backers purchased through Backerkit. I would recommend Backerkit, especially for those with more than a few hundred backers.

Also a label printer is a must for quick shipping!

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

Sales don’t happen automatically.

Kickstarter doesn’t sell anything for you.

It’s a lot of work, relationship building, and strategy, but one of the main things we would like to express is that you can’t be afraid to sell yourself and ask for help.

We reached out to many other successful Kickstarter brands along the way to gather advice and to partner and cross promote.

We also asked our friends and family to help be an extension of our sales team by using their social media and word of mouth channels to spread the word.

We couldn’t have done this alone, and we advise anyone considering a crowdfunding campaign to rally their troops before they launch.

What are you working on at the moment and do you have plans for more books?


At the moment we are working on driving traffic to our Amazon listing through influencer marketing and ads.

We keep a running list of occupations for a sequel and have ideas for other books, but at the moment we are just focusing on this one!

Bio

Sharita Manickam grew up in Maryland. After graduating from the University of Maryland, she moved to New York City, where she worked in marketing until her first daughter was born. During the next couple of years, Sharita discovered a passion for writing and co-wrote a television drama script for a major network. Her love of writing, coupled with her love of reading to her daughters, sparked the idea for a children’s book. Sharita lives in Forest Hills, NY, with her husband, Maurice and their two RAD girls. RAD Girl Revolution is her first book.

Jennifer Elliott Bruno grew up and attended college in Kansas before relocating to Tallahassee, FL to pursue a career in property management. She met her husband, George, in Tallahassee, and the couple moved to New York City where they soon became parents to a little boy named Henry. Shortly after his birth, Jennifer pursued her passion by opening a photography business. She currently resides with her family and miniature dachshund in Forest Hills.

Join the revolution!

Be sure to read and review Rad Girl Revolution on amazon.

Bonus resources from Sharita and Jen—feel free to model your graphics after theirs

The Adventures of Lily Huckleberry Raises Nearly $40K on Kickstarter

It’s not every day that a children’s book raises nearly $40k on Kickstarter, but that’s exactly what Audrey Smit and Jackie Knapp did with their first book, The Adventures of Lily Huckleberry in Scandinavia.

As we all know, or should by now, fundraising is a full-time effort and the end result of months or years of audience building and engagement.

I spoke with Audrey about all of the preparation and work she and Jackie did to garner such stunning success.

Note: Whenever somebody makes something look easy and effortless, understand that a TON of effort and work went into it on the front end even if you can’t see it. There are no shortcuts to success.

Let’s go under the hood of their Kickstarter campaign and find out what worked and what didn’t.

You raised ~50% in the first 24 hours—can you describe a bit of the pre-launch work you did to make that happen? We all know it’s not easy to generate that much energy on launch day.

Yes, the first days are everything!

Before the launch we reached out to influencers that we thought would be interested in the concept of Lily Huckleberry – travel influencers, book influencers etc.

I contacted people I already had a connection with (that’s always the easiest) but also reached out to tons I didn’t know at all that I thought would be interested in our idea.

We got maybe 7% positive responses back when we reached out. It was a lot of work but every person we could find to help spread the work made a difference.

You have to be shameless, talk about what you are doing with pride + passion— it’s contagious. And keep knocking on doors, you’ll get a LOT of no’s but keep reaching out to new people.

Another thing did as we launched: Jackie (my co-author) and I had made a bet with my husband (which we included at the end of our Kickstarter video) that if we funded under one week, he would have to let his Viking beard grow to be a foot long so we could braid it for the book release party.

For some reason that got a lot of people fired up to pledge early, haha! I guess lots of people (including many of our friends) wanted to see him do something a little ridiculous. I think it really helped people connect with our campaign from the beginning in a genuine way.

It’s all about thinking outside of the box. In the end you never know what is going to stick so you have to try a lot of different approaches.

“In the end, you never know what’s going to stick so you have to try a lot of different approaches.”                – Audrey Smit

It looks like you have a very large audience already established from your design business. What types of outreach would you recommend to authors who may not have a large audience already established?

Yes, a bigger pre-established audience definitely helped,  but you can definitely make it with a smaller audience.

Use what you’ve got and again, think creatively!

Start with friends and family, of course, but don’t stop there.

Promote to whatever audience you have on social media and try to reach out to the press ahead of time about your project/idea.

Very often local newspapers are happy to run an article/interview about you and or your book—you will just have to do a little research on how to best approach them and how you can make them look good with your amazing story.

Other ideas:

    • set up a booth at local events during your Kickstarter
    • team up for giveaways with other influencers on social media to increase your reach,
    • and if you have a little bit of marketing money to play with, consider things like Facebook/Pinterest ads.

What would you say surprised you the most about running your Kickstarter campaign?

It takes SO MUCH time and energy! Ha!

Setting up the campaign is only the tip of the iceberg, you have to put a lot of effort into promoting it along the way, getting back to people, etc.

BUT it is so amazing to see people gather around your idea and put their weight behind it, and the work is completely worth it. It’s truly amazing.

Are you planning additional campaigns for future books in the series?

Absolutely!

We are in the process of writing our second Lily Huckleberry book and we’ll be doing a Kickstarter campaign for it.

Having the ability to raise money for editing, printing, marketing is game changing.

We would not be able to self-publish without Kickstarter. 

I also find that Kickstarter campaigns to be an incredible marketing tool —people love getting behind ideas they love and it helps build a community around your book. 

What unexpected opportunities have resulted from running your Kickstarter campaign? 

We were stunned that we raised well over our initial goal—nearly $40K!

That allowed us to invest more in the book, to make a stunning products that people are raving about. That also allowed us to invest in marketing a little more, have a book trailer made etc.

Also unexpected: my husband was quite stunned he lost his bet with Jackie and me.

Being a sales manager in the corporate world, he couldn’t believe he had to let his beard grow for months on end.

Quite a few of his clients asked him about it, and he had to boast about his wife beating her funding goal on Kickstarter. 

Anything else you’d like to mention? Future book plans?

Well, as I mentioned, our second Lily Huckleberry book will be coming out later this year!

After wandering in Scandinavia with her Viking friends, Lily will be going somewhere in Asia to solve another big mystery…but I can’t tell which country yet, it’s still a secret.

We LOVE self-publishing—it is so much work, but also gives us  so much creative + business control.

We are really excited to do another Kickstarter campaign and see if can turn our dream of a series into reality! Our goal is to release one new Lily Huckleberry book every year, and have her travel to all the continents so our readers can dream far and wide with our brave Lily.

Bio

Audrey Smit is the founder of This Little Street, a design company whose colorful and happy aesthetic has built a following of nearly 20K. She has worked as a pattern designer since 2015, recently launching several successful product lines of her own. 

Originally from France, Audrey lives in Berkeley, CA with her Danish husband and their four adventurous little girls, who are constant sources of inspiration for her work. 

Follow her on Instagram: @thislittlestreet  

Click here to buy the book on Amazon

Click here to check out her Kickstarter campaign for The Adventures of Lily Huckleberry in Scandinavia

Children’s Book Authors use Kickstarter to Launch Their Businesses

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

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

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

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

Why Crowdfund Your Book?

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

When you crowdfund your book, you…

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

And magic takes place during and after a crowdfunding campaign.

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

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

Examples of Children’s Book Crowdfunding Campaigns

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

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

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

Author: Dennis McGregor

Backers: 407

Total raised: $27,302 (137%)

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

Click here to buy on Amazon

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

Author: Diane Alber

Backers: 423

Total raised: $15,343 (153%)

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

Click here to buy on Amazon

Title: Into Your Dreams

Author: Roger Blonder

Backers: 197

Total raised: $16,760 (111%)

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

Click here to buy on Amazon

Want to go behind-the-scenes?

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

Kathleen Cruger and Thankful Frankie

Stacy Bauer and Cami the Kangaroo

Roger Blonder and Into Your Dreams

Rebecca Hamer and Where Oh Where is Monty Bear?

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to hop on my calendar.

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

Download my solutions here

Thankful Frankie: Recovering from a Failed Kickstarter Campaign

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Why did you decide to crowdfund your book?

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

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

I’ll be honest, failure is the worst.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What has surprised you the most about crowdfunding?

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

What has been your biggest source of support?

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

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

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

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

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

Start early.  

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

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

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

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

Check out Thankful Frankie on Kickstarter

Bio

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

 

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