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

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

3 min, 26 sec reading time

What is mirror.xyz?

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

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

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

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

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

How does Mirror Differ from Medium?

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

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

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

Testing Out Mirror Ourselves

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

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

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

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

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

Our Experience Publishing on mirror.xyz

Initial Setup

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

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

Off the bat, things were easy. 

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

So far so good.  

But then we started running into three major issues:

1. Outdated/Confusing Guides

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Inability to Collaborate

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

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

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

3. Features Not Working Properly

Embeds not working

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

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

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

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

It looked unprofessional and incomplete. 

Issues Splitting Royalties

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

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

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

split screen image of a man smiling saying

Actual Site not Loading

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

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

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

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

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

Suggestions for Mirror

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

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

We suggest the following:

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

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

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

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

What about you? 

Have you published on mirror.xyz?

How was your experience? 

Let’s chat in the comments below.

Click here to subscribe to continue the conversation via email. We’ll send emails no more than once a week related to Web3Lit innovation, projects, and tools.

We appreciate any/all donations of appreciation

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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.

Lessons Learned from Launching 7 Kickstarter Campaigns

Joseph Becker is currently raising over $20k on his 7th Kickstarter campaign for his children’s book series Annabelle and Aiden. 

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 7 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 his campaigns below to see how he priced his rewards and structured his campaigns.

Be sure to check out his current Kickstarter, Oh My Gods!

 LIVE now

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.

Bringing The Fairy Who Sings to Life on Crowdfunder

the fairy who sings reading

While some authors know about Kickstarter and a few have heard of IndieGoGo, there are over 600 crowdfunding platforms for authors to choose to market their books. The options grow every year as more people discover the power of crowdfunding.

I spoke with children’s book author, Cheryl Davies, about her debut picture book The Fairy Who Sings, to get insights on why she decided to crowdfund her book on Crowdfunder instead of Kickstarter.

Crowdfunder is a UK-based crowdfunding site and is popular with UK authors.

Find out if it’s right for you with Cheryl’s interview below.

If you have any experiences with Crowdfunder, please let us know in the comments.

the fairy who sings reading

Can you describe a bit about your vision for The Fairy Who Sings and why you decided to run a crowdfunding campaign?

The Fairy Who Sings is my debut book. I wanted to write for as long as I can remember. Working with children and writing for children were my two dream goals growing up and now I have achieved both.

For almost 20 years I worked with children who had witnessed or experienced domestic abuse. Helping those children to overcome the trauma they had experienced was a tough but rewarding job.

I put off my dream of writing for children, always waiting for the right time, I always said I would write my first book whilst on maternity leave but three children later that never happened as I was too preoccupied with my children and rightly so.

So, over the years I wrote personal poetry for friends and family instead with the odd hobby poem thrown in.

Then one day during a meeting with a deputy head in a school where I was supporting a child, we fell into a conversation about writing. I told him that it had been my lifelong dream that lay unfulfilled.

He encouraged me and said that there was no better time than now and that there would never be the right time and to just go for it.

So here we are!

That was around 14 months ago and it feels like a lot longer in many ways.

Editing the rhyme and meter

I hired a wonderful editor, Lor Bingham, who helped me develop my writing from poetry into stories.

The Fairy Who Sings was born. It was originally developed from a poem I wrote entitled Fairy Unique.

After multiple edits with Lor, I was happy with my story but it still needed a little bit of help.

It was important to me that The Fairy Who Sings was an inclusive story that had a strong female protagonist. 

I wanted to show how important it is to have self-belief and that courage isn’t about not being scared but about how you overcome fear to achieve your goal.

I was advised that my story still needed a little bit of work on my meter and so worked with a wonderful poetry coach–Tamara Rittershaus—for some poetry coaching to help me learn more about meter.

Click here to read why you should always hire an editor…sometimes two!

When I was happy with my manuscript I began working with a fantastic team at Bear with Us Productions who brought my book to life, with the aid of an amazing illustrator Eduardo Paj. 

They helped make the self publishing process a dream, which is exactly what I needed for my first book.

A fund-matching opportunity

It was during the illustration stage of my journey, that I decided to run a crowdfunding campaign. 

I decided after seeing many people unhappy with the low profit margins from KDP and the quality complaints too that I would like to do a print run, with the aim of taking the book as far and as wide as possible. 

I didn’t have the funds to do that and so after seeing many successful authors run crowdfunding campaigns I decided to run my own.

I was originally going to do it through Kickstarter but then one day I saw a campaign called Back Her Business that was offering to support new businesses by match funding their Crowdfunder campaigns, if they were successful in hitting 50% of their target. I thought it was too good an opportunity to turn down.

cheryl davies quote crowdfunding

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

What resources were helpful in planning? 

I tried to grow my followers on Facebook and Instagram. I set up business pages for both. I started a mailing list that people signed up to through my Facebook page.

I began posting about my book and trying to get people interested in various groups across Facebook as well as trying to bring all my friends and family on board. 

I also had bookmarks made with a QR code that linked to my Crowdfunder campaign.

I had to post about my campaign a lot.

I was worried about over posting but it’s just what is necessary. Most people will need to see the Facebook posts many times before they actually act upon it

What types of messages or strategies resonated the most with your audience/backers? Which strategies fell flat?

The more personal the message and post, the more people we’re interested in what I was saying. But I think time and day also played a huge part.

I could put out some posts that no one would like or respond to, then another time, the same post would have a lot of comments and interaction.

What surprised you the most about crowdfunding your book?

My Crowdfunder fell at a bad time as part of the way through it was the Covid-19 outbreak. 

I decided to continue but I didn’t like to push things too much as I knew it was a tough time for many people.

Most of my backers were friends and family and only about 10 percent were strangers. Luckily it was enough to get me to my 50% goal to be able to receive my match funding from the campaign.

What advice would you give an author considering crowdfunding their book given that external circumstances are always beyond our control?

The only thing I would have lost if I was unsuccessful would have been my time, but I would have gained experience and learned what worked and what didn’t ready for next time.

Really, I can’t see that there is anything to lose in trying.

Do you think you’ll ever do another crowdfunding campaign again? 

I will definitely run another crowdfunding campaign. 

I’m not sure when I would do another one, as I’m not sure my friends and family would all back me the same way again, but I’m hoping that through my book The Fairy Who Sings, I will start to gain followers who are interested in reading my next book and may want to back my future campaigns. 

A bit more about crowdfunding before we end…

I found Crowdfunder a great platform to use and the team supporting on the other end were absolutely fantastic.

I also had great support through the Natwest – back her business campaign.

At the beginning, they gave lots tips and advice on reaching as many people as possible.

The only downside to using Crowdfunder is that it is predominantly used and known as a way of raising money for charities or for people asking for money without offering rewards for those pledging support.

Therefore, because of that, I believe it may have lost some peoples’ interest straight away as they may not fully understand the reason behind your campaign no matter how many times it is explained.

At the end of the campaign, it was so easy to send my books to backers and to contact everyone as a whole or individually.

I could download a spreadsheet with all the information I needed including the orders and names and addresses of those who ordered books.

So, there was no need to request the information afterwards from backers, which I believe is necessary with Kickstarter.

It made my job of mailing out the rewards really easy as it was all there ready for me in a spreadsheet which I then transferred to word to print out my labels.

Bio

Cheryl is from a small town right in the middle of the UK. Cheryl has lived in the same town all her life, which is surrounded by a forest of outstanding natural beauty. 

Cheryl finds walks there extremely magical and she feels creatively inspired by it. 

Cheryl’s aim is to empower children with her magical adventures of self-discovery. The Fairy Who Sings is Cheryl’s first book in the Finding the Magic Series. 

It is fully written in rhyme with hidden magic wands throughout that are waiting to be discovered, for that extra little bit of magic.

 

Buy the book today!

 

Go Deeper…

Learn the strategies behind a $9k campaign

With a Cinderella story of her own, learn how Nikki Filippone went from cancelled campaign to $9k in 7 days.  —Read her story here.

 

 

We Love Communities: How one author dominated the #1 spot before her book’s release date

we love communities

Maartje Blijleven knows how to organize communities and is an expert at helping businesses maximize their social reach.

It should come as no surprise that she was able to organize her community around her book, We Love Communities,  and rocket to the #1 spot for a month on the bestseller charts in the Netherlands by organizing her community.

Over the past 20 years, Maartje has developed thriving communities and has built an incredibly strong network of entrepreneurs, small businesses, and corporate professionals.

Her book, We Love Communities, contains not only her wisdom and experience but the interviews of other experts in the field who share their tips on strengthening communities in business.

Becoming a Chart Topper

Maartje knew how many books it would take for her book to compete with the current bestsellers in her genre.

In order to maximize the number of pre-orders of her book at full retail price, Maartje had to get creative and offer incentives that would appeal to her ideal reader—businesses, entrepreneurs,  and conference leaders looking for keynote speakers. 

Because Maartje was focused on getting a large quantity of pre-orders prior to her book’s release, her pre-order campaign looked something like this:

—Pre-order 10 books and get the ebook one week before it’s official release (savings of 30.50)

—Pre-order 25 books and get access to her 10-week online training program on building communities (savings of 888.25)

—Pre-order 50 books and get 1:1 VIP strategy coaching from Maartje herself at an incredible discount (savings of 1920)

—Pre-order 100 books and get a remarkable 75% discount on her keynote speaker fees (savings of 3490)

You can see that with each reward level, the savings get greater and greater and appeal directly to her ideal reader.

How did Maartje learn this pre-selling incentivized-rewards selling technique?

She took the self-paced online course, Crowdfunding for Authors, and got tons of feedback on her landing page. 

Click here to learn more about the course so you can rock your book’s pre-sale campaign.

Lessons Learned

Maartje worked with a traditional Dutch publisher and experienced all of the same writing anxiety and self-doubt every writer faces.

“I felt very vulnerable. Creating something out of nothing feels like you’re asking everyone to take a look inside your head. You cannot hide.”

“At first, I felt insecure to show people my work at an early stage. If I could do it over again, I would’ve involved people sooner in the process so I could have more time to process all of the feedback. The book is so much better with people’s input.”

Tips for your Pre-order Landing Page

1. Know your goals

Do you want a high number of pre-orders like Maartje had or are you trying to raise extra funds to cover the cost of production?

2. Keep it simple

Maartje directed people to pre-order their books on the Dutch equivalent of Amazon.

People who pre-ordered their books then filled out a simple form indicating which reward they ordered.  

Maartje offered four (4) reward tiers. Too many options will spoil the soup.

3. Offer rewards your IDEAL READER wants

Maartje was releasing a book around community development so all of her rewards were specifically targeting what people in the community development space needed and wanted.

4. Build your community FIRST

Maartje had 20 years of experience working with businesses, entrepreneurs, and developing a strong network of people who would not only support her book launch campaign but also wanted to employ her services and speaking opportunities.

Without a community of people to whom you launch your book, you’re launching to crickets.

5. Promote your pre-order campaign

Every campaign needs a deadline for people to take action. For Maartje, she started promoting her pre-order campaign on August 3 with a September 24 deadline—so nearly 60 days of promotion.

 

Would Maartje do it again?

When asked if she’d do it again, Maartje said she would definitely run a pre-order campaign like this again.

With over 1,000 books pre-ordered, future keynote speeches confirmed, and a slew of new clients, the results speak for themselves.

Bio

Maartje Blijleven is a digital community expert and has been building successful online communities since 2000.

As a co-founder of the communities IncludeNow. & WomenTalkTech knows how to start and grow a community. 

 

With We love Communities she helps entrepreneurial professionals and entrepreneurs to be successful with their own online community: for different companies, people and purposes.

Connect with Maartje at her website: https://welovecommunities.com

On Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Shine Your Light Books—Surprising Lessons Learned from 2 Kickstarter Campaigns

and so much more

Children’s book author, singer, and all-around super talent, Jessica Collaço, launched her children’s books on Kickstarter.

Her first campaign raised over $12k and her second raised over $20k!!

Find out some major lessons in audience building, publishing, and crowdfunding in this interview with Jessica.

Jessica found success on Kickstarter in 2013 and 2016 and while social media strategies may change over time, her advice is timeless.

How much audience building did you do before launching your first campaign?

 
By nature, I’m not much of a planner—I tend to go for things and figure out how fly while I’m free-falling. Not always the smartest way to conduct things, but, in this case, it worked out well.
 
For both campaigns, I did very little audience building before the campaign started, save for my usual social media posting.
 
My audience before my second campaign was built very much by my first campaign and the other readers I gained from “Firenze’s Light“.  
 

What type of preparation, education, or research did you do before launching your first campaign? 

 
I had no intentions of self-publishing. The more research I did on traditional publishing, the more I realized I would have to grind just as hard to market my book, but for less of a cut in the traditional model.
 
Each time I tried to blow off the idea of self-publishing, the perfect resource or information would show up.
 
For instance, I had no idea how to find an illustrator. A friend of mine happened to work for Jim Henson Productions and put me in touch with some interns in their art department.
 
I had no idea how to get a book printed. My cousin happened to know someone who worked for a printer in China and she talked me through the process and estimated costs.
 
Most of my research was focused on the process of self-publishing and the costs. 
 
I have a rebellious streak and have a sometimes-good-sometimes-bad habit of ignoring “the way things are supposed to be done”.
 
For my second campaign, I did a lot of research on crowdfunding and how it had evolved since my first campaign for “Firenze’s Light”. The “Firenze’s Light” campaign happened when crowdfunding was relatively new.
 
By the time I campaigned for “And So Much More”, everyone and their lost dog had a crowdfunding campaign.
 
It felt much harder to get people’s attention.
 
There were also many campaigns that raised hundreds of thousands of dollars because they had a huge marketing budget to put behind it.
 
Rather than get discouraged by the slick, meticulously planned campaigns, I stayed simple. 

As a rule, I stopped researching and worrying about too much planning, and just stuck with what worked the first time: a good story and a clear, simple campaign.
 
I did reach out to more bloggers and publications for my second campaign, but I almost felt like it would have been more valuable to spend that time directly approaching new potential backers. 
 

“I stopped researching and worrying about too much planning, and just stuck with what worked the first time: a good story and a clear, simple campaign.”

Did you get a lot of repeat backers who supported Firenze’s Light to support your second campaign?

 
I did get a lot of repeat backers and a lot of new ones as well. I made it a point to approach my original backer list first because I had faith that they would be excited about my next book. 

 

What surprised you the most about launching on Kickstarter?

I knew it would not “just happen”  after my campaign went live, but I was surprised how it was a full-time job for 30 days.
 
I spent that time texting, emailing, messaging, social media posting, singing songs, making up new reward categories, doing FB live, making videos—anything I could think of—to get more eyes on my campaign. It was non-stop—and I have 3 kids LOL. Thank goodness for my husband!
 

What advice would you give someone considering crowdfunding their book?

Keep it simple.
 
A lot of people replicate their campaigns off of the most-funded campaigns that have a huge budget and staff that can support crazy, swaggy reward tiers.
 
Even if you’re not looking at the big dogs, the smaller dogs replicated the medium dogs who replicated the big dogs.
 
Shipping and random rewards like t-shirts, plushies, and toys can eat your budget so quickly and steal your focus from getting your book made when your campaign is over.
 
My rewards were mostly books.
 
Some of my higher level rewards were illustrating people into my book, self-publishing consultations, original songs, author readings—all things that are easily deliverable and that are services rather than products.
 
None of those items had shipping costs—speaking of which-spend a lot of time budgeting out your costs including your reward shipping, taxes (you have to pay taxes on your donations), Kickstarter’s cut etc. 
 
I also love the idea of having some “back-pocket” rewards to add value throughout the campaign.
 
These are rewards that you add to the 5 or 6 base rewards after the campaign is running.
 

When you’re on day 21 of 30, no one wants to hear about your book one more time. 

But they may want to hear about that original poem you will write their kid when they pledge $100 or tier up from $25 to $100. 

It keeps things fresh and can goose someone who already backed at a lower tier to a higher one. 
“Crowdfunding is great, but I find it takes me on a detour away from selling the books I already have.
 
I simply can’t wear all of those hats at once.”

Would you launch future books (or other creative projects) on Kickstarter?

 
I am very proud that the two books I have written have funded the beginning of my third.
 
My goal has been to self-fund the rest of my books by reinvesting all my profits.
 
If I get to Spring 2020 and I need printing funds, I might consider doing a small campaign to finish up, but I’d honestly rather publish a Kindle book or two this fall and get it printed that way.
 
Crowdfunding is great, but I find it takes me on a detour away from selling the books I already have.
 
I simply can’t wear all of those hats at once.
 
If I had to chose between 30 days of Kickstarter and 30 days of creating two Kindle Books, I’ll take Kindle.
 
However, if I were starting all over again today and didn’t have that choice, I would most likely do it. 

What would you do differently?

From a crowdfunding point of view—not much.
 
From a publishing point of view—I’d have the knowledge I have now, 5 years later.
 
I know so much more about writing for the market, good covers, great titles, smart writing.
 
I’ve spent a lot of time backtracking or working around those mistakes. 
 

Anything else you’d like fellow authors to know?

 
When you are doing a crowdfunding campaign, any time you talk about it, in any group, list your link.
 
I see so many people post in FB groups about their campaign and they don’t have a link.
 
Also, have fun  and enjoy the ride! It can be thrilling.
 

Bio

jessica collaco

Tired of searching for books that both empowered and entertained, Jessica set out to write ones that do both. She loves writing books that cultivate a world with more kindness, love, peace, compassion and connection.

Connect with Jessica at shineyourlightbooks.com.

 

Check out Jessica’s books here

110 Backers on Launch Day: Advice for Getting Your Personal Network onto Kickstarter from D.K. Ackerman

princess pirates

D.K. Ackerman went into her book’s Kickstarter campaign with a very small social media presence.

By connecting with people individually, Dana was able to connect and leverage her personal network to make a big impression on Kickstarter. 

She exceeded her a goal of $5k and raised $7,085 from 214 new readers on Kickstarter for her children’s illustrated book, Princess Pirates.

Knowing the importance of launch day, Dana conducted extensive audience outreach and education prior to launch.

Find out how she secured 110 backers on Day 1 of her campaign while avoiding social media entirely in this interview with D.K. Ackerman. 

Establishing an Audience

In terms of reaching outside of my own personal network of friends and family, I didn’t do very much. Full disclosure, I hate social media!!

So, while I did get a professional Instagram and Facebook page and even looked into hashtags and did some “follow for follow” stuff, it didn’t do very much.

Probably because I just hate posting all the time though!! It’s something I’m realizing I especially need to work on now, though!

“I sent somewhere close to 300 emails or Facebook messages the week leading up to my launch date.”—D.K. Ackerman

Pre-launch campaign preparation

I did quite a bit of research into other successful campaigns in the children’s books genre. I looked at their campaign pages and videos and even messaged a few of them to ask their advice on what were the biggest things they did to gain momentum.
 
I joined author Facebook groups which were super helpful and I still learn a lot from. I talked with my brother in law who ran a super successful campaign himself about what he did, and his approach is what I really owe my success to. 
 
So, as a preface, I already said I was pretty bad at getting an audience before the campaign started, but just so you understand how small even my personal network is: I was home schooled my entire growing up years, went to two years of community college as a teenager and then transferred to a University and graduated from there after just two years. 

I married really young and had our first child and decided to stay home with her very soon afterwards, so I didn’t have any connections in the workplace really.
 
I’ve been a stay at home mom for years, and my average Facebook post gets around 30 likes or so. Not so encouraging when you are about to launch something like this!!
 
But, something my brother in law did was he sent individualized e-mails to friends and family. So, that’s what I did!
 
I sent somewhere close to 300 either emails or Facebook messages the week leading up to my launch date.
 
I tried to make as many messages as personal as I had time to.
 
I asked everyone 1). if they would back my project on DAY ONE and stressed why that was important and 2). share it with people they thought would appreciate a project like mine on day one as well.
 
That really made the biggest difference and I think was the biggest reason I was able to do what I did on my first Kickstarter. Not all of those people responded or could back my project, but a lot of them did and shared, too. 
princess pirates
Click to pre-order

Surprising aspects of the campaign

I was actually really surprised at 1). How much support I got on day one! I really stressed to everyone how important it was to get momentum on day one, but I was still so excited to see how many people paid attention ha!

And 2). I was surprised at how much support I got from Kickstarter itself.

Over 20% of my sales came directly from Kickstarter’s platform.

I was selected as one of their favorite projects and was able to become really visible.

I chose Kickstarter because I thought it would be a good way to launch my book, but I never imagined I’d get that much support just from people cruising the site!

Best advice for others

People underestimate the power of their own personal network and overestimate how much of that network sees their Facebook posts.
 
Friends and family WANT to support you, but don’t get discouraged if you post about your book and no one responds–they either didn’t see it, or didn’t realize how important it is to you.
 
Let people know what you’re doing in personal ways so they can recognize the work you’ve actually put into your project and of course they will want to support you!

Worth doing again

It is a pain in the butt getting everything done, not gonna lie!

But, not only did Kickstarter offer me a way to reach a whole set of people I couldn’t find on my own, but it also gave me the push to make sure when I launched my book to pre-order, I did it right.

Lessons learned

Oh man, this being my first Kickstarter there are so many things I’ve learned!

Next time I would make my page more fun and focus on adding graphics so it looks more engaging.

Due to a lot of complicated reasons, I didn’t actually know my start date until two weeks before I launched, which meant I couldn’t really reach out to a lot of outside sources with enough time to get the word out.

Next time I’d have a fixed launch date months before and so I can go to news organizations, influencers, and other outlets with enough time for them to get my messages and be able to create content that can come out during the Kickstarter.

As it is, I’m getting responses from people who want to feature my book now that my Kickstarter has ended.

I am also looking forward to creating a bigger following on social media (as much as it pains me to say!) before my next launch.

Advice for other authors

Having a book launch, whether through Kickstarter or on your own platform is invaluable!!

It forces you to do so may vital things like solidifying your message and why your book is important; creating content that helps people connect with your book; seeing if there is actually a market for your book; not to mention not having to invest your own money before you jump into something this big!

Kickstarter is especially awesome for finding new people who are interested in your book, but I recommend have a really clear message if you’re going to go that route.

You can have a successful pre-order launch on your own site and use your own personal network.

However, if you want to reach other groups of people Kickstarter can offer that, but the only way those other people are going to see your project is if you have a fantastic first day and make your message clear and important.

I really feel like there were so many more things I could have done.

Bio

Dana Ackerman headshot

D.K. Ackerman was schooled at home by a stay-at-home feminist and a dad who always encouraged her to chase her dreams. She graduated from BYU-Hawaii at age 19 and was married and started a family soon after.

She is now mother to three girls and boy and spends her day going on adventures with them. When she’s not with them she is helping her husband run his businesses and writing about her children. She is passionate about letting children be children and believes that creating spaces where their creativity can be limitless means their futures can be too.

Click here to pre-order Princess Pirates: https://dkackerman.com/

Need more help?

Schedule a free 20-minute session with Lisa to get customized help for your book’s crowdfunding campaign.

Click here: https://go.oncehub.com/lisaferland

5 Things Crowdfunding Authors Wished You Knew

Crowdfunding a book is not an easy task. It requires a lot of research, planning, and preparation.

Then, you deal with people’s misconceptions and misunderstandings about your goals (most people think you’re begging).

Worse yet, your well-meaning friends and family reassure you that they’ll “buy it when it’s available on Amazon,” even though you both know they won’t.

So, before you start your crowdfunding journey, here are 5 things crowdfunding authors want you to know:

#1 It’s difficult to educate people on your reasons for crowdfunding your book

Elisavet Arkolaki at Maltamum.com was shocked at how difficult it was to educate her readers on the time-sensitive nature of crowdfunding.

When the clock is ticking and the stakes are high, you have to educate your audience well in advance of your campaign launch so that everyone is on board.

Additional resources: Book Pre-launch Audience Education: Why it’s so important

Elisavet’s behind-the-scenes look at her Kickstarter campaign

#2 It’s hard to be heard on social media these days

Lindsay Achtman was surprised to discover that even posting 2x/day on her social media pages wasn’t enough to move the needle in pledges to her Kickstarter campaign.

“I need to be posting in multiple groups, at least 10 per day, to get the engagement I wanted. I had a lot of luck posting in garage sale sites (on Facebook)!”

Additional resource: The Secret to Marketing Your Book Without Annoying People

#3 Most people are confused about Kickstarter vs. GoFundMe

Rebecca Hamer says that most of her friends and family confused her Kickstarter campaign as a charity fundraiser.

“Most people had no idea how crowdfunding and Kickstarter worked. They thought it was a charity thing… I had to educate my audience on Kickstarter…”

It’s important to make clear in your audience education efforts what crowdfunding is and how it works.

Rebecca Yee Peters also struggled with the pre-order vs. donate concept during her fixed funding IndieGoGo campaign.

“Most people kept saying in posts “Donate to Rebecca’s movie.’ Even after I kept telling them it’s not a donation. People also don’t seem to realize what “all or nothing’ means. Even at 10% funded, everyone is like “you’re doing well!” I say every time “No, I don’t get to keep that money.”

Tip: Be sure to create multiple visuals explaining your goals, the process, and how they can support you. Feel free to borrow the text from the images below.

Giving thanks to the authors is always appreciated if you use these resources—share our books on social media, buy our books, or recommend them to a friend. 

#4 You can’t always rely on friends and family to support your campaign

Some authors have very generous friends and family patrons who go above and beyond (AND WE LOVE AND APPRECIATE YOU), however, some authors do not.

For those who don’t have friends and family who are interested in our books, we must rely on connecting with strangers to pre-order our books.

Connecting with strangers requires more touch points (getting the same message in front of the same people before your deadline), more time, and convincing copy.

Jennifer Senne discovered how difficult it can be to make these genuine connections during her IndieGoGo campaign and warns other authors not to rely solely on friends and family. 

Not only is it difficult to convince strangers to pre-order your book, they often cancel their pledges at the last minute, which is extra gutting when you’re running an all-or-nothing campaign.

Additional resources:  What Actually Motivates Someone to Support a Crowdfunding Campaign

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

#5 External press doesn’t usually convert into new backers

Getting external validation (bloggers, news articles, radio features, etc.,) is GREAT social proof that your book is well-received by people outside of your friends and family network but frustratingly, doesn’t always translate into new backers.

Elisavet Arkolaki explains,

“My press coverage was great but it did not lead to sales as I expected it would (0 conversion rate). I proceeded to use the press features as proof that I was doing something noteworthy.”

Sheri Wall had a disappointing outcome with the social media influencers for her IndieGoGo campaign and said, 

“I had three influencers with large email lists who said they’d share my campaign with their followers. Not one of them actually included the campaign in an email.”

Tip: Use customized links via bit.ly or Kickstarter/IndieGoGo itself to track backers coming from various sources and evaluate your return on investment. 

Want to work together 1:1?

Find out if I can help you reach your crowdfunding goals and schedule your discovery call here:

3 Last-Minute Tasks Before Launching Your Kickstarter Campaign

3 last minute tasks before launching kickstarter

You’ve already gathered hundreds of emails of people interested in your book, educated them on what to do on launch day, and had expert eyes review your campaign page, reward tiers, and video. What’s left?

Here are 3 last-minute housekeeping things you should do before going LIVE on Kickstarter or IndieGoGo to help your campaign run smoothly and efficiently.

#1 Digital housekeeping

Clean your computer and your inbox! Delete old files or save them somewhere OFF of your hard drive so you don’t accidentally send someone the wrong file.

Organize all of your folders so you can quickly and easily locate your promotional graphics, videos, and materials for posting to social media or responding to a media request.

If you don’t have a clear file naming system, now is the time to develop one for your campaign.

Time is of the essence in a time-limited campaign and you don’t have spare moments to be sorting through a million emails to locate that file you sent someone.

You REALLY don’t want your computer to say that your hard drive is full and you’re out of memory during the middle of your crowdfunding campaign so be sure you have tons of extra space and Ram to operate at full capacity.

Clean out your inbox

If you’re email is hosted by your .com domain, you might need to clean out that inbox that you never check if you use a forwarding mail service and manage your inbox with Gmail (as I do).

You’re going to be emailing people directly A LOT and you don’t want their replies to get bounced back with a “Recipient’s inbox is full” error message.

In summary: Get your digital house in order.

#2 Physical housekeeping

Get all of your cleaning and doctor’s appointments done and out of the way before you launch so that you aren’t distracted during your campaign.

Stock up on grocery staples like toilet paper, paper towels, and non-perishable goods so that your trips to the store are relatively straightforward each week.

You’re not going to want to spend extra mental energy meal planning, so get that done before you launch to free up that extra space.

(NOBODY TALKS ABOUT THESE THINGS BUT IT REALLY HELPS.)

Life stuff will come up anyway—unexpected illnesses, WiFi outages, and life interruptions that are beyond your control.

Unless you’re looking for a break, don’t schedule extra things to your day if you can help it. You’re going to want to focus on your campaign as much as possible during this 30-day period.

In summary: Control the things that are within your control.

#3 Schedule ALL of your social media posts

If you’re sick, your WiFi is down, or Facebook locks you out because you’ve been messaging too many people too quickly, you’re going to want your social media posts already scheduled in the hopper.

This doesn’t mean that you “set it and forget it” as you should also be posting spontaneously, but you should have at least one post on Facebook scheduled every day of your campaign.

Write your blogs beforehand, create all of your graphics, and plan out your communications campaign in great detail.

In summary: Proper planning prevents poor performance.

Have more questions about crowdfunding your book?

Writer’s Block is a Privilege

Did you know that the keyword, “writer’s block” is Googled 9,000 times/month?

Nine thousand times. It looks like a lot of writers experience writer’s block and while we all feel blocked or discouraged at times, writer’s block is a privilege.

“I don’t know what to write.”

“I know what to write but the words come out all wrong.”

If you are in a position where you don’t have to write to pay your bills, you are privileged. 

I’m privileged—tremendously. I’ve been blocked on my Christmas story for months. I had something written but it’s ridiculously awful and I can’t bring myself to mold it into something better.

Why?

Because I don’t have to.

I can work on other projects, tackle  my marketing logistics for my other books, and distract myself with other shiny objects. 

The privilege of being blocked

Cassie Gonzales cited writer’s block as privilege at the Stockholm Writers Festival when asked how she overcomes occasional blockages.

“It’s a total privilege to have writer’s block, isn’t it? My mom is a copper mine truck driver in Arizona and she has written her books on her iPad while sitting in the cab of her truck.

She has one minute while the truck is being loaded up and in that minute, she writes as much as she can. Her books read like they’ve been written in one minute chunks because they have. But she has manuscripts written down on paper.

Anytime I want to complain about writer’s block, I think about my mother and what she’s overcame to write her books.”

Tips from other writers on overcoming writer’s block

“I have a Spotify playlist for each of my characters and mood boards for each character. Whenever I start to feel stuck, I start to listen to that character’s playlist to get me back into the mood.” —Jess Lourey

“Set word count goals. Everyone can write one sentence at a time.” —Paul Rapacioli

Manipulate your emotions to break a block—it doesn’t mean your writing will be good but you’ll get unstuck.”—Cassie Gonzales

 

Everyone gets stuck sometimes

Your first draft is going to be horrible but nobody is going to see it so keep writing.

Everyone is really uncomfortable with their writing at first and it’s only until draft #10-#70 that you start to feel like a genius.

To break through my Christmas story rhyming disaster, I’m listening to Christmas music on YouTube, reading rhyming quatrains for inspiration, and putting words down on paper that will never see the light of day.

The best way to break writer’s block is to write.

Write down any words that come into your mind and eventually, your mind will spit out something worth keeping.