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/

You might also enjoy

How to set up your own crowdfunding-esque pre-order system

The best month to launch your book’s campaign

5 Obstacles Crowdfunding authors want you to know before you launch

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 free 20-min consultation 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?

Click here to book a free 20-min chat with me to see if you need a customized strategy.

Angela Castillo Launches a Little Narwhal on Kickstarter

Angela Castillo has authored 30 books ranging from Christian fiction, random fairy tales, and now children’s fiction.

She decided to launch her latest children’s book on Kickstarter with a modest goal of $1200 and I wanted to find out more about her experience.

But even modest goals require a TON of work and effort and Angela details her work below.

You’ve successfully published a lot of other books—mainly adult fiction—what made you decide to set up a Kickstarter campaign for your children’s book?

I chose to launch a Kickstarter for this book mainly because kid’s books are more expensive! Since I’m not an artist, I needed help with funding for art and formatting. Also, I’m a marketer at heart, so I saw Kickstarter as an excellent way to reach a new audience.

What type of research did you conduct before launching?

I grilled authors who had done crowdfunding projects similar to mine. I also spent hours and days scrutinizing other Kickstarter campaigns, studying their reward tiers and videos.

The great thing about Kickstarter is they keep a project up for all eternity after it ends so that you can look at thousands of projects relating to yours.

I also read tons of very helpful blog articles, including several by an amazing Kickstarter Queen. Lisa, what was it? Ferland? You might have heard of her. Anyway, she’s great.

What was the most time-intensive part of the planning or crowdfunding process?

My established audience was primarily adults, so I started from scratch to find an audience interested in children’s books.

I spent about five months before my Kickstarter campaign launched creating giveaways, writing blog articles geared toward parents, and sending out a kid-related newsletter.

I was building my kid-focused audience while trying to maintain my adult audience. Not easy!

What surprised you the most about crowdfunding on Kickstarter?

Even though my goal was to reach new readers, I was amazed by the number of backers who were drawn in by Kickstarter alone–about 60 percent.


(Lisa’s note: 60% Kickstarter-only backers is fairly high for books. Most book campaigns garner 1%-20% new folks from Kickstarter)

You received a Kickstarter Project We Love recognition—do you think you saw an increase in backers due to that?

Kickstarter has a nifty tool that shows you where your backers are drawn from. I had exactly one supporter because of the Projects We Love. Not complaining—every supporter counts!

Even though it was an honor to be chosen, it’s something they give out to a lot of people, so you end up being one of maybe a dozen per day. I was still thrilled to receive it. Very validating after working your guts off on something.

What advice would you give someone considering crowdfunding their book?

a. Listen to advice from people who’ve had success and failure.


b. Make sure you have an excellent product with commercial appeal.


c. Do the math. Have someone help you run through every possible expense.


d. Prepare for international backers. I charged extra for international shipping and I had over a dozen backers from other countries who paid way more than I would have expected for a little paperback book. But you have to prepare; otherwise, international shipping can eat up your profit very quickly.


e. Set realistic goals. For instance, let’s say you want hardcover copies, but that would add 3,000.00 to your budget. If you think it’s doable, go for it. But publishing your book and paying for illustrations out the gate is more important, set your focus on that. You can always do hardcover as a stretch goal.


f. Remember, you have to deliver. I only had to ship out about 50 books but manually package, address, and stick on the postage. It’s a lot of work and was rather daunting.

g. Set aside a few months of your life. It takes a ton of time and effort to do this right. Don’t expect to launch it and let it run by itself.

Do you think you’ll crowdfund your books in the future?

I’m too fresh off this one right now. Ask me again in a year!

If you could do anything over again, what would it be?

I would not stress so much in the middle. I was freaking out because I hadn’t fully funded in three days.

It’s really a marathon, not a sprint.

Anything else you’d like fellow authors to know?

This publishing journey is an expression of art and creativity.

When we get caught up in the finances of fundraising, I think we can lose sight of that.

It’s important to take time and remember why we are creating this book. In my case, it’s because I love it. I don’t ever want to lose that passion because of stress.

Check out Little Narwhal's Day on Amazon

Bio

Angela Castillo is an Amazon best-selling author from Bastrop, Texas who loves to ramble in the woods and explore eccentric shops. She writes Christian fiction, children’s fiction, and random fairy tales, as well as freelance blog articles. Her work has appeared in publications such as Thema and The First Line. She homeschools four little explorer/creators. Click here to find her books on Amazon. 

Click here to check out her Kickstarter campaign.

 

Avoid these common mistakes—click here to get more info

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! 

How to Build a Collaborative Author-Illustrator Relationship

A great book is always created in collaboration.

There are writers, editors, designers, illustrators, and printers who all work together as a team.

An essential component of the team is the relationship between the writer and the illustrator. If you’re not the illustrator yourself, you have to explain your vision for each page.

If you don’t have a vision for your book, you should hire an illustrator who has a style that you love. By hiring them, you are asking them to create your vision in their style.

How to build a strong collaborative author-illustrator relationship

Short answer: develop a relationship built on mutual respect and trust

Long answer: read below

Synchrodestiny

Synchrodestiny, coined by Deepak Chopra, is about taking advantage of unpredictable moments in your life.

“You need to notice things that happen in your life that are out of the ordinary,” Dr. Chopra. “Seize that moment of unpredictability and ask ‘what’s the opportunity?'”

What are your goals?

If you are writing a stand alone book and you aren’t going to have a long-term relationship with your illustrator, then “dating around” might not be as important to you. Finding the right personality fit isn’t as important as finding an artist with the style you love and budget to match your bank account.

If you’re going to create a series, you’ll want to have consistent illustrations in all of the books, so finding someone you can work with long-term is important.

Finding the right person who is open to building that relationship with you takes time, effort, and energy, but it is so worthwhile.    

Work with people you trust

So many indie authors are looking for illustrators and they search portfolios, scan websites, and proceed with necessary caution and hesitation.

There is a real fear of intellectual property theft and copyright infringement on both sides of an author-illustrator relationship.

You also have to balance creative style, personality, method of working together, and of course, budget.

When people ask me about how I chose my illustrator, I tell them that we had a relationship established first.

That’s quite an unpopular answer because most people don’t want to invest the emotional labor in creating that relationship.

Finding an illustrator

You can search Facebook groups, Instagram, or artists’ websites and portfolios but in all cases, I recommend casting the net far and wide.

There is the right illustrator out there who matches your style and budget perfectly, you just need to find them.

I’m a firm believer in serendipity, or as Dr. Chopra says, synchrodestiny, because the best collaborations in my life have all sort of “fallen together.”

Over the past few months, I’ve been contacted by authors and illustrators asking for help and advice with their Kickstarter campaigns.

Pei Jen, a new illustrator on the scene, contacted me when her first book went live on Kickstarter. She had some questions on how to get more eyes on the campaign.

Building a relationship

A few weeks turned into months and we communicated back and forth via Facebook Messenger.

We chatted about the business aspect of self-publishing, as it’s not always straightforward, and over time, we developed a relationship built on mutual respect and trust.

Because I knew I’d be working closely with my illustrator over the next year to develop the three books in my series, I really wanted to be sure that I had a collaborative relationship with my illustrator.

I also wanted them to be somewhat interested in the books they were illustrating and not just a transactional “gig” like you find on Fiverr.

Building something together

Once you start working with your illustrator, be sure to understand each other’s work flow.

  • Are you going to communicate via email, messenger, WhatsApp? 
  • Will they send you a sketch first?
  • Will they place the text on each illustration or will you hire someone else to do that?
  • Talk with them about empty space for text as they’ll need to accommodate that into their art
  • Do you want single page or full page spreads? Maybe a combination of both.
  • Where will they place the final image files?

Pei Jen and I discussed the concept of the book and the direction of the entire series as a whole. She immediately had ideas and brought her creativity to the table.

“I want to be sure there are diverse characters in the story, so please include kids of different races and ethnicities.”

“Of course. Every child should see themselves in the book,” she replied.

Perfect.

New sketches and illustrations came through Facebook Messenger and my heart raced every time I got a ping from Pei Jen.

The book was coming together in ways that I never could’ve imagined.

She took my vision and brought her own creativity to the book to elevate the entire story.

She was incredibly responsive to my suggested edits and together, we found a harmonious way of working together.

Nurture relationships—both professional and personal

You never know who will become central in your life and when you’ll need their help the most, so my advice is to nurture relationships and see where they lead.

Build trust through communication, consistency, and generosity and you may be surprised what happens.

Take a look at Pei Jen’s artwork in our first collaborative effort together:

When the Clock Strikes on Halloween

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

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