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.

 

 

Should I Run a Kickstarter Campaign During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

should i crowdfund my book coronavirus

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

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

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

Reasons to Continue Marketing Your Books During the Coronavirus Pandemic

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

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

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

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

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

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

Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs Need to Fight Extra Hard

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

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

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

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

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

See it as a Learning Opportunity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

buddy dog coffee dennis glennon
Photo credit: Dennis Glennon Photography

The World Needs Artists to Continue Working

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

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

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

Competition is more fierce than ever.

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

Advice if You Plan to Crowdfund Right Now

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

buddys magic window dennis glennon

Keep Asking for the Sale

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

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

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

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

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

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

But without asking, we will fail.

Artists Can Help Others Heal in Times of Crisis

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

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

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

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

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

We help heal in a time of crisis.

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

Crowdfunding is Tough No Matter When You Launch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ask me in 2 weeks.

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

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

Keeping it positive!

dennis glennon photography

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

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

Continue Reading

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

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

Why Your Book Sales Numbers Tell Only Half the Story

book sales analytics lisa ferland

Book Sales Don’t Tell the Full Story

Indie authors, mainly, love to focus on SALES as a measure of success. Authors must understand that there are many models and paths to publication.

How many books did you sell? What’s your Amazon Best Seller Ranking?

A great benefit to social media is that we can connect with fellow authors around the world and learn what they are doing.

However, there is a dark side to seeing too often what our fellow authors are doing.

It can feel a bit disappointing to think that your well-written, professionally edited, and beautiful books are super successful only to see a Facebook post by another author with better book sales numbers.

It is hard not to allow doubt to creep into the picture if your amazing book isn’t selling as well as the rather mediocre books that claim to be “bestsellers.”

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”—Theodore Roosevelt

couple having a dialogue

Think back to the pre-Internet era where writers could keep their heads down and clack on typewriter keys until something slightly publishable emerged.

Professional comparisons and rivalries still happened to the likes of Hemingway and Fitzgerlad, sure, but they weren’t reading daily claims of literary success by their peers in closed Facebook groups.

Perhaps that’s why Thoreau isolated himself on Walden Pond.

He was probably tired of seeing others’ books sales and massive book tours plastered all over his Facebook newsfeed.

“I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time.”

Henry David Thoreau

Maybe we should all find a virtual cabin in the woods. A place where we are insulated from Facebook notifications, and indie book sales brags.

If you find yourself peeking over at other author’s shoulders more often than writing your work, it might be time to turn OFF all social media notifications until your writing is solidly underway.

Comparison Can Be Useful

Sometimes, what we don’t know does hurt us. Knowledge is paramount to remove fictitious barriers we construct that block us from success.

For example, before I met children’s book authors Laurie Wright and Diane Alber, I had no idea that it was feasible to sell 50-100 books/day per title.

I had no idea.

After hiring them as mentors and learning from them, I discovered how much effort and marketing dollars go into getting those numbers. Without that knowledge, I wouldn’t know it was possible.

While knowledge is vital, we’ll still make mistakes even with those expert insights from mentors plowing the field before us.

Authors Don’t Usually Discuss Their Marketing Spend

One thing that many authors keep close to their vests is the amount of money they put into marketing.

Authors are thrilled to share their sales numbers, but they remain reluctant to share their ad spend. Why?

Well, it’s a lovely thought to believe that our books are selling well because they are wonderfully written, well-edited, and professionally illustrated or designed and NOT because we’re spending tons of money to market them.

But in many cases, mediocre books with large marketing budgets will routinely outsell beautiful, well-written books with smaller marketing budgets.

That’s how marketing works.

It takes a lot of money to stand out in front of potential readers in a crowded market.

For example, to market my Halloween book, I spent $5k on Amazon and Facebook ads over a six-week marketing blitz. I had studied, planned, and added fuel to the fire when my return on advertising was optimal. My SALES were terrific.

However, sales are only half of the picture.

If you looked at my balance sheet and saw all of the expenses I incurred to achieve those sales, you’d have a different story. You’d have the whole story.

comparison book sales apples to oranges

Don’t Let Comparison Steal Your Joy

So, in summary, comparing your progress to others’ can be a learning experience.

It’s important to be inspired by other authors’ success, but you can’t dwell in that space for long.

If you can’t help comparing yourself to someone, it’s better to become a measuring stick yourself. Compare your book sales with your previous years’ book sales.

If you have a seasonal book, use your first year as a baseline to compare future sales so you can see where you can improve.

Keep track of your monthly sales and marketing efforts so you can try to identify what techniques or marketing outlets were fruitful and which ones to drop for next time.

We are fortunate to be working in a medium that never expires, and books that are over 30 years old can be at the top of the bestseller charts.

Remember, it’s never too late to be a bestseller, so don’t let comparison rob you of your joy.

Go Deeper

Learn to Hook Your Audience using Tricks from Disney/Pixar
The Three Layer Approach to Writing Excellent Dialogue
Overcome Procrastination With These 4 Tips

Animal lovers take over Kickstarter: Opossum Opposites by Gina Gallois

Opossum opposite cover square

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

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

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

What surprised you the most about running your Kickstarter campaign?

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

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

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

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

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

What was the best aspect of crowdfunding your campaign?

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

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

What was the worst aspect of your campaign?


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

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

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

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

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

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

You said you build your audience from zero.

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

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

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

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

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

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

What advice did you receive that helped you the most?


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

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

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

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


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

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

Would you crowdfund your book again?

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

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

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

Final thoughts?

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

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

Bio

Gina Gallois bio

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

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

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

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

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

Instagram @artemisopossum

 

Are you interested in crowdfunding your book in 2020?

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

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

Want to know more?

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

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

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

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 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!