A.J. Walkley on Kickstarter
Over the past two weeks, I have been living and breathing almost nothing but Kickstarter.
I launched a campaign to fund the publication of my third novel, Vuto, on April 9th after about a week and a half of research and tweaks to my project. I set a goal of $3,000 to cover publication costs and figured it would be a challenge to meet that goal - but not an impossibility. The outcome thus far has exceeded my expectations to say the least!
By my ninth day, I had met and then exceeded that goal.
The speed with which this happened shocked me - despite my daily efforts to get my Kickstarter out to friends, family and fans, the statistics I had seen in my research noted that fiction projects specifically were very difficult to fund on this platform; less than 30% meet their goals. I was sure I could make at least half of my goal with the help of family and friends, but I figured the second half from strangers and potential readers would be more difficult to attain. I was expecting to get down to the last week of the campaign and dedicating every waking hour to getting to that $3,000 mark.
It turns out, that was not the case at all.
I've compiled the following tips that worked extremely well for me on this platform and will hopefully benefit the next fiction writer who aims to use Kickstarter to crowd fund their next book:
1. Reach out to friends, family and fans personally through email and direct messaging.
This is the #1 way to fund your campaign right off the bat. I think 95% of my current backers were attracted to the project and ultimately chose to donate as a result of direct, personal messages. It's time consuming, but WELL WORTH it! Also, don't restrict the people you message. When I started out, I was a bit hesitant to reach out to high school friends and past coworkers I hadn't spoken to offline in many years - but once I got over that hesitation, those same people ended up being some of my most generous backers!
2. Reach out to blogs to feature your Kickstarter campaign - and blog yourself!
I was able to secure three posts my first week and two my second week on various book blogs; I also wrote two blogs for The Huffington Post and kept people apprised of the project's progress on my own blog. I additionally set up an IAmA thread on Reddit for people to ask me any questions at all about my book that my project was funding. I'd suggest lining up at least two guest blogs or interviews each week your Kickstarter is up to keep people interested and to draw new viewers in. If you can do this prior to the launch, even better.
3. Offer rewards for multiple donation levels, starting at $1.
When backers can donate just $1 and get a reward (even just a postcard and a shout out on the creator's blog), more people will be willing to donate. Most people have a buck to spare and when they see that you are rewarding all donation levels starting at $1, some may be more willing to donate even more than that. I found this out from searching for other Kickstarter projects that I myself wanted to back - those with rewards starting at $10 or $15 were off-putting to me, while those with a minimum donation of $1 to $3 made me want to contribute more.
4. Feature your Kickstarter campaign on all of your social media platforms.
You should be posting on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube and your personal website. My web designer friend was able to make me a button for my home page within the first couple of days of my launch, directing visitors to my Kickstarter page. I also made sure I posted all of my project messaging across all of my active social media platforms on a daily basis.
5. Search Twitter for hashtags related to the content of your book.
While there are some people who believe tweeting to strangers to promote a crowd funding campaign is not a best practice, my experience has proven otherwise. My book, Vuto, takes place in Malawi, Africa; it centers on a Malawian woman and a female Peace Corps volunteer; and I would consider it to be in the Women's Fiction category. Thus, I searched for hashtags including #Malawi, #Africa, #women, #PeaceCorps and #amreading. Not only did I use these hashtags in my tweets about my Kickstarter, but I also tweeted to individuals who were utilizing such hashtags. I definitely garnered some followers and donations using this method.
I would be remiss not to mention the incredible support Rocket Science Productions (RSP) has provided me through this process. Not only has their advice been much appreciated, but RSP also offered one free eBook of several RSP titles to backers who donated during the first week of the campaign. This proved to be a great way to get me over my $3,000 goal on the last day this additional reward was being offered.
I am still learning more as my campaign continues - it ends the morning of May 9th. I'm excited about sharing more tips and tricks with my fellow authors and hope to be a source of advice to anyone who decides to use Kickstarter in the future.
***Although this project is fully funded, donations are still welcome. Additional funds will be used for marketing, including but not limited to book tours and other events. ***