Kickstarter for Writers – biweekly Update 2

Well, my biweekly update nearly turned into a… erm, biweekly update. I had this drafted prior to the weekend but just now got to firing it off. Let’s review, shall we?

The Kickstarter In Motion

I mentioned last time that you can see information concerning how many people have followed your shortened bit.ly links to your campaign (including the one provided by Kickstarter automatically). Kickstarter also houses some tracking for the same purposes directly in their site for those people running a campaign.

Currently, there are 10 days and $2,230 left in our campaign. Kicktraq (which is a pretty cool site, complete with a web plugin that lets you see info directly from a Kickstarter page) currently trends our project at hitting just under the $400 mark, which is based off momentum (when/how many/how much as far as backers and pledgers).

Classic scenarios dictate that the final week is one of the best chances for a campaign if people feel a sense of urgency.

Spreading the Word

Several weeks ago we announced the Kickstarter on our blogs and on Facebook. We also sent letters to friends and family to try and garner support – not just in pledges, but also in word of mouth to help the message spread even further. Within the last two weeks we also put out online press releases on pr-log.org and similar sites. We spread the same release to about eight local newspapers. Only one paper responded, and though they wouldn’t mention the campaign because they considered that to be a paid advertising issue, they did do a small interview and a piece in the paper on my wife and her book.

Our latest attempt in the two-week-crunch also involves posting flyers. Bit.ly provides a nifty QR code image you can add to a document to let smartphones navigate the link, and a quick search for kickstarter campaign flyers provided lots of similar ideas out there from previous campaigns. $20 at a local Staples later and we have a small run of color flyers to spread around in one last attempt to find some backers.

From Whence our Backers Come

The Backer report on Kickstarter.com also provides a clean list of your backers. Everyone can see the list of user names when you reach the 10 backer point, but as the person running the campaign you can always see who and how much, as well as what reward level they’ve selected. In our case, our current backer count is only at 4. And we know them all, as three are family and one a very close friend. The irony is that not only have we not had a single public backer, but we contacted over 25 family members (not including the 3 that are current backers) with letters, and recently followed up last week with Facebook wall posts to remind them of the deadline. None of those family members have ever shared, liked, or pledged to our campaign, though as I said a moment ago, one friend did.

Our original expectations were to find a mix of public and personal backers, and we had hoped that the local community might bring enough support to help carry the cause. Remember – we aren’t trying to sell our book on Kickstarter, nor trying to write the book – it’s already written. You can buy it several different places, including as a $3 eBook. The Kickstarter is to try and get enough funds to purchase a bulk print run so we can sell that same book that Amazon wants $19.99 for, at about $10-$12 at your local library during a book tour.

It’s also interesting that several acquaintances have approached me about our campaign, my wife’s book, etc. They asked how its going, what it costs and how it all works. I gladly explained it to them, and they expressed interest in backing, and asked for a link, which I provided. Yet I’m not sure we’ll ever see them in the list. It would be one thing if I had hounded them about it, covering their cars with sticky notes and stalking them until they pledged. I didn’t do so. I mentioned it once or twice to the group in which they were present, didn’t speak of it again for two weeks, and then had been asked by them about the status of the campaign and how they might get a copy of the book. Why talk about pledging for something if you really aren’t interested in it? I’m not a telemarketer your trying to placate over the phone so you can go back to watching Game of Thrones on your DVR.

~Meredith Purk

Kickstarter for Writers – biweekly Update 1

I decided to try and capture a moment a couple times each week to talk about our Kickstarter campaign, currently running until May 9th. But not the campaign itself and what we hope to do, but more about how we’re doing it and how others may try the same thing.

I’m only three days into the campaign, and I’m already seeing a few mistakes I’ve made. At least I’m catching some of them early, so hopefully we can go from there.

Let Them See the Story

My first mistake was accidentally forgetting to include a link to the online book preview. Google books does a decent job of letting people search/look inside my wife’s first book. But so do all the online retailers (usually a 20% preview or so). Sure, we talked about the premise in the Kickstarter video and we included the synopsis and book trailer on the page. But people should be able to find what they need.

Market Yourself and Your Dream – Not Just Your Rewards

I’d been so caught up in the rewards we wanted to offer people and to make sure they understood everything in advance so there wouldn’t be too many questions, that when my wife and I drafted the Kickstarter page we spent a lot of energy describing the reward levels. Now I can’t say that is bad in and of itself, but I think we need to market the story and the dream itself as much, if not more. We’ll trim down on some of the prose relating to reward/pledge levels and inject more of our personal story as well as that of the book.

Some Cool Tricks

Since I’m here, I may as well talk about a few nifty things I’ve found along the course of this adventure so far. As I learn more, I’ll definitely share them as well.

Shorten that URL

For one, I knew that from the Kickstarter campaigns I had backed in the past, Kickstarter project URLs are often ghastly things, long and thin and dangerously complex. It’s not the type of website address that is pretty too look at. So, the best thing to do is to rein it in and shorten it with something like bit.ly, that way its a little easier to share.

Now, it still won’t be very pretty or memorable (but something like ‘http://kck.st/ZBdgyl‘ is much more manageable than the alternative, direct address). But here is something else I found out – bit.ly lets you view stats about a link that has been shortened by their service. Add a ‘+’ to the end of the link, and suddenly you can see how many clicks its had and where they were directed from. Very cool, no? And because you’ll want to know how many people are actually LOOKING at your Kickstarter campaign (even if they aren’t actually backing it as yet) this can not only give you a better indication of traffic to your page, but where your promotion is paying off – are people coming from your blog, a guest post on another site, or that expensive ad campaign your running?

Do a Little Math

I’m a spreadsheet sort of guy. Yeah, I know, it’s scary to some and boring to others. But at least do yourself a favor and calculate out what you’ll have to work with after your funding goal, provided you meet the minimum. That is, your goal should be set to provide you with the minimum amount you need to launch your project! Otherwise, what’s the point of the goal? Sure, there is nothing wrong with hoping you surpass that and go on to raise even more. But all the credit card fees, the Kickstarter fees, and cost of shipping/handling and purchase of any physical rewards: All these things come off the top.

In our case, we needed somewhere between $900-$1000 to pull off our print run and book tour advertisements. Our goal of $2,500 may seem to be almost three times that amount, but if we meet just that twenty-five hundred, we’ll walk away with about $900 for the project.

While your at it, it doesn’t hurt to run some numbers on the amount of people who may need to see the campaign page in order to have enough potential backers for success. What I mean is, assume a pessimistic model of one hundred views is equal to 1 pledge (i.e., 1% backer rate). The most common pledge level for Kickstarter campaigns has been found to range from $25-$50. So, to take it another step further: If 1% of people who view our campaign decide to pledge about $25, then we would need to reach 10,000 people with our ad.

On the internet that is doable but definitely hard. (I mean, if we were reaching that large of a base already, we’d have sold at least 100 copies of the book if you make the same pessimistic 1%-to-purchase assumption).

Wrap Up

As we currently stand, we’ve got 27 days and some change in the campaign, and raised $145 so far (just a little over 5% of the goal). Our blogs, the Through the Eyes of A Stranger Facebook page, and a personal letter to family and friends have been the leading push so far.

The biggest challenge will be finding a champion or two who is excited enough to help share the campaign. Meanwhile, we’re going to see if we can convince a local newspaper or two to share something about this endeavor.

Until next time,

~Meredith Purk

Kickstarter has a Green Light

Yes, that’s right, I said ‘Kickstarter.’ Not that I haven’t said it a lot of times before, but this is different. My wife and I have been wracking our brains on ways to promote her book, and locally (in person, with physical books) is what we would like to do.

The downside to that, as Michelle can testify, is that books through print-on-demand are expensive. So we went through our finances and came to the conclusion that we don’t have $900 to spare. I suggested we all stop eating, but I guess we have to feed our teenage kids or something? I don’t know, I think they already eat a couple times a day, which is a little extravagant if you ask me.

Anywhoo, the decision came to put together a Kickstarter campaign. I’ve been itching to dive under the hood for some time now, and we definitely have a need: There are books, promotional items, travel expenses, news paper ads – all sorts of stuff in the wings if we want to launch a book tour. We submitted our project for review on Thursday, and Friday evening we got the green light of approval back from the Kickstarter staff. So that means on Tuesday, April 9th we’re going to launch a 30 day campaign for Through the Eyes of A Stranger – The Book Tour!

It’s a little bit of a downer that this takes place during such a good writing month, but our schedules aligned (somewhat) for the launch and planning phases. We’re going to be busy once we kick off the campaign but regardless of what happens it should be exciting!

~Meredith Purk