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

Tools of the Craft: Introduction to Scrivener

As a writer, I’ve been using Microsoft Word for decades. I’ve written everything from my highschool and college exams to character backgrounds and drafts of important forum posts on it. And, of course, my stories.

It’s certainly not all I’ve ever known. I’ve dabbled with a few other word processors, but not specifically for writing fiction and not with a terribly great deal of energy. Usually it will be a passing, quick review. Enough to let me know what I think of it, but never enough to truly know it. Then I started hearing about Scrivener.

I wasn’t sure about this one. I love the idea of new toys, but they are often just that – something I toy with for a few hours and then forget. It rusts on my hard drive for a matter of months before I end up culling it in my next search for free space. And then my wife happened to be talking with a coworker about writing, and she said she uses Scrivener. And it had a free 30 day trial.

Like all software trials, I figured this was a narrow window to see if I really like a thing. But after hesitating for a few more weeks and reading a couple reviews on the program, I ended up giving in to my curiosity. Then I discovered it. It was a 30 day trial, but not a bomb-timer sort of trial, with the countdown ever looming overhead and urging you to make the most of your time while you still can. No, this is a stopwatch trial. If you use it a day, then walk away for a week, you still have 29 days remaining. Plus you can still export any work even when the trial is expended, so if you did produce anything useful, you can get it into another file format to continue working on it there should you decide not to purchase the program in full.

Scrivener in a very complicated, spaceage layout. Don’t let it intimidate you, it doesn’t look like that very often. (Unless you want it to)

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