Using a crowdsourcing platform such as Kickstarter had never occurred to me as a way to fund a novel, but Author and PR professional Alex Greenwood used it successfully to launch his third book, Pilate’s Ghost. He reached $1600, or 106% of his goal, from 38 backers in just 3 weeks. Some crowdsourcing projects never reach their target, but Alex not only found success, he shared his experience in a 22-page e-book that is only 99 cents. You can buy the book here.
What is Kickstarter?
First, if you’re not familiar with Kickstarter, it’s an online platform launched in 2009 to fund creative projects by photographers, authors, inventors. As of this writing, 7.4 million people have pledged $1 billion, funding 73,000 creative projects. They have certain rules you follow when you launch your initiative with them, namely that it must represent a project that you want to share with others, and it can’t be used for charity fundraising, but the project is owned by you. To sustain the platform, Kickstarter maintains a portion of the fees contributed.
Who is Alex Greenwood?
Alex Greenwood is a Kansas City, Missouri-based PR pro who had already written two award-nominated mystery/thrillers as part of his John Pilate’s series, and wanted to raise money to help produce the third book in paperback version as well as cover recording costs for a future audio version. Paperback versions, as we know, are expensive to produce, and it takes a long time to recoup the investment. His third book in the series loomed, and he admits he was “fascinated” with ways to cut out the middle man. “That’s the same reason I embraced indie publishing — I don’t have to appeal to gatekeepers like agents and publishers to get my work in front of the public. I like the idea of letting the market decide if my work is worth it or not. That’s the same way crowdfunding works. If you can credibly demonstrate you are creating a worthwhile product, people will line up to support you. If not, you don’t get funded. That’s democratic and fair, if you ask me!” So in July 2012, he started a 21-day campaign for Pilate’s Ghost.
I love that he took the time to share what he feels he did right and wrong in his crowdfunding approach by creating a brief e-book about it at a great price. [And here’s a link on Amazon to check out all of his works in the Pilate’s series as well].
Some highlights from his self-analysis in the e-book:
He asked for what he needed financially, not what he wanted. That gives the backers a sense they are propelling you and giving you momentum, not giving you a free ride. The length of the campaign, 3 weeks, gave a sense of urgency (which we know from my earlier review of “The Small Big” book by Martin, Goldstein, and Cialdini helps motivate people to ACT). He created a fun video, because projects on Kickstarter that have videos have a better success rate. He emphasizes NO SPAM – he only sent one email to family and friends, and only to those who had expressed support all along of his books. “Plenty of my family and friends want me to succeed, but mystery novels or reading in general just doesn’t interest them, and everyone has priorities about where their money goes.”
He looks at the role that social media played in his success, and focused on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. His advice – engage your base of fans, friends and family on Facebook and Twitter, but do it without being a “nudge” if you can.
He’s candid, too, with what he feels he did wrong, such as starting such a fundraiser over the July 4th weekend, when most people were away. In hindsight, he would have started media outreach earlier, thinking he was too hesitant and shaky in his confidence to feel it was a newsworthy story. He would have commissioned the book cover design earlier so he could show it off and possibly make the project more concrete in the minds of potential backers. For more of his frank tips, download his e-book or audible format.
His final words of wisdom when using crowdfunding – Believe in yourself. Be organized. Be creative and credible. Be a person of your word. Be resilient.
Have you thought of using Kickstarter for your next book? If you have some proven success and credibility as an author, it could be a very worthwhile strategy.
Kickstarter Success Secrets: You can Succeed at Crowdfunding, by Alex Greenwood, e-book, Caroline Street Press, 2012, .99
Featured photo credit: www.iStock.com/constasmile
Kickstarter logo: Courtesy of Kickstarter
Headshot: Courtesy of Alex Greenwood
h/t to Barb Walter Harris for telling me about Alex!