Sunday, January 19, 2014

What Works? Online Marketing Symposium - Kickstarter

"Do you ever wonder why some books become bestsellers while others can barely be given away? Why some businesses succeed and others fail? How does a blog post or a YouTube video manage to go viral? Is it a matter of luck or is there some magic formula for success?"

This is a blog hop! Follow this link to where Ninja Alex introduces the event and scroll down a bit to find other bloggers participating!

I'm writing on the subject of Kickstarter because I just ran a successful project for my debut fantasy novel - A Sawmill's Hope. I'm fully aware that what works for one person won't necessarily work for another, so I'll simply tell you what worked for me. I'm not going into great detail on my video or the prizes I offered. Those decisions were made as a result of comparing about 20 similar projects and taking extensive notes.

What worked
Facebook - Before I launched the Kickstarter I went on Facebook and dug through my entire friends list. I found the individuals who I believed would care and I proposed to them - "If you click 'share' when the event goes live, I'll give you a free book."
Each message I wrote was personalized, even to individuals I hadn't spoken to in years. It was easy because I believed in the project and I wasn't asking them for money. Just a moment of their time.
Most agreed. And most shared. I sent people the link to share throughout the duration of the event, several people per day so as to keep Facebook saturated throughout the event. There were people from all over North America sharing the Kickstarter. And not only did they share, but their friends shared and so did their friends' friends. Some even pledged.

Blog - I spoke about the Kickstarter several times before the project and then again several times during. I was as open as I could be, sharing details on the event, the video, the illustrator and editor I planned to hire, the artwork, the prizes and, of course, my heart in the matter. Several blogging friends took the initiative and helped spread the word during the event. Several pledged as well.

**Before I go on, please know that I didn't grovel for pledges. I tried not to even come out and ask (although I kind of did toward the end). I wholeheartedly believed in the project and I believed if the right set of eyes were to fall upon it, magic would ensue. I stayed positive on my blog and on Facebook and Twitter and wherever else, despite the raging storm of doubt inside me.**

What maybe worked

Enrichment - By about 1/3 of the way through the project, it occurred to me that people were genuinely interested in reading my book. I was a bit surprised... I don't honestly know why. Maybe I'd just never felt that gratification. It was pretty amazing. So I decided to "Enrich the Kickstarter" by offering secrets of the world of Silexare or the development of the story to anyone who would make any pledge whatsoever.
At one point Arianne "Tex" Thompson used the phrase "Silexare Army" for those who'd already pledged. I adopted it wholeheartedly and occasionally addressed my pledgers as if we were the front line of a great raging battle. Good times.

**If you follow my steps, I urge you not to be surprised when people pledge. Plan for people to love your story. After all, you do. And if your heart is in it, I promise you'll find more than a couple kindred souls. You just need to push your project to as many people as you can.
Now, we can't all have Nicholas Spark amounts of kindred souls... But I'd be superbly surprised if your heart is so unique that no one else on earth can identify.

Holiday Season - I couldn't tell you what's the best time to launch a Kickstarter project for a fantasy fiction novel. But that I launched mine in the North American season of giving didn't seem to hurt.

Business Cards - I had these made for when I ran into someone face to face and had the opportunity to share the event. Were they worth the investment? Technically, yes. Will they be for you? That depends on where your social strengths lie.

What I'd do better
Longer span - My whole argument was that "I just need to get this in front of fellow fans of fantasy fiction and art!" And yet I launched my project with a run time of only 26 days. I did it because I was impatient as hell and yet I wanted the project over before it got too deep into the holiday season. I didn't want the project competing with anyone's family time.
Kickstarter stats will tell you that about 30 days run time is the sweet spot for success.
Mine pushed it really close. I hit the goal within 4 minutes of the deadline. Please know there was some hooting and hollering done in my house that night.

Local Bookstores, Newspapers, Radio stations - These are venues I attempted to contact during the event. By then it was a bit late, with the way things take time. I urge you to contact those sources before you even launch the event.

Stretch Goals - If you future Kickstarters take anything from this post, let it be this. Cut all unnecessary expenses! You may be like me, wandering around and thinking, "Wow, that project reached $1,000,000? For that stupid thing? That one hit 600% of their goal and they're making that piece of junk? I can easily get away with $4,900. It'll be a breeze!"
No. It won't. You're going to have to fight for every $5 pledge you get. Marketing a Kickstarter is a full time job. Money doesn't just rain down from the sky on you.
Cut those unnecessary expenses. Make them "stretch goals" - goals that come available once the initial amount has been met and there's still time on the clock. Because with Kickstarter, if you don't reach the funding goal, even if you're $5 short, you get nothing at all.

I hope I've offered something useful here. Please feel free to ask me anything I didn't cover.
Make sure to visit the rest of this blog hop!

See you guys.