By Tonya D. Price, Author, Business Books for Writers
Every conference I attend, I hear writers, both beginning and experienced, talking about how they need to learn more about the business side of writing. That is a broad topic, but one I am excited to explore with SinCNE members.
I just returned from WMG Publishing’s annual writer’s workshop in Las Vegas. (https://www.wmgworkshops.com/anthology/) Forty professional writers gathered to have six of their short stories reviewed by either professional editors buying for a funded anthology or magazine. The hot topic that dominated the dinner and lunch conversations at the February conference was how authors could use Kickstarter as a way to raise financial support for an author’s work while building an audience for the writer that could grow their reader base.
What is Kickstarter?
Kickstarter (Kickstarter.com) defines itself as a “funding platform for creative projects.” Marketing savvy authors are just beginning to explore Kickstarter’s potential for writers.
How Kickstarter Works
An author must write a proposal that describes their idea for a Kickstarter project. Kickstarter staff reviews the plan to ensure that the project is a creative business idea and not a charity fundraiser or just an attempt to sell books.
About half of the proposals are approved. Kickstarter advises writers on how to set funding goals and how to structure promised rewards. Rewards might be ” $5 donation supporters get an e-book and pdf of the book under development. For a $25 donation, the donor receives e-book and pdf files of the new novel, non-fiction book, or story collection.
The Kickstarter proposal must specify a deadline for reaching a specified funding goal. Donors do not pay for projects that fail to reach the stated pledge goal. Failing to meet the funding goal is disappointing, but you can always resubmit an improved version of the idea.
Kickstarter tips I’ve discovered for reaching readers through Kickstarter
- Calculate all costs associated with your Kickstarter and set your goal to produce a profit.
- Avoid shipping costs by offering an e-book, pdf, or audio files that you can send electronically, rather than print books that add mailing costs.
- Avoid offering signed copies of a book as these also involve shipping costs.
- Develop the process you will use for delivering the rewards before launching your project and lower the chances of reward delivery problems.
Criticism of Kickstarter
You will find critical online reports from Kickstarter donors. Many of these are from people who don’t understand that they are giving artists and entrepreneurs money to create. Sometimes projects are not delivered in the timeframe promised. Creatives who don’t send rewards deserve criticism.
Increase your long-term success rate with Kickstarter by successfully providing what you promise in your Kickstarter projects. Let your supporters know you encountered delays in producing your work. Inform donors of your plan to get them their rewards and explain delays. Donors who trust that you will eventually send them their promised book will back your future projects.
Reaching readers through Kickstarter
WMG publisher and author/editor Dean Wesley Smith and Loren L. Coleman, author, game designer, and publisher, are developing a free Teachable course to explain best practices to authors designing Kickstarter projects. Their goal is to help writers succeed on Kickstarter.
Dean Wesley Smith has raised over $100,000 in just the last year through Kickstarter over multiple campaigns. Loren L. Coleman launched a game project that raised over four million dollars. They envision growing a community on Kickstarter, where readers come to discover new voices in fiction, including those voices that have been around for a long time.
The newly released Teachable course, available at no charge, can be accessed at: https://wmg-publishing-workshops-and-lectures.teachable.com/courses/kickstarter
Update to the original blog post, “Reaching readers through Kickstarter”
Recently this post became even more relevant as news spread of Fantasy writer, Brandon Sanderson’s Kickstarter campaign, which brought in $41.7 million making it the most-funded project since Kickstarter launched. Over 181,000 readers pledged a minimum of $40 dollars for 4 unreleased books with the option to pledge more money for additional works, collections, monthly swag boxes, and more. To learn more about Brandon’s Kickstarter campaign go to: https://www.businessbooksforwriters.com/AuthorBreaksKickstarter
To see the campaign he offered check out his Kickstarter page: https://www.businessbooksforwriters.com/BrandonSandersonKickerProject
This post originally appeared in the Sisters in Crime New England Chapter Blog in April 2020.
Tonya D. Price is a multi-genre published short story writer and the author of the non-fiction series, Business Books for Writers. Her thriller short story, “Payback,” in the Fiction River anthology, Hard Choices, was selected for inclusion in The American Best Mystery Story of 2019. She holds an MBA from Cornell University in Marketing and Finance. You can follow Tonya at Business Books for Writers and Tonya D. Price or on Twitter: @BusBooks4Writer.
©2022 Tonya D. Price