Last year, when I launched Blackson’s Redemption, I did something I had never done before. I launched the book in an unorthodox way. It was not the “normal” way of launching books, according to many in the publishing space. As a matter of fact, Mark Dawson just released a course on book launches. I listen to his podcast regularly, but I haven’t listened to this particular mini-course, and it will be the one time where I don’t. I’m going in a different direction in how I launch my books. That direction is launching them on Kickstarter.
Now if you remember that launch (the graphic which is still up at RIU HQ), you know when I ran it; I failed. With Kickstarter, it’s all or nothing. So if you don’t make it, you have to start all over again. Yes, it was disappointing. It’s not that I didn’t have any pledges at all. It’s that I didn’t have enough. If I was on Indiegogo, I could have gone right along with what I had. But I decided on Kickstarter not only because it’s the number one crowdfunding platform out there, but I like the platform more than the others.
Last year’s Kickstarter was for a twofold purpose.
The first was as an experiment to see how Kickstarter works. I spent months looking at other people’s Kickstarter in the fiction category, as well as how Kickstarter works overall. I had not pledged to support any Kickstarters, but in the interim, I have now. The projects I supported didn’t have anything to do with fiction (I am extremely picky when it comes to that). It had to do with role-playing games, the first being the second edition of The One Ring (the Lord of the Rings world) and accessories for that kind of thing called Dungeon Alchemist. So at this point, I have a good understanding of the system as a pledger (my new made-up word) and a creator.
The second reason for the campaign was to look for an alternative to launching my books than the conventional method other indie publishers use to launch their books. I don’t like launching my books like that. It is a lot of work and is really hit or miss. It’s putting everything out there on all kinds of platforms, trying the get people to buy your book on every platform under the sun. I’ll be honest — I just don’t have the patience or the time for that. I realize not every aspect of the process of being an entrepreneur and indie publisher will be something I love. Welcome to real life. However, I certainly am not going to do something I hate. I have done research on how to do book launches, and it is something I don’t like strongly enough to look for another way of doing it.
Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I don’t want to do the work. I do. But I want to do the work in one area and that’s it. I am not concerned with whether I make a bestseller list on Amazon. I am not concerned with being famous or my name out there or whatever little thing that will stroke my ego. I have absolutely no interest in that whatsoever. I want a place where I can build an audience — my tribe — and have a platform that would allow launches to build excitement without having to pull out my hair (and folks, I’m bald, so whatever hair I have on my head is a little bit at the most). I get the best of both worlds in Kickstarter.
I say all that to say I plan on launching all of my books on Kickstarter this year. I’m still doing research, but I know this is the platform for me. I just need to work on it, figure it out, and press through.
I’m not the only author out there using Kickstarter. If you remember, last year Brandon Sanderson used it for a special edition of one of his books and it blew up to over $6 million. Michael J. Sullivan is also an author who uses Kickstarter for the same very same reason I plan on using — book launches. He has used it eight times successfully and has always been way over his asking goal. Several of his projects have hit over $120,000. So it’s possible.
Another thing I like about Kickstarter is it has its own audience for each of the different categories. It’s like a small microcosm of the exact people you need and want to look at your project. Normally, if you’re listing in an online store, you only have so much to write in the description in order to grab a browser. You don’t have that much space to sell somebody on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play. Those kinds of shoppers don’t want that, anyway. Short, punchy, and motivating for them to smash the buy button.
On Kickstarter, it’s similar to Amazon in that people are looking for something to pledge towards. They are looking for something to catch their eye they can support. However, as a creator, you can go long form in explaining why people should support you and your project. People on Kickstarter expect that and think there is something wrong if the description is lacking details it should have. Now, it’s simply getting it to work successfully for my book launches.
Kickstarter has one monumental advantage over having your book listed in an online store. This is the wonderful thing about Kickstarter — the competition is very low in comparison. On Amazon, Apple, or Kobo, you are competing with thousands upon thousands of people. With Kickstarter, maybe hundreds. At least for the time you’re running your campaign. Eventually, you’ll have to move it over to the stores. Until then, it is a veritable fresh field most writers will not use. If they do, they use it once in a great while. It’s certainly not something they use regularly. The fiction category over there is the red-headed stepchild.
Kickstarter also has the extra incentive of exclusivity. This project will not be anywhere else when a campaign is active. That adds an element of excitement that builds to see whether the project you support will fund and how much. Being able to check back and see the progress and get real-time updates (for those that do so… and they should if they are doing it right). If it funds, you will have (or will get) something nobody else has anywhere else.
People browsing an online store know they are being sold. They know what they see is marketing. With Kickstarter, there’s a transparency about you and the project (or there should be) that you can’t have at the online outlets (and shouldn’t). There, you’re selling a product. On Kickstarter, you’re garnering support. It’s the same end result at the end of the day, but the approach is totally different. I like the approach for Kickstarter because it allows me to talk to my supporters and interact with them, which I can’t do at an online store.
Even with all of those advantages, this deviation from the norm is risky. Let me remind you again that I failed in my first Kickstarter. Why would I continue to do the same thing? Am I a glutton for punishment? No. It’s because this is what I believe will work for me. I believe in this platform. I just need to apply three things to be successful at it — perseverance, wisdom, and hard work. Actually, having those three in any industry will raise your chances of being successful a hundredfold. I believe those qualities will win out and my book launches will be better than before. It fits who I am, and I’m willing to learn how to make it successful.
So look for the first book in The Nepios Conspiracy, Pandilla (featuring the Makarios Cadre), on Kickstarter to launch soon. I’m putting together a package and my hope is that we can get this thing started in May. Then the hope is that we can have a Kickstarter launching every couple of months. I’m not too sure how that will play out exactly. May fail on a couple. That’s all good. Even if the book launches are not as frequent on Kickstarter as I’d like them to be, it is a platform I plan to use several times this year. I pray you will join me there.
All the best, and I will see you in the Tapestry!