Friday, March 15, 2013

How Your Blog Network Will Help Your Kickstarter Succeed

Interested in raising money for your next self-publishing or under-funded traditional publishing project? You should definitely look into using the new sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo that allow you to raise money from potential readers. However, contrary to popular belief, you can't just throw a page up on a crowdfunding platform and watch the funds roll in. There are several reasons that having an established network of bloggers will help your project succeed.

They’ll Let You Guest Post

If you’re going to do a crowdfunding project, you have to get ready to write. A lot! Sure, as an author you know what it’s like to chain yourself to the keyboard, but you’ll most likely have to put your own literary endeavors aside as you promote yourself with guest posts across the blogosphere. Before you launch your project, you’ll want to make sure that you have a collection of unique ideas that you can write up for the bloggers on your list. New takes on the art of writing are always a good bet, as are discussions about your own practices, insights into industries related to your work, glimpses into your story and the lives of your characters, and other related topics.

They'll Write About You

Guest posts are great, but the number of posts you can write will, at some point, be limited by the amount of time you have to dedicate to the cause. If you can tell a compelling enough story that your blogging friends actually offer to do write-ups about you, you’ll exponentially increase the amount of exposure you can get.

They'll Share Your Stuff

Bloggers are almost always adept at using social networks to their benefit. For one reason or another, receiving a write up or penning a guest post might not be in the cards in some cases. However, if you ask nicely, bloggers in your network will be more than happy to give your project some social love. A few mentions and links can make a make a huge difference in the spread of your project’s exposure.

They'll Help You Find Helpers

The most successful projects on Kickstarter aren’t solo ventures. The more people you can add to your team, the better you’re likely to do. Chances are good that you’re not an expert in every possible field related to your project – shooting a promo video, creating awesome cover art, editing your work, promoting, formatting, etc. Bloggers are good at making connections, and they’ll likely have a host of recommendations to share with you.

They'll Fund You

The truth about crowdfunding is that a majority of your backers will likely be in your network. Often, people will stay on the sidelines and watch which way the project goes, but the people who are close to you will jump in without needing extra reason. Everyone has different reasons for getting involved with a crowdfunded project, from wanting to see new art take shape to wanting to repay you for favors you might have done in the past, so accept backers with gratitude, but don’t get upset if certain individuals choose not to give.

So, there you have it. Yet another reason to build your blog network before you launch your book with a crowdfunding project.

Emma Larkins, a freelance writer, recently embraced the bright lights of NYC. She’s running a Kickstarter to publish her first science fiction novel, Mechalarum, and using her learning to help Knodes develop products in the crowdfunding space. Check out her website or follow her on Twitter.

31 comments :

  1. Just letting everyone know I'm here if you want to ask questions!

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  2. Well, after 3 years of blogging, my audience consists of me and sometimes my daughter (when she's not too busy) ... I'm guessing that's not going to qualify as a 'network' ... so crowdfunding is not a likely source of financing for moi.

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  3. Hi, Emma! Everyone must have beamed up to the mother ship. ;) I just got back into town. Questions anyone?

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  4. Emma, this is interesting information. I've never considered self-pubbing that needed funding because I've always used POD. However, I can see the value in this route, particularly for the writer who plans to market more than a modest number of books at a time. Also, team work is key to many things, and certainly it would apply here. As with all other endeavors in the book marketing process, professional presentation is a must if an author is to be taken seriously. Then, too, Kickstarted seems to be a way to introduce all who visit the site to the book.

    Even though I'm retiring as an editor, I will be writing again (can hardly wait!) and looking at new ways to market my book(s). How many books would one need to print to qualify for crowdfunding? Of course, editing and cover design should also be included in costs, I imagine. You mention backers being in my network. I'm a bit of a loner and don't really have a network. My primary blogging experience is with BRP, but I will have a blog connected with my new website. Twitter and Pinterest are still foreign words, and my personal Facebook account has done nothing to convince me that I want to have any kind of a professional account. Clearly, I need some direction here.

    Any thoughts or suggestions?

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  5. Emma, that's fascinating. I knew about Kickstarter but assumed it was more appropriate to performance art. If you're saying it can fund self-published works of fiction, it would be of interest to a lot of writers.

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  6. This is new information for me! Thanks. I used to run a theatre company, so I know a bit about fundraising!

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  7. This is new to me, and as an indie author, seems way out of the box as far as expenses based on your page, but what do I know. You mentioned needed $1000 for a cover, when I've never paid more than $89. And there are no huge costs to the author when indie publishing a book beyond editorial services, the cover, and maybe a formatter. I will have to look at this in a bit more detail. I don't need funding to publish my book, I need people to buy it! :-)

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  8. This is a unique concept happening lately. I'm wondering how well it will catch on.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://www.morganmandel.com

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  9. Didn't someone famous just raise a couple of million dollars via kickstarter in one day? The name eludes me now, but you probably know, Emma.

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  10. Interesting! I just read an article in our local paper about a singing duo who raised money to release an album. Food for thought. Thanks for explaining this to us!

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  11. I'm getting notice of more and more writers going the crowdfunding route. I wonder how long it'll be before people begin to ignore the requests.

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  12. Wow, great to see so many comments! I'll do my best to answer :)

    @Linda Lane: It's true that anyone can self-publish using POD, but it's nice to raise some money to pay editors, artists, and others up-front. Also consider that raising money is only part of the equation - building a fan base and "testing the waters" are just as good reasons to go the crowdfunding route. The fact that you blog on BRP is important - you're already ahead of the curve! Building a platform doesn't have to be a scary concept - after all, it basically just means finding readers for your work, and that's why we're getting published in the first place, right? I'd suggest choosing one thing that you can experiment with. Do you like to read your work in writers' groups? Could you see attending a writers' conference, and meeting people that way? If you like blogging on BRP, could you see spending a little more time to create or flesh out a personal blog? Don't worry about what other people say you should do to promote; just pick one thing that resonates with you, and focus on that. The number of books you offer through crowdfunding depends only on the number of people you can get to back you. Best of luck!

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  13. @Christopher Hudson: Building a platform to crowdfund is not that different from building a platform to read your work. Just a matter of making individual, personal connections with people, and getting them to buy into your story :)

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  14. @Dr John Yeoman: It's true that performance art tends to have a higher success rate on Kickstarter. You really need to have visual elements to capture people's attention. However, this is true throughout the book promotion world: the story you tell about your story (in pictures, videos, and taglines) is what gets fans engaged, gets them to read that first line, first page, first chapter. A successful Kickstarter is a simple combination of good storytelling and a whole lot of outreach!

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  15. @Elspeth Antonelli: You're welcome! It's a really good skill to practice :)

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  16. @Terry Odell: That's the great thing about crowdfunding - you're building an audience and raising money at the same time! I have 30 people at the moment who will be receiving my novel the day it's on sale (or before), all of who can create buzz, review, etc. As far as costs go, it's possible to get cover art, formatting, design etc. at just about any price point. There are pros and cons to spending certain amounts, but at the end of the day the most important thing is finding out what will resonate with the readers who you want to target.

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  17. @Morgan Mandel: Only time will tell!

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  18. @Dani: I think you're talking about the Veronica Mars project that raised a few million in a couple of days. It just goes to show what you can do with a well-loved brand and good storytelling! Not everyone can necessarily reach that level, but the basic tenets are the same: have passion, know how to communicate that passion succinctly, and spend time nurturing an engaged audience.

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  19. @Helen Ginger: I think the trick is to work on very carefully targeting your audience, and avoiding spam. There are people out there really need our writing in their lives. It's just a matter of finding them :)

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  20. I've actually heard quite a bit about Kickstarter campaigns, especially since the economy meltdown, and have seen more fail than succeed. They aren't just being used by start-up self-pubbers, either—well-known authors have gotten in on the game.

    People need money for sorts of reasons, and with grants and other funding streams drying up, people are using technology to take their needs to the public. I just learned of a woman using Indiegogo to raise funds so her son could fly to a family wedding and be a ring bearer.

    My biggest reservation is that writers tend to market these things to their writer's loops, because the platform they've built in the early years = other writers. It's certainly easier to turn to colleagues than develop your own readership (although I do understand these two groups may genuinely overlap), because they don't have to explain their desire for publication to those who already understand.

    But think about it: you're asking another beleaguered writer, who has invested countless years and funds on powering up his own career, to support yours (why, because you want it more?)—then you'll turn right around and ask them to purchase that same book to them later. Somehow that doesn't sit right with me.

    So I would suggest that if our readers go this route that they try hard to find blogs to write for that target readers, not other writers.

    Emma, did you grapple with these concerns? Do you have more success with other writers than general readership sites, or is that kind of data too hard to track?

    (Sorry about the length but I appreciate discourse about this topic!)

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  21. @Kathryn Craft: More than happy to have a discourse!

    First and foremost, the key to building any sort of a network or platform is always coming from position of giving and gratitude. For years, I've hosted interviews with writers on my blog, written guest posts, critiqued stories. Not with any sort of ulterior motive, but just because I like doing it.

    Naturally, a person I've helped out in the past will be more inclined to help me (although I never presume).

    As a person trying to build a presence, you need to get comfortable with both asking for help, and being asked. Absolutely nothing wrong with asking, as long as you're ready to accept whatever answer you get.

    None of us ever move forward in a vacuum, and the writing profession isn't a competition. If we work together, we can make sure that the readers of the world continue to have great authors to sate their hunger!

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  22. You know... I'm trying to understand Kathryn's comment about asking beleaguered writers to fund a book. Um... my blog readers aren't just writers. They are everyone including the wealthy, family, doctor friends. So climbing out of our limiting boxes is probably a good first step. I'm not sure I'd do this for just any book, because I don't really need this kind of cash flow. But I would if the title were a tutorial for a worthy cause that lots of folks could embrace, for example, and it was a time sensitive issue. This idea won't apply to every writing project or every person, but it is certainly worth considering for any number of projects.

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  23. Oh, and all the newcomers to the blog, meet Emma Larkins who was once a member of the BRP. You can search the blog for her sweet posts. So thrilled to see you in expert mode here, Emma, giving US a tutorial now. ;)

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  24. Hey Dani, guess I wasn't clear enough, but until the "send my son to a wedding" plea in my last comment, which was on Facebook, I have only been approached for Kickstarter campaigns through my writer's loops. Writers asking other writers for money—that's the part I don't care for, since it's hard enough to keep up with buying all their books even though I stick to genres I typically read. And that's why I liked Emma's approach to go through blogs better—especially if the blog isn't just for other writers, as you pointed out that yours isn't.

    And Emma, I admire your ability to ask for things, since that was discouraged in my family's culture. I do agree that it's important. Would have made asking for blurbs a lot easier!

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  25. Blurbs. Yeah, we need to write about those. What is interesting to me is that so many authors go into full-time groaning mode when they are asked to write something short and pithy for another author. Maybe if you read certain authors anyway, you could just offer a blurb? It can't possibly be such a bad deal to be quoted on the back of someone's book jacket.

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  26. @Dani: thank you! You guys have been an important part of my journey :) It doesn't feel like that far until you look back at all the years.

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  27. @Kathryn Craft: Same in my family! It's been a huge struggle to get to this point. I've read a lot of books and articles, even taken classes to get around the whole "women don't ask" issue. It's certainly not easy, but it's worth it to achieve your dreams :)

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  28. Emma, stop by and visit us again, and next time it'll be on a blog book tour stop for your new title, right? ;) You've grown up to be such a smart and beautiful young woman! We're happy to be part of your grand journey.

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  29. Great idea, Emma. I'm thinking of it as well, to translate a book into Spanish...

    Headstrong Girls

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  30. @Dani: Thank you so much for your kind words! I had a great time :D

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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