Kickstarter as a tool for Kindle publishing has been talked about a lot as a place for indie authors to go to get the funding they need to put together a novel. Often these conversations are about established authors, with an existing fan base using the platform. In this interview I talk to Bill (WC) Hoffman about how an author can use Kickstarter to get their first book off the ground, even if they have no existing following.
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Bill’s project on Kickstarter – See his fully funded project. Perfect for getting ideas for your own Kindle publishing Kickstarter project.
Go-Pro – Amazing video camera.
Windows Movie Maker – Easy to use free software for putting together clips. Bill used this to make his Kickstarter video.
IndieGoGo – Kickstarter’s main competition, and doesn’t have the all or nothing aspect. Very much in second place to Kickstarter.
Bill’s ‘day job’ – An example of his magic/comedy.
Bill has a background in performing magic and had built a following through this. He also enters Kindle publishing with the attitude that he will be happy that if just his aunt buys the book! That said after the success of his original books
Kickstarter is a crowd funding platform where essentially you can pitch an idea, such as a book, and ask people to ‘back’ the project with X number of dollars. If you reach your funding goal all the money goes to you and you do the work and those who backed the project get the reward that you promised to them when the originally backed the project. There are a whole bunch more conditions that we talk about in the show, and of course, you can find out more at http://kickstarter.com.
There are fees and such involved so when you are creating your project keep this in mind.
What Bill Wanted
The manuscript was already written, he wanted the money for editing, a cover, and marketing purposes. All of these were clear on the Kickstarter page. He set his target at $1000 for the project and ended up getting $1300. If you don’t meet the target you don’t get anything, but if it goes over you get everything that goes over as well.
As well as the obvious, digital editions, print editions, and audiobook versions, he also offered the opportunity to name one of the main characters in the book if a backer paid $250.
He would also have signed books which he would get shipped to him by Createspace, sign them, and send them on. He also (taking inspiration from Hugh Howey) would add turkey feathers to the book.
He found that the most popular one (by far) was offering people the opportunity to have their name in the back of the book. Bill doesn’t expect to blow up, but if it does, those people are going to always be in the back, something that apparently was very appealing.
The big takeaway from the interview when it comes to this is that if you don’t have a video your Kickstarter “will fail.” Bill says that it is super important to spend the time doing this. You need to tell people about Kickstarter as well as your project. The video is so important because on Kickstarter people are backing you as much as they are your idea.
Driving People to the Kickstarter
As this was Bill’s first book he had no established email list of readers to reach out to. He did however have an unrelated list from his magic career which he reached out to twice with information about the book – he didn’t want to do it more than that because they didn’t sign up for that. Despite this, this list was instrumental in helping him reach his Kickstarter goal.
Communities was another place where he was promoting the book. He found groups related to survivalists (a theme in the book) and got involved in the community. Generally they were happy to promote him as they saw him as a survivalist who had written a book, rather than just being someone there to sell books and that’s it. These people were very helpful in spreading the word about the book.
Bill says that it is important not to market your book to writers, a mistake that is often made. Market it to people who are interested in what you are writing.
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