Is Kickstarter Worth Doing For An Indie eBook?

I ran a Kickstarter campaign that ran from early October to early November. Was it worth it?

The Kickstarter for Darkin was unsuccessful in fulfilling its financial goal. So was it still a total loss? In case you’re unfamiliar with Kickstarter, here’s a simple explanation: You post a creative project, such as a movie, book, board game, video game, etc; You write about a project goal, some reason you want funding; you set a funding amount; then, you hope your funding goal is met by the time your deadline hits–this deadline is something you set when creating the campaign, and can be 30 to 60 days in length. Kickstarter recommends a 30 day campaign run, so that’s what I did.

One of the big “must haves” of a Kickstarter campaign is a video; all projects need a video, and for books, authors can struggle to get one made. Luckily for me, as I wrote about in my last post, I had my book reviewed by Authors Unleashed, which gave me a video to use.

Through promoting on my various social networks, mass-texting friends and family, and talking about it a little bit, I managed to end up with over %25 of my goal, a far cry from completion. My project’s main goal was to fund the distribution of my print books, without the intent of gaining profit, to help local game, hobby, and card shops. Of course, in order to be of any help to those brick-and-mortar stores, my book would have to sell from their shelves–they would keep the profit. In this sense, part of succeeding is really believing in your product, and I believed that through the cover art appeal, and the solid story within, my book would successfully rid itself from each store I gave it to, had the Kickstarter been funded. So was my time for nought? What was gained and lost from this failed Kickstarter campaign?

What I Lost:
1. I lost a little bit of my time. One night’s worth of work. And then I lost the time I spent promoting it, which in fact was very little time at all. I would say I spent a total of four-six hours in creating, and promoting the Kickstarter campaign (Was this time truly a waste, though?).
2. I lost the hope I had that a Kickstarter could take off on its own, through Kickstarter search function (after all, there are so many backers who back a ton of projects, why wouldn’t they come across mine and understand its value, and fund the heck out of it?).

What I Gained:
1. I gained publicity for my book. Geekadelphia, a website with a good deal of traffic, put an article about Darkin on their website. In case you don’t have the mind to click the link, here’s the nice things they said about my campaign:

I dunno about you, but these days just about all of my actual book reading is done on my Kindle. I don’t have to lug a bunch of paper around and no one on SEPTA has to know about my obsession with mediocre Mass Effect novels.

Still, sometimes I miss the feel of a good book in my hands. Fortunately, Philly still has a thriving local book, hobby, and comic scene, so there are plenty of places to get your fix. Kickstarter project creator and Darkin author Joseph Turkot wants to contribute his own work, and he’s doing it in a very unique way.

He’s making his books free.

What is the goal of this Kickstarter?

This project’s intention is to raise at least $1,000.00 to print and distribute the first two books in the saga. The author will take NO profit from books distributed and sold. The books will be GIVEN, free of charge, to local, independent retailers, supporting their business and providing great fantasy literature at the same time. The retailers will set their own prices, and take any profit they generate to support their cherished place in our society. Although you can read Darkin free right now as an eBook, everyone loves the feel of paper in their hands, and the smell of a new book. The more money generated, the cheaper it will become to mass-order Darkin in trade paperback, and the more books that will get distributed. For donating at least $10.00, you will get a signed print copy of the book yourself.

The books will be distributed to local hobby shop vendors, grass-roots comic book shops, and other independent bookstores. Target locations will be in the Philadelphia, New York, and Baltimore cities and suburbs.

Why do this?

I have spent years writing, revising, and editing the first two books in the Darkin saga. Likewise, I have spent many hours creating its artwork, and continue to do so. Now that I have polished the stories, and set into motion an epic storyline I truly believe in, I want to spread it–I want to give it to people like me. This book is for those of you who love magic, adventures, heroes, romance, and epic battle where virtue is tested against darkness.

All money gained through this fundraiser will be used to distribute physical copies of my book to local game, hobby, and bookstores. Again, THEY will keep all profit made from selling the books.

So when you think about it, you’re not just supporting the author. You’re really supporting the local book stores, comic and hobby shops with each donation. And you’re still getting a free book! Seems like a no-brainer.

The Project: Darkin the Novel: Indie Fantasy at its Strongest

Creators: Joseph Turkot

The Sweet Spot: $10 will land you a signed paperback version of Darkin: A Journey East, and a pre-release eBook version of the follow up, Darkin: The Prophecy of the Key. $20 will get you signed copies of both.

Funding Deadline: November 8th, 2012

More Info: You can already download Darkin for free from a few outlets, including Barnes and Noble and Lulu. More details are available at the official website, novelfantasy.com.

2. I also gained the support of some new fans–I received e-mails from people even after the Kickstarter ended saying they hoped there would be another one, and they really wanted to support it.
3. My digital footprint is larger–the Kickstarter campaign and the articles written about it remain out on the internet, helping people discover the first book of my fantasy saga, Darkin, which is free on Amazon .

What could I have done differently?

1. I could have explained to some of the people I knew personally what Kickstarter was in more depth: many didn’t donate because they didn’t know what Kickstarter is: many a text reply–What is Kickstarter? I don’t think I walked them through the idea of it thoroughly. It seems a little sketchy even, to some people, who are not familiar with the process.

2. I would have included myself in the video! One of my friends pointed that out to me: You should have had yourself introducing the video, then let the review take over. I did not do that–I did not talk directly to my audience and potential funders. I think this may have hurt me big time. Next time I run a campaign, I will DEFINITELY throw my sorry mug in the mix. I don’t recommend starting a Kickstarter without doing this.

3. I would have promoted the campaign more–a lot more. Through all social media channels. Also, I didn’t have this blog yet–blogging helps, and hinting at my next point, as everyone told me after I rushed into the Kickstarter campaign, having a following already helps you.

4. So, the last thing I would do differently is: As I said above, have a larger following. Well that’s sort of the problem for all of us isn’t it? I went ahead and made my Kickstarter, and then began to read how the things never work unless someone is already established. So I made the mistake of thinking it could catch fire on its own. How does one build a following? Mine is extremely small still, but it is slowly growing. My next blog post will go into my experiences with the mysteries of this seemingly magic and impossible task.

5. Change the time and the amount: Although Kickstarter recommends a 30 day campaign, I never did the research about why. With smaller goal totals such as mine, I think a longer goal time would have worked fine. I could have easily had twice the amount of time to complete my Kickstarter but I chose not to because I was following the suggestion of the website. In hindsight, I will allow for a longer time. I think my fincancial goal was reasonable enough, $1000.00, but I needed a bigger following, and to promote more, as I said.

6. Follow up with newspapers: I contacted several newspaper to promote my Kickstarter, and a local paper was going to run an article for me, but life caught up with me and I never followed up. Next thing you know, the time is up. Follow up with potential promotions!

One last thing to keep in mind, you need awesome prizes for the people who contribute. I think I had that end of it nailed–some of the people who contributed were really excited about what they thought was coming to them, only to realize they wouldn’t get anything. So, make sure you have good ideas for prizes all along the donation scale–mine was from $5.00 through to $500.00. Again, these donation amounts you set yourself.

All said, I do not regret my Kickstarter campaign. For me, and my book, it was a success within a failure. It was a learning process. It was a growth process. It created a little more noise for Darkin, and us indie authors know we need all the noise we can get. Signing off…

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