by Bob Tinsley
Doing a Kickstarter isn’t hard.
I’m putting my money where my mouth is, figuratively speaking. I’m doing a Kickstarter campaign to fund converting my fiction podcast, ESCAPE! Scifi, into a full cast audiobook. You can find it here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/anewdawn/a-new-dawn-audiobook
I’ve been thinking about a KS for a while, but I had no idea how to start. I thought it would be difficult and time consuming, so I didn’t do anything about it.
That changed when I ran across a free (that’s right, FREE) online course called “Kickstarter Best Practices for Fiction Writers.” It was developed by Loren L. Coleman and Dean Wesley Smith. Loren Coleman authored the Battletech book series and many others and is co-founder of a couple of electronic gaming companies. He’s made at least a couple of million dollars from KS projects. DWS, co-owner of WMG Publishing along with his wife, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, is a writer of some 40 years of experience, author of 300+ books and innumerable short stories. WMG has had 14 or 15 KS projects, all of them successful, to my knowledge, and many of which funded at 3 or 4 times the original ask. He estimates that WMG made $100k from KS last year.
Don’t let the “for Fiction Writers” throw you off. This course covers any kind of writing you do. I looked at a campaign for a podcast that funded at $10k on the first day. It’s well on its way to several multiples of its original ask. They could have been following the advice in this course.
In case anyone is interested here’s the URL of the free course I took. It’s the first course on the second line.
There are two HUGELY helpful documents attached to the course that you can download, both from Coleman. One is his 14 page (!) document on Kickstarter Best Practices For Fiction Writers.The other is the spreadsheet he used to calculate costs and profits from his Elder Gods KS campaign. Both documents are outstanding.
Let’s go back to that Kickstarter Best Practices for Fiction Writers title. Most help files and documents for Kickstarter are pretty generic. They’d have to be. But this one is targeted directly at us, fiction writers. Those last three words were what pushed me over the edge to try it out.
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of doing research on Kickstarter projects. It doesn’t take that long.
In the upper left corner on the KS landing page is the word “Explore.” Click on it. On the next page scroll past “Collections” to “Sections” and click on “Publishing.” Next page click on “Explore Publishing.” You’ll see 3 menu buttons, “Publishing,” “Earth,” and “Magic.” Press “Publishing” and then choose the subcategory “Fiction.” “Earth” means originating anywhere on the planet. Click “Magic” and you will see categories like most funded, newest, most backed, etc. Pick one, then spend some time going through the projects.
You’ll see projects that funded in the first 24 hours, and projects with 2 days to go with only $1 pledged. Spend a few minutes looking through each project, and you’ll see why one funded and the other didn’t. It’s pretty apparent.
I found elements I liked in a couple of successful projects and tried to make my page look like theirs. Some common elements: lots of good graphics, clear, concise writing, and a (short!) video.
80% of successful campaigns have a video. Don’t stress over this. With the help of my artist I produced a 2.5 minute audiogram narrated by my main character, an artificial intelligence. A real one. The whole thing took maybe 6 man-hours between us. I think it looks really good.
Art. You need it. It must look professional. During that research you’re doing on other KS projects (you are doing that, right?) look at how they handled the art. 95% of it happens in the “Story” section. I put in a couple of cover/wallpaper images in the body and had my artist make some arty section headers. The section headers are things you make up yourself to break up the “Story” block. Mine are: Mission, What Is A New Dawn, Why an Audiobook, Synopsis, Why Is This Different, Accolades and Awards, Reviews of the Podcast, and Funds Breakdown. Yours can be anything you want them to be.
From KS the project description (Story): “Describe what you’re raising funds to do, why you care about it, how you plan to make it happen, and who you are. Your description should tell backers everything they need to know. If possible, include images to show them what your project is all about and what rewards look like.”
My final “Story” length was 660 words. Long enough to be informational and interesting, short enough to read quickly.
There’s lots more to tell you about Kickstarting. I’ll be back with as much of it as will fit in this space next week!
Bob Tinsley is an artist, writer, boataholic and new audio/podcast fiction writer-producer. A mighty fine one too, as his 2nd and 4th place People’s Pilot 2019 finishes demonstrate.