You know the basics: Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform which “exists to help bring creative projects to life.” But how can you use this in your independent publishing preorder campaign? There are three important things to know before you jump in.
1) You don’t need to have a completed book… BUT give your audience enough to be interested in supporting it.
If you need funding to pay illustrators, editors, and designers, you can present this as a work in progress. The funds raised will go towards the completion of the book project. Too many authors or independent publishers cut corners on the illustrations because quality illustrators are expensive. A good illustrator is worth the cost - trust me.
Remember, this is a picture book. Primarily visual, with the exception of some books like The Book With No Pictures, a picture book uses illustrations and sometimes words to covey a story or idea. According to Brooke Vitale, a freelance picture book editor and author, "a picture book illustrations strengthens a child's observation skills, as there is often more happening in the art than stated in the text.”(https://brookevitale.com/blog/what-is-a-picture-book). Because of this, I cannot stress enough how important your illustrator selection is. (More on this subject to come in future blog posts!)
Let your campaign highlight your concept, book cover if available, and campaign mission. Example illustrations and manuscript examples will also help to convey the vision of your project. Having a video of the story-behind-the-story for example helps gather interest.
(What? You didn't picture this as your launch team?)
2) Gather a launch team to spread the word.
Kickstarter is a good way to organize a call to action from your market audience. Gathering a “launch team” is an ideal way to do this. Before you launch, gather friends, family, co-workers, and industry colleagues who would be willing to help create interest in your picture book concept. Have them, and those they reach out to, ready to contribute at the first hour of your launch so that Kickstarter’s algorithm shows this project has potential to be funded.
Remember: You must set an end date for the campaign and if funds are not reached at the end, you are not funded.
There are some creative ways to gather people to be on your launch team and ways to organize them. A page on your website with access to it with a link only can give your launch team images, social media post ideas, and a calendar for when to post. You want to make sure their job is easy and not an inconvenience.
A launch team can lighten your load during campaign time. Unless you have a plethora of friends and followers who want your book, you will need a launch team. They will be able to share your preorder campaign to help your book get noticed!
3) You will have to do a lot of leg work, so plan on it.
Beyond prepping your Kickstarter page, which is a project, you will need to be visible to your market. Don’t expect people to stumble on your campaign and pledge willy-nilly. Beyond the help of your launch team, be active on social media several hours daily during the campaign with background stories of your project, images of your book and illustrations, and why people would want to support your project.
Side note: If holidays line up during your campaign, create images through free websites such as Canva, to remind people that your campaign is happening.
The first few days and last few days of the campaign are the most crucial. Give a reason for patrons to pledge right away such as a discount on books, two-for-one sale for a few days, or extras that they want to not miss out on. Reach out to organizations who would be interested in your picture book topic as well as teachers and schools. During the middle-of-the-campaign-lull, stay focused and remind your launch team to make their posts.
A Kickstarter campaign is a massive undertaking, but you don’t need to be discouraged. Take it one step at a time months before you launch so that you can prepare adequately. A great product and carefully planned promotion can give you a successful picture book campaign!
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