Early last fall, I received a pitch from a writer who had heard about Write Naked through a friend of hers. I accepted that pitch from writer Edie Jarolim, and when you read the title of her book below you’ll see why her friend reflexively recommended she guest post here! Through our correspondence I also offered a guest post on her blog, which I shared last year: 5 Tips for Tracking Writing Submissions.
I am glad Edie suggested a post on crowdfunding, because I launch my first-ever crowdfunding campaign later this month! Edie has some great experience with crowdfunding (visit her past campaign link below to see the cool perks she offered) and has gleaned a few pieces of wisdom for us today. Welcome, Edie!
5 Tips for Crowdfunding Success: Writer’s Edition
By Edie Jarolim
Creating a successful Kickstarter to finish and publish my memoir, GETTING NAKED FOR MONEY: An Accidental Travel Writer Reveals All, was one of the hardest things I ever did, psychologically as well as logistically. The fear of public humiliation was strong and getting it done took a lot of time and effort.
It was also one of the most satisfying things I ever did, and not only because of my sense of accomplishment — and, oh yeah, the money. By getting my contributors engaging in the process of finishing my book, I garnered an audience of people who were rooting for me to succeed and who could brag to their friends and peers that they helped fund a great project. You can’t beat that.
Unless of course you get a huge advance from a traditional publisher, along with a sales team backing you.
But, let’s get real.
So what do you need to do to succeed at Kickstarter?
- Build a platform. You can’t just appear out of nowhere and expect strangers to send you money. It helped that I had four traditionally published books, three blogs, and hundreds of articles under my belt. That established my credibility; I could point to my track record of producing publishable material to inspire confidence. But I’m old school, with a traditional background; I grew up before social media was king. If you don’t have a strong writing resume, find social media you’re comfortable with, whether it’s Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, and work to engage with an audience. Don’t just promote yourself; show interest in others who are in your niche — the subject you plan to write about. Join a forum on Goodreads in your genre and participate.If you’re an expert in something and have valuable information to impart, start a blog.And if you have a traditional platform already, be sure to get your social media ducks in order.
- Have a clear vision for your book. If you don’t know exactly what you want to write, you won’t be able to explain it to others. Imagine that you’re pitching an agent or a publisher. If you can’t come up with a coherent idea for your project that you think professionals might like, you won’t be able to convince funders either.
- Be willing to devote yourself to the campaign full time. I prepared for the campaign a few months in advance — maybe too much — and I worked most of the day every day on fundraising. That’s one of the reasons I chose Kickstarter rather than another platform: It has a finite deadline. I knew it would be over in 30 days.
- Provide a clear explanation for what Kickstarter is and does for potential backers. You and your peers may know all about crowdfunding in general and Kickstarter in particular, but you’d be surprised at how many potential donors don’t understand the concept. They think they’ll be throwing money away if you don’t meet your goals, that they’re giving you charity, etc., etc. Be clear in your explanation without being patronizing; no one is going to support you if they feel like you’re being condescending. Send an explanation in a link that’s separate from the Kickstarter site. Here’s the post that I wrote for social media and included in my email to friends: Backing a Kickstarter Project 101.
- Take a multi-pronged approach. Though I ended up conducting most of my campaign on Facebook because it’s what I felt most comfortable with, I communicated in a lot of different ways. I I sent out emails to friends and family members — you can’t depend on them solely, but you can’t ignore them either — I posted on Facebook, I posted on Twitter. Try them all and use what works best for you.
Here are a few other of my Kickstarter-related posts:
Edie Jarolim has worn many hats, not counting the sombrero she donned on a certain one-margarita-too-many night. She got a Ph.D. in American literature from New York University before working as a senior editor for Frommers and Fodor’s travel guides in Manhattan and Rough Guides in London. After moving to Tucson, Arizona, she authored three travel guides and one dog guide; her hundreds of articles have appeared in a variety of publications, including Art & Antiques, National Geographic Traveler, The New York Times Book Review, USAToday.com, and The Wall Street Journal. Her latest book, a memoir, gives some details — only occasionally lurid — of her writing, editing, and traveling career.