Recently, I’ve been part of three Kickstarter publishing projects. Two of the projects raised substantially more money than their original goal, enabling them to add extra features. One project is still underway, but making great strides towards its goals. The first two projects were anthologies, and the third is a graphic novel. What’s important to remember is that each of these projects succeeds because it has made a direct connection with customers who want exactly that type of product, and aren’t finding what they want in the “regular” marketplace.
Kickstarter projects ultimately rise or fall on three key points: 1) the strength of the concept; 2) the social media energy of the product’s supporters; and 3) how well the concept originator communicates both the core concept and the specific benefits funders will receive for every funding goal met. In this sense, Kickstarter success is a quintessential exercise in marketing.
For example, the second Kickstarter anthology in which I participated was an anthology of science fiction/fantasy short stories with adventurous female characters written by women writers. The authors on the roster ranged from established pros to lesser-known but published professionals to new authors. The Kickstarter outlined what rewards backers would receive every time the project reached a new milestone.
Rewards included free ebooks, e-short stories, paper books and artwork, music CDs, professional services and recognition as a patron in the book. In addition, eight more authors were eventually added, making the original anthology a larger book, a second related anthology was funded, and a sequel was funded. All three books received enough funding to produce a trade paperback edition and a limited hard cover edition.
In this case, the Kickstarter project had an original funding goal of $8,500, and in its 29 day run, 1907 individual contributors raised over $44,000 to bring the project to life. In exchange, backers got the entertainment value of watching the tally rise day by day (including a white-knuckle last half hour to hit the final goal that rivals any sporting match for drama), eight free ebooks (in addition to the original anthology), thirteen free e-short stories, a free music CD, free original artwork, and recognition for being part of the process. In addition, the project will donate a portion of the proceeds to charity. That’s a lot of value for a $5 contribution!
The concept’s strength and originality is a key point in attracting backers. If you’re thinking of doing a Kickstarter, make sure you can clearly explain what your project is all about, why it’s different, and who is the intended audience. Here’s where marketing comes into play. Successful Kickstarters incorporate video to share their message, include lots of photos of the project, and go into great details about features and benefits.
Likewise, they provide copy that outlines exactly what backers receive for their specific dollar-level contribution as the project reaches funding milestones encourages readers to invest. By including everyone in the rewards that are unlocked milestone after milestone, investors have a reason to help you spread the word, effectively marketing your project for you.