A year ago, I almost pulled the trigger on a T-shirt project for Kickstarter. Almost. I got the first 15 or so shirts printed, wrote the text for my project down, and had everything going except the video. Then life happened.
I did, during that time, find out that it’s not impossible to self-publish your own book. I self-published Sorry, Charlie on Amazon, made it available for paperback through Createspace, and then placed it on bn.com for the Nook. So I dropped the ball on one thing, but picked it up on the other. I am also looking into getting an accountant to handle all the money I made last year from Sorry, Charlie. $41. That’s my age, by the way, which if there is any correlation there, by the time I’m 80, I’ll be doubling my take. Sweet. But the point is, it made me happy and I proved to myself that I could do something.
Of course, after I published it I realized that about 1000 people a day can do the same thing. I didn’t have a marketing campaign, and so the book got buried under a mountain of digital siblings. After writing the first 100 or so pages of my next novel, The Village, I have launched my first Kickstarter campaign. It’s still not the T-shirts. It’s a follow up to my novella Sorry, Charlie.
I had originally self-edited (never do this). And was creating my own book cover (never do this). Then I had two friends chip in who knew what they were doing. Jerson Campos created an awesome book cover and Bonnie Roberts edited the book. Huge, huge difference in the final product. Get people who do this for a living to perform these two services. Even if you are good at editing, you’re too close to your literary neonate. People don’t look at their newborns and say, “Wow, now that is an ugly baby!” Find people who will tell you that you have an ugly baby.
My very first Kickstarter project is to help these guys. One of them did their thing for free, and the other one did theirs for close to free. You know how it is when friends ask you for crap. You feel guilty charging them what you need to. This will hopefully put a little change in their pockets.
When this project is over, I’m going to launch the T-shirt project. Then a simpler one to spread a little love. Then one for my next novel The Village, so I can pay these guys up front next time.
I did my prep work. I watched other people come and go on Kickstarter. I watched what the successful ones did and I watched what the unsuccessful ones did. I read Don Steinberg’s The Kickstarter Handbook: Real-Life Crowdfunding Success Stories. I read the guidelines and helpful hints from the Kickstarter site itself. I took special care with my rewards. I wrote my story down. I shot my video. About 70 or so takes, I think. I upgraded to Amazon payments for business and verified all my information. I put in pictures of Bonnie and Jerson so backers could see the people they’re helping. Then I did what I believe to be the most important thing so far.
I got feedback. I used the preview link and let other people scour the project. I ended up taking out something that might not have come off as humorous as I had intended if you didn’t know me to begin with. I replaced it with something a little more gracious sounding. I changed a couple of rewards so they clearly stated that they included the rewards from smaller donation levels. I removed a comment referring to something that no longer existed in the video. Again, I stepped back and let people look at my wretched little newborn.
Then I clicked the Submit button and stared at the screen for a day and a half until Kickstarter approved it. Then I published it. Put my fragile ego, I mean infant project, out there with its eggshell crust for everyone to see. I’m hoping that they love him and hug him and call him George.
I published it on February 20, 2013 at 4:52 p.m. and got my first backer that night at exactly 1:20 a.m. Not that I was staring at the screen for 8 hours and 28 minutes straight. That would be creepy.
I’m going to go blink now.