Would you like to successfully crowdfund your book on Kickstarter? Monica Leonelle shares practical and mindset tips for creating the right kind of project, as well as mistakes to avoid, and how to satisfy fans — and make money with your books.
Monica and I recorded this before Brandon Sanderson’s epic Kickstarter which has raised over $32m, which is why we didn’t mention it. But clearly, it’s a fascinating business model!
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Monica Leonelle is the author of ‘The Productive Novelist’ and ‘Book Sales Supercharged’ series of non-fiction books, as well as a USA Today bestselling author of fantasy and paranormal romance, under the pen name Solo Storm. Her latest book for authors is Get Your Book Selling on Kickstarter, co-written with Russell Nohelty, which I supported as a Kickstarter project.
You can listen above or on your favorite podcast app or read the notes and links below. Here are the highlights and the full transcript is below.
- What is crowdfunding and how does it work for authors?
- Different kinds of reward tiers and how to make them financially successful as well as rewarding to fans
- Common Kickstarter mistakes to avoid
- Direct sales and revenue per customer
- Factors to consider when fulfilling your orders
- Tackling fears around a Kickstarter campaign
- Marketing tips and what not to do
Transcript of Interview with Monica Leonelle
Joanna Penn: Monica Leonelle is the author of ‘The Productive Novelist’ and ‘Book Sales Supercharged’ series of non-fiction books, as well as a ‘USA Today’ bestselling author of fantasy and paranormal romance, under the pen name Solo Storm. Her latest book for authors is Get Your Book Selling on Kickstarter, co-written with Russell Nohelty, which I supported as a Kickstarter project. Welcome back to the show, Monica.
Monica Leonelle: Hi. Thank you so much for having me on again.
Joanna Penn: This is such an interesting topic. Last time you were on, a few years ago, we talked about your history and dictating a book, so we’re just going to get straight into it today. So, let’s start with the basics.
Crowdfunding and Kickstarter have been around for years, but I actually spoke to an author recently who hadn’t heard of either.
What is crowdfunding, and what is Kickstarter?
Monica Leonelle: Crowdfunding is basically asking people to fund something before it’s done, at least the way that Kickstarter does it. For Kickstarter, it’s probably the biggest crowdfunding platform in the world, as a creator, and Kickstarter really only has creator projects on there. I’ll explain what that means in a minute.
Basically, as a creator, what you’re doing is essentially putting up a preorder for your cool idea, your cool project, and you’re saying I’m going to do this, this is how much money I need for it, back it now, give me the money in advance, and then I will deliver the project afterward. So that’s basically how Kickstarter works. That’s how crowdfunding works.
I do want to contrast it though with one platform that we see people thinking it’s similar to, which is GoFundMe. GoFundMe is a great platform, nothing against that type of crowdfunding platform, but it’s not creator-focused, necessarily.
So, you could do a creator project on there, but you also see, ‘I have medical bills to pay.’ ‘I’m about to lose my house.’ So you see a lot of that. Sometimes authors feel like Kickstarter is a begging-for-money type of platform when it’s not.
It’s really just setting up a pre-order for a project that you are confident you’re going to deliver on, of course, we don’t want projects that you can’t deliver on, but setting up a pre-order, and getting people to support you in advance.
Joanna Penn: Fantastic. But, of course, playing devil’s advocate, we already have an ecosystem for selling books. We can already do pre-orders for eBooks and print books. We can’t necessarily do them for audiobooks, but we have this.
Why would an indie author or a creator bother with the hassle of Kickstarter, especially since the sales won’t help Amazon rankings or bestseller lists or anything like that?
Monica Leonelle: It’s a great question, and one that we hear all the time. I think there are a couple of things.
One is that Kickstarter is really a direct sales platform. So you don’t have to pay the 30% royalties. You do have to pay other fees. Kickstarter has a 5% fee that they take, and then there’s payment processing fees, and so maybe you’re paying, like, 7%, 8% in that, and then there’s other costs to doing Kickstarter, but it’s essentially direct sales. So, it’s a platform that you can use for that.
The other big reason that I think is super important is the revenue per reader, or the revenue per customer. If you sell book on Amazon, let’s say you’re charging $4.99, you make about $3.40 off of that, off of every sale of an eBook.
You bring that over to Kickstarter, the revenue per reader, or per backer is what it’s called, for a publishing project, tends to be between $25 and $40, if you’re doing eBooks and print books, and if you’re designing it the way that Russell does his campaigns, there’s a big difference in revenue.
So, especially if you’re starting out, and even if you’re not, you can make a lot more money off of very few backers, and then you can take that money and you can do a retailer launch after that, and have money for ads or money for whatever else.
Joanna Penn: There’s loads to unpack there. And that revenue per customer, backer, $20 to $40, is kind of amazing, and we’ve obviously seen different things, but that will depend on what you’re offering.
I know that some people who don’t necessarily, haven’t maybe supported a Kickstarter will be like, ‘Why would someone pre-order an eBook for $20 or $40?’ So, when you talk about designing campaigns, just give us an idea, what are the types of levels? I can’t remember what the term is, but you don’t just offer a pre-order of an eBook and that’s it.
There are different levels or tiers of rewards, aren’t there?
Monica Leonelle: Yes, this is true. They’re called reward tiers, and what it is, it’s basically a bundle. So, if you think about, on a retailer, you might have a bundle of a trilogy, and you’re able to sell that at a higher price.
On Kickstarter, you do reward tiers, and every reward tier is a bundle. And you can do cool things with that bundle that you can’t do on a retailer. For example, you could bundle an eBook, a print book, and an audiobook together, and have people buy all three at once, and have it at a higher price.
You can do pre-orders for the print books, which you can do on retailers as well, but you can also bundle other stuff like merchandise. You can bundle things that you can’t really sell anywhere but direct. So, you could bundle an audio commentary. You can bundle bookmarks. You can bundle postcards, basically any type of merchandise.
And then, also what I would call digital exclusives. That’s a type of merchandise like the audio commentary I was talking about, extra content, exclusive content, bonus content, you can bundle all of that together. You can also do signed copies, which is pretty hard to do on retailers. You typically have to mail them something through FBA. And so, you can just do a lot more.
The reason that the money is more per reader, per customer, per backer, whatever you want to call it, is because bundles just, in general, you’re able to increase your revenue per sale.
If you launch your book on Amazon, you’re selling one thing. It’s the book, and maybe it’s in three formats, so maybe you’re selling three things, where on Kickstarter, every reward tier is a different offer. So you can serve more people as well, and add up different audiences. So that’s another difference with retailers versus Kickstarter.
On a retailer, you really want everything to be very tightly targeted, because you don’t want to mess up your algorithms, and also boughts and all that good stuff. Whereas on Kickstarter, you want to add up many different audiences.
So you want to have stuff that targets a fan, a very ardent fan. You want to have stuff that targets your lukewarm readers who are like, ‘Eh, I could read this book by this person if I’m bored, maybe not.’ And then you want to target people who have never heard of you before.
You’re adding up a lot more audiences. You’re adding up people who like print, people who like audiobook, people who like eBook, people who like fan stuff, and just adding all of that up to make a bigger Kickstarter funding.
Joanna Penn: And that’s the key, I think. Of course, I saw your project, Get Your Book Selling on Kickstarter, and I was like, ‘Oh, yeah. I want that book.’ And then there was, like you said, bundles of upsell, with obviously, you have tons of non-fiction books for authors, so I think you had a bundle of those, didn’t you? And then there was sort of some audio stuff and courses.
What happens is the person who’s engaged with the Kickstarter project, who just goes to that page, then finds a whole load of options where they can really decide what level they want to support at. And they may still just pre-order the eBook for $10 or whatever, right? But they could also end up spending more.
What about people offering things like consulting or one-on-ones and things like that, which is the access, the highest tier?
Monica Leonelle: Definitely. That’s another thing that you can’t really sell on a retailer. As a non-fiction author, if I’m selling a course, which we did sell a course, I can’t sell that on a retailer. There’s no way to upload a course on Amazon. And I can talk about it in my book, and then get people to my website, and then get people to my email list, and then get people to my course.
But I can’t just sell them the course directly while I’m selling them the eBook. Kickstarter allows me to do that. Not a ton of people are going to take me up on that, but let’s say 10% of the people who are interested in the book, they’re also like, ‘I have a couple hundred extra bucks and I want to get to know this person better, so I’ll also upgrade to the course.’ And that really matters, that extra money, that matters.
Whereas if I just sold them the book on a retailer, like Amazon, or any retailer, I’m using Amazon as the placeholder there, but if I just sold them the book, they may never take that long path to my website, to my email list, to hear about my course. They’re not going to take that long path there. I’m going to lose more and more people at every step of that.
So that’s a huge thing for non-fiction authors. And we do see for a non-fiction author, our campaign hit, it was one book and we had a lot of other offers as part of that, but it was ultimately one book, and we hit $21,500. And then, I haven’t done all the numbers afterward, but in the fulfillment phase, we got to over $24,000.
That’s another thing about Kickstarter that you don’t see, is that people actually fund higher because of the fulfillment phase. If Russell and I had launched Get Your Book Selling on Kickstarter just on retailers, we would never have made that much money. It’s too niche of a book.
We were able to make that money, and we had 537 backers. So we’ve probably ultimately had still less than 600 people interacting with our Kickstarter, but we were able to make close to $25,000.
Joanna Penn: That is really great. Thank you for sharing those numbers, because I feel like the Kickstarters we hear about, for example, Brandon Sanderson’s Way of Kings, which raised $6.7 million, a couple of years ago, and that was for a limited print edition, leather-bound hardback, so, a massive project. And obviously, he worked with a printer and blah, blah, blah, but it made it seem like Kickstarter is out of reach.
None of us are Brandon Sanderson. It’s unlikely we’re going to raise $6.7 million, to be honest. But what you’ve said there, I love that.
Let’s say $24,000 from just under 600 people. And, like you said, if you’d have just put that on the stores, then there’s no way you would’ve made anywhere near that. But let’s take it even lower.
If someone doesn’t have an audience at all, because obviously, you have books, you’ve got an audience, you did it with Russell, who’s also got an audience. What numbers should we go for?
Could we even put a Kickstarter up for $1,000, and aim really low at the beginning, and then build up?
Monica Leonelle: Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing platform. So, you have to set a funding goal. If you don’t hit the funding goal, you don’t get any money. And that’s to protect you, because if you’re doing an audiobook, for example, you actually need $2,000 to do that audiobook. So you don’t want to be on the hook to deliver it if you didn’t hit the goal.
What Russell recommends is that for every book that you’re doing on Kickstarter, you have a $500 goal. If he’s doing a trilogy, that’s his main thing, for the campaign, he would set the goal at $1,500. And this is not theory.
We’ve actually tested this with a group of 70 authors. Not all of them launched. We probably have had 20 launches, but every single one of our authors has funded. We’ve seen funding on poetry. We’ve seen funding on children’s books. We’ve seen funding on book boxes, for romance authors, for cozy mystery authors.
We’ve actually tested this with people. Some people, it was their first book. Everybody in our group has funded at over $1,000. And then, a bunch of them have funded at over $2,500. And then, some of the best ones have funded at over $4,000 as well.
If you had an audience, if you followed Russell’s system really carefully, those people funded at $4,000 to $5,000. And we did have somebody fund at $20,000, but they’re kind of a unicorn because they had a big audience. So, we did have that person as well. They’re non-fiction as well, so they funded at over $20,000. But the other authors, they were just able to fund because they avoided a lot of the mistakes, basically, that people can make during the Kickstarter project.
And some of them, it was their very first book. They haven’t launched on any retailers yet. I think one funded at, it was over $3,500, I’m pretty sure. And then one funded at over $4,000. I do think it’s good for people who have an audience of zero.
I do recommend at least reading the book that we have, Get Your Book Selling on Kickstarter, because that’s going to help you be able to do that. Because also, we see a lot of projects that don’t do that, and we can see why, because it’s a specific system, and there are some business principles that are not required for retailers that are required for direct sales. I think a lot of it is just learning direct sales, just, principles in general.
Joanna Penn: I think that’s really important. Kickstarter is its own platform, its own ecosystem. And there are people who just hang around on Kickstarter, right? That’s where they like to buy projects, because it means you can support creators you love.
I’ve supported lots of Kickstarters and other crowdfunding things, and I feel like I’m helping this creator, I’m getting something cool, and that might not be available in another way, and you’re part of the project, almost, aren’t you?
You mentioned mistakes. And the book is seriously good value, everyone. As I said, I backed the Kickstarter, so I’ve got the book, and it’s jam-packed with tips, so we cannot possibly get to everything.
Give us a couple of common mistakes that people make with Kickstarter that may jeopardize their project.
Monica Leonelle: One of the biggest things for publishing projects is a lot of authors want to fund their audiobook. Well, the challenge with funding your audiobook through Kickstarter is that Kickstarter is really focused mostly on print, and also eBook, as part of the print piece though.
You have to understand the publishing side of Kickstarter has been built through comics, children’s books, photo books, basically anything that doesn’t do well in print-on-demand or is not profitable in print-on-demand, those authors have had to go to Kickstarter, because they’ve got to do larger print runs, it costs more money to make a book.
So the people who have used Kickstarter in publishing are the people who were not able to use retailers for publishing. They weren’t able to do eBooks. They weren’t able to do print on demand.
The thing that sells best on Kickstarter right now is a print book, for obvious reasons. Sometimes we see people doing an audiobook-focused campaign, and it’s not that those can’t succeed, it’s just that you’re going to make probably, like, 3x to 5x more if you do a print-focused campaign, even if you end up using that money to fund the audiobook, even if you end up putting the audiobook as a stretch goal, or as part of your campaign, one of the reward tiers.
That’s another thing is you can sell multiple things. You should have a focus for your Kickstarter campaign so it’s not confusing, but you can sell other things on that page as well. You can have it focused on print, and then you can still sell the audiobook there. That one tweak, typically, you’re going to 2x to 5x your campaign just by making that tweak.
Another one that people really mess up is profitability on their reward tier. I’ll give you a really easy example. One thing that people do is they try to sell their paperback book for $15 with free shipping in the U.S. And they’re like, ‘Well, it only cost me, like, $3 to $4 to print my book through print on demand.’
But people are not factoring in the other costs, like the Kickstarter fees, the payment processing fees, the cost of shipping through Media Mail or, we’ll talk about shipping, actually, as the third common issue, but they’re not factoring in all these other costs.
You have to pack the books yourself. You have to get the books printed in a larger shipment, and shipped to you. So you’re going to pay shipping costs twice, once to ship to you, once to ship to other people. You have to pay for the packaging.
When you add all of that up, right now, even with good print-on-demand stuff, it costs about $10 to $15 to get that paperback to somebody.
What Russell does is he charges $25 for a paperback book and $40 for a hardcover. When you hear those numbers, you may be like, ‘Wow, that’s kind of a lot. And how can I do that if the book’s on Amazon for $14.99 with free shipping?’ The answer is you can’t.
That’s another thing is, if you’re doing Kickstarter, you’ve got to look at places where you’re competing with yourself. Amazon is always going to be able to print and ship a paperback book for cheaper than you can and faster than you can. So the only thing you have there that is valuable is exclusivity.
You see that with our project. We did our Kickstarter launch for the book, and the print book is not available for at least six months after that, because we have to give that exclusivity and make sure that the people who backed, they got something special out of it, basically. So we see that, where $25, $40, you kind of have to be able to be willing to raise your prices on retailers.
And then the shipping thing. This is something we see is people assume that because they’re books, they can ship via Media Mail in the U.S. I think UK also has Media Mail. It’s called something different in other countries, but it’s basically a special shipping because it’s a piece of media, so, a book.
People do stuff like they’ll add a bunch of merchandise, and the minute you add even a bookmark, a postcard, a pin, then you’re not in Media Mail territory anymore, you can’t ship that way, and the costs are double at that point.
You have to be very careful about what you’re adding as merchandise.
Lots of people are like, ‘I want to do coffee mugs.’ Coffee mugs are a very, very low-margin item. You’re not going to make money off of it, it’s expensive to ship, it’s breakable. You may have to replace stuff, so you’re probably going to lose money on that.
That’s another thing we see is people just don’t pick high-margin stuff. The highest margin stuff is going to be digital. And then, from there, if it’s a physical product, you need to look at what’s going to be higher margin. Books are high margin, enamel pins are high margin. You probably have to ship them separately, but they are high margin.
Typically, you can buy them for a dollar and you can sell them at events and cons and that sort of thing for $10 to $15. So, you have to look at what merchandise is going to be high margin, what merchandise is going to be very low margin. T-shirts, coffee mugs, like, that sort of stuff is going to be low margin. Even though it’s cool, you can have it in your Kickstarter project because you like it and because it’s cool, but it’s not going to make you money.
Joanna Penn: Some great tips there. Just one thing on the merchandise, I want to point out to everyone..
Point of information, you might not have the intellectual property rights for your book cover to put on merchandise. So don’t assume, people listening, that just because you paid a book cover designer, you have those rights, because there are different rights for different images for things like books versus merchandise. I think that that’s important as well, right?
Monica Leonelle: Absolutely. You have to have an extended license to put it on merchandising.
Joanna Penn: Exactly. You can ask. It’s not like it’s forbidden, but you have to ask, and you have to get that license. It might be free. You might to pay some more, but certainly that’s important. So, that’s really great on the issues.
And, in fact, this profitability is one thing people are very scared of. I’m scared of it myself. But I think what you’ve done there is really good, because you’ve essentially said bundle other things. For example, the signed print edition would be exclusive, but I could also bundle it with a digital audio and the eBook and a course or something. And that will make it better.
I do want to tackle some other fears. This is entirely me, but it might also be people listening. I love the way we publish, because I write my books, and then, literally, when I send it to my editor, the book is finished, so I know I can hit a pre-order. I never do long pre-orders. I do pre-orders once the book is essentially done.
I am really scared of the thought of having hundreds or thousands, hopefully, of people waiting for my book to arrive, because I don’t have to feel that way right now.
How do you tackle fear of having all these people hanging over you, waiting for this deadline?
Monica Leonelle: What Russell does, and I didn’t do this on mine because it was my first campaign, and I should have. So I’ll just tell you what he does, because he’s the person to watch.
Russell makes sure the book is completely done, the book or the books, completely done, edited, ready to ship, at least in digital. So he does that, and that seems to work really well for him. He can fulfill a campaign in less than a month at this point, because he just has really good systems around it.
The key point number one is, get your thing done before you launch your Kickstarter. And then the second thing I would say is think about fulfillment at the latest, during your Kickstarter. One thing that I did not do that I should have done is set up BackerKit, or, there’s other fulfillment services, but basically, Kickstarter’s fulfillment services aren’t great.
What it is, is after your campaign ends, you’ve got to send out a survey to collect information from your backers. If you do this through a fulfillment service like BackerKit, you can set it all up ahead of time, and you can send out your survey faster. There is an approval process of three or four days. That was something I didn’t know. I’m letting you know that it’s important.
You can set all of that up in advance and do it during your campaigns, so that you’re able to just move through that fulfillment process faster.
If you want to get your books printed, you can start to get your books printed ahead of time. But most people, they need the money from the campaign.
Kickstarter takes seven days to charge everybody, to get stragglers, the declined credit cards and all that. And then they pay out another seven days.
So you’re not going to get the payment for that for 14 days. Factoring in that type of stuff into your timeline can help too, on the print side. The digital stuff you can probably distribute it kind of quickly, I would say. But the print stuff, it’s at least 14 days.
Once you have that, then you can turn around and there’s a couple good printers. So, one is Mixam. It’s M-I-X-A-M. You can use Lightning Source, of course, or Barnes & Noble or KDP. And then another one, I think it’s called 48 Hours.
Knowing the people that you’re going to work with, or the companies that you’re going to work with ahead of time can help, too. Getting the price quotes ahead of time, which you should do anyway, before you even set up your campaign.
Even, you can actually also start to upload the files to those places ahead of time, especially if it’s your first one, so that you know what their system does, and the weird way that they need their files uploaded, that sort of thing.
You can start to do a lot of the fulfillment ahead of time. Russell is able to really predict his campaigns, from doing it so long. And we put those numbers in the book. I don’t remember them off the top of my head, but basically, you can predict, oh, I’m going to need 300 copies of this book, because I have this many backers at this level. You can start to predict that toward the end of your campaign as well, and get it set up ahead of time.
Joanna Penn: I think this is what scares me and puts me off. And if I’m feeling that, other people will too, which is there’s a whole lot to organize.
One of the beauties, of course, of self-publishing print-on-demand and eBooks and stuff is it’s, you upload it and you make a mistake, you just upload another file and it’s done. This print run thing just scares me.
Equally, I really want to do this. I’m really thinking of doing my next craft book, which will be How to Write a Novel. I have to do it. I have to do it. I want to do it. I think that it might be quite a good project.
You mentioned so many things there. And, of course, that cost would have to go into it too, but it feels like there’s a whole lot to learn. It’s like starting again on a whole nother platform.
Are there people like project managers you can just hire to run campaigns?
Monica Leonelle: It’s definitely starting, again, on a whole nother platform. If you’re familiar with direct sales, which a lot of non-fiction authors are pretty good at direct sales, there’s going to be less of a learning curve than if you are not familiar with direct sales, because there’s a lot of similarities.
There are definitely companies that can do Kickstarter for you. I don’t know of any that specialize in publishing. Russell and I, we have a community that we’re building around Kickstarter. That could be a place to go, too.
Finding somebody who has done a Kickstarter before, who maybe is willing to do some admin hours on your Kickstarter, that could be something good as well, so that it’s somebody who knows how to do a publishing Kickstarter, who knows how to do a fiction Kickstarter.
Because the other thing about Kickstarter is that they have games on there, they have all sorts of other categories, and trying to apply the stuff that works in those categories to a fiction book, it doesn’t always work as well. Selling a board game direct is not going to be the same as selling a book direct.
You have to be a little cautious if you’re using a company, just because there’s no company, that I know of, anyway, that is specializing in the publishing space. So that would be what I would look out for, but I think there’s definitely ways to get help.
Look for people who have done a Kickstarter before. Look for people who have done a Kickstarter with Russell before, or under Russell’s mentorship, because I think that they’ll be able to do a lot of that admin.
Joanna Penn: Oh, well, I’ll just put that out into the world then.
Monica Leonelle: I gotcha. I’ll let you know some people.
Joanna Penn: I do think, because we all have so much going on anyway, and yet I really feel like this would be a good project. So that’s out in the world, and we’ll see where that goes.
Let’s talk about marketing, because you mentioned authors who are in your community who didn’t even have an audience.
If an author sets up a Kickstarter, what are the best ways to market that?
Monica Leonelle: As more fiction authors get on the platform, I think there will be a network of support. Doing those, essentially, a cross-promotion, that can be a good thing.
One thing you can do is you can get a pre-launch page. It’s like a landing page that gives a little bit of info about your project, and people can follow you. Especially if you are typically just on retailers, and you’re trying to get your audience to move over.
This isn’t for the audience of zero question, but if you’re trying to get your audience to move over, I think that that’s a really great way to do so, is to send them to the pre-launch page and ask them follow you, because it requires them to set up a Kickstarter account, it requires them to show some sort of visible interest, and when your campaign launches, everybody who follows the project is going to get an email immediately.
It’s like a pre-order segment of your email list, basically, when people follow you. They’ll get emails throughout the campaign. I think there’s definitely one at the beginning. There may be a couple at the beginning. There’s definitely some at the end as well. I’m not sure about the middle, but one thing that I’ve seen is that the follower count corresponds to the total funding.
We see that, and it’s a way to talk about your campaign ahead of time, and test marketing messages, but then also to test to see how much interest there is.
That’s a huge one. The author swaps or the cross-promotion is a huge one. And we saw some of that with it being a community, we saw some people cross-promoting, and that probably helped.
Russell also says that if you can bring 25 people to your campaign, then Kickstarter will bring another 25, so that’s important. Campaign design is important. I know it’s a marketing question, but really, the marketing starts with the campaign design, same as the marketing starts with the product.
Campaign design is very important, and getting those reward tiers right from the beginning is really helpful.
And you’ll be able to tell pretty immediately. When those reward tiers are not right, you can tell, because the campaign’s not funding very quickly.
Being willing to change directions as well. One thing is when Russell has to raise a lot of money, he makes the timeframe longer on purpose because then if he’s watching the projections and seeing those numbers not on target, then he can get rid of those reward tiers.
You can limit a reward tier that’s not doing well, and then create a new one. You can do all sorts of stuff during the Kickstarter to kind of readjust to get back on target.
But other than that, any other way to market a Kickstarter campaign, or to market anything, to market a book, can work on Kickstarter. The one thing that does not work well is Facebook ads directly to the Kickstarter. And the reason why is because if you’re going to do Facebook ads on your Kickstarter, the best practice is to have a $50 per backer average or better.
Publishing projects, for books especially, they typically fall between $25 and $40. So publishing projects, in general, are just below the threshold. With non-fiction you can maybe get away with it, but what Russell has done is he does Facebook to email list, and then he does email list to Kickstarter.
Joanna Penn: As usual, email list is a good thing. But what’s interesting also is you mentioned there the pre-launch page, and the people that I’ve followed on Kickstarter, which now include you, obviously, I’m basically now notified. If you do another Kickstarter, I’m now notified, right?
If you’re going to do a Kickstarter, is it more about planning the longer-term ecosystem? Because I know, obviously, Russell does lots now. Because then otherwise, you’re kind of wasting that future potential.
Should you have a longer timeframe in mind for these projects?
Monica Leonelle: Russell does four to six Kickstarters a year. I wouldn’t start out that way. Because that’s a lot. I think planning on using Kickstarter maybe once a year or twice a year could be valuable, and maybe it’s only for the big projects.
One of the best projects that we’ve seen on Kickstarter is a never-before-been-published trilogy. So, maybe you typically write longer series, but then you just have this trilogy idea that you want to try on Kickstarter. Maybe you do one of those a year. That could be a good way to use it, because you’re right. So, if somebody follows the project, they get notified during the project. If somebody follows you as a creator, they get notified every time you do a project.
That’s key, and one of the reasons Russell’s projects do so well now is because a lot of people are following him. There’s that, and then there’s the third tool, similar to those first two, that Kickstarter sends stuff on your behalf, basically.
And then there are some other things, like “Projects We Love” is a popular one. You want to contact Kickstarter and tell them about your project. And then they’re like, ‘Oh, great. That’s a project we love.’ When they give you that stamp of approval, then people on Kickstarter, in the Kickstarter ecosystem, they start to look at your project, and the project appears higher in search results, and there’s all sorts of little things that go with that.
They also have Kickstarter project of the day, which our campaign was. I think it was in week five or somewhere around there. And it did have a big boost.
Our campaign also benefited from, I think Craig Martelle posted about it in the 20Books Vegas group, which was really helpful to us. We had a podcast interview with Joe Solari that was really helpful.
That was another thing I forgot in the marketing, because there’s lots of things. One thing that Russell does is he does some sort of live event/streaming in the first week, and something in the last week. And then maybe he tries to have a podcast interview scheduled for each week throughout the campaign, or some sort of other PR.
It could be a podcast, it could be a guest post, but some sort of visibility for each week throughout the campaign. That really helps too. Because it’s a fan-based platform, being visible to people, either in person, on video, or on audio is huge, because people get to know you, and then they want to support you in a bigger amount. Those types of things can be really helpful.
Joanna Penn: Brilliant. The book is jam-packed, and the book is Get Your Book Selling on Kickstarter.
Where can people find the book, as well as everything else you do online?
Monica Leonelle: People can find the book at kickstartyournovel.com. That’s our headquarters for the book. And then for me, you can find me at theworldneedsyourbook.com, and you can find Russell, my co-author, at russellnohelty.com.
Joanna Penn: Brilliant. Well, thanks so much for your time, Monica. That was great.
Monica Leonelle: Thank you for having me.
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Author: Joanna Penn