Kickstarter Tip #6: Don’t overextend yourself on merchandise

August 28, 2016

Welcome back Wannabes and Creators to our special Kickstarter mini-season sponsored by Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs, our new Kickstarter. You can check it out at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

These are short tips we are running every day during the course of our campaign. It’s not a full show. It’s just a great actionable tip you can use to run better Kickstarter projects today.

Today’s tip is to not overstretch yourself on merchandise. Especially once a project is funded, creators generally go crazy offering all sorts of merchandise like t-shirts, mugs, and other very high priced items. The problem is that they are eating into their own profit margins and eventually end up in the red.

Merchandise is unnecessary in almost all instances until you have a well-known product. Just focus on making a great single product (unless your product is incredibly high priced like many tech products are). If you must make merchandise, don’t make anything with multiple sizes. Also, note that if you offer merchandise you can no longer ship your product media mail. 

That’s it for today. Come back tomorrow for another quick Kickstarter tip, and check out our new Kickstarter, Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

If you like this podcast, please subscribe, rate, and review it wherever you download your podcasts. 

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Kickstarter Tip #5: Make deposits into the good will bank

August 27, 2016

Welcome back Wannabes and Creators to our special Kickstarter mini-season sponsored by Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs, our new Kickstarter. You can check it out at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

These are short tips, we are running every day during the course of our campaign. It’s not a full show. It’s just a great actionable tip you can use to run better Kickstarter projects today.

Today’s tip is to make deposits into the good will bank before you make a withdrawal. Good will is a finite resource, and you will use it up when you run a campaign. In order to make running a Kickstarter palatable to your audience, you need to add value to people’s lives for months and months before you ask them to pledge to your campaign.

This could be from a webcomic, or free pages from your book, or a podcast helping them fix their biggest problems, or anything you can do to help add value to your audience’s lives. The more value you add, the more trust you will have with your audience and the fuller your good will bank will become.

You can’t be a take with Kickstarter, you have to give 10x more than you ask. You should be delivering 10x value to your audience so they will gladly give you money. In fact, they will consider it the least they can do after all the help you have given them.    

That’s it for today. Come back tomorrow for another quick Kickstarter tip, and check out our new Kickstarter, Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

If you like this podcast, please subscribe, rate, and review it wherever you download your podcasts.

 

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Kickstarter Tip #4: Keep your rewards simple

August 26, 2016

Welcome back Wannabes and Creators to our special Kickstarter mini-season sponsored by Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs, our new Kickstarter. You can check it out at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

These are short tips we are running every day during the course of our campaign. It’s not a full show. It’s just a great actionable tip you can use to run better Kickstarter projects today.

Today’s tip is to keep your reward simple. There is no need to add multiple options for similar items. Each reward should be targeting a specific buyer, and have enough space in between to clearly delineate the right buyer for that product.

I recommend you start with a $1, $10, $25, $50, and $250 for a standard book. Obviously, certain products will not fall into this range, but for a publishing product these five categories should be your base. You can always add more later.

That’s it for today. Come back tomorrow for another quick Kickstarter tip, and check out our new Kickstarter, Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

If you like this podcast, please subscribe, rate, and review it wherever you download your podcasts.

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Episode 34: The Secret to Getting Ahead in Comics with Jim Zub

August 25, 2016

Today on the show we have Jim Zub (www.jimzub.com).

If you like this episode, please subscribe, rate, and review it wherever you listen to podcasts, whether it’s iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, or any other aggregator.

Jim is an icon in indie comics for the candid way he talks about the ups and downs of making stuff. If you don’t know him, here is his bio from www.jimzub.com.

Jim Zub is a writer, artist and art instructor based in Toronto, Canada. Over the past fifteen years, he’s worked for a diverse array of publishing, movie and video game clients including Marvel, DC Comics, Capcom, Hasbro, Cartoon Network, and Bandai-Namco.

He juggles his time between being a freelance comic writer and Program Coordinator for Seneca College‘s award-winning Animation program.

His current comic projects include Dungeons & Dragons, a new series celebrating 40 years of the classic tabletop RPG, Thunderbolts, the return of Marvel’s villainous superhero team, and Wayward, a modern supernatural story about teens fighting Japanese mythological monsters.

So the reason I brought Jim on the show wasn’t because of Skullkickers, or his work on Thunderbolts, or even Wayward. It was because of an article he wrote about the economics of his book Skullkickers, and how much money he made on it over time. It was a fantastic breakdown of how even a book that is deemed successful might be losing money at the beginning as it builds an audience. I thought it was such a fantastic and candid look at the industry that I’ve been a fan ever since.

The weird thing is that we barely touched on that article. We did talk about it for a couple of minutes, but the thing we talked about most of all was treating people like human beings. Whether it’s your artists, or editors, or the press, or publishers, it seems more and more that people get forward by having a little empathy.

I’m dealing with this right now as I record my 31 tips in 31 days for the launch of my next campaign. A lot of my advice is on how to build an audience, press contacts, and connections. However, I have to make sure I include in every one of those tips that it doesn’t help if you are a douche.

If you are the guy that’s trying to game the system and find the most important person at a party or using the tactics I show just to make a good impression. If you are doing favors just so you can ask for a favor, it’s not going to work.

Because the key to this whole thing is you have to treat other people like human beings because you want to do so, not because they can do something for you. That’s the way that most of these creators get ahead. Yes, they are talented. Yes, they did the right things. But more importantly, they were genuinely nice people because they wanted to be.

We talked about Charles Soule on the show. I met Charles when Renzo was penciling Ichabod and 27: Second set at the same time. We struck up a conversation and I just remember how nice he was. He had no reason to be nice. He didn’t know me. I was just some kid with a floppy, but he was nice. He even bought my book. It was so cool. I still remember it to this day.

Jim is the same way. He gives value all the time. He does it because he wants to help. He wants a better industry and gives without asking. In return, he has an enormous amount of people that like and trust him. Those people want him to succeed and are more likely to buy his book just because they like him.

There was a post on my Facebook feed about ways to get rich, and I had to comment about being “rich” is a byproduct of providing value. It’s amazing how much more you can get back if you give value first. If your position is one of value, you build empathy and people want to buy from you. In return, you’ll make money.

However, the key is you have to provide value for the sake of value, not in order to get ahead. The byproduct is that you get ahead and make more money. I don’t even know if Jim thought about the psychology behind it before. He was just giving back because he wants to help.  

In this world, people say you have to be two of the following: nice, on time, talented. I think that’s horseshit. I think you should strive to be all three.

Look, you can’t just be supremely talented. That happens over time. You have no real control of being amazing. You can always control being on time and nice. Those are things you can control today, and should control today. Then, if you become talented, guess what…you’ll have all three and be in the driver’s seat.

Jim learned that long ago. He spent years making mistakes, but always being on time and polite. People knew he would get books in on budget and on time. He just kept hanging around doing the right thing, and opportunities presented themselves. Of course, Jim is also supremely talented.

But that supreme talent doesn’t come overnight. He wasn’t always able to write for Marvel. He grew into that role. But he was always on time and polite. It’s so important to control what you can control and work on those things you can’t.

If there is one wonderful example of that, it’s Jim Zub.

If you like this episode, please subscribe, rate, and review it wherever you listen to podcasts, whether it’s iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, or any other aggregator.

 

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Kickstarter Tip #3: Stretch goals should always make your core product better

August 25, 2016

Welcome back Wannabes and Creators to our special Kickstarter mini-season sponsored by Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs, our new Kickstarter. You can check it out at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

These are short tips we are running every day during the course of our campaign. It’s not a full show. It’s just a great actionable tip you can use to run better Kickstarter projects today.

Today’s tip is that your stretch goals should always improve the quality of your product. Most people have terrible trouble with stretch goals. Once a project funds the backers fall off because there’s nothing more to keep their interest.

You can change that by making sure your stretch goals always improve the quality of your project. For instance, if you have a book that is a 100-page soft cover comic, you can add extra pages at the end as a stretch goal, you can add an extra story, you can make your soft cover into a hard cover book, you could make your book a bigger size.

Meanwhile, the original backer is still paying the same amount for their pledge, and they are getting a better product. Nobody cares about the bookmarks and prints. They just want the coolest project they can get.

That’s it for today. Come back tomorrow for another quick Kickstarter tip, and check out our new Kickstarter, Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

If you like this podcast, please subscribe, rate, and review it wherever you download your podcasts.

 

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Kickstarter Tip #2: Send individual thank you notes to backers

August 24, 2016

Welcome back Wannabes and Creators to our special Kickstarter mini-season sponsored by Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs, our new Kickstarter. You can check it out at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

These are short tips we are running every day during the course of our campaign. It’s not a full show. It’s just a great actionable tip you can use to run better Kickstarter projects today.

Today’s tip is to send individual thank you notes to the people who back you. When somebody gives you their hard earned money, it is only polite to say thank you. It’s easy for us to treat our backers as money, but they are humans and adding the human touch will improve your connection.

On top of being the right thing to do, it will also stem the loss of backers toward the middle of your campaign because you are making a connection.

That’s it for today. Come back tomorrow for another quick Kickstarter tip, and check out our new Kickstarter, Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

If you like this podcast, please subscribe, rate, and review it wherever you download your podcasts. 

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Kickstarter Tip #1: Start Early

August 23, 2016

Welcome back, Wannabes and Creators. This is the first episode in our special Kickstarter mini-season sponsored by Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs, our new Kickstarter. You can check it out at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

These are short tips, we are running every day during the course of our campaign. It’s not a full show. It’s just a great actionable tip you can use to run better Kickstarter projects today.

Today’s tip is to start early. You should be building your audience for at least three months before you launch a campaign. You can’t be successful in crowdfunding without a crowd.

That means showing off your project, starting a Facebook group, beefing up your social media presence, making press contacts, and building a newsletter.

The more time you have to build your network and prep them for a Kickstarter project that’s coming, the more likely they will be to back your campaign when it’s time.

That’s it for today. Come back tomorrow for another quick Kickstarter tip, and check out our new Kickstarter, Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs at www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com.

If you like this podcast, please subscribe, rate, and review it wherever you download your podcasts.

 

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7 Steps to Crush it On Kickstarter

August 22, 2016

This is a reprint of a podcast episode blog you can find at www.thebusinessofart.us.

With my next Kickstarter starting tomorrow, I thought it would be a great time to revisit our free Kickstarter Course. This is a seven episode course to help you create, launch, fund, and distribute your Kickstarter campaign.

Originally launched as a series, I thought it would be nice to combine them all together in one massive episode and post so you didn’t have to keep searching through the archives for them.

If you like this podcast, please subscribe, rate, and review it on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, or wherever you download podcasts. It’s the best way to make sure you don’t miss any of our awesome content.

Lesson 1: Validating an idea

Let’s get down to it. Our first lesson is validating an idea, the initial step in any campaign. 
 
 Validating an idea is an essential component of any Kickstarter campaign, as it will tell you exactly how big your market is, and whether there is rabid interest, mild interest, or no interest in your product. 
 
 I always start my validation tests at Google, by typing in several keywords into the search engine and seeing how many results pop up. Google will tell you the amount of terms related to your search. The higher, the better. 
 
 You can also run this search by going to the Google Adwords Keyword Planner, and typing in your search terms to get an idea of how active and popular your search terms are with people around the world. 
 
 Then I head over to Amazon and check the rankings of products. Again, I type in some similar search terms to what I’m trying to create. Then, I click on the most popular products and see their popularity index on Amazon as a whole. 
 
 After that, I’ll know exactly how popular the product is, how likely I am to find an audience, and roughly how much I can expect to raise from on Kickstarter. 
 
 Finally, I will run similar searches on Kickstarter and Indiegogo to see what hot topics there are in my category.

By doing this very quick search at the beginning, I will see if somebody has already created my idea. If so, I would abandon it in most cases.
 None of the above are guarantees, though. Just because there are no searches on Amazon or Google that return what you are trying to create, it’s not necessarily a bust. It just means you’ll have a longer row to hoe.

Lesson 2: Finding your target audience

Finding your target market, and growing it, is the best predictor of how much you are going to raise. Most people think they are going to click the launch button and magic is going to happen, but that’s just not the case. It’s a lot of hard work finding, building, and nurturing your audience. 
 
 However, if you find your target market they will tell you exactly what they need and how to build a product that suits them. They are going to be your best beta testers and your best brand ambassadors. 
 
 They are not hard to find either.
 
 I start finding an audience before I ever leave the house my joining Reddit forums and Facebook groups. I join early and provide relevant comments and links to the members. I engage with them and find out what they are about. I truly care about what’s going on, not just as a marketing gimmick. 
 
 Then, I leave my house by finding Meetup groups in my area.While there may not be an audience for the exact product I’m trying to build near me, there is usually a group in the broad range of product class (i.e. if I’m trying to build a motorcycle motor, there is a motorcycle club even though it doesn’t specialize in repair).
 
 I join these groups a LONG time before I finish my product, provide updates, find friends, and talk shop. Then, when my product launches I KNOW people want it because I have a community of hundreds of people that told me they want the product.
 
 I hope that helps. Next, we talk about the best time to launch a Kickstarter product. 
 
 Lesson 3: The Best Time of Year to Launch

Finding the best time to launch is one of the biggest challenges with Kickstarter. There are several factors to consider, which all starts with picking the right time of year. 
 
 Here’s the truth: launching a Kickstarter after Thanksgiving or when school isn’t in session is usually a bad idea.
 
 Why?
 
 Well during the summer people tend to be on vacation, so they are less present online. 
 
 During the holidays, people are thinking about spending disposal income on gifts for people…NOT a product they won’t be getting until 4–6 months down the line. 
 
 Also, during the holidays you are competing with rock bottom pricing from Amazon and other retailers. 
 
 Another traditionally bad time to launch would be right around tax time because everybody has a tax bill due so the last thing they are thinking about is purchasing new stuff.
 
 On the flip side, right after tax season when people are flush with cash is a great time to launch a product because most people have disposable income at that point. 
 
 But that’s just one factor that goes into picking the right time. Another factor is buyer mentality. You want to hit a buyer with a product when it’s hot in their mind.
 
 We have a free ebook that talks all about this. You can download it here. All you have to do is register for an account.
 
 The Coolest Cooler was one of the biggest Kickstarter ever, and the creator launched his product in June (which goes against what I just said and proves there are no rules in business) when people were thinking about summertime activities. 
 
 However, did you know that he also tried launching the SAME product the previous December to disastrous results? 
 
 There are many contributing factors to that, but most experts attribute this to the idea that nobody was thinking about, or cared about coolers, in December, so nobody bought it. 
 
 Another factor is your convention season. Every industry has conventions, and it’s generally not the best idea to launch a Kickstarter during the biggest conventions because every big company is making announcements during CES and other shows. 
 
 While I do love having conventions as part of your launch strategy, I recommend smaller conventions where big companies aren’t launching competing products.
 
 There’s just no way to compete with Samsung and Apple. They will destroy you. 
 
 The last factor I consider is to backer psychology. People buy more when they are depressed. People are the most depressed during early months of the year, less so during the summer and around holidays, then there is another uptick around Labor Day until Halloween. 
 
 If I had to pin the best time down, I would say right after the New Year until March, and September-October as long as you can delivery by Christmas, are great times to launch.
 
 However, it may be different in your industry and it’s important to check for yourself using the factors we discussed.

Lesson 4: The Most Important Part of Any Kickstarter

The 99% of successful Kickstarter backer and pledge curves are the same. They are parabolas, with the beginning and end accounting for most of the backers and money raised.
 
 You can see this by checking out campaigns on Kicktraq
 
 As you’ll see, there will ALWAYS be a lull in the middle of a campaign where you only have a couple of people backing a day.
 
 I’ve only seen one campaign that was able to maintain momentum the entire campaign. This one. 
 
 If we accept that as fact, then the most important part of the Kickstarter is building for a HUGE release on the first day. 
 
 Seriously.
 
 You need to raise 33% of your backing on the first day. If you can do that, you’re nearly guaranteed to succeed. If you can’t, your path will be much harder. If you fall below 20% on your first day, you’re in for a very long expensive haul to get your project funded. We have a free ebook that talks more about this. You can check it out here.
 
 Having a fantastic first day means so much.
 
 It means that your backers are going to be spreading the word about your campaign all throughout your campaign. That’s a lot of free publicity. 
 
 Additionally, it means you will show up higher on Kickstarter, you have a better chance of people seeing your campaign, and when they see your campaign they see it as a success.
 
 People love to back a winner. If you can hit that 33% mark on the first day, people will want to back your campaign b/c success breeds more success. 
 
 Additionally, the higher your backers are at the beginning, the more people will back during the middle of your campaign. The higher your first day, the higher the minimum pledges will be in future days. 
 
 So finding those backers on day one, and telling people about the campaign, and getting as many people to back as possible is critical and you need to start early to do it. The bigger your network, the bigger your reach, and the more people you can hit on that first day. 
 
 Lesson 5: Creating Your Campaign

Creating a campaign comes down to three sections: the video, the copy, and the rewards. 
 
 First and foremost, you MUST have a video. No exceptions. Almost 70% of Kickstarters without campaigns fail. That means if you don’t have a campaign video, you only have a 30% chance of succeeding. 
 
 Additionally, people want to see you in the video, because they are buying you as much as your product. On Kickstarter, you and your product are intrinsically linked. 
 
 There’s a really simple strategy for making a video. It’s three steps. An Introduction of no more than 15 seconds, then a product demo where you show the coolness of the product for no more than 1:15, and finally you coming back on camera and making a plea for no more than another minute where you talk about the history of the product and why you need backing. Keep it positive!
 
 Total run time should be no more than 2:30! That’s two minutes and thirty seconds, not two hours. Keep it short. 
 
 Second is the campaign copy. You have to break up sections into easily digestible tidbits and assume people are going to fall off throughout reading it. Therefore, coolest thing at the top accompanied by an awesome image, then break up sections throughout the campaign to show off your product. 
 
 Remember, this is a marketing piece, not a short story. Nobody wants to reach big paragraphs. They also don’t want to wonder what you are talking about. If it doesn’t keep them interested, they will click off. 
 
 Finally, the rewards. Rewards need to be simple, concise, and explain what people get for their pledge. They do not need fancy names, just clear concise information. Each of your rewards has a purpose and should be targeted at a specific buyer profile.
 
 The key to a successful campaign is to make is simple, concise, and make sure you are clear about your goals.

Lesson 6: Distributing Your Campaign

Now you know how to validate an idea, find a target market, when to launch your campaign, what the most important part is of any Kickstarter, and how to create your Kickstarter campaign! 
 
 Now, we have to talk about getting your campaign into backer hands.This is where the rubber meets the road. 
 
 This is where most Kickstarters go bankrupt or at least end up massively in the red. That’s exactly why budgeting appropriately is so important.
 
 Getting a high-quality project into backer’s hands is the only way you can possibly hope to build an audience for the future, and that’s the goal of Kickstarter.
 
 If you think it’s about getting your project funded, you are WRONG.
 
 Funding the project is a part of Kickstarter, but it’s only a part. Your goal should be building an audience so you can keep doing Kickstarters forever. 
 
 In order to do that, you need to precisely know how much it will cost to get your project into backer hands, who is going to produce your project, how you are going to distribute it, how you are going to ship it and build in contingencies. This needs to happen before you hit the launch button
 
 You need quotes from your fulfillment, distribution, and shipping companies before you launch, and at different levels depending on how many people back. 
 
 Additionally, you have to keep your audience updated on everything, both good and bad. Here’s the thing. In order to build an audience, you have to communicate with your audience, be honest with them, and get them their project in a timely manner.

Lesson 7: Building Toward the Future

When you’re talking about building to the future, you have to deliver that Kickstarter first. Not just that, but you have to over deliver.

You have to add everything in your power to make people say WOW. Once they are wowed by your professionalism and quality, they are very likely to back again. 
 
 Now, once you finish your Kickstarter the first thing you need to do is find an email program like Mailchimp or Aweber and start communication with your backers on at least a monthly basis. Do not wait until your next project to keep people informed. They will forget about you
 
 Then, you need to start planning your next project. You are no longer a hobbyist. Once you finish your campaign and start to launch your next, you are a business. However, you can’t really go full force until after backers get their rewards.

That’s it for our free Kickstarter course. I hope you learned a lot that can help you crush your next campaign. If you want even more help, I have set up a fantastic course to help you crush it on Kickstarter. Usually $197, you can get a great deal right now by heading to www.thebusinessofart.us/kickstartercourse.

If you like this podcast, please subscribe, rate, and review it on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, or wherever you download podcasts. It’s the best way to make sure you don’t miss any of our awesome content.

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Episode 33: Succeeding on Kickstarter with Madeleine Holly-Rosing

August 18, 2016

This week on the show we have Madeleine Holly-Rosing. Madeleine is the writer and creator of Boston Metaphysical Society and a Kickstarter expert.

If you like this podcast, please click here to subscribe, rate, and review it.

Madeleine solidified her status as a crowdfunding authority with the book Kickstarter for the Independent Creator. Here is a bio from www.bostomemetaphysicalsociety.com:

A TV, feature film and comic book writer, Madeleine is the winner of the Sloan Fellowship for screenwriting, and the Gold Aurora and Bronze Telly for a PSA produced by Women In Film.

She also won numerous awards while completing the UCLA MFA Program in Screenwriting. In addition, Madeleine teaches a Kickstarter class for independent creators at Pulp Fiction Books in Culver City and has published the book, Kickstarter for the Independent Creator.

BOSTON METAPHYSICAL SOCIETY webcomic is the recipient of an HONORABLE MENTION at the 2013 GEEKIE AWARDS and was nominated for BEST COMIC/GRAPHIC NOVEL at the 2014 GEEKIE AWARDS.

The comic has also been nominated for a 2012 Airship Award as well as a 2013, 2014 and a 2015 Steampunk Chronicle Reader’s Choice Award. Her novella, Steampunk Rat, was also nominated for a 2013 Steampunk Chronicle Reader’s Choice Award.

She currently has novelettes, novellas and an anthology (print as well as eBook) based on the BOSTON METAPHYSICAL SOCIETY universe available at all major online retailers. Her goal is to eventually develop a series of novels based in this world.

Formerly a nationally ranked epee fencer, she has competed nationally and internationally. She is an avid reader of steampunk, science fiction, fantasy and historical military fiction. Madeleine lives with her rocket scientist husband, David, and two rescue dogs: Ripley and Bishop.

Madeleine is a big get for me even though you might not know her name. Ever since I started seriously going to cons about three years ago she has been a staple of all my favorite shows. Back before I exhibited myself and the bright shininess and mystic wore off, Madeleine was a bit of a mythical figure to me. Even back then she was building buzz around her book and people were talking about her.

There are two major ways to build a brand. Well, there are actually three. The third one is You are the brand. In the beginning, you and the brand are always synonymous, so I usually discount that as a given. There are two branches from you being the brand: your product can be the brand or your company can be the brand. For me, the company is the brand. Not one title defines Wannabe Press. Wannabe Press defines the titles we carry. However, you can also flip that and it’s equally strong if not better.

Madeleine has chosen the second path with Boston Metaphysical Society. She has chosen a singular product and built her brand around that brand. Because of that, she is as synonymous with Boston Metaphysical as I am with Wannabe Press. And she’s built the brand well. She’s nurtured it, grown it, and even grown beyond it as an expert in the field of crowdfunding.

But she wasn’t always an expert, and I love that before Madeleine had a strong brand, she started by doing reviews for our good friends Fanbase Press. Fanbase Press allowed her to learn more about comics, make friends with creators, meet influencers, and have her name linked to comic books well before she had a successful comic book of her own.

This is a great strategy and textbook for people that don’t have a strong brand themselves. If you are developing a product, you need to link yourself with other brands that deal with that product. Reviewing products is one of the easiest ways to start building a name in that space. You don’t have to have a finished product and you can already have bylines linking you to the major players. There are dozens of review sites that are looking for reviewers. I can’t recommend this strategy highly enough.

Once Madeleine had enough content, she launched a Kickstarter to produce the entire graphic novel version of her book. However, that book failed because she was looking for $25,000. She ended up raising a respectable $7,000, but with Kickstarter it’s all or nothing.

So she went back to the drawing board, took a look at her assets, and decided instead of trying for 6 issues she could just go back to Kickstarter for print funds just for issue #3 which she already had in the can. She did, and ended up raising $8,000! That was enough to print issue #4 too!

This is a perfect example of rapidly failing, regrouping, taking stock of your assets and then relaunching with the knowledge you learned. Madeleine talked about how the landscape of Kickstarter changed in 2013. It went from people throwing money at Kickstarter in almost ungodly sums to a more careful platform once people got burned one too many times with not receiving their goods.

She realized this, pivoted, and ended up having a massively successful campaign. We can all learn a thing of two from this, especially the idea that one doesn’t have to launch their dream project first. If you don’t have a big enough fan base to warrant a $25,000 campaign, figure out what you can support and make that. You shouldn’t be doing your dream project first anyway b/c it will never come out as well as you hope.

Madeleine proved her mettle dropping tons of knowledge bombs about Kickstarter, building and audience through cons and social media, and developing a successful brand. You could literally write a case study on how Madeleine built her brand. It’s textbook business strategy for somebody that wants to become a consultant. It was a delight to have her on and I hope you guys love it too.

If you like this episode, please click here to subscribe, rate, and review the show. And don’t forget, you can receive our entire Crush it on Kickstarter course, usually $197, for just $7.00 by clicking here!

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Hard Lesson 18: 5 Reasons Why Kindle Scout Blows Chunks for Authors

August 16, 2016

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Last month I tried Kindle Scout for my new novel Spaceship Broken, Needs Repairs. Kindle Scout gives you thirty days to launch a book on their platform as drive as many nominations as possible for your book. If you are chosen for publication you get a $1,500 advance and Kindle Press receives exclusive rights to both ebook and audiobook rights for five years.

My eBooks sell like crap and I’ve never done an audio book, so it seemed like a good idea to give it a go. Though even from the moment I started I did it hesitantly and with massive reservations.

I spent an entire month promoting the book on Kindle Scout, driving people to the site, and hoping that in the end it was chosen by Kindle Press for publication.

It wasn’t.

But before you think this is going to be a post about a bitter failure who is just crying over somebody rejecting him, I don’t really need Kindle to get my books out into the world.

I have a publishing company called Wannabe Press. There was absolutely no need for me to use Kindle Scout. I have distribution through Ingram and a loyal fan base that grows every time I release a book. I attend dozens of shows a year where we connect with people of all types. I can launch a book without Kindle Scout. In fact, I have many times before.

So why did I do it then?

Honestly? I wanted to try Kindle Scout out of sheer curiosity. I happened to have a book that didn’t fit into my normal release window. I was planning on releasing it on Kindle anyway in June and I thought Kindle Scout would be a good way to test the merits of this relatively new platform.

Additionally, I wanted to reward my loyal fans with a free book. If you nominate a book on Kindle Scout and it’s chosen, everybody who nominated the book gets a free eBook. I thought that would be a nice way to give back to fans who have supported me for so many years.

On top of that, the $1,500 advance didn’t hurt either. It would have put me in the green on the book without doing any of the heavy lifting involved when it came to marketing or distribution.

I already edited the book, commissioned a book cover, and laid out the book. Whether I released the book myself or through Kindle the initial profit would have been relatively the same, and I would have gotten the famous Kindle bump.

I really wanted that bump; the bump Kindle gives to their own books above other books. Kindle Press books always seem to get optioned quickly and rocket up the sales charts, much like how Netflix’s own shows are always rated 4.5 stars or above even if they are terrible.

I figured that if my book was chosen all my other books would receive a bump as well, helping boost the lagging eBook sales of my other titles.

More than all of that, though, I wanted to tell other people about my experience on the platform. If it was good I would have loved adding another launch platform for authors to use. If I had a bad experience, I could use it to tell others what didn’t work.

I would like to think that whether I was chosen or not my reaction would have been the same. After all, I didn’t really have high hopes at the beginning. My fears were only amplified during the campaign. The rejection was only the cherry on top of a very annoying month.

Before I get into the five reasons Kindle Scout is a mess, I will give it props for one thing. Kindle makes the nomination process seamless. Anybody with an existing Kindle account can nominate a book in less than 30 seconds. Additionally, setting up a book was as easy as creating a new book on Kindle Direct Publishing.

That is where my praise ends. Kindle Scout is one of the worst back-ends I’ve ever used to launch a product.

Here are the five biggest reasons why Kindle Scout blows chunks.

1. Authors have no idea how many people nominate their books

Kindle Scout provides only one statistic authors can use to judge the success of their campaign. It’s the only stat given when you log into your dashboard. That statistic is total views, which is an objectively worthless statistic.

Any online marketing person will tell you that total views mean nothing without the ability to track conversions and remarket to those people who didn’t convert.

My total views were 941.

If I have a 3% conversion ratio on those views, I would have 28 nominations by the end of the month. If somebody else with 450 views has a 7% conversion percentage, they have 31 nominations by the end of the month. On the outside, it looks like I did twice as well on my campaign, but all that mattered was the total amount of nominations, then I did almost 10% worse.

But all of this is speculation because absolutely nobody knows how well they did until Kindle sends them an email after their campaign is over announcing whether they’ve been accepted for publication or not.

So you are left in a very peculiar predicament where you don’t know how many nominations you actually have, or what amount would be considered “good”. With Kickstarter, you know what is considered good because they have metrics for everything, and you have your own metrics because you know exactly how much you need to raise. There are benchmarks to strive for which are non-existent on Kindle Scout.

2. Readers don’t know about the Kindle Scout platform

You would think that having a company as enormous as Kindle backing your brand would mean more people would know your product exists. Yet, almost nobody knows anything about Kindle Scout. It’s almost as if they don’t exist.

I had to tell people constantly about Kindle Scout, how the nomination process worked, and how easy it was to nominate somebody.

In truth, it’s way easier and cheaper to nominate somebody on Kindle Scout than backing them on Kickstarter. After all, if you nominate a book that goes through to publication then you get the book for free.

Yet I feel like Kickstarter has more brand recognition than Kindle Scout, which has Kindle right in the name.

3. You have no control over the mailing list when people do nominate your book.

Let’s say 50 people nominate your book. Hooray! Kindle just got 50 more people on their mailing list and learned more about their interests. Great for Kindle.

You, on the other hand, received nothing.

That’s right, you weren’t able to track your analytics, serve ads to those people, or even get their email addresses to market your work back to them in the future.

You are left with nothing after a month of work except for the potential that Kindle Scout will bless you with a check for $1,500.

That doesn’t work for me. I would way rather have the emails. That is how you build repeat customers and grow a brand. Without those emails, you are starting from scratch every campaign.

4. The nomination process doesn’t matter at all because only Kindle decides your fate.

What pissed me off the most when it came to Kindle Scout is that by most accounts nominations don’t matter. There are stories of people with 142 views being chosen by Kindle and people with thousands being left out in the cold.

I will caveat this point by acknowledging that without knowing the actual nomination numbers it’s possible that the person with 142 views actually had more nominations than the person with thousands.

For example, somebody with 142 views and a 10% conversion percentage would have 14 nominations while a person with 1300 views and a 1% conversion percentage would only have 13. So there is a chance of that, but it’s not likely conversion percentages swing that wildly. I will acknowledge it is possible, though.

Without statistics, there is just no way to know anything about the process. All you get is a cold email announcing your fate 14 days after the campaign ends. So it feels like it’s all at the whims of magical Kindle fairies with the fate of your writing career in their hands.

I much prefer a platform like Kickstarter where everything is transparent from the beginning and all that matters is if you hit your goal.

5. If you’re not selected by Kindle, you are left with nothing.

If you’ve spent all month marketing your book and you aren’t chosen, you get nothing except a waste of a month. There are no notes about what to do to improve your selection for next time. There are no emails. There is no community. You are just kicked to the curb.

If you want to learn more about how to improve a failed Kickstarter, there are millions of articles and hard lessons people learned in the trenches. You can absolutely learn how to make your project better for your next campaign.

Not so with Kindle Scout. The entire platform just feels…like a waste.

At least that’s how I felt like I wasted a month of my life. If I was selected for publication I would have felt relief for sure. A check for $1,500 would have been welcomed.

But that feeling of relief would have been mixed with more questions than answers.

Why was I selected? What criteria did I meet? How do I show other people how to be successful using this platform?

Kindle Scout just feels pointless and like I learned nothing.

In the end, I could have made more money launching the product myself through Kickstarter or online through my own store.

I felt ridiculous now because I’ve failed with this campaign. Now, I have to launch it AGAIN to the same people and ask them to pay for a product I couldn’t give away for free. Who will buy that product?

I feel like I destroyed this book launch because I went with Kindle Scout, and it will be less successful because I already told people I was giving it away for free. I’ve now valued it as free. How do you put a price on something that you’ve already acknowledged wasn’t worth anything?

I don’t know the answer to this. Only time will tell.

We’ll have another Kickstarter starting next week @ www.spaceshipbrokenbook.com and see if we can answer that question. But for now, I can’t recommend Kindle Scout lowly enough. I give it 0 out of 10 stars. May God have mercy on its soul.

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