THE BLOG

Funding Fiction on Kickstarter

04/12/2013 03:18 pm ET | Updated Jun 12, 2013

Earlier this month, I read an article on The Huffington Post titled "10 Things To Know About Kickstarting a Book." I was intrigued, considering that I just finished my final draft of my third novel and am in need of funding in order to see it through to publication. I figured, why not try this route? But beforehand, I had to do a little more research into this up-and-coming fundraising platform.

Through several days sifting through various projects on the site, I found two distinct features that seemed to determine whether a project would succeed or not:

  1. A well-made video
  2. Awesome rewards

One project that caught my eye was a fictional book called STABBERS -- The First Young Adult Novel for Adults. Travis Betz, a writer/director, is the creator of the project -- which equates to his ability to create a really wonderful video. For authors like me without the skills to create such a video, I was concerned that I would have a handicap right out the gate. Betz's likable nature in the video, however, was what made me connect with him more than the incredible editing work of the video itself. I figured if I could make sure my personality came through in my own video, perhaps the rest would be of little consequence to potential backers.

Another project that intrigued me was one that had already been successfully funded past its goal -- to a significant extent. The project I speak of was titled "Robin writes a book (and you get a copy)." In this project, the video was nothing overly special, mostly just Robin Sloan in front of a camera talking about his past writing and this project -- where the idea came from and why he wants to write this book. The minor editing and effects he includes seemed fairly simple -- something I could do with the current software on my laptop. Like Betz, Sloan presents as an affable guy. All of these aspects came together for him and the $3,500 goal he started out with ended up landing him a whopping $13,942 instead.

Not bad. Not bad at all.

Along with the simple video Sloan created, I was also struck by the low cost of each of the rewards he offered his donors -- from $1 for a PDF of the book up to $59 for multiple signed copies and the donor's name in the Acknowledgements. This was one of the lowest ranges for rewards I've seen, with many others offering prizes past the $1,000 mark, if not more. This made me wonder what I should offer my own backers and how high those prices should go.

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I included a homemade video that I added some minor editing tools to, including some background music, photos and transitions. I determined a wide array of rewards for donors in increments from $1 (a shout out on my blog and a personalized postcard from me) all the way up to $5,000 (all rewards that come before, plus the donor gets to choose the topic of a 25,000-word novella I will write just for them). I wanted to make sure anyone could afford to donate, even if it was just a buck. I also set on a reasonable funding goal I thought I could reach in the 30-day span of the campaign.

So far, so good -- but even 30 days is a lengthy time to continuously promote a single project to everyone I know, not to mention everyone they know. As a writer with little to no experience in sales prior to this campaign, I definitely have a lot to learn. I'm hoping readers and potential backers will connect with me and the message of my book, and that connection will lead to funding success. I know I will come out after that 30-day mark learning a lot more about fundraising from an author's perspective.

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