Using Kickstarter

Spacewalk on Gemini flight, from NASA
Spacewalk on Gemini flight, from NASA….For some taking the plunge into self publishing, the first step may be a bit  like spacewalking

Taking The Plunge

It’s a constantly changing and strange world for those who have not yet broken into traditional publishing and are now considering a try at doing it themselves. Roughly speaking, authors have been self-publishing e-books for over 10 years now with the bulk of online activity coming within the last five. For the most part, Amazon has been the main place to post your e-book, but other venues such as Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple and Sony have been around almost as long. Following is a quick survey of some things that you might encounter if you decide to self-publish.

Content

Not only do you have to have content that is of a high quality, but also your written material must be in demand by those who are willing to purchase and read an e-book. This might sound like a no-brainer to many writers, but keep in mind that there is a lot of well-written, highly-conceived material that receives little attention by readers. In other words, to draw the interest of readers you have to hit the right chord that will make that person purchase your e-book. This is just as true for the short story priced at 99 cents, as it is for the full-sized novel that runs in the ten dollar range.

The Writer Glut

As time goes on, literary sales to owners of electronic reading devices may become more difficult as the numbers of authors attempting to self-publish increases and the number of e-book  readers levels off. This is just a matter of  numerical reality and common sense. Nowadays, when I put I put up a new title on Smashwords, it is off the charts (relegated to page 5 or greater) in a few hours. Back when Smashwords was just starting out, a newly published e-book would stay visible (in the first several pages of listings) for a few days.

Reversing The Trend

However, all is not lost for the newbie writer, for there are several ways to beat the odds and gain a loyal following. Let’s assume for a minute that you have already found a small niche with a couple of written pieces that readers respond to in a positive way, which hopefully includes an occasional purchase or two. From here the next step will be to bring more people into your readership base.

The best way to do this is to self-publish more work, while at the same time, letting everybody know about your newest release. Currently, blogging and participating in other forms of social media, such as Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, etc., are the best methods to get the word out……. And hopefully along the way, something that you wrote goes viral and you become the latest internet sensation…….BUT DON’T COUNT ON IT……for slow and steady seems to be the rule of the day.

Going The Kickstarter Route

So far I have been working on the assumption that you are doing everything, like editing, proofreading, cover design and formatting, on your own. If you aren’t, good thinking because bringing talented personnel to help out with these tasks can be a big boost to the way your final product appears to the prospective buyer. It can also be a big drain on your bank account.

This is where funding sites like Kickstarter can be an essential aid to the newbie self-publisher, because by the time your first publication is ready to go live, you will be more of a publisher than a writer. However, the plus side to all of this, is that going through a public crowd sourcing site, like Kickstarter will force you to plan ahead and seek good graphic designers, formatters, proofreaders and whoever may be required to get your little literary effort looking ship-shape. And then again another big advantage, is that once your project goes live, your potential readership will grow from the ranks of those who choose to support your project. And that my friends is a win-win situation.

contrary to popular belief, self-publishing is seldom an easy ride,
Contrary to popular belief, self-publishing is seldom an easy ride.

 

 

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An Innovative Idea For the New Year

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The Cat In The Hat In Las Vegas

What Is Kickstarter?

Kickstarter is a recent innovation on the internet that allows individuals and groups to raise funds online for a variety of artistic projects, that includes books, short films, movies, art exhibitions, magazines, installations and none of the above. Once described as the people’s NEA, Kickstarter was started in 2009 by Perry Chen, Yancey Strickler, and Charles Adler. Kickstarter begins when a particular project is approved by the site. Then a fundraising period is allowed, usually 30 days, where the proposal is displayed online so individuals can give to the project. If the project reaches its goals, then the money is turned over to the artist. If not the funds go back to those that gave the money. Kick starter’s success rate is very impressive as is the annual total amount raised for the various projects. In 2011, approximately 46% of Kickstarter’s projects were approved, generating just over 99 million dollars in the process.

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Triumph Motorcycle by Yesterdays Antique Motorcycles

One Writer’s Experience 

In March 2011 one writer, Nathan Bransford, wrote a lengthy blog about his successful Kickstarter experience. Nathan is a published author, who at one time was also an active literary agent. His blog is one of the most widely read in the online writing/publishing community. Nonetheless, he decided to publish a series of five novellas on his own as e-books. Instead of doing the work himself, he would farm out the book conversion, covers and editing. For this he allowed 2,000 dollars. After approval he made a video about the project and listed awards for various levels of donations. Once the project went public on the internet, Nathan quickly raised over $5,000 dollars. The project was financed and Mr. Bransford was allowed to keep the extra, minus the Kickstarter 5% commission. Not bad for a small project, but it is very important to note that Nathan Bransford has a huge online following.

One Very Innovative Idea

Since I have applied for Kickstarter funding, (my project was approved but never submitted for funding) I often receive e-mails from the organization concerning approved projects that the kickstarter staff really likes. Recently one such project really caught my eye. It was a design for a low cost wind-powered mine detonator. Inspired by a news story about ten Afghani girls who died in one mine explosion, while gathering firewood, the inventor, a man named Massoud Hassani invented a mine detonator that moves across the desert landscape of Afghanistan using wind power as an energy source. Here is a link to his project page on kickstarter and an image of his invention in a desert setting. So far Moussoud has raised over half of the 100,000 Euros that he has requested. Hopefully. he will realize his goal before the time expires.

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Mine Kafon by Massoud Hassani