How to easily convert documents to ebooks

laboratory blogIf I’ve ever given the impression that I know what I’m doing, I sincerely apologize. My usual approach is to decide I want to do something that I have no idea how to do and then go watch how-to videos on youtube until I figure it out. This approach pays off for me about 85% of the time for DIY home improvements and 50% of the time for auto mechanics, but every now and then I find myself getting stuck in a project where I can’t find easy step-by-step instructions. Creating ebooks was one such project.

Note that if you’re publishing through Kindle, Smashwords, or another storefront or storefront proxy, you probably don’t need to worry about any of this. This is only if you want to make your own books without going through another service first.

You don’t have to be a rocket surgeon to convert ebooks. On the downside, there will always be some unpredictable results and a high probability of running into a few brick walls, so if you have the money you might still consider hiring a pro to prepare your book for you. On the other hand, if you’re like me and you have only a shoe-string budget, all the software is free, and with a little patience you can make your ebook as fancy or as streamlined as you want.

Plus, you’ve got what I didn’t have: this step-by-step guide that will allow you to turn anything you write into an ebook in about 60 seconds and then ship it off to your Kindle, Nook, iPhone, or whatever device you prefer.

I’m sure there are plenty of others out there who know better ways and better software than what I used, and I welcome your comments on this post. I love to learn!

The Software

The software I used was Calibre (version 1.39), which isn’t actually meant to be a big powerful ebook editing tool but works wonders on that front anyway. Later in the process, I also used Sigil to do some post-conversion editing, but if anyone is interested in what I know about Sigil, let me know in the comments and I’ll do another post on that.

Calibre has a perfectly good user’s manual and ample user support resources and forums on line. What I’m writing here isn’t meant to replace any of that, simply to give you a quick-start guide to the workflow as well as a few notes about how to avoid some of the pitfalls I experienced.


Step 1: Importing

The first step is to transform your document. The only tricky part about doing this with Calibre is that you don’t start with Calibre. Actually, there’s a secondary program that will be automatically loaded and installed with Calibre, so find the app called “Edit Ebook 64 Bit” and start by opening that. (You can also access this from within the Calibre library, but I want to stick with one thing at a time.

The dashboard will look like this:

edit ebook

Step 1.A: importing

Open the File menu and select “Import an HTML or DOCX file as a new book.” I ran into some trouble here with some documents that wouldn’t open, so you can use your word processor to “save as web page” and then open the new HTML version. You can also do this if your word processor doesn’t save as DOCX.

Step 1.B: Table of Contents

Click on the little box that says “T” to open and edit your table of contents. If you don’t want to add a table of contents, do this anyway and then erase it.

Step 1.C: Bug Check

Click the little ladybug to run a bug check. You can then select “automatically fix” to take care of most problems. If there are other problems that you don’t know what to do with, you can ignore them, search online for what they mean, or go back and re-save your document as an HTML and then start over from 1.A.

Step 1.D: Embed Fonts

If you want to use any special fonts, click on the first “A” tile and then the other “A” tile. The first one embeds the fonts you used and then the other one gets rid of all the info about the embedded fonts except what you actually use (which helps cut down file size, but you might not want to do that if you expect to do some post-conversion editing.

Don’t forget to save early and save often! The “save” button looks like a weird square yin-yang thing. (I know a floppy disk is a totally obsolete icon, but this seems like a weird thing to replace it with…)


Step 2: Prepping the ebook

If all went smoothly (and it doesn’t always go smoothly), Step 1 allowed you to create a fledgling ebook in the “.EPUB” format which can be used on most non-kindle devices. If you just want bare bones stuff, you can stop here. Otherwise, open the “Calibre 64 bit Ebook Management” app, which should look like this:

calibre desktop


Step 2.A: add the .epub

Add the book. Simply click this and find your .EPUB document that you converted.

Step 2.B: metadata

Click the big “i” in the blue circle to edit the metadata. Fill in all the things you can. This is also where you can add your cover and do a few other things. It will look like this:

calibre metadata

Step 2.C: Convert for Kindle or other formats

Once you’ve got all the metadata squared away, click “Convert Books.” This will allow you to change the format to fit other e-readers, including PDFs and all Kindle formats. (see step 3 below for more on this.)

Step 2.D: Preview

Whatever you do, don’t assume that it’s going to turn out looking the way it should. Check it out in the previewer. If you’re preparing it for the Kindle, you might want to download the “Kindle Previewer” app from Amazon so you can see how it looks on different devices. Of course, you can always load it on your device and see what it looks like there, too!

Step 3: Converting to other file formats

You only need to do this if you want something different from .EPUB.

calibre conversion 1

Step 3.A: Select Ebook Format

Select this first or else it will reset all your other settings when you change it later.

If you have a Kindle Fire or an Android device, select .AZW3 because it will support more fonts than the .MOBI.

If you have a Kindle e-ink device (such as the paperwhite or the DX) of if you want to use “Send to Kindle” desktop app, select .MOBI—but be warned that .MOBI doesn’t support many of the fonts that .AZW3 can.

Kubo, iBooks, and Nook all use the .EPUB format and maybe a few others. Check your device’s documentation to find out for sure.

Calibre can create MANY other options. Find out what works for your device or play around with the options, because there are lots to choose from!

Step 3.B: Embed Fonts

Just to be safe, click on “Look and Feel” and then check “embed referenced fonts” and “subset all fonts.” If you’re feeling brave, you can try out the other options. Let me know what they do!

calibre conversion 2

What if it doesn’t look right???

If you want the book to look exactly, specifically, precisely a certain way, you might be disappointed. As web designers know, the better you make it look for some devices, the worse it will look on others. In the worst cases, you may have to go back to the original document, make changes, and then run it back through all these steps. You can also get Sigil, a WYSIWYG ebook editor. If you’re interested in that one, let me know in a comment and I’ll give a quickstart guide like this one.


That’s it! Go enjoy your new ebooks and revel in your power to make things appear on your e-reader.

If you have any questions or advice to add, please leave them in the comments.

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Brick and the EMP blaster

Brick the biker and the portable EMP blaster (from Mad Science Institute and Three Weeks Before Doomsday)

Brick the biker and the portable EMP blaster (from Mad Science Institute and Three Weeks Before Doomsday)


My sketching abilities are coming along a little, I think… or else maybe I’m falling back on the more familiar forms of comic book-style bruisers. Here I’ve shown Brick from his story in Three Weeks Before Doomsday.

You might have noticed that I modeled the EMP blaster on the dome of Wardenclyffe Tower. Tesla would not have been happy to have that tech fall into the hands of someone like Brick!

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Kickstarter lab for writers: updating backers

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I know a guy who’s two years late with his Kickstarter delivery. Actually, that’s not entirely uncommon in successful projects, but all his backers are still perfectly happy—all because he keeps them regularly updated about the process.

When people invest in a Kickstarter project, they are hoping to get more than just an item. They want in on the process, which grants them bragging-rights to say “I helped make that happen” or “I knew about this before anyone else.” A big part of feeling involved is receiving the updates from a project creator about how it’s going and what’s happening.

Not only are these updates a good thing for the backers, they can also be a powerful platform for the creators. You have direct, personal access with all the people who are most interested in who you are and what you’re up to. Don’t be afraid of telling them how it’s going or where they can find more info. You can entice them into shifting to higher backer levels or encouraging them to boost your signal, or even direct them to other planks in your platform, such as your blog, Twitter, Facebook page, or email list.


Get personal, not spam-y

One go-to topic is your story: tell us how it’s going with the Kickstarter campaign, the writing process, or anything else about your life. Keep it short, though: make it as succinct as possible (but no more succinct than that).

Whatever you do, DON’T treat project updates like blatant commercials. Keep it focused on some new, nifty aspect of your book, give them sneak peeks, or tempt them with bonus content. As long as you have a message other than “buy my book,” you should be fine. For an example of how to do this, look no farther than i09, xkcd, or your favorite website. If all they had were ads, you wouldn’t go there. Instead, they give you some content and put the ads on the outskirts of the page.


How much and how often?

There are different schools of thought about how often you should send out updates, but I only send when I have something to say (even though I can usually find an excuse). I aim for at least once a week during the project. After the campaign, I recommend absolutely no less than once a month.

When it comes to length, shorter is better. More sentences means fewer people will read the whole email. There’s nothing wrong with a 2 sentence message! Sometimes people just want to hear your voice.

Pro tip: send a thank you email to each and every backer. Okay, this doesn’t exactly count as a backer update because it’s one person at a time, but it has HUGE advantages. Not only does it keep people from changing their minds and cancelling their pledges for whatever reason, it’s also just a nice thing to do!

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Thunder drones and lightning drones from Ghost Storm

thunder drone pencil


These two drone types are central to the villain’s plans in Ghost Storm.

The thunder drones swarm an area by the thousands and use microwave emissions to alter the temperature and humidity of a region to tamper with larger weather patterns. Over time, their accumulated effects can induce thunder storms or even tornadoes if other conditions are right.

The lighting drone is the mother ship for the thunder drones. It can fly like a jet for long-range missions, then rotate its wings to hover in place while relaying the thunder drones’ data. They are also equipped with a laser so that they can hover above an ionized could and fire down through it. The laser doesn’t damage its target, but it creates a plasma channel through the cloud so that lighting follows. With this device, lightning really can strike twice if that’s what the evil mastermind wishes.

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Casting call for Mad Science Institute audio book narrator

audiobook image 3

Production: Mad Science Institute


Production Size: Independent

Project Length: Audio Book ~ 5 finished hours

Project Format: Digital Audio

Posted On: 6/24/2015

Production Location: Everett, WA

Production Company: Siege Tower Entertainment

Auditioning Online Only


Compensation: $400 flat fee.



Sophia “Soap” Lazarcheck is a girl genius with a knack for making robots-and for making robots explode. After her talents earn her admission into a secretive university institute, she is swiftly drawn into a conspiracy more than a century in the making.


Character Bios:

Sophia “Soap” Lazarcheck (Female, Young, Any Ethnicity)

Soap serves as the narrator for half of the novel. She’s highly intelligent, quite nerdy, and has a distinct tendency to be oblivious to innuendo and the mechanics of social interaction. Although she’s only 16, she has just enrolled in college and for the first time in her life feels like she belongs to something. When her new school is threatened, she must defend her new home and new friends.

Supporting characters (Various genders, ages, and ethnicities, Young, Any Ethnicity)

Other character voices must be distinctive enough not to be confused with Soap or with each other.


Auditioning Process:

Record a reading of the attached novel excerpts, save file as YourName_MadScience as the file name. Please save audio files in mp3 or wav format. For example: JaneDoe_MadScience.mp3


Additional Requirements:

Must have access to own recording equipment.




My experiment exploded. Again.

Now I’m thirty feet above a concrete sidewalk, dangling from the railing of a gigantic, burning doomsday machine designed to bring civilization as we know it to a sudden and very messy end. Oh, and BTW: my fingers are slipping.

My name’s Sophia, but people call me “Soap.” They also call me a mad scientist, which I hate. Everyone knows mad scientists are old men in white coats who build monsters and death-rays and stuff and then laugh like maniacs while trying to conquer the world. I’m a sixteen-year-old girl, and whoever heard of a girl being a mad scientist? Besides, I don’t mean to keep blowing things up. For me, explosions are just a bad habit, like talking with your mouth full or chronic butt-dialing. The only difference is that my bad habit causes widespread property damage.

So how did I end up here? It sort of started when one of my gizmos accidentally caused a couple dozen cell phones to explode while they were still in people’s pockets. On the up-side, that experiment got me a college scholarship. On the down-side, it set off a chain of events that included chasing a lizard monster through a radioactive basement and being kidnapped by a motorcycle gang. And now I’m stuck between burning alive and falling to my death.

To be fair, half of the story belongs to my cousin, Dean. For him, it started 16 days ago, when the woman he loved showed up out of nowhere. This was the same woman who offered me admission to the college, so it’s probably fair to start the story with them.




Victor led me back to a table by the far wall, near the stairs that went up to the study area. Nikki was sitting there as pretty as always in a pink sweater. She always wears pink, probably because it goes so well with her chocolate-colored skin tone. Even her lab coat is gumball-pink, and on the back it says “Better to be Feared than Loved” with big skull-and-crossbones symbol to represent poison (not pirates) because she’s a chemist. A skull-and-crossbones is kind of a funny thing to see embroidered in shades of pink, but Nikki says it’s important for a lady to be pretty when it suits her needs and dangerous when it doesn’t. She says it in her nice southern accent which always makes her sound as sugary as sweet tea, even when she’s cussing someone out.

“Soap, darlin’,” she said as I sat down. “You look miffed. What’s on your mind, sugar?”

I like it when she calls me nice names, because it’s a sign of affection that even I can’t miss. This time, however, it didn’t cheer me up.

“That stupid zombie tag game!” I just about yelled. “They tagged me with sock balls. Sock balls! I never want to play again.” I slurped up another cheese-covered chip and thought about it. “On the other hand, if we can eliminate that one last human player, we’ll get to start a new round right in time for Halloween, and this time I could be prepared for the sock balls…”

Nikki cleared her throat, which I’ve learned is a polite way of saying “shut up,” so I listened.

“I called y’all here to talk about the future of the Institute. Particularly the new students.”

“What do you want us to do?” Victor said to Nikki. “The newbies are smart. They’ll figure things out. Meanwhile, I’ve got research to do.”

“That’s not a very welcomin’ attitude, Victor,” she said. “Besides, I happen to know that the president of the university wants to shut us down if we don’t fill up our student roster. What’s more, he told campus security to keep an eye on us—all’a us, new and old.”

“Wait a minute,” Victor said. “How do you know what he said to campus security?”

“A lady never reveals her sources,” she smiled mysteriously. “The important thing is that we’ve gotta be kind to our new students. Make sure they stick around and stay out of trouble. You know: take them under our wings.”

Victor drummed his fingers on the table. “Are you sure you’re not just trying to become queen bee by organizing everyone around you?”



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Kickstarter lab for writers: working with vendors

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When you order Kickstarter rewards for your backers—be they diploma covers, t-shirts, or even copies of the book itself— you just can’t help biting your nails in anxiety. Will it look as good as the computer-generated mock-up online? Will your backers hate you for a bad product? Will people demand refunds?

Sometimes there’s just no way to tell until you open the box and hold an item in your own (nail-less) hands, but there are some ways you can increase your chances of getting stuff that looks good.

As I asserted in a previous post, you’re better off sticking with improving the core product rather than adding bunches of random add-ons. Still, if you have a good idea for some nifty swag, it can feel too good to pass up—and if you can’t pass it up, there may be some backers out there who can’t pass it up, either.

This time around, I made sure not to have to work with too many vendors on too many things, especially because I’ve already bifurcated my Kickstarter project into both a new novel and an audiobook of the original novel. (I’ve never seen anyone do that before and it’s probably a bad idea, but that’s why this is an experiment).

In a previous post, I discuss what kind of add-ons you might consider. Once you have a few good ideas, however, you have some homework to do because you need to make sure everything is not only affordable but also up to your quality standard

In the past, I’ve been very lucky with hiring third parties to make some of the add-ons for Kickstarter rewards. Full disclosure: a big part of this was dumb luck. This time around I was smarter because I knew a lot more about what to do and who to ask.

Here’s a rundown of how to find reliable, quality third-party vendors:

  • Ask a friend. You might be surprised how many people around you have ordered goodies for their company picnics or t-shirts for their bowling leagues. Word of mouth is the most reliable endorsement for a vendor.
  • Ask a stranger. This doesn’t mean you have to be the crazy person on the subway who mutters incoherent diatribes about crowdfunding and economies of scale, but you shouldn’t be shy about your project, either. Put out an all-call for good vendors on Twitter or strike up a conversation with your barista in the morning or your readers at a book signing. Tell them how excited you are about your project, because you never know where those conversations will lead.
  • Ask people at a convention. If you get a chance to go to a convention such as Comicon, Gencon, or any other geeky gathering, don’t be shy about introducing yourself to the creators of books and games that you admire or seeking out panels where they appear. Many of them will be glad to tell you about their experience with promotional items and recommend some places you can go.
  • Ask the companies. Don’t be afraid to search out a few vendors and email or phone them. They’re there to help you, and any place you want to work with will certainly welcome your questions.
  • Ask for samples. While you’re on the phone with those companies, you might ask if you can get a sample of the product. They may or may not be able to provide free samples for small orders, but you might be surprised. A good friend of mine created fleece sweatshirts for our gaming group and even though he was ordering only a dozen or so, the company 4imprint sent a free sample sweatshirt with our logo embroidered in it. Their customer service was amazing, and most of their items are made in the USA. (Maybe that takes us back to #1: ask a friend, but 4imprint is so good they deserve the shout-out.)
  • Go with what you know. I’m having the t-shirts made at the same screenprinting shop that I once used to decorate lab coats. I know them, they’re very affordable, efficient, and friendly. Nothing beats firsthand experience for knowing who gets the job done!
  • Make it yourself. I’m also making some of the items by hand—well, by hand and with a 3D printer. And when I say “by hand,” I mean by the hands of a bunch of high school students. The hazard symbol lapel pins and earrings I’m offering this time around are designed and created by members of the Technology Student Association at my local high school, and for every one that sells I’m paying $3 that will help them go to their state technology competition. Point being: if you hand-make items, you have ultimate control over quality.

ks add ons jewelry

So that’s what I know. Got any other tips or vendor suggestions? Let us know here in these comments or on Facebook or Twitter.

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Choop the "Chupacabra" (from Mad Science Institute and The Non-Zombie Apocalypse)

Choop the “Chupacabra” (from Mad Science Institute and The Non-Zombie Apocalypse)

Choop got his name when the members of the Institute mistook him for a Chupacabra. As such, his curious nature and stealth abilities make him the perfect mascot for the Institute.

Choop’s actual origin is even more strange: he’s a clone of an ancient, highly intelligent species that roamed the earth 200 million years ago. This species, so-called “the predecessors,” left behind many curious objects, but nobody knows why they suddenly disappeared from the face of the planet…

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Kickstarter lab for writers: the most important thing of all

laboratory blog

This can’t be emphasized enough: you must get the word out about the Kickstarter for your book.

Once upon a time, you could simply slap anything on a crowdfunding site and people would find it, but you can’t count on that anymore. In fact, there’s a pretty clear link between how successful a project becomes and how many Facebook friends the creator has. This just goes to show that the louder you can bang your drums the more people will want to march with you.

Followers are wonderful, amazing, supportive people. Beyond determining the success or failure of a Kickstarter campaign by backing it or by helping find other backers by sharing and retweeting, they also encourage you, back you up, geek out about the things you love, and generally make your online life worth living. I’ve made many new friends since publishing, and it doesn’t seem to matter that I’ve never met some of them in person. Maybe not everyone will be as lucky as I have been with finding such quality friends online, but I am thankful for each of them every day!

When it comes to finding followers and spreading the word, nothing in human history can rival the effectiveness of the interwebs. You can (potentially) have (almost) as much reach as a big-money corporate marketing campaign, and do it all for (as little as) free. However, even though it might not cost you money, it will cost you something else: time. Be prepared to put in the quality time with your screen not just for hours a day during your campaign, but also as far in advance of your campaign as possible. A person could spend years developing her or his social media network prior to launching a Kickstarter project… and it would be time well spent.

I’ve said before that the best thing you can do for your Kickstarter campaign is to think not how soon you can launch it, but how late. This is especially important for building up the social media platform.

Before looking at some specific social media sites, here are a few different guidelines as well as some ways you might use social media to your best advantage:


Guideline #1: Make Noise.

It seems like no matter how often I post, after the event ends there’s always at least one person who says “Darn, I wish I had heard about that!” Depending on your activity levels, you should post on all your favorite sites AT LEAST four times: once before, once to announce the beginning, a reminder in the middle, and a “last day” reminder. That’s a minimum—posting four times a day is probably even better. It helps if you have some extra “news” to report along the way, such as new backer levels added or exiting breakthroughs in backer numbers or pledge amounts. This time, I’m going to run a poll to allow backers to pick the short stories that will come with the package, so that should add some excitement along the way.


Guideline #2: No Spamming.

You want to make noise, but it’s not cool to be repetitive or blatant. Too many “buy my book” posts is the quickest way to kill your following.

I read somewhere that the “correct” ratio is 1 advertising post to 3 amusing posts. I guess that works for some authors because I see many who post every hour on the hour of the day and night (using a bot, I’m sure) and exactly one in three is a sales pitch. These authors often have large followings, but I routinely unfollow anyone and everyone like that. If that means they unfollow me, fine: it’s not like a bot or a relentless marketer is going to buy my books or be my friend anyway.

bookmark back

Different Strategies for Different Networks

The world is awash in social media outlets these days. Many writers have had amazing success by establishing a presence in a new social media site early and attracting throngs of followers before the competition arrives. Of course, there have been plenty of social media failures, which means plenty of authors who have received nothing for their hours of work.

Here is a quick rundown of sites and some basic marketing strategies for each.

  • Facebook. I try to keep my personal Facebook account for people I actually know, which means that for me it definitely gives me the highest percentage of backers-to-friends out there. Aside from announcing the project, some other things you might do here include changing your profile pic and banner to show that you’re doing a Kickstarter, creating an “event” and inviting everyone, and creating a page for the book or for you as an author and inviting everyone to like it.
  • Facebook page. This is a good way to meet with people on Facebook who aren’t your personal friends. If you don’t have one you should consider setting one up immediately and inviting every single one of your friends to start. Don’t post the same things to your wall and your page because that means your friends may see it twice, but you can use it as a place to post interesting article and fun memes that are tangentially related to the genre or subject of your book.
  • This is a small-business marketer’s dream, because it allows you a chance to reach infinite people. Some writers like to follow almost indiscriminately in hopes of getting others to follow them back (and some even use software to do this automatically). I used to, but now I regret it because I have a lot of non-human post-bots cluttering up my timeline. In any case, start months if not years before you launch and post as regularly as possible. I find it hard to keep up, but try to post at least once a day and much more often if possible. The average lifespan of a tweet is probably half an hour, so unless you’re posting consistently and at different times of the day you won’t be likely to reach all your followers.
  • Email list. If you’ve got one, this is the time to make it count! Email still seems to most people like the most direct form of communication (short of text messages), so it’s not a bad idea to carry a clipboard with you and encourage everyone you meet to sign up for your newsletter.
  • Dust off those photoshop or GIMP skills and make yourself some pictures you can post here. The nice thing is that it re-posts to Facebook and Tumbler (as well as Twitter, but it only displays a link rather than the whole picture) so you can kill several birds with one jpg.
  • Although not a social media site of its own, Hootsuite (as well as several other apps and sites like and tweetdeck) can help you organize and schedule posts that will appear on multiple sites at once. It will also feed your message streams into one app, so it can truly be one-stop shopping if that’s what you want.
  • Snapchat. Snapchat allows you to make posts that will disappear 30 seconds after the recipient opens them. This seems to be the popular site with the kids right now because it gives them the illusion of privacy (their parents can’t read the messages, but they don’t seem to know that marketing algorithms still can). Due to the short lifespan of posts and the one-to-one friend format, Snapchat seems useless as a marketing tool to anyone except paid advertisements, so if you figure out how to make this work for book promotions let me know.
  • Blog. I’m probably going to get some hate for killing this sacred cow, but I think blogs are passé. There was a time when people were amazed and delighted that someone was adding WORDS to the INTERNET (can you believe it!) but now there are too many words out there to digest in ten lifespans, so unless you have some powerful content that will draw people in, you might do just as well with a Facebook page. Still, it certainly can’t hurt, especially because most blog platforms allow instant re-posts to other social media outlets.

If you can make videos for Youtube, rate content for reddit, or do whatever it is people do on Tumblr, then ride those ponies as far as they can go! I’d love to hear your strategies in a comment right here on this post or on Facebook or Twitter.

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Kickstarter lab for writers: stretch goals

laboratory blog

If backers want to get their hands on your project then they will be motivated to increase their pledge, boost the signal, and spread the word… up until it hits the funding goal. Then they’re guaranteed what they ordered, and their work is done. But you can keep the momentum going through the magic of stretch goals!

Stretch goals are an unofficial part of Kickstarter but many, many campaigns use them to great effect. The idea is simple: if you hit a certain number of supporters or dollars beyond the minimum, then you’ll add something extra to the project.

Of course, most projects that get funded do so by only a small margin, so stretch goals may never become important. Still, it’s a good idea to think about them ahead of time because you wouldn’t want to miss out on the potential momentum they can create in certain situations.

The best stretch rewards are those that improve the product for everyone. If all your backers have some stake in getting to the next stretch goal, then they’ll be more motivated to help find other backers or even raise their own pledge levels.

Some stretch goal ideas include:

  • Extra Content. This bonus is probably the writer’s best friend, because you can add your short stories. If you offer them electronically rather than on paper, there will be minimal or no production cost. If you have several short stories to put together into a paper anthology, it will have an even a wider appeal. For my first Kickstarter, I did an anthology called THREE WEEKS BEFORE DOOMSDAY, and I made it a limited edition collector’s item that readers can only get directly from me and not through stores. This worked well.
  • Bonus Art. If you have the ability to create alternate covers or extra interior illustrations, then those could make great stretch goals. If not, with very little effort you can transform your cover image into a desktop screen or some other easily-emailed perk. See my previous post on ways to design the visuals for your project.
  • New reward option. Many project offer a new backer level and/or add-on. You might consider setting this to trigger if the project funding has reached a critical mass where it would be worth ordering the minimum amount of a certain item. Beware that most people aren’t going to be motivated to get you to the next level just for some coffee mug or t-shirt that they would have to pay for anyway. If you’re going to have a new add-on, make sure it’s something totally awesome that they wouldn’t be able to get elsewhere.

It’s important to plan several stretch goals in advance, although you can always keep a few hidden to reveal at a dramatic moment part way through the campaign.

For my experiment this time around, I decided to have two tracks of stretch goals, one for total money raised and one for total backers pledged. I anticipate that this will work because this project basically offers two main products (the new novel and an audio book of the original novel). For the backer’s track, I will start reaching those goals before the project is funded, but that’s okay because I’m hoping to use that to create excitement and encourage backers to boost the signal.

I also wanted to do something visual and interesting, so I decided to illustrate my stretch goals as if the pledges are filling up flasks. As we hit stretch goals, I’ll fill them in with color to show progress:

stretch goalsWe’ll see if these two stretch goal tracks complement each other or get in each other’s way. That’s why I’m calling this blog a laboratory—you get to see the results of my experiment!


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Kickstarter lab for writers: press that button!

laboratory blog

It’s launch day!!!

That day has now come. I have worked out my backer rewards, built my page, and provided plenty of social media support. Yet, somehow, I’m still nervous about hitting that button. Pre-game butterflies in the stomach, I suppose.

Will GHOST STORM be funded? Will it fail and make me look like a fool? There’s only one way to tell.

The Kickstarter project is now a go! Check it out. The video, filmed by the great filmmaker Andy Gill, is worth a look all by itself!

ks intro tile

Posted in Ghost Storm, Kickstarter Lab, Writing Craft | 2 Comments