Kickstarter lab for writers: the most important thing of all

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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.

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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 SocialOomph.com 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.

About Sechin Tower

Sechin Tower is a teacher, game developer, and author of MAD SCIENCE INSTITUTE, a novel of creatures, calamities, and college matriculation. He lives in Seattle, Washington.
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