In my last post, I explained the overall costs of producing a self-published book. Once I’d estimated the cost, I decided Kickstarter would be a great way to raise the funds and launch the book. But, Kickstarter may not be for everyone, and it’s important to establish goals for your project to determine if crowdfunding is right for you. Miss part 1? You can check it our here.
Use the platform to build a small audience of invested followers. I started the project with zero previous works and zero following, so I had to build one from scratch.
Raise enough funds to produce my book ($1600 in project profit)
It’s obvious that Kickstarter is a funding platform-but, it’s not so apparent the platform is also useful for building an audience. The service makes it easy for rabid backers to find your project, especially if it’s chosen as a featured project, which can dramatically increase the number of people who stumble upon it. Ok, so I needed to build a Kickstarter, but so many projects fail. How could I ensure that my project succeeded? I looked at 5-10 similar projects in the fiction section on Kickstarter. This provided a ton of insight on what worked and didn’t work on the platform. What did I notice?
Almost every successful project had a Kickstarter video and a professionally made Kickstarter banner.
Average funding goals for successful fiction projects ranged from $500-$3000.
Many successful projects offered the first few chapters of the book for free.
Some unsuccessful projects had tons of backers at lower levels ($10 and under) but didn’t have any top-tier rewards to choose from. Although few will opt for the more expensive rewards, they can make up the bulk of your funding. One backer at the $100 lever will replace 20 at the $5 level.
What’s my funding goal? This is perhaps the most difficult question to answer during the project creation process. An amazing project can still fail if the funding goal is too high, so I needed to find the minimum viable amount that would allow me to produce the book. I needed $1600 in profit, taking into account all production costs, Kickstarter fees, and taxes. How’d I figure out my funding goal? With this handy dandy spreadsheet.
Disclaimer: I’m not a tax person or a lawyer, and you should always check with the experts. I’m just a guy who writes books.
Important Kickstarter Financial Considerations:
Kickstarter takes a cut of each pledge as well as credit card fees. This rounds up to approximately 10% of each pledge.
In-state orders are often subject to sales tax, which is 7.5% in my state. Fun fact—you need a vendor license to pay sales tax, in my State at least. Whoopee! These are relatively inexpensive and easy to obtain, though. Pretty sure that most people ignore this step, but I’m a rule follower.
Each of my physical books costs money to produce, meaning I would need to subtract this from my revenue when planning the goal.
Shipping! If you are producing physical goods, you’re going to have to ship them to backers. You can easily tank your project profits by forgetting to calculate shipping beforehand. I live in the US, so I used the USPS shipping calculator to estimate how much it would cost to ship each book. Media mail is the cheapest option for domestic shipping, and there’s a flat rate for books under 1 pound. At 60,000 words, my book was well under the 1 pound cutoff and cost less than $3 to ship. Keep in mind that shipping materials (boxes, mailers, etc.) cost money too.
Yikes. That’s a lot of stuff to account for. Fortunately, all I had to do was plug the profit number in my spreadsheet, and it calculated the goal for me. I’d be able to make approximately $1600 in profit with a $2000 Kickstarter goal. This felt like a good number too, since it fell well between the $500 and $3000 marks.
I had a $2000 project goal and was ready to build out my project. In my next post, I’ll discuss the multiple aspects of building a project and what worked for me. Your homework— check out Kickstarter’s great backer resources, and play around with my funding worksheet.