How One Author Used Kickstarter to Break Ground

So often in working with authors, one of the most frustrating hurdles I see them struggling to clear is simply having the resources needed to produce a high quality book.

Karin Blythe, author of the upcoming Monkey Brains books series and a Write to Sell Your Book author, started her journey with $0.

Here’s how Karin used Kickstarter to fund her book:

Diane: How did you decide to become an author?

Karin: As a kid I was born into crisis. My dad struggled with mental illness and became violent. My mom, who is my superhero, rescued my sisters and me from him. When I was six years old I got the ultimate Christmas present: a toy monkey named Mr. Bim. Mr. Bim was my joy. We were very poor and didn’t have much to play with. He was my constant companion.

My Perfect Life Mission is to write Monkey Brains to help fund projects for children in crisis globally and locally. Plus, to give kids hope through humor and wisdom. I have been in public schools all over the country and am in partnership with schools in South Sudan and Kenya.

How did you come to use Kickstarter for your project?

Karin: I had been working alone trying to develop my book idea. I learned that several big conferences were coming up that would offer great coaching from editors, agents, marketers and wonderful authors I admire. I had $0 and knew that if I could somehow get to those conferences it would be just the shot in the arm I needed.

I continue to treat my pledgers as if we are a team, a community accomplishing this project together. They take pride in what “we” are doing.

My sister told me about Kickstarter. It was so user friendly and easy to launch. I was terrified but asked for $8,000 in 30 days. And guess what? Cha-ching!

Wow!

Karin: Yep! from $0 to $8,000 in 30 days. I knew that the people who would back me had no idea what Kickstarter was, so not only did I have to get the word out but I had to explain it so that anyone could understand my vision. That’s where my goofy video worked magic!

The response goes like this… pledges start popping in…yahoo! Then it gets quiet…and cobwebs start to grow…and the clock is ticking… So I constantly sent out funny updates on Facebook and email to keep it on people’s minds. Every time we crossed a hurdle I’d shout the good news: “HEY we broke $3,000 today!”

I offered to sell my organs for pledges! I offered to write a country song. You name it and I tried it.

Were you surprised by the response?

Karin: I was shocked at how much buzz it stirred it for me. People were passing around my video and posts. It created a following for my book project that I did not have before.

I continue to treat my pledgers as if we are a team, a community accomplishing this project together. They take pride in what “we” are doing.

Kickstarter says most money is raised $25 at a time and that 30 day window is best. They are right of course.

Why do you think people were so passionate to jump aboard your project?

Karin: People were compelled to pledge support for my book project for 3 reasons:

  1. I’m writing to equip and encourage kids facing crisis. When I told them why I’m doing what I’m doing they got on board.
  2. I’ve spent decades loving people and have invested my heart into their lives. So they decided to give back.
  3. I kept it upbeat. I did not want to beg or harass. Even though I was panicking as the clock kept ticking, I kept my tone positive, inviting pledgers to get on board with an important project.

What were some unexpected benefits of using Kickstarter?

Karin: Doing this campaign gave me a lot more than money. It broadened my following in a huge way, it taught me a lot about marketing, and it clarified my own vision and ability to pitch my book.

To view Karin’s Kickstarter pitch video, go here.

To learn more about Karin, Mr. Bim and Monkey Brains, visit MonkeyBrainsBooks.com.

 

15 comments on “How One Author Used Kickstarter to Break Ground

  • Clear ways to help any author craft a compelling pitch. Also very clever — the concept of a “team” makes it seem like authors are not in such a vacuum. Great post.

    • Hi Ron,

      I agree! Karin’s points are quite brilliant. Your point about writers being stuck in a “vacuum” is one that I know many of my authors share. I’m happy to say that many of them — including Karin — have found a great deal of support in social media communities.

      Thanks for chiming in,
      Diane

  • I’m a marketing expert and I have to say that this is spot on, particularly the points about keeping the tone upbeat and including others as if they’re all in this together.

  • Eek! I’ve been thinking about using Kickstarter for so long, but am honestly petrified at the nightmares that a.) I won’t get ANY money and b.) It’ll create more work that could take precious time away from the actual crafting of my book. Are there any companies that would help you precisely with a Kickstarter project? These tips are helpful but I still feel so lost in the whole marketing aspect of it.

  • “It created a following for my book project that I did not have before.”

    ^ THAT is a cool outcome, for sure. I’m a first-time author who’s been thinking of doing something similar with my Vietnam-era spy novel, “Orange” (out Spring 2014!). These are pretty much the concrete tips I was looking for. Also helpful to view Monkey Brains’ Kickstarter page. Karin’s prizes / incentives for certain donation price points was also quite brilliant. It looked like it added to the sense of camaraderie she created from the get-go.

  • I have to admit that I am one of those authors who didn’t rock the Kickstarter campaign the right way. The fact that I didn’t raise what I wanted was more a blow to my ego than to my actual project investments. I was surprised at how much it affected my writing. These are handy tips, however. I now see that it was all about the angle and tone of my message. I do feel like your author Karin naturally has a knack for this kind of thing, however. I feel like for many of us, it’s best to seek outside assitance. Great piece, thx

  • I would love to know more about Karin’s story and how she wrote her book, and especially how she came to be a comedian and writer. Any advice?

  • What I really enjoy about this particular post is that it also offers some great tips on how to market a book — or market anything — in general. It’s all about how you communicate to your tribe.

    This really is a great blog. Looking forward to what is coming next up the pipe.

  • This is quite inspiring, and her pitch video is very well-stated. A good example of how being a strong writer can lead to creating strong marketing copy.

  • Great, informative, specific tips. Great ideas on how to approach this feat from a tone / marketing standpoint.

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