First off, The Kickstarter campaign for The Five Awaken, is live. Link below
If you haven’t browsed over to it yet, please stop reading this post and go check it out. Seriously, you should have a peek, if for no other reason than to make fun of my embarrassing intro video (opening frame pictured left). At the very least, you’ll have a good laugh. And maybe, after that your heart will be softened enough to consider making a pledge. Who knows? Doesn’t matter. Just go. Don’t think. Just go.
Ok, let’s get on with the blog. I wanted talk a little about my reasons for building a Kickstarter campaign for The Five Awaken in the first place. What advantages and disadvantages do they bring? In short–many and few. Let me explain.
Reason #1–Superfans: Probably the most compelling reason for creating the campaign, is that Kickstarters attract Superfans. A Superfan is described by Wikipedia as, “a fan (person) who shows a great deal of enthusiasm for something….” Basically, these are the people that want you to succeed, and will go above and beyond to help you reach your goals. They might be a family member, a friend, an avid reader of your genre, or simply someone that clicks with your personal journey and message. Whoever they are, these are the people that will sing you from the mountaintops, until all the world hears of you splendor … or something like that. And the reason is simple–they like what you are doing, and they want to help you do it. I think that is awesome, and the more I read about Kickstarter as a platform for discovering and engaging with Superfans, the more obvious of a solution it became.
Reason #2–My Message: Kickstarter is, at its core, a community of indies–people who decided for one or more of a myriad of reasons, that they wanted to chart their own course, be their best self, control their own destiny, but do so while being a part of a larger community. Because of this, Kickstarter is full of people with messages. Each person’s message is unique to them, but what ties the community together is that they each have one. That is really attractive to me. I have to have a purpose behind what I’m doing to be truly fulfilled by it, and I like to engage with other people that are driven by a purpose as well. And we don’t have to share the same purpose, so long as we both have one. My purpose is to transition out of the corporate structure of my previous career and into my life-long dream of full-time writing in the epic fantasy genre. My message is the communication of that purpose. I feel like Kickstarter gives me the best platform for communicating that message and for engaging others with whom it might resonate.
Reason #3–Really Cool Stuff: Think of your favorite book. Got it? Good. Now imagine one of your favorite scenes from the book, and watch the characters interacting as it plays out in your mind. Are you transported? Relaxed? Excited? Now, how much more amazing would it be if one of the characters in that scene had been named after you? I don’t mean, you happen to share the same name. I mean, they were really named after you, as in the author actually told you this. I just think that’s pretty cool. I’m not sure there is anything that could make me geek out more than if one of the hobbits had been named after me. Now, take that and multiply it by your imagination, and that is what can become a reward for supporters on Kickstarter.
- recognition in the book
- book-themed gear, like book marks and such
- signed or dedicated copies of the book
- scene or character art only available to Kickstarter supporters
These really just scratch the surface. And it isn’t that there is no other way to make these things available. It’s just that Kickstarter is the best way. Kickstarter allows you to package these all up in one place, does all the work of setting up the interface for you, and makes it ease to engage with the community of supporters. It’s everything in one place.
I could go on with more reasons, but I think those are the most compelling.
Honestly, there is only one disadvantage that I care about here, and I’ll admit, it has definitely given me pause. It has to do with how the biggest online retailer in the world, Amazon, displays its products. In short–when someone pre-orders my book through Kickstarter, Amazon never knows about it. Amazon never knows about it because it wasn’t purchased on their store–pretty simple stuff. But, because Amazon never knows about it, it doesn’t show up as a sale on my book order page, Amazon.com. Because it doesn’t show up as a sale on Amazon, that sale doesn’t contribute to the book’s Sales Ranking on Amazon. Because it doesn’t contribute to the Sales Ranking, Amazon’s algorithm pays less attention to it and ultimately doesn’t display it where people browsing on Amazon can see it and order it.
This is huge! Amazon accounts for 90% or more of the online book market, and most indie authors are made or broken by how they perform on this one online retailer.
With that explanation, you might be asking, “Shawn! Why the heck would you do that? I mean, just why?!?
Here’s why, and I’ll admit, it’s a gamble. I believe that the value of Superfans is greater than the value of initial Sales Rankings. I believe that if I can engage with a community of people that believe in what I’m doing, how I’m doing it, and why I’m doing it, then I will have created the best platform from which to launch my career in writing and publishing. Now, Kickstarter isn’t the only way to accomplish this, but I believe it’s a really good start. I know it’s a gamble, and ultimately it’s a gamble where I’m betting on all of you. I’m betting that you, as a person interacting within a community, are more valuable than a sale interacting within a shopping cart.
No pressure! ;)