Why I’m using Kickstarter for my next book.
Crowd-funding as a self-publishing hack.
My wife asked me the other day why I wanted to do a Kickstarter campaign to print a hardcover copy of my next book, Everything I Know.
The last two books I wrote were digital-only and have sold quite well (6500 copies and counting). I’ve got a good system and amazing team in place to write, produce and market them in a way I’m really happy with. I enjoy the process of indie publishing start to finish.
I see a trend with myself though: as soon as I figure something out, I need to break it down and try something new. That’s why I re-invent how I do my design work with clients, that’s why I’m constantly working on side projects, and that’s why every book I write seems to be for a different audience on a different topic. It’s not enough for me to keep going in the same direction, I need to keep changing things up too.
Kickstarter inspires and embodies everything I enjoy about creative projects. It’s focused 100% on launching an idea, not just sitting on grand visions and ‘what-ifs’. This aligns so perfectly with my book, which gets into showing up, doing the work, and then sharing it with the right people.
I’m also Kickstarting my next book because the book feels like it needs to be tangible.
Sure, it’s partly ego to be able to want people to hold a piece of writing in their hands and then see it on a shelf and remember what they learned from it (which is hopefully something).
But it’s also more than that-I think this book is worthy of existing beyond digital. I don’t feel proud of many things I create, and even if I do, it’s not for long. But Everything I Know is something I’m proud of (at least for now). And I want to share it in both digital and physical editions so my readers can choose how they read it and choose how much support they want to give to the project, from $8 pledges to $2000 I-will-design-you-a-website-mockup pledges.
It wasn’t enough to just do a trade paperback, print-on-demand, physical copy. If it was going to be printed, I wanted the book to be a work of art and a limited edition. So it’ll be printed in a cloth-bound hardcover with an embossed drawing and title, with gorgeous and tactile paper. I couldn’t do this without a publisher unless I pre-sold copies, so I could hit the volume I need to make the physical book affordable. And the hardcover will be limited to < 1000 copies, and only available to backers of the Kickstarter campaign. I like the idea of exclusivity and rewarding early adopters that believe in what I create. I’d go to the moon and back for them. So the hardcover edition is just for backers.
If I can pre-sell enough copies (around 500), then the whole process works. The book can be printed at a reasonable price and in the quality I am looking for. I even have a fulfillment company set up to ship directly from Canada & the US so I don’t have to store and write out labels to send 500 copies from my house.
I think Kickstarter is more than money, though. Kickstarter is about community, and I like the idea of working directly with people that want to pay for something I make to validate the idea. Sure, it could fail (publicly too, since Kickstarter projects are archived forever). But I won’t know that until the community has spoken.
I can hack an old model of printing and distribution that used to only be available to authors who were “chosen” by publishers. I’d rather be accepted or rejected by readers than a publishing industry that rarely listens to them.
I’m excited to try this grand idea out, and the campaign is now live right here—