Three weeks ago Jonathan Coulton and I launched a Kickstarter campaign for THE PRINCESS WHO SAVED HER FRIENDS, a sequel to our children’s book THE PRINCESS WHO SAVED HERSELF.
So here we are, three days from the end of the campaign, and I thought I’d share few thoughts about what’s worked and not worked for us in terms of getting the word out. (And if you like this kind of analysis, please do check out my KICKSTARTER SECRETS ebook, which spills all my secrets about crowdfunding!)
First, the campaign’s done great! We hit our initial $39,000 goal on the second day, hit two stretch goals over the next couple of weeks, and are now closing in on what will probably be our final stretch goal — at $80,000, backers at the $12 level and above all get free PDFs of Korean and Spanish translations of the book.
But the data reveals some interesting details about what’s driven support. Check out the chart below from Kicktraq.com, which shows the amount of money in pledges the campaign has taken in on each day.
The most obvious thing to note is that we got a huge wave of support on the first three days. That’s when Jonathan and I messaged everyone on our personal email newsletter lists and the Kickstarter lists for our previous campaigns (including Code Monkey Save World, The Princess Who Saved Herself, ABC Disgusting, and Kickstarter Secrets) and hit our social media hard.That was enough to get us a few thousand bucks over our initial $39,000 goal, which was spectacular. It also was confirmation of that bit of basic advice from the Kickstarter Secrets book, which was to set a goal that’s reasonable given the audience you’ve already built. I was honestly a bit nervous about that $39,000 goal — no matter how many of these projects I do, I never QUITE know how it’ll all work out. But given the thousands of backers we’d had on previous Kickstarters, it felt reasonable. Thankfully, it panned out as we hoped.
So then the chart shows a very typical pattern for the next three weeks — small surges on Mondays/Tuesdays, followed by gradual attrition through the week with the lowest points over the weekends and holidays. The honest truth is that it’s incredibly hard to get any attention over the weekends and holidays. This last weekend is particularly instructive. From Thursday, October 4 to Sunday, October 7, I was tabling in the Artists’ Alley at the NYCC, handing out hundreds of PRINCESS WHO SAVED HER FRIENDS postcards. But that Saturday was worst day of our campaign, with only six new backers and $307 in pledges. That Sunday we got a bump because Kickstarter very kindly put us on the front page of their website for the day. But Monday was a national holiday, and we plummeted back to our second lowest grossing day of the entire campaign.
I have no regrets about printing up those postcards — I’m sure many of the folks who picked them up checked out the campaign later in the week. But you can’t expect in-person events like that to generate immediate backers the same way online announcements can. And anything you do over the weekend is competing with everything else everyone’s doing over the weekend.
Sometimes you can goose numbers on slow weekends and holidays by posting things on social media. I never give up — if you follow me on Twitter, you know I post about my Kickstarter projects every single day. SHAMELESSLY. But I’ve also learned to hold off on BIG announcements (or even updates like this very note) until a non-holiday weekday, just because I know more people will have the time to pay attention to it.
So in that Kicktraq chart, those bumps you see on Mondays and Tuesdays aren’t just the natural progression of things — they’re also the result of us timing our updates and announcements to when folks are actually checking their email.
For example, on Monday 9/24, Tuesday 10/2, and Tuesday 10/9, we announced new stretch goals, emailing our various big lists. And on all of those days we got nice bumps.
I’ve been pretty darn pleased with how the campaign has gone so far. But if I had to do it all over again, my notes to self would be:
1. Work a little harder on press.
We got some great coverage from a few sites and podcasts. But I didn’t work my press contacts as hard and as far ahead of time as I have with projects in the past. This was just a time issue for me — I didn’t have the bandwidth to chase as much press down early in the game. I’ve also realized that as a sequel, THE PRINCESS WHO SAVED HER FRIENDS isn’t quite as press-worthy as the original book was, so it may have been harder to get coverage for it. Fortunately, as a sequel, we had a built-in audience from the earlier book that helped balance the scales. Still, I’m doing a bit of extra hustle to scrounge up a little last-minute press for the last days of the campaign. Wish me luck!
2. More video updates.
I’m old enough that I still prefer reading a page of text over watching a short video online. But millions of people LOVE online video, and we could have reached more folks if I’d made some more videos to promote the project. During the original Code Monkey Save World campaign, I recorded Jonathan signing at a couple of our in-person events and posted those videos online with links to the campaign, and they did indeed pull in backers. And for years, I’ve thought about making a music video of Jonathan’s original “Princess Who Saved Herself” song using art from the book. But I’ve never had or made the time. Similarly, Kickstarter now has a “Kickstarter Live” video feature that I’ve never made the time to figure out how to use. These are shiny, beautiful tools in the box that I’ve got to try out some day.
3. More process posts like this.
It occurred to me pretty late in the game that since I’m doing a new Kickstarter, the fine folks who backed my book Kickstarter Secrets would probably be interested in the behind-the-scenes experiences of running it. So here I am! But it would have been smart for me to have made a couple more posts like this earlier in the campaign as well. In my experience on all my previous projects, a lot of people are really hungry for practical info about how these books are made and how these campaigns are run. Again, something to remember and make time for next time ’round!
So there you have it! Hope this little glimpse into the process has been interesting to you, and if you’d like to check out and back the campaign, please don’t hesitate!
Back the Princess Who Saved Her Friends today!
All the best and thanks as always!