Jeff Seymour - Author of Fantasy, Literary Fiction, & c.: Marketing Soulwoven Part 3: Running the Kickstarter

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Saturday, May 17, 2014

Marketing Soulwoven Part 3: Running the Kickstarter

This is part the third of a series of posts on how I've marketed Soulwoven. Part the first and part the second provide useful background.

Running a successful Kickstarter has a lot of facets. On the one hand, you're working to create the book, and it needs to be your first priority. On the other hand, you've also promised your backers a fly's-eye seat on the wall while you do it, and there's no question in my mind that fulfilling the second part of that equation is smart marketing.

So I consider a lot of the way I interacted with my backers during the Kickstarter a part of Soulwoven's marketing plan, even though I did most of those things to be good to my backers, and not because I wanted to do a good job of marketing (it's always about what you can do for them, remember?).

I started off with a long update a few days after the Kickstarter funded, explaining my thoughts on the whole process, what it meant to me, and why I was so grateful to my backers and how incredible what they did in funding the book was. You can read an adaptation of it here, but the full thing will only ever be available to the backers, as will the other Kickstarter updates I wrote. That was part of the deal I made with them; they got access to me as a creator that nobody else did.

And I did my best to be as accessible as possible.

I started before the Kickstarter even ended. I'd noticed as I backed other projects that I got much more excited about projects while they were still going on when the creators were excited and getting in touch with me about what was happening (excitement is one of the things you give backers in return for their money, or at least it should be). So I wrote about the editing that I was going to get, and I posted an example of the revision notes I was making as I worked through Soulwoven that month (I was getting in one last cover-to-cover revision before sending it off to my developmental editor). I wrote seven updates during the month the Kickstarter ran. Some of my backers were excitedly messaging me as I did it. Others upped their pledges. So that was good marketing, in addition to being A Thing That I Did Because It Was Right.

Once the Kickstarter finished, I kept up the updates---again, I knew from being a backer that having regular (not too often, but when milestones occurred) updates really helped make a person feel like they were a part of the process. I shared my budget, once I had all the final numbers hammered out. I let backers vote on the cover, then shared the final version when it came in. I shared the map when it came in. I tried to post at least once a month about where the book was in the publishing process, and I tried to anticipate questions and answer them (like "What's a galley copy?"). I made some videos and shared some photos as well.

Not everybody responded. Only about half of the backers voted on the cover choice. But that was totally fine; again, it wasn't about what they could do for me, it was about what I could do for them. If all they wanted was the finished product, or even just the momentary satisfaction of clicking the "Pledge" button, I was still absolutely thrilled to have them on board.

But overall, people really seemed to enjoy the process. When I talk to backers (the ones who interact with me, anyway), I get the feeling they really felt like they got their money's worth before the book even came out. Making that happen to me was very important as a creator, but it was also good marketing. Because happy readers are happy customers, and happy customers come back to you again.

And if there's an overall takeaway from this marketing post, it should be that. Make your readers happy. That's always been an imperative for most kinds of authors, but it's more important than ever in today's publishing environment. I've seen it over and over again in the indie world; the most successful authors aren't just the ones who can turn a phrase and crack a plot and build amazing worlds and characters. Their fans also love interacting with them.

I dealt with plenty of moments of panic as I was producing Soulwoven. I still have them now that I'm learning how to sell it. But during one of them, I happened upon a truth that has helped me keep perspective, and I'm going to share it with you because it's important.

You can't control whether\people will like your book. But you can control how you treat the people who do.

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