Challenge,  Kickstarter Campaign,  On Writing,  publishing

Why Do We Do Kickstarters?

I Got That Question Today…

The question sort of caught me by surprise, to be honest.

First off, surface reasons.

1… It gets new books to readers ahead of the publication date and at a discount. Fans of a series or a writer enjoy that. I know I do, which is one of the reasons why I back so many campaigns.

2… It gets our work out to readers we might never find and they might then buy more of our work. This is called discoverability.

3… It is amazing promotion and advertising and you don’t have to pay for it. In fact, if you do it right, you get a lot of promotion and make some money in the process. Sort of like selling a story to a top magazine.

4… Money does not hurt. These are book sales. We hope to do about $150,000 in 2022 in this form of book sales, about the same as last year.

5… We also add in workshops to help writers and help people become aware of the vast resource of writing information we have built on WMG Teachable.

Larger reason…

This is 2022, no matter how many writers still want to live in 1990s. The modern world of publishing is that writers become their own publishers, start their own publishing businesses, and explore all the new ways to get their writing out to readers. And wow, in 2022 there are a lot of ways. Kickstarter is one way.

And right now, at this point in time, it should be the first way.

Here is how it works. 

1… Finish a new book, put the publication date out 4-6 months to take advantage of free promotions during that time.

2… Put the book up for preorder in as many places as you can as soon as you can (after it is finished).

3… Do a Kickstarter campaign for the book giving the backers the book months before it publishes.

(and then go from there…)

Kickstarter is promotion, it is book sales, and it makes you money if you do it right.

And speaking of promotion, ONLY THREE DAYS LEFT on the BRAND NEW FEY NOVEL Kickstarter Campaign. You don’t want to miss this one.

We have hit a lot of stretch goals so far with more in reach, so a bunch of extra fiction from Kris and writing classes for free for every backer. And everyone who backs the campaign will get an electronic copy of THE KIRILLI MATTER, the first Fey novel in over 22 years.

Here is the video of Kris talking about the project. (Might have to click it twice.) Only three days left, remember!


  • Brad D. Sibbersen

    2… It gets our work out to readers we might never find and they might then buy more of our work. This is called discoverability.

    But how does this work if you’re relatively unknown? (Or, like me, entirely unknown.) Or is a Kickstarter something to consider only after you have a bit of following?

    • dwsmith

      Brad, readers are exploring Kickstarter these days for books like they explore bookstores. They find all kinds of things they never knew existed.

      Also make sure you have some sort of social media activity, mostly social, not book sales that you can announce things on. That helps.

      You do realize that every writer is unknown when they start. The key is starting not making excuses to not start.

    • Connor whiteley

      Brad, this isn’t about being famous or even having a following whatsoever. I don’t have a large one and only the smallest of percentage of my readers back my kickstarters. Because kickstarter isn’t their preferred store.

      It’s about readers who only “buy” books on kickstarters seeing your work and buying it that way. There are tons of backers who will never look at amazon, kobo and more for your book. But if they see it on Kickstarter they might back it.

      I’ve done kickstarters from the beginning without having more than a handful of readers and its been amazing for my author business. And kickstarters are amazing fun like my next one in October will be a blast for me.

      Wide publishing is about being on as many platforms as you can so as many different readers can see you and your books as possible. And the more platforms you’re on the more income streams you have for your author business.

      That’s the basics of it. Hope it helped.

  • Michael W Lucas

    Another data point, if I may:

    Forty-eight fiction and nonfiction books into my career, I was super-skeptical on the whole Kickstarter thing. And it’s all about the math. The money math, to be precise.

    The Kickstarter for my new orc novel finished last month ( Here’s a thought experiment on it’s fate in trad pub.

    “Rumrunning Orcs in Prohibition” is not the sort of project a Big 5 (4? 3? whatever it is now) publisher would pick up, but a reputable medium-size press might. Advances in these presses are about $3k right now, split up over a few payments.

    The Kickstarter broke $12k. After fees, that came to a bit over $11k. I am accounting for all self-publishing and fulfillment expenses against that, so I’m profiting over $6k.

    $3k vs $6k? That seems a no-brainer.

    Yes, I have to do the work to self-publish it. That’s kind of a pain, and it takes time, especially when you’re new.

    The hard-core traditional folks spend a lot of time and pain submitting to agents (separate argument here Dean, but it’s what the hard-core trad folks do, let’s move on), submitting to presses, and working through the publishing process. I can’t imagine spending that much time and pain when I could just… make it happen.

    Less pain? Yes please.

    *** But wait! It gets worse! ***

    When you run a business, you have to incorporate the odds of an outcome into the expected income. I can’t negotiate a trad pub deal and then decide to do a Kickstarter. I must decide up front which path to pursue.

    I’m an experienced author, so let’s say there’s a 10% chance I could sell the book. (The real odds are lower, but I like my math easy.) In my business planning, this means I’m balancing ($3k x 10% =) $300 against $6,000.

    Business accounting says that the Kickstarter is TWENTY TIMES more profitable than trad pub.

    Once backers get their books and I get it out on the stores, I get the income from those as well. It’s a trickle, but if I sell ten of those a month, at $5 each? That’s another $400-$500 a year, after fees.

    There are also subsidiary rights. Forget things like audiobooks and film–they’re hard to negotiate or require up-front investment. I frequently get invited to book bundles. Each of these is good for a thousand bucks or more there. In a trad pub deal those are “discounted sales” and I don’t see a penny of it.

    The math is compelling.

    Oh, and every book that comes out boosts the sales of other titles. “Frozen Talons” is my eleventh novel.

    This has gotten too long for a comment on someone else’s blog, sorry. I really should post it on my own, but that would be work and I need to start making words that people will pay me for.

    • dwsmith

      Michael, you can post on this blog as long as you want any time. And folks, go study his campaign and read his updates and such to show how to do a campaign right.

    • dwsmith

      Nope, old thinking. Kickstarter is a place to sell books to fans. The funding silliness faded out a few years back except for those not studying other kickstarters closely.