Hey there! It’s time for our final “official” post in our Crowdfunding for Writers series. Heyya! In this interview, we’ll be speaking with author of Claire Never Ending, Catherine Brunelle.
That’s right. I’m interviewing myself. Why? Because I so loved my Kickstarter experience, so it only feels right to be the one chatting about the platform. ALSO, I’ve got something special for you authors who want to crowdfund. The very fist YouTube vid is now live (YES! Finally!) – and it’ll be embedded at the bottom of this post. If you want to subscribe to my Youtube Channel and catch the remaining four videos in the series, then you can do that too.
But anyhow, let’s dig in now. Nearly one year ago I was wrapping up a crazy successful crowdfunding campaign for my novel. The experience was a whirlwind of emotions and excitement. What started as my assertion of self and a big dream, caught on to raise twice the asking amount. The book and my story was featured on All in a Day with CBC radio, and caught plenty of folks attention via social media shares. The campaign launched, we hit the goal on the first day, and then went on to over double that amount.
Ottawa Writes: Hey Catherine, why did you decide to crowdfund in the first place? And why Kickstarter?
Catherine: I had just received some rather bad news in terms of my health. At that time, I had been soliciting agents to pick up the novel with some interest but no success. So, for me, I decided to grab fate and stop waiting. That turned out to be a thrilling, life changing and really healing experience. Though at the time, I just wanted my book to become real! Crowdfunding seemed to be my best chance at affording the costs for publication.
Kickstarter had announced their upcoming arrival to Canada when I had started playing with the idea. So I thought – hey, why not couple the buzz of Kickstarter arriving in Canada, especially since it’s so well known, with the launch of my campaign? I could become one of the first kickstarted projects in the country.
I think with crowdfunding, and PR in general, a person needs to be strategic. I am such a little writer with my blog and creative fiction, it was a decision to attach my story to a much bigger brand.
Plus, Kickstarter really just seemed cool. They have this vibe about them I really find attractive.
Ottawa Writes: How much did you ask for during your crowdfunding campaign, and why ?
Catherine: Picking an asking goal was really challenging. I talk about it in my planning and budgeting videos over on Youtube. There are so many elements to consider. Ultimately I asked for 3,000$ which looking back was a bit naieve. I think $5000 is a far more reasonable amount. Producing the novel really did cost me about $3000 after the costs of editing, cover, using programs, getting copies and the shipping fees. Damn those shipping fees.
But I truly self-published many elements of Claire Never Ending. She’s a result of my staying up till 2 AM every other night after the crowdfunding campaign closed and putting the pieces together. That was my fault thought, I gave myself too short a deadline for shipping those books.
Ottawa Writes: What surprised you during the crowdfunding?
Catherine: People’s generosity. I was blown away. Before the campaign I worked rather hard in raising awareness about the project and collecting my audience, and I really do believe it was a compelling ask. For me, it wasn’t just about publishing a novel, it was about accomplishing a huge dream by letting Claire Never Ending come alive. When you can explain your passion in a way that resonates with others, it can make your project more meaningful in their minds, as well as in your own.
So that’s what surprised me. I even did a little doodle about it over at my blog, Bumpyboobs. 🙂
Ottawa Writes: Most popular reward? Least popular reward?
Catherine: Claire Never Ending was by far the most popular. But, almost all of my prizes did really well. It’s worth popping over to the campaign to take a look. Like I said, this wasn’t just about a book, which is why I think so many people pledged the higher amounts. The least popular prize was the ebook coupled with a Little Zsolti Story, which is a character I sometimes write that only a few people would know about. I think some folks had wanted to get that prize, but choose to buy the book instead. It was my oversight to not include both features in a bigger prize package.
One thing I want to suggest to readers of this Ottawa Writes post, is be strategic about your time and the prizes. There was a tea towel sold during the campaign that went really well, but was really difficult to actually manufacture – it kinda became a tea towel nightmare! 🙂 If I did it again, that would not make a second appearance.
Ottawa Writes: And would you crowdfund again?
Catherine: I might. But I would need to have a really wonderful reason to do so, and people would have to be stoked for that reason to happen. As a writer, I’ve taken a bit of a hiatus from writing novel-length new material. So, the shorter stuff I come up with doesn’t need a whole campaign to come to light. I’m working on some ebooks now, but that won’t be as complex a product as Claire Never Ending. All that to say “yes” – if I felt there was a really great project that meant the world to be and I thought might mean very much to readers as well, I’d go for it. But as always, I’d plan-plan-plan beforehand, and make sure my audience was right there with me on the day I hit “go” 🙂
And that’s me. If you want to find the literary-lite Claire Never Ending (a family saga of nine generations of women who all share the middle name Claire) it’s on sale over at CatherineBrunelle.com. Also, I blog over at Bumpyboobs.wordpress.com, and that’s also really fun.
Okay, time to grill Kickstarter for all those curious about it. As I said, this is one of the (if not the most) most well known crowdfunding platforms with a reputation that says ‘we do it well and with style’. Because they are so big and much used, just saying “Kickstarting” as well understood as “Googling” a search term. Essentially, Kickstarter brings brand recognition with it. But that’s not all . . .
- They are now in Canada! For a while they were not available to Canadians who wanted to crowdfund. As I mentioned in the interview, that’s now changed and thank goodness. It’s useful to note that other crowdfunding platforms are also available in Canada.
- They have a beautiful platform. Man, I love the kickstarter platform. It’s so lovely looking, and works well, and is smooooth websiting. Visually I find the page uncluttered and easy to navigate. And having used Kickstarter myself, I can tell you they have a seamless way of bringing in backer (the people who buy your rewards) information and organizing it so that you can easily sort via prizes. Overall, it’s a well designed system.
- The “All or Nothing Approach” – for me, I call this a pro. Of course, it’s debateable, and I talk about that in my planning video. But if you haven’t invested a ton of cash ahead of time, and don’t want to proceed with the project unless you 100% have the money, I love the ‘fixed funding’ option.
- (Don’t know what all these terms mean? Listen to our Basics of Crowdfunding podcast where Kevin, who didn’t know anything about crowdfunding, asks questions about it).
- Brand recognition – see point made before I actually started this Pro list. Brand recognition can be very helpful. It certainly was in my case.
- The Creator Handbook. I used this when planning my campaign and found it really useful.
- SEO, your campaign is going to show up when searched. I consider that a pro.
- As of last year – and this may have changed – backers could only buy one reward. That drove me freaking crazy. What if someone wants the tea towel, and the special short story?! What if someone wants multiple copies of a book?! My backers needed to either sign in under different names, or pledge higher than the ask to receive multiple copies. In both instances, that makes for bumpy sale. No good. Mind you, Kickstarter does this on purpose to reinforce the idea that they are not a store. Read more here.
- Customer Service – they are friendly, but not exactly ‘there for you’. You can’t actually call anyone up to chat with this program. Or if you can, I didn’t see how. Instead there are forums to search, and you could consider approaching their twitter. Perhaps the idea is that it’s so well laid out, you won’t need direct support? While it is very clearly explained, it’s nice to have someone to call occasionally. This is, to me, a big con point.
- It’s big, so don’t count on being easily noticed by the Kickstarter community. But like I said with Indigogo, that probably doesn’t matter. With crowdfunding, it’s really up to you to bring your audience to the page. I did get a few Kickstarter supporters during my campaign, but not many. And if you like good SEO – as mentioned above, big can be very, very good.
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And as promised – the first YouTube Vid in my Crowdfunding for Writers series. This is #1 in my five part series, and if you want to not miss the others, click through to YouTube and just subscribe to my channel.