How to promote a Kickstarter for a book about video games?
May 4, 2016 1:36 PM   Subscribe

This is a question for Metafilter users who have run Kickstarter campaigns (successful or unsuccessful) in the past. What worked for you? What didn't? I'm looking to learn as much as I can.

I've made flyers and I'm about to put them up in bookstores and hand them out at barcades. I'm also going to the Rifftrax Live showing at a movie theater on Thursday and handing out flyers to the nerdy audience members.

I used Google Ads and Facebook ads for a bit but they just seemed to rack up charges.

Thanks for reading. Advice, encouragement, and venom are all welcome and appreciated.
posted by smashthegamestate to Writing & Language (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
[Removed the link to the project. Fine to ask about the general subject here, but it needs to not look like you're using the site to try to sideways promote your work in the process; that's something that when done repeatedly gets folks banned from MetaFilter.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:39 PM on May 4, 2016

Ah, thanks. I appreciate it. Didn't know.
posted by smashthegamestate at 1:42 PM on May 4, 2016

Learned something already. :)
posted by smashthegamestate at 1:44 PM on May 4, 2016

Without knowing what you're working on, here are some very general tips:

- Although it explicitly says this isn't what it's for, Kickstarter works best when used as a de facto pre-order platform. Backers want the object they're backing, whatever it is.
- Set your targets low. You can always add stretch goals later.
- Word of mouth is probably the best promotion there is.
- Don't underestimate shipping costs.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:50 PM on May 4, 2016

Thanks. I appreciate it. Did you have a successful Kickstarter campaign?
posted by smashthegamestate at 2:06 PM on May 4, 2016

Consider including a small dollar donor level. I have not run a successful Kickstarter, but I work in fundraising and I've backed a lot of great-sounding Kickstarters which failed. All the failed Kickstarters started with a $25+ thank you level, with the "buy this thing we're kickstarting" or other fabulous prize levels much above that. You need a small dollar $5/$10 thank you level to capture people who like the idea and just want to help but don't want the thing or to pledge much more than the cost of a cup of coffee. You won't reach your goal with the $5 thank you level but it will pad your figures and capture a lot of spur of the moment donors. Carefully consider what you offer at the $5 thank you level (a shout out on Twitter? an acknowledgement in the finished book? bulk mailed post cards?), but it's a common feature--in my experience--of successful projects that is absent from projects I've backed which have failed.
posted by crush-onastick at 2:17 PM on May 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've worked on a couple of documentary films that did very well with Kickstarter. I would consider making an update to your project that explains what you want to do in non-academic language. example:
"... Wark's concept of the "gamespace" is an application of the Situationist International's ideas of psychogeography, detournement, and recuperation to modern video games..."

I have no idea what this means and thus, am not enticed to find out more. Who is your audience? Gamers? Scholars? Average internet person?
posted by Ideefixe at 2:18 PM on May 4, 2016

Not directly about books, but Spike Trotman's Let's Kickstart a Comic might have some useful ideas. My brother-in-law and his wife have run several successful Kickstarters for their band and said that some of the info in Spike's book was helpful to them.
posted by ralan at 2:41 PM on May 4, 2016

Thank you all for your input. I've already heard some things I hadn't thought of. I understand that I'm not supposed to link to the project for specifics but I will say that the book I am writing is more technical than a typical book for its genre. I'll do what I can to simplify the language on the Kickstarter page. This has been way more helpful than other forums. Thanks again.
posted by smashthegamestate at 3:35 PM on May 4, 2016

Based on your suggestions, I've already made some changes to my campaign and my plan of attack for the next two weeks. Much appreciated!
posted by smashthegamestate at 3:48 PM on May 4, 2016

The Kicksnarker community has been willing to look over projects in past, and in general they are a great showcase of what not to do, with occasional articles on what various kickstarters have done right. I really recommend checking them out before you launch.
posted by Canageek at 4:00 PM on May 4, 2016

Very cool. I just sent a request to join Kicksnarker. A little late regarding the launch, but I hope it helps out the next person.
posted by smashthegamestate at 4:09 PM on May 4, 2016

A friend who ran a successful kickstarter shared the following advice, which I've condensed below:

"You need to take it as seriously as the thing you're crowdfunding. You also need to start preparing, softening the terrain and winding up your campaign months in advance. If you wait to promote your crowdfunding campaign only once it's launched, you're too late.

We used to build media mailing lists and to analyze our social media networks.

We used to analyze other Kickstarter campaigns as well as our own, once our campaign launched.

Most importantly, we paid attention to the advice of people who'd run successful Kickstarter campaigns. This was the best, most eye-opening article we found. We suggest you follow their advice as closely as possible, if you're going to run a Kickstarter campaign."
posted by Gomez_in_the_South at 4:38 PM on May 4, 2016 [2 favorites]

I've been a part of several successful crowdfunds.

The most important thing you need is preparation. We would spend 2-3 months in advance promoting the campaign and collecting good rewards from our social network, from free classes to music downloads, plus preparing our physical rewards (shirts, stickers, posters etc) and crafting both emails to send to our close friends and family as well as our extended social networks. We did a lot of work prepping posts to social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and setting them up in advance to post at certain times during the campaign. We asked everyone who contributed rewards to help us promote as well.

We wrote press releases about our product and sent it to many national media outlets, both general ones like Huffington Post as well as niche market blogs and websites. We requested the pieces be run during the campaign.

It's easiest to do this as a team, as it is literally a full time job once the campaign starts.

It can be very motivating for people to see that you are close to your goal, so make sure you are sending out updates -- it can rally people to help you reach it. There's always a big jump at the beginning, so you need to make sure you are engaging people throughout the campaign, with a big push a week before the end.

Best of luck!
posted by ananci at 4:54 PM on May 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

Thanks, Gomez! Really helpful stuff. I'm certainly prepared for the campaign to fail, given what I've learned. But I'm just as prepared to do everything in my power to make it succeed.
posted by smashthegamestate at 4:54 PM on May 4, 2016

I take it is the Kickstarter now linked on your userpage. Your KS has a laundry list of theorists you promise to draw on -- Acker, Derrida, Baudrillard, Debord, Žižek, etc, etc, etc, and:

"I estimate that the research will take three months...The book is set for a December release."


What I am getting is a sense of a total amateur who wishes to write a rebuttal to the work of a professional. No, not going to fly. And the book you want to respond to has all of eight reviews, many of which are very unkind. This looks like a niche interest with a niche following -- it's something to blog about, not quickly churn out a self-published book about. And yet you expect $25 for just an electronic edition?

You have to ask yourself who besides yourself wants this, and why it's worth $25. At this point I would scrap it, do what every other amateur who wants to write a book does and work your ass off in your spare time, and try again when you have a sample chapter and so on, and a more reasonable price for an electronic edition. Right now you are asking people to fund your (after a fashion) entertaining vacation, not a book that has a good shot of being a quality item that will see the light of day on the projected timetable and be worth the asking price. Ask yourself how you would have done this in the pre-Kickstarter era, and do much more of that, first.

(I have not personally run a KS but I have a number of friends who do e-publishing/small press stuff.)
posted by kmennie at 5:34 PM on May 4, 2016

[Smashthegamedtate, another Metafilter culture note - AskNe isn't for back-and-forth conversations and it's not done to respond to every comment. Please just read the answers and otherwise only comment if clarification is strictly necessary. Thanks.]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 5:39 PM on May 4, 2016

Oh it's not a rebuttal. But you are right. This thing is probably not going to succeed. It's been a fun learning experience.
posted by smashthegamestate at 10:54 PM on May 4, 2016

The most important thing you need is preparation.

This, a thousand times. I've been part of 3 KS campaigns (2 successful, 1 failed). A huge aspect of what makes one succeed is having done your homework -- that is:

- Having as developed an idea/pitch as possible, to give your project the best possible first impression
- Having already spread the word about the thing you're making way in advance, preferably with interested press parties ready to publish articles before or during the campaign
- Having a complete plan of how you'll execute during the campaign (e.g. what information you might hold back to use as part of updates to keep momentum going, pre-written communications, a timeline, etc.)
- Having a complete plan of how you'll execute the fulfillment process (e.g. vendors quoting you the costs ahead of time, a full understanding of the steps from campaign end to fulfillment, etc).

However, I'd also add this: whatever advice you get (including mine), take with a giant grain of salt. Kickstarter, just like the startup world, is full of cargo-cult advice. A project succeeds having done X, so everyone says you have to do X to succeed (except then it turns out dozens of other projects did X and didn't succeed). At the end of the day, while there's certainly things you can do to improve your odds, nobody can give you a blueprint that goes from conception to guaranteed success.

You should check out the previously-on-MeFi "How To Win The Lottery", for more on this. Accept that even if you work your ass off, that can only help you so far, after which point the deciding factor between your project and someone else's who worked just as hard comes down to luck. That doesn't mean you didn't work hard, it just means that hard work isn't a guarantee of success, and there's always going to be some aspect of luck (e.g. getting the right press at the right time, happening to hit the zeitgeist in an unexpected way, etc).
posted by tocts at 5:35 AM on May 5, 2016

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