I’ve backed 34 Kickstarters since summer 2012. I’ve also run a successful campaign as well as a failure. By no means does that make me the expert on Kickstarter, but it does give me more experience than many, and today I’d like to continue my series of articles on Kickstarter with a little cautionary advice. Usually I give advice on what to do: how to plan a backer video, where to promote your project, how to optimize your project for mobile. Today I’m going to give you some advice about what NOT to do once you’ve funded and begun to fill your backer rewards. This is, sadly, based on experience as a backer.
I recently had four hours to kill with no book and no paper to write on. After I finished catching up on all of the news on CNN, I switched to my Kickstarter app and started trolling for projects to support. Some of you may not even know that Kickstarter has an app. I was surprised at how many rookie mistakes people were making in regards to optimizing their project pages for smartphone browsing.
Kickstarter backers come from all over the internet. Sometimes they’re a Facebook friend or a Twitter follower. Sometimes they read about your project on a blog. Sometimes they stumble in from the Kickstarter site. From my experience, most desktop users come from a direct link to your page. This is not so with the iPhone app. I realized, from my hours of browsing, that the mindset of a Kickstarter iPhone user and a Kickstarter desktop user are very different. Kickstarter has only had an app for a few weeks, so I can understand the long-running projects aren’t optimized for mobile devices. Still, some of these mistakes that were all too common would hurt you on a desktop browser, too. So, here are a few simple ways to help you optimize your campaign for mobile viewers.
If you want general Kickstarter advice, see my 6-part Blog.
Expect that iPhone users may skip your video.
There are a couple of reasons why I might not watch your video on my phone. I might not want to drain my data plan. I might not have my headphones. Either way, don’t rely on me to watch your video. Make sure that your text and photos have enough information that I can understand what you want to do without going over my data. This will also help your second-screen browsers (people browsing the web on their device while watching TV) and people who may be trying to keep the noise down for college room mates, etc.
The image that you upload as a placeholder for your video is key. It’s the cover for your project when browsing product pages, and it entices people to click play on your video. This image should be a quick representation of the product I can get if I support your project. Don’t think of this as begging for charity; think of it as eCommerce.
Your mobile users have put a Kickstarter app on their phone, which means they either have a campaign of their own to manage, or they really like supporting projects. I, personally, like to support projects because of the backer incentives. What am I going to get? I treat a visit to Kickstarter like a visit to a shopping site where all of the products are guaranteed to be new, interesting, and unique. Show me what you want me to buy.
In addition to the video image, use other images to show off products and prizes. If you want to launch a fashion line, I expect to see products or at least fashion illustrations. Have plenty of images. One photoshopped image of your logo on a Hanes t-shirt will not make me back your line.
If you’re printing a book, show me page layouts. If you’re printing a game, show me card or board designs. Food? Show me some food porn. Show me as much as you can of the product so that I can see what I will be getting. This is not the place to keep secrets.
You have a short space for a tag-line, and on the regular site it is merely headline at the top of your page. On the application for iPhone, however, your project video, your tag-line, and your rewards are on one page. Users have to click “Read More” after your tag-line to get to your description.
What does this mean? It means that your tag line should be descriptive of your project. If I were to Kickstart an Olympia Heights yearbook, “They say that lightning never strikes the same place twice,” while an excellent line for the cover, would be a terrible Kickstarter mobile tagline. “A fully illustrated yearbook based on the hit YA series, Olympia Heights” would be a much better tag-line to entice mobile users to read more.
Stop Using the Word Revolutionary.
Just please, stop. It’s overused. Stop. I don’t believe that your iPad stand is revolutionary because everyone is saying their Kickstarter project is revolutionary. Your product will not stand out if you are using the same gobbledygook (thanks, David Meerman Scott!) as everyone else. It’s fluff. Let me decide if it’s revolutionary. Show me the idea and trust your product to wow me without buzzwords.
This post is the final post in a 6-part blog about Kickstarter. You can read the first entry HERE.
Organize early. As soon as your backer surveys arrive, make a spreadsheet with every backer, a space for any info you need to fulfill their order, and all of the prizes. Black out squares that coincide with a person and a prize they did not order to avoid confusion. Use that nifty every-other line background feature to make sure that you don’t accidentally send John Smith’s prize to John Smart. Check off fulfilled prizes in red to be visually clear.
Obviously, you don’t have to use our exact system, but it worked.
You’ll need proper shipping materials. Before you’re ready to ship, figure out how many envelopes you’ll need and how many boxes you’ll need. Remember that padded mailers are more expensive than unpadded envelopes, but less likely to result in a damaged product. Buy packing material on the internet in bulk to save money.
One thing I learned from wedding Thank You notes is this: If you don’t force yourself to do it all at once, you’ll take a year to do it. Schedule one or two sessions to sit down and set to work. Get everyone involved to help. You need to meet your deadline if you want happy backers spreading the word about your awesome project. In the words of Larry the Cable Guy, “Git ‘er done.”
USE MEDIA MAIL
If it’s a book, DVD, or CD, use the US Postal Service’s Media Mail to save money.
If someone is local, give their donation a personal touch. Go around to deliver local backers’ prizes.
What We Did
We split up the tasks between three members of the company on Monday and Wednesday morning. I addressed envelopes (and later teamed up with Carly to stuff them) while Terry signed books and cards. We got it done in about ten hours of work with Billy Joel playing in the background. Friday morning the envelopes were dropped off at the post office. That Saturday we went around in Santa hats delivering local prizes.
UPDATE YOUR BACKERS
No matter what, keep your backers updated. People are less likely to sweat a short delay if they know exactly what is going on. Good luck!
Christmas is just a few days away, or perhaps you are reading this after a post-holiday Google search. In 2011 millions of Americans received an eReader for Christmas, and I have no doubt that 2012 will be the same. If you are one of those lucky, new eReader owners, here is some advice from a Kindle owner since 2009.
This is part 5 of a 6-part Kickstarter blog. If you have not been reading from the start, find the rest of the blog at the following links:
Constant Undivided Attention
We’ve said before that this is not a set-it-and-forget-it endeavor. You will need to be constantly ready to jump on the internet to update your project. You may need to answer questions. You may need to correct errors. You may need to add more prizes or stretch goals. There are a number of reasons to be ready to jump, but there are also a number of less-urgent activities that still require daily attention. Posting links to social media, sharing graphics to advertise your project, and thanking backers individually are all actions that you will need to plan for when you decide to run a Kickstarter.
This is not to scare you. This is just a reminder that you can’t walk away for three weeks and come back, expecting a pile of money with no problems. Free money is never free. You’ll have to work for it. Pour another cup of coffee and stretch those typing fingers. You’ve got your work cut out for you.
Understanding Your Dashboard
Once you launch your project, you’ll get access to the Dashboard. This area provides vital information. Aside from a pretty graph showing your funding progress, you can see how much of your funding comes from what sources (a good way to know if you should double-down on efforts at a particular site), how many people are selecting which rewards (so you can decide to add similar rewards or advertise the most popular rewards), and who has recently pledged (so that you can send personal thank-you emails or know which of your friends still hasn’t pledged.)
The dashboard is a very valuable place to get Kickstarter analytics. If you aren’t looking at the data that Kickstarter collects for free, you’re missing out on some very valuable information.
Hooray! You’re Funded!
I don’t really have advice on what to do if you don’t fund: I don’t have that experience yet. In the event that you do fund, however, don’t forget to send your backer surveys and start fulfilling rewards ASAP.
The backer survey can only be sent once, so it’s better to ask for too much information that not enough. Make sure you send that survey weeks before you need the data, or you could be left hanging. Half of our backers replied to the backer survey in less than 24 hours. The other half (about 45 addresses) slowly trickled in over the course of the next few weeks.
Remember as you plan to calculate tax (around 5% depending on the scale of your fundraising goal) and Kickstarter and Amazon’s fees. They each get a percent, which is usually around 9-10% in all. If you multiply your estimated goal by 1.1 (or 1.2 to be really safe) you should ensure that you don’t fall short when fees and taxes are taken out.
If you have a decently successful project, you’re going to be approached by other projects for partnerships. There’s not really a formal set of rules for this: it’s just something that happens. Some may ask you to tweet each other’s projects. Others may want something more involved. Because this “you scratch my back: I’ll scratch yours” arrangement is not well defined, you’ll need to use your better judgement. Do you retweet their project? Do you give them $1 as a sign of good faith? It’s your choice. Just remember that a dollar is a very small amount of money, a tweet is free, and the possibility that someone in their network might give you more is very appealing.
Do you approach others to initiate an alliance? That’s entirely up to you. Just make sure that you approach the situation tactfully and don’t expect that project at 500% funding to take you along for the ride.
We’ve talked about using your blog or website to share your project. A colorful ad in the sidebar can be very appealing. Another great tool, provided by Kickstarter, is the widget. It is a simple line of code that the graphically impaired can use to promote their project. The widget tracks funding, showing the percentage, amount, and end date. The widget is a very trackable source. Kickstarter’s inherent analytics show the amount fundraised by click-throughs from the embedded widget.
Best of all, anyone who wants to help out can access the widget code from the “Embed” link on your project page. The code page also includes code for people to embed the video, which is extremely helpful when blogging about the project.
So, while you’re going around linking people to your Kickstarter, don’t forget to invite your closest friends to embed the widget on their blogs. You never know who might click-through and pledge!
Curated Pages are pages hosted by companies (Universities, Etsy, Tumblr, Youtube, etc) that feature Kickstarter projects related to their business. To get on a curated page, you’ll have to contact the appropriate party at that particular company. Make sure that the page you are requesting fits your project, and be sure to make that connection clear in your communication. It may take a few days for your request to go through, so be sure to contact the Curated Page manager as soon as your project goes live.
Like with picking a city, curated pages are about being found by browsing backers. The more places your project is posted, the more likely it is to pick up random pledges. Make your project visible: look through curated pages at the bottom of the Kickstarter home page to see if any apply to your project.
WHAT WE DID
Our Kickstarter project manager graduated from The Savannah College of Art and Design in 2008, as did one of our writers. However, the strongest connection to SCAD’s program came through our designer, Carly Strickland. Carly graduated with a degree in illustration in 2011.
We contacted SCAD’s social media team and requested to have our project featured on the curated page. We explained that Carly, an alumni, was designing the interior of the book.
Don’t Back Your Project!
In case you didn’t read the FAQ on Kickstarter, we’ll say it here. DO NOT BACK YOUR OWN KICKSTARTER PROJECT. Why? The credit card companies see paying yourself as an attempt to give yourself a cash advance. Therefore, Amazon will shut down your payments account if it detects a payment to you, from you. Imagine raising $8,000 and then being locked out of ALL OF IT because you gave yourself $5.
So what if your company is raising funds, but an individual member (whose name is on the corporate bank account being used to collect funds) wants to donate? Matter Deep Publishing did get a clarification on this rule. We contacted Amazon Payments with that scenario and got the following response:
Greetings from Amazon Payments,
Thank you for contacting us. If an individual associated with your business would like to make a personal pledge to the kickstarter project they may do so by using an alternate payments account.
Project updates are an important way to stay connected with your backers and to remind them to share your project. They also serve as a great way to let potential backers know that you are active and engaged in your project. It’s our advice to only post updates once a day, unless you’re really blasting through those stretch goals (we’ll talk about stretch goals next). Project updates go straight to backers’ emails, so you don’t want to flood their inbox with too many posts. So, what do you share?
• New content (images, music, etc)
• Stretch goals
• Fundraising updates (10%, 25%, 80%, FUNDED! 110%!)
• Project enhancements
• Blog posts and press about the project
• New rewards
• Other big announcements
Kickstarter projects require daily attention, so be sure to post an update every few days. Just be sure that you have something of value to say and remember: DON’T BEG. It’s really unbecoming.
WHAT W E D I D
Though we continued to post updates as we fulfilled rewards, the most important updates were the fifteen posted while the project was running. The following is a breakdown of the 15 updates we posted over 21 days:
- A Great Start– Posting progress at 20% of our goal and thanking our first backers.
- Designer Profile: Carly Strickland– A bio for our interior designer
- 46% There With 2 Weeks To Go!– A one-week update where we posted our funding percent and invited backers to invite their friends to our Facebook event.
- Limitation Page– We announced the limitation page feature and gave a small-scale preview of the page design.
- The Math– A post announcing the MSRP for our final product and breaking down how our $50 pledge to get the book meant $25 in savings. This post included one of the paintings.
- About the Artist– A bio for Terry Strickland, featuring art and a list of publications.
- The Next Best Thing To Seeing It In Person– We announced the purchase of an 18mp camera for high-resolution images and shared detail photos from the book.
- The $6K Mark (And Beyond!)– We announced being within $800 of our goal and shared close-ups from the book.
- Stretch Goal!- We announced our first stretch goal and The Incognito Project exhibition date and venue. This post included behind the scenes photos from the original event.
- A Look Inside– This post linked to a Terry Strickland Art blog post with previews of the book’s layout.
- The Final Painting– Terry Strickland completed the final painting, “Athena”, six days before the end, so we shared the image with our backers.
- Let’s Keep Going!– We reached our goal, so we announced a second stretch goal and shared another page preview.
- Stretch One, Complete!– We announced reaching our first stretch goal and reminded backers of the second.
- Stretch Goal #3– We passed the second stretch goal, so we announced a third and gave a preview of the art from that bonus material.
- The End Is Near– A few minutes before the end of the project, we thanked our backers and reminded them that a backer survey was on its way. We also sent them to our mailing list and asked them to sign-up for SPAM-free updates.
So what are these stretch goals we keep yammering on about? Stretch goals are goals that are set to encourage pledges after the initial fundraising goal is reached. These usually come with bonus content, enhancements for the project. If you don’t set goals, you don’t inspire people to keep pledging after the project has reached your initial goal. Maybe that’s okay with you, but remember: people don’t usually complain about having too much money. It’s better to have too much in case your production has unforeseen costs.
WHAT WE DID
We created three stretch goals, which turned out to be a blessing, because our project turned out to be a little more expensive than we had anticipated. We were able to build a little more padding for the project into the stretch goals.
- $7,250– For $250 over goal we promised to build a website for The Incognito Project exhibition, featuring photos from the event to be held on November 3rd.
- $7,500– For $500 over goal we added a paper upgrade to 80lb paper, making the pages thicker and therefore more opaque.
- $8,000– We promised to include the invitation for the first event and the November 3rd exhibition with every copy of the book purchased through Kickstarter pre-order.
In Part 5 of this blog, we’ll break down some of the key information available on your dashboard! Part 6 will include exclusive updates (not in the original eBook) about prize fulfillment.
Where Are You From?
The following piece of advice is something that we did wrong for the first week and a half of our three week campaign. The location you give when filling out your basic information could be the difference between being discovered by a local backer, or being passed over completely. Kickstarter asks for your location when you first create a product. It might be your instinct to be very specific. This is a mistake. Kickstarter lists 11 cities on the sidebar of the Discover page. If possible, you need to pick the closest of these cities. If you are from New England, just pick Boston. If you are from Jersey, say New York. If you are from some obscure place far away from these cities, then you should still pick the closest big city (or state capital).
You want people browsing Kickstarter to accidentally find your project. Someone from two towns over might not think to search for your podunk place of residence, but they will click a link to the nearby city. It’s about being discovered, not accurate. So pick a city that people outside of your state might have heard of. People like to support local projects, but they have to find them first.
This is not a set-it-and-forget-it type of endeavor. If you are planning on going out of town or donʼt have regular internet access, you may want to rethink the timing of your project. Your daily involvement in this project is necessary. Not only do you need to be constantly promoting your project, but you may also be needed to answer inquiries and post answers to Frequently Asked Questions (which you can add and edit at the bottom of your live project).
Further, it may take a few days to even get approved for launch. Amazon has to confirm your identity (which requires a fax with a business account and may be extra-complicated if youʼve recently married or divorced and your current name is not in the public record database) and then Kickstarter may need a day or two to check your project to make sure it complies with their rules and regulations.
So make sure that you have at least an hour a day to attend to your campaign. Running your own Kickstarter is no walk in the park.
If you own your own web space, there’s a very easy way to make a memorable URL for your Kickstarter project. People are more likely to go to a clean, pronounceable URL than to a series of numbers and random letters. Set up a subdomain that redirects to your Kickstarter page. It will make it much easier for posters and word-of-mouth sharing, too. (example: kickstarter.terrystricklandart.com)
Key Social Media Images Dimensions:
Facebook Post- Square
Facebook Cover- 851 x 315
Twitter Cover- 1200 x 600
WHAT WE DID
Matter Deep Publishing created a number of “ads” for the Facebook page and for our fans to share. We also created an event to launch the Kickstarter, inviting friends to come to the URL and give.
Individual members of our family blogged, tweeted, and posted to Facebook daily. We also utilized our Mail Chimp mailing list to send an email announcing the launch on day one. Terry Strickland used her own mailing list to send a notice on the first day and a reminder three weeks later, as we approached the finish line.
Do you blog? Write a blog post about your project, but also remember to put a graphical link to the project in your sidebar so that readers who find other articles through Google will still see your project.
Some blogs accept guest authors. Guest posts are a great way to drumup buzz for your project and the bloggers that accept them, love them. Your project can mean free content for their blog! Email bloggers that you have a good relationship with, and check popular blogs on your topic to see who is seeking content. Just be ready to write about your project in an engaging way without copy/pasting the Kickstarter story.
Some blogs also accept paid ads. This is something to consider only if the blog has a large engaged following and the ad is cheap. If nobody ever comments or only three people read the blog through Google, you probably don’t want to waste your money.
WHAT WE DID
We have three family members with personal blogs, plus a blog to post news for our publishing company. Terry Strickland, Carly Strickland, and Amy Strickland each blogged about their part in the project. Carly wrote a guest post for Painting Stuff to Look Like Stuff and we were covered by Parka Blogs, too.
In addition to our blog posts, all of our blogs also featured sidebar banners for the project during its duration. Aside from free blog publicity, we paid for an ad on Lines and Colors. They used a very user-friendly ad management system that allowed us to purchase a 160×600 tower add for two weeks, getting an estimated 95,000 impressions. Our Kickstarter analytics proved that at least one backer who bought a book came through that ad.
In Part Four we’ll talk about using the resources on Kickstarter.com to promote your project!
Part One of this post talks about pre-planning for your Kickstarter project. Part Two continues today with visuals, including tips for perfecting your pitch video.
In my last post I told you to break up blocks of text with images. Here are some examples of ways to create visual interest within your Kickstarter page:
Matter Deep Publishing offered a number of packages at a great variety of price ranges. We had an acknowledgments credit for $1 pledges, a Thank You note for $5, a calendar for $35, etc. Our packages ranged from $1 to $3,000, giving people a chance to pledge as much or as little as they wanted. Though we did not move the $3,000 painting, we did receive a donation of $1,500 and quite a few in the $100-$300 range.
For each package our designer, Carly Strickland, laid out images of what was in the package. She put international shipping reminders on every package that was more than a notecard to ship. As a team, we titled every package to give them flair and make them easier to talk about and tell apart. Fonts used were fun (NEVER Comic Sans), but legible.
Because no formatting was allowed in the pledge choices in the sidebar, package titles were written in ALL CAPS to make them stand out.
As previously stated in this eBook, the goal is to present yourself as a competent entrepreneur, not like a beggar. When writing your pitch, you need to be clear and confident. This is not the place to grovel. Kickstarter is a way for average people to invest in really cool projects, to see the kinds of ideas that they like, come to fruition. They want to believe that the person behind the project can produce and that money is only a tiny, insignificant obstacle.
Here are some basic tips for making the perfect pitch:
✓ Get others to help check the spelling and grammar. Remember, this is professional.
✓ Break up large blocks of text with images.
✓ Donʼt complain or beg.
✓ Describe your project clearly so that people know exactly what they are getting.
✓ Repeat the information in your video so that people who canʼt stream video can still understand your project completely.
✓ Show some personality.
✓ Give a little history about your project.
The video is one of the most important parts of your pitch. Remember that phrase, “TLDR”? You’re already pushing your luck, asking strangers to go to a page and give you money. Don’t blow it by expecting them to read three pages to understand what your project is. The pitch is important for expanding upon information, but the video is vital for hooking backers. You need to offer a short, exciting look at your projects so that backers will want to read those three pages you write.
✓ Be in the video. People want to connect with the project creator. People want to assign a human face to the project theyʼre giving money to.
✓ Keep it short. People donʼt tend to watch long videos on the internet. We suggest less than 3 minutes.
✓ Donʼt linger too long on stills. The default 6-seconds on most video editing programs is too long. Images need to change quickly to avoid boredom.
✓ Pack it full of visuals. Images and videos are the most-shared things in the internet. People want images.
✓ Write a script. Please donʼt wing-it. You want to get the vital information in there and avoid rambling.
✓ Rehearse your voice over. Do a few takes and compile the best ones. Once again, you need to sound professional, even if your camera quality is not.
✓ Donʼt make them read the video.
WHAT WE DID
Our video featured Terry Strickland talking about the project with bouncy music and plenty of visuals from the event and the book. We included on full-page preview spread from our book and close-ups of most of the paintings in our final product.
We didn’t get into prizes or prices in the video, just the vision for the product and the history of the project. The end of our video featured a few outtakes, too, to show our personality.
Over the course of three weeks, our two-minute video received 636 plays, 42.5% of which were complete.
The music for our video was Royalty Free by Kevin MacLeod. You can find Royalty Free music from Kevin’s site http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/. Just make sure that you give credit to the artist! Kevin was credited at the bottom of our Kickstarter page.
This blog post is from an ebook I previously put out for Matter Deep Publishing. In August 2012 I ran a Kickstarter project for my mother-in-law’s book, The Incognito Project. After the successful completion of the project, I sat down and reflected on what worked and what did not. I’ve brought it to this blog in six parts! This is part one:
Back some other projects before you start your own. There are a few reasons to do this, the first being that you will start to understand what compels a person to support a project so that you can adopt those practices in your own project.
A second reason is that your bio on the main page for your project will show how many projects you have backed. You donʼt want to look like someone who just wants to collect money without giving back. Itʼs a sign of good will if you back a few projects.
So go use that Discover button and back a few. It doesnʼt have to be much. $1 is a show of support. You may even find something you just canʼt live without.
Choosing Your Rewards
The most important thing to remember, when deciding on your rewards, is to make them feel more like a purchase than a donation. The key to this is balancing cost to produce with value.
You want to make it clear that you are a competent entrepreneur. It is the only way to instill confidence that your project will actually happen. Begging for charity is counterproductive to this purpose. Since the recent wave of success for Kickstarter, there has been a lot of talk about Kickstarter changing the face of media production. Instead of relying on a studio-based system, sites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo use fan demand and pre-orders to put control back in the hands of the artists. This is the new business model, not a handout. Make it worth their while.
✓ Offer digital content for a small pledge where possible.
✓ Bundle multiple prizes for added value.
✓ Include exclusive content not available after the Kickstarter.
✓ If there is a big discrepancy between your cost to produce and your retail price, offer your product as a “pre-order” pledge for a lower price.
✓ Donʼt forget to factor in cost of shipping.
WHAT WE DID
The Kickstarter for The Incognito Project set out to print a high-quality art book for a reasonable price. Similar art books go for $75-100 or more! We estimated the cost to print, then ship, and came up with an individual cost to produce. This was our starting point.
We decided to retail the book for $65 without shipping after the Kickstarter pledge drive. This meant that anyone who pre-ordered the book with a $50 pledge saved $25 on the book with the cost of shipping. This left us plenty of money for production and still gave our backers a sense of value in their donation.
Other available rewards included greeting cards and a calendar (not available outside the project), art lessons, and original art.
Have you ever seen the phrase “TLDR” on a blog post? It means “too long, didn’t read.” It might be a sad commentary on our culture that this idea has a standard abbreviation, but it’s a truth that you need to work with. You are asking people for their time and money; you shouldn’t expect them to read six pages of text about your project. Break it up with some images! It is not enough to simply have cool rewards and describe them in the sidebar. It’s all about packaging. Some people need visuals to understand exactly what they’re getting. Some of the most successful Kickstarter projects I have seen understand this idea. Creating a 640 pixel wide image for each package (and then describing it in text below) goes a long way in making your rewards more enticing.
So fire-up your favorite photo editing software (if you’re not good with visuals, get a friend to help out) and create graphics for each of your packages. Other suggested graphics include visuals of the actual product you’re trying to make, maps for shipping prices, and a nice photo of the person behind the project. People want to connect with you as well as your project.
Just remember Kickstarter doesn’t wrap text, so when possible, make those images 640 pixels wide. Anything smaller will just be centered, floating in the middle. You have the space; you might as well use it!
Check back soon for Part Two! (Follow me @Nimbuschick and I’ll tweet when it arrives)
We all learned to dislike GoDaddy and their misalignment over copyright issues during the SOPA war. GoDaddy sided with the RIAA and only pulled their sponsorship of SOPA and PIPA, the bills that would have destroyed the internet, after they lost tens of thousands of users over the issue. It appears they still haven’t figured out where they stand. Now GoDaddy is refusing the help reinforce the copyright law we already have in place.
I do a casual search of my name every few months to make sure that nothing offensive is tied to it. I have a teaching career to consider and my old classmates don’t consider that when they tag me in posts so that I’ll read them. This time, while scraping the web, I found a site that pirates books (including a LOT) of Indie Books, offering Kissing Corpses for free. I mean… seriously? It is 99¢. As @EmC_N from sashandem.com said in a tweet, “Seriously? I could find 99 cents in my couch if I tried. How sad.”
We justify piracy in so many ways. People start by saying, “I’ll only pirate it if it is out of print.” This is understandable. How else can you read it? Then we expand our justifications to a more crooked, Robin Hood type of justice. “That Big 5 publisher conspired to artificially jack up eBook prices anyway, it won’t matter if I pirate one book.” Then we stop splitting hairs at all and we pirate everything. Some people think that they shouldn’t have to pay for books. I’m going to tell you now, in no uncertain terms: I am not getting Amanda Hocking rich, or even rich, or even able to survive, by selling Indie Books. Stealing 99¢ from me isn’t stealing from the rich. It’s stealing from a broke graduate education major.
After finding this site, I proceeded to do a WhoIs search on their domain. I have sent a copyright claim to their host– but it’s the Spanish government, so I don’t know how that will work out. I do have some hope that, because we gave away Kissing Corpses as a free promotion on leap year, that this copy was posted by a teenager who doesn’t understand that a free promotion does NOT give her the right to copy and redistribute the book. I have sent a message to the webmaster, hoping it will be removed.
To be safe, I search my husband’s work. Someone else has been sharing copies of his short story, Love and Blood . This site does not have contact information for a webmaster, so I did a WhoIs search and found that their domain is registered through GoDaddy.com and their data storage through theplanet.com. I contacted both with similar letters including proof of my claim. GoDaddy responded today that, because they simply host the domain name, they can’t do anything. Won’t do anything, is more like it. The domain name is the URL, is the address most net users need to access material. If the domain of this site, which commits obviously intentional piracy (because the whole site is centered around it and they don’t provide a contact address), were to be cancelled or suspended, all links to it would break. This would go very far to prevent their pirated content from being shared. GoDaddy knows this, because domain cancellation without due process was one of the web-breaking measures in the bills that they sponsored not three months ago!
The companies that got behind SOPA claimed that it was purely for the purposes of stopping foreign piracy. Well guess what? This guy is in China. This is what they signed on to stop! I’ve proven my claim here. They should follow their own user policy and cancel or suspend their services. GoDaddy’s policy even says that they have the right to suspend or cancel domain name hosting accounts that violate their user agreement. Their user agreement says that their services may not be used to break US law. Copyright is a US law, last time I checked.
So, if GoDaddy didn’t give you enough reason to move your domain after the SOPA fiasco, here’s another. GoDaddy doesn’t care about copyright unless it belongs to the RIAA.
Indie authors, google your books with free and download in the query. If you find your book, do a WhoIs lookup. If the domain is purchased through GoDaddy, report it to copyrightclaims@GoDaddy.com and let them know that they CAN do something about it.