Olympia Heights: Lightning Rod is live on Kickstarter. I need your help to pay for art, so back this project now to make it happen!
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.
Maybe you have a project that you’re considering crowd-funding, and you just can’t decide if you should use Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, or one of the many other crowd-funding platforms out there. I’m not an expert on the other platforms, but I do have a lot of experience with Kickstarter, from successful projects to un-funded projects and I can tell you a lot about that particular platform to help you decide if it’s right for you.
I have been writing this series since 2007, and now I am putting the finishing touches on book four. It seems surreal. Some things have changed since my original plans (such as Jason) and some things have stayed the same (such as the character names and book titles). In a few months I will be publishing the last novel in the Olympia Heights series and working on plans for a comic adaptation/reboot with my brother.
If you follow me on Tumblr or Twitter or Facebook you may have seen a link to the Olympia Heights Tumblr. It’s a blog where I post Greek mythology stuff—some of it my own, some of it reblogs from other Tumblrs. I have been posting Olympia Heights model sheets (designs for characters) up there and you can head on over to olympiaheights.tumblr.com to check those out.
In addition to critiquing designs and editing the fourth book, and in addition to running a Kickstarter for The Indie Guide to Indie Publishing, I have also released the synopsis for the final book. So, without further ado, the description for Olympia Heights: The Cult of Kronos.
Five months ago, Zach Jacobs received a postcard from his oldest enemy. Now, Kronos’ arrival in Olympia Heights is having deadly consequences. College plans are derailed as The Pantheon switches into survival mode, and an old ally is pulled back into the fray by tragedy. As Kronos’ return threatens the very heart of humanity, the Olympians are faced with a choice: to surrender to his will or to leave their mortal lives behind. The stakes are high when anyone could be a servant of the enemy.
The final chapter of the Olympia Heights saga promises death, danger, and the answer to the most important questions of all. What caused the Olympians to be locked away all those years ago? And can they be trusted with humanity now?
Read excerpts at www.olympia-heights.com
Tuesday I had the honor of appearing on the second episode of YA|Podcast, the new podcast by author Amy Jones. On the podcast I talked about Olympia Heights, Kickstarter, and why I love fantasy. You can listen by downloading the podcast on iTunes or here: http://yapodcasts.com/?p=66
Starting today, The Indie Guide to Indie Publishing is seeking backers on Kickstarter. The Indie Guide to Indie Publishing is a tool, a step-by-step guide to publishing your independent book. Each article is written by an experienced authority from the independent world, and the book includes an index and glossary to help aspiring authors and publishers along the way.
This book will have:
- Nine (9) writers with experience publishing and promoting independent work.
- An alphabetical glossary of terms you need to know for publishing success.
- An index for quick reference and trouble-shooting.
- A list of useful resources and references for further research.
A couple of the writers are people I have interviewed on this blog before (See Blake Northcott Arena Mode and JL Bryan Latest Work) and a couple more I met at Phoenix Festival (Teal Haviland and Bobby Nash.) All of the writers involved in this book have experience, credentials, and bragging rights that make them indie publishing experts.
If you’re interested in obtaining a copy of this book or simply giving us a dollar to help our dreams come true, head on over to the Kickstarter page. We have rewards at various levels, including copies of the book, t-shirts, Google Hangouts, cover designs, and more. For $60, we’ll all tweet your link to over 30,000 combined followers! Take a look and PLEASE spread the word to every writer you know.
In which I explain a long absence, tease a new project, and reveal the title of the fourth Olympia Heights novel.
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.
Blake Northcott, Canadian Indie writer (Vs. Reality, Relapse), has a new project, and she wants your help. Read my interview with Blake and then head on over to her Kickstarter.
1. You’ve recently started Noösphere Publishing with Jim Deley and Kiri Callaghan. How did you guys meet up and why did you decide to band together and use your powers for publishing?
I’ve known Jim for years, and he lives nearby, which is helpful for brainstorming sessions on the weekends. Without his editing and input on my first drafts my work would read very different – he’s such a genius when it comes to structure and pacing.
Kiri and I met online last year and we just hit it off right away. She is so incredibly talented and as soon as I read her work I knew I wanted to do something with her. She lives in the Seattle area, so it’s a lot tougher to get together with her since I’m in Toronto, but we met in person last September at Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo in Los Angeles.
I think the reason we all assembled for Noösphere is because it’s always easier to get work done when you’re collaborating with other creative people – especially if they’re honest. Kiri and Jim are like family, but they’re not going to hold back when it comes to constructive criticism, which is imperative.
2. You have a Kickstarter project coming up. Tell me about that. Spare no shameful plug!
(laughs) Okay, I will plug away.
So my new book is called ARENA MODE; it’s a sci-fi/fantasy novel about superheroes fighting in a dystopian future. It’s my attempt to blur the line a little between novels and graphic novels, and address the “who would win if these guys fought?” flame wars that are always raging online.
I think what sets it apart from other superhero-themed books is that it’s going to include original artwork. I have assembled some amazing artist from Marvel and DC Comics, who are designing and illustrating the characters; all of their sketches and final work will be included in the book.
There are some really well-known artists involved – guys who have worked on Iron Man, Deadpool, Spider-Man, X-Men, the new World of Warcraft graphic novel…a list and some samples of their work are on the ARENA MODE Kickstarter site.
More than anything with ARENA MODE I wanted to tell a superhero-themed story that simply couldn’t be told in a comic book. When you have a set of popular characters, whether they’re heroes or villains, they simply aren’t going to die in a Marvel or DC comic. And if they do, they’re going to come back to life in some form or another.
Being a Game of Thrones fan I love how the world they’ve crafted is so dangerous and unpredictable. Anyone is fair game in George R. R. Martin’s universe, and you never know who is going to die – even a main character. ARENA MODE will be similar in the sense that there are very ordinary people who just happen to possess extraordinary powers – and magic doesn’t exist. If someone kills you, you’re dead…a potion or an enchantment or all-powerful deity isn’t going to conveniently resurrect you for future volumes.
If you love Joss Whedon, Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, comic book movies like The Avengers, or just action and sci-fi/fantasy, I think you’ll enjoy ARENA MODE!
Okay, plug over (laughs).
3. Anyone who follows your social media feeds knows that you’re big into comics and movies. Who in the industry right now impresses you? Which content creators are making you stand up and say, “Hey, now that’s cool.”
Wow, that’s a big question!
I think that Image Comics has make a huge rebound in 2012, and continues to impress with every new title. From Chew to Saga, they just have such an amazing line-up of titles that you can’t help but be impressed with them as a company. Marvel, DC and Valiant all had big years, but I think Image came out as the winner in ’12.
Movie-wise I’m extremely impressed with Disney. They pulled off an incredible feat with Marvel’s The Avengers; there’s never been a movie that incorporated characters and storylines from four different franchises. They just seem to be letting the artists do what they do best: create. And the fans and critics are rewarding them with excellent reviews and big box office numbers.
And now that Disney has Star Wars to work with I’m so excited to see something fresh from that world as well!
4. You’re kind of being paraded around the internet as one of these cases of Indie authors who harness the power of social media for success. Could you tell the readers how you built that following and what steps you took to make sure you were ready before launching Vs. Reality?
I’m on parade? Really? (laughs) I didn’t realize that. People need to keep me in the loop so I know where all the parades are!
To be honest I didn’t really build a following with the intention of leveraging it for a specific project – I just go online most days, share content and speak my mind. I also follow people as much as possible, and I follow back those who follow me.
Social media is a great way to reach like-minded people, but if you want to get serious about it for marketing your work you have to almost treat it as a part-time job. You can’t slack off and just post once a week or when you’re in the mood – it has to be a part of your lifestyle. Some people have a very hard time with that, and while it was easy for me, it’s doesn’t feel natural for others.
My Twitter and Facebook accounts have been online for close to two years now, and I don’t usually go more than a day without updating. I use Hoot Suite now, which is the best free program there is, in my opinion – I can update all my social media accounts at the same time, and it saves me having to reproduce the same content everywhere.
And I do my best to get back to people…this is the hardest part of social media because of the time it takes – especially now that I have over 20,000 Twitter followers and more than 3,000 Facebook friends – but it’s so important. I don’t feel like I have ‘fans’…I have friends, and I want them to know that I’m listening to them.
The Comikaze was amazing, and it was a surreal experience. Standing on the other side of the table for the first time was kind of a shock…some people told me they came to L.A. just to see me, and it was baffling. I was like “Really? Me? You do know that Todd MacFarlane and Stan Lee are here, right?” But I am so grateful I had the opportunity to meet everyone, and I can’t wait to do it again.
Right now I don’t have any plans for 2013. I will most definitely be making an appearance or two, likely in the Toronto area, but I don’t have anything scheduled in America or overseas just yet. It depends on how ARENA MODE does on Kickstarter, and what my next move will be professionally. As soon as I find out I will let you know!
Thank you so much for the time, Amy!
And thanks to Blake Northcott for sitting down to answer my questions! Once again, if you like the sound of ARENA MODE, head on over to the ARENA MODE Kickstarter and pitch in what you can. Put the power of content creation in the hands of the people by supporting projects that excite you.
You can read my reviews of Vs. Reality and Relapse in the archives.
Update- Arena Mode has passed the $25k mark and now comes with a PDF version of an RPG. Get on this sweet deal NOW!
Last year, 1,666 publishing projects got their funding on Kickstarter. With over $15 million pledged to publishing projects alone, Kickstarter has given the power to the people. We are creating a market where people tell companies the kinds of products they want made, rather than the previous market where corporations tell us what to want. So, to support this brilliant movement, I’m going to begin featuring cool publishing projects on this blog.
The first one is a book called Sex and Spooks and Sauvignon. This project is for a print-edition of a book already available on the Kindle. The author has collected a handful of really positive reviews, most of them visible on the Amazon UK site (in case you read “11 reviews” and went “where? I only see one!”)
The book is already available on Kindle, so it’s market tested, and you can download the excerpt from your respective Amazon storefronts. Prizes for backing the book include autographed copies, acknowledgments, psychic readings, and having yourself written into the book as a character.
So check it out and give a dollar if you can. Support Indie Projects YOU want to read. We don’t have to live in a world with ordinary fiction anymore!
Update 2/15/13: The project was successfully funded this morning!