It wasn’t so long ago that I was talking about starting my self-publishing effort with a Kickstarter campaign, was it? How fast plans change.
There were two reasons I considered Kickstarter. The first was the primary expense in publishing Broken Magic: the cover art. One of my most common disappointments in (otherwise good) self-published books is the art. It’s not always an important disappointment, but after all the work I put into Broken Magic, I owed it more than a last minute, slapped-together cover. Finding an illustrator – the right illustrator – was important. Until I found one, the cost was a variable; would I need additional funding to get what I want or not?
The second reason I was considering Kickstarter was that it could serve as both a funding and marketing tool. I don’t have a name on which to trade or a marketing machine to back me up. Building buzz of any sort for a self-published first novel is a steep uphill battle. There’s only so much shilling I can do before release (“Please RT that I’ll have a novel soon!”), but the process of raising money for the cover art would be a concrete thing to discuss in the weeks before release. It would get the title Broken Magic and the name Eric Sipple in front of some eyes before the book itself hit.
After posting my Kickstarter plans, I had a couple of conversations that changed my mind. I got the quote from my illustrator and it was an amount I could pay on my own, and I discussed some of the squishy concerns I had about using Kickstarter with people who shared those concerns. The truth is, not needing the money killed the Kickstarter plan on its own. Even if I had needed the money, I would have likely decided against a campaign. The reason turned out to be a simple one.
Everyone who gives money to the campaign would be getting, at the very least, a copy of Broken Magic. These would also be my earliest purchasers of the book if they weren’t getting it as a reward from the Kickstarter campaign. That, right there, became the choice: Would I rather cover an expense or sell copies?
I’d rather sell copies.
I’m not expecting huge sales numbers for my first self-published novel, but whatever sales I manage are sales I want to report in full. I don’t know what good those sales numbers will do, but I’d like the maximum good that I can manage. First and foremost, I want people to read my book. I wrote it far too long ago for it to stay unpublished. I’m sick of talking about it and not letting the book speak for itself. Getting readers is the first order of business. Past that, I’d like whoever reads it to be counted in the same place. I want that more than I need help paying my cover artist.
Kickstarter is off the table. I appreciate all of your thoughts, and I want you to know that the exercise wasn’t a waste of time. I learned a lot from the comments and discussion that followed, and they all led to a much clearer idea of how to proceed than I had before. Thank you for your insight, your interest, and your support.
What’s the plan going forward? Stay tuned.