DD Blog: How to Kickstart a book – the DD way
We’re publishing our first book next month, which is a sentence we weren’t sure we would ever be able to write.
The idea for Let Me Know When You’re Home started as most of our ideas do: mentioned in passing, picked up again in a message, responded to at a random in-between-work moment and added as an agenda item in one of our catch-ups. Then, suddenly, there we were, developing the concept for a collection of writing on female friendship.
This all started a long time before we opened submissions for the collection in summer 2019. It started way before we even had a name for the book. From the beginning, we knew what we wanted to create and what that final product would be – it was just getting there that was the tricky part.
We looked at some of our favourite Kickstarter projects for inspiration before starting our campaign and cobbled together a plan of action. If you’re thinking of crowdfunding your own project, here are the three main things that helped us, and might help you in your process.
- Identifying your audience
Over the years, we’ve received hundreds of pieces of writing that, in one way or another, explored the relationships between women; it’s a topic that crops up in the responses to nearly all of our themes. We knew that a publication focused on this subject would be eagerly received by our audience, and that it was therefore a topic they would be keen to engage with as a submission theme.
We had also hosted a sell-out Galentine’s Day event at Waterstones in February 2019, which included discussions, readings and performances based on the subject of female friendship. We were overwhelmed by the reactions and vibrancy that evening – and knew that if we could garner that excitement about celebrating the connections between women into a publication, we could create something special.
And then, the title. It was born out of something that we had said to each other time and time again, and represented the communication and connection that female friendship signifies to us. Once we had the title Let Me Know When You’re Home, we felt confident we’d reach the right people.
- Working out the funding target (honestly)
By March 2019, we were figuring out how exactly to produce a book. We very quickly realised that we’d need to crowdfund for publication. Dear Damsels is a voluntary organisation, and previously our publications have been self-funded or supported through money raised by DD events and Annual sales.
However, we wanted this project to feel different and to represent a real step forward for us. We had certain goals in mind for what we wanted to achieve with the publication – the cost-related ones including paying our writers and funding our largest print run yet, so that we could reach more readers than we ever have before.
Our early research into costs covered everything from printing, to envelope mailers, to notecards for a reward. Kickstarter was the perfect way to help us quantify these factors. The rewards-based funding system meant that we had to be honest with ourselves about what we thought we could achieve, what kind of rewards would work for us and how long we thought it would take us to hit our target. It also meant that we would need to be completely clear about where the money would be going – meaning that our funding goal was clearly defined from the outset.
- Marketing it in a way that works for you
Once we had our funding goal, we needed to work out how best to communicate the Kickstarter to potential backers. Here, we faced a slight challenge. We wanted to make sure we spoke to those who were already familiar with Dear Damsels, but we also needed to reach people who had no idea who we were, but were the right market for the book.
Kickstarter’s Creator Handbook helped us a lot here. Writing out our story and building a vision document helped us develop the language, tone and messaging that would be the foundation for our crowdfunder and the campaign to support it.
This motivated us to brand the Kickstarter outside of the usual DD palette. We used different colours and fonts and created assets specifically for the campaign including social visuals and video. We also developed a marketing timeline to make sure that everything #LMKWYH didn’t get in the way of the usual day-to-day Dear Damsels output, choosing to run the crowdfunder for two months rather than one, to give all of our content the space to breathe.
And now? Well, we’ve just kept talking about it. Female friendship and connection is central to what we do at DD. At its heart, we’re a network of women, sharing each other’s work and listening to each other’s voices. Let Me Know When You’re Home, as a campaign and soon to be as a book, is about celebrating that, and we plan to do so. Once we get the first round of packing and postage out of the way . . .
Dear Damsels is your collective.
We want to create a space on our website where you can find out what your collective is doing for you. Whether it be upcoming events, publications, projects or podcast episodes, this blog is where we communicate directly with you about what is going on in the world of DD.