Top 5 Things I Learned from a Failed Kickstarter Campaign


What's that, Ally?
What’s that, Ally?

I launched a Kickstarter campaign in August to raise the funds to publish hardcover copies of my picture book, On the Bottom of My Shoe. If you want to learn more about the project, you can find the original blog post here.

I had heard about crowdfunding at a writer’s conference I attended in March. The information I learned piqued my interest, and I was excited to try crowdfunding my picture book.

I researched a lot of the projects on Kickstarter and other crowdfunding sites, such as Indiegogo and Pubslush. Although Kickstarter has an all or nothing crowdfunding model, I chose Kickstarter because I liked the quality and variety of picture books being funded through Kickstarter campaigns.

I spent hours, and hours, and hours researching and preparing for my Kickstarter campaign. I prepared my story and my biography and my backer rewards like a good little writer/campaign manager. Although my campaign didn’t fund in the end, I learned a lot during the process.

Here are the top five things I learned from my failed Kickstarter campaign:

  1. Carefully evaluate (and reevaluate) the lowest funding goal for your campaign.  My campaign goal was $8,140. This was the minimum viable amount to get 1,000 hardcover copies printed by offset printing, including special endpapers. It would also provide for all the backer rewards and cover the editing and layout design services, etc. My mentality was to “go big or go home.” In retrospect, I didn’t need to have 1,000 copies printed. I didn’t need to do an offset print run. Although hardcover copies were a non-negotiable choice for me, IngramSpark offers a nice variety of publishing options for a reasonable cost, and they don’t have a minimum order requirement.
  2. Most, if not all, of your funding really WILL come from people you know. You cannot expect the Kickstarter community to magically fund your campaign. Unless you can rally enough support through people you already know, people you don’t know may not back the project. So, how many people do you know who will be able to contribute to your project? As with any venture, not everyone who may be interested in supporting your project will have the means to do so. Or they may forget to check it out before the deadline. Or the concept of crowdfunding may be new to them, and the process could be daunting. Kickstarter requires backers to sign up for a free Kickstarter account. . . . and also requires an login for payment processing. Do the people who would want to back your project have the “internet savvy” to make this an easy process for them?
  3. Crowdfunding feels a lot like personal sales. I used to be an independent beauty consultant, and although I learned a lot during that time, I HATED the personal sales aspect. I love people, love to help people, but hate to ask, ask, ask for business or to constantly look for ways to promote my business in that way. Maybe I am delusional, but promoting a book or promoting myself as an author/speaker through “normal” marketing channels feels different.
  4. Simple is good when it comes to backer rewards. Some of the funding campaigns I researched offered awesomely cool backer rewards. Things like one of a kind blankets or personalized sketches in the same style as the book’s illustrations, just to name a couple. Evaluate what the main goals of your project are, and how much time it will take to fulfill the backer rewards. Too many reward options or reward tiers are confusing. Simplify the rewards, and make it easier on yourself and the backers who want to help but aren’t yet savvy about all this crowdfunding stuff.
  5. Whether the campaign funds or fails to fund, the experience can be worthwhile. Preparing for the crowdfunding campaign makes you work through tasks you would need to complete anyway. You develop a pitch and “back flap copy” material as you determine what would draw a backer (or a reader) to your book. You work on marketing, design and layout. You research funding and production costs. You face (and  conquer) deadlines–self-made and otherwise. You force yourself to get in front of the camera to share about your project.You also continue to work on the project during the funding campaign, and provide updates to your backers.

Would I crowdfund again? Maybe. Not with the picture book On the Bottom of My Shoe (I’m pursuing different publishing options with that particular book), but maybe with another project. In fact, I’m working on a graphic novel right now . . . but that’s a story for a different post.

Votes are In! The Winner Is . . .

bear name results

Thank you to everyone who voted on their favorite name for Ally’s teddy bear. The votes have been tallied, and we have a clear winner 🙂

Drum roll please . . . .

The teddy bear’s name is Coco!

This name was originally suggested by Jan Grueter of Winchester, Idaho. Congratulations, Jan! You have won an autographed copy of On the Bottom of My Shoe when it’s released (date tbd). I will get your contact information, then will let you know an ETA as soon as I know.

I’ve so enjoyed having all of you be part of the “behind the scenes” process for this book. It livens up the brainstorming and decision-making processes!

Be sure to check back often to keep tabs on what I’m up to –along with what the spunky array of characters I try to keep up with are up to!

Name Ally’s Teddy Bear and You Could Win a Free Book!


Meet Ally’s teddy bear. He will be joining her for a tea party in my new picture book, On the Bottom of My Shoe.The problem is, this poor guy doesn’t have a name yet.

Suggest a name in the comments below, and you could win a free copy of the book when it’s finished!

This is how it will work:

1. Suggest a name for Ally’s teddy bear in the comments below.

2. On September 7th I will pick my five favorites from the names suggested, then will post a survey for everyone to vote on their favorite name for Ally’s teddy bear. The name with the most votes (by September 14th) will be the teddy’s name in the book.

3. If the name you suggested is the name with the most votes, you will win a free, autographed copy of the book when it is published! (Estimated delivery is between December, 2014 and March, 2015)

4. If more than five people suggested the name that receives the most votes, I will put their names in a “hat” and randomly choose five winners.

Thank you for helping to name Ally’s teddy bear! I can hardly wait to hear your ideas!

Update for On the Bottom of My Shoe Kickstarter Project


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Progress updates:

I’ve developed a frame story to show what Ally is doing when she discovers the individual letters on the bottom of her shoe. This provides a framework for the illustrations and adds an additional element to the story structure.

I’ve chosen which art medium best portrays how I envision Ally and the story–colored pencil. I completed a number of illustrations two different ways and will upload both options to my desktop publishing software to determine which one works best on the page.

I’ve completed illustrations of Ally’s teddy bear and an initial sketch of Grandma.

This week I will create a more concrete layout for the storyboard and will draw most, if not all, of the remaining initial sketches for On the Bottom of My Shoe.

Thank you again for being part of this project. I enjoy sharing Ally’s story with you.

Kind regards, Bernice

On the Bottom of My Shoe Kickstarter Project!

On the Bottom of My Shoe Kickstarter Pic


It all began with a girl, a shoe, and a pile of letters.

When Ally saw a letter stuck on the bottom of her shoe, she was surprised. When she found another letter . . . and another letter . . . and another one, she was REALLY surprised. Where had the letters come from? Could her baby brother, Jason, be involved?

Most importantly, were the letters trying to tell her something?


I’m excited to share my next book project with you! Click on the photograph above to find out more about On the Bottom of My Shoe, and about how you can help donate books to libraries and to high risk children!

What is Kickstarter?

Kickstarter is a way to help fund creative projects, such as film, art, photography, publishing, game- and software-making, etc. Project creators (like me!) research to determine how much it will cost to complete a project. Then they set a funding goal and deadline for the Kickstarter funding period. People who like the project can pledge money to help fund it.

How does it work?

If you like a project, simply click the green “Back this Project” bar on the upper right hand side of the page. Type in the amount you want to pledge. You may select as many of the pledge/backer rewards as you would like. Once you have chosen your backer rewards, click the green “Continue to next step” bar at the bottom of the page. Kickstarter will walk you through the rest of the steps. Kickstarter uses to process pledges.

When do I pay the amount I pledged?

Pledges are not processed until the funding period ends, and they are ONLY processed if the funding goal has been met. Pledges for On the Bottom of My Shoe will be processed after 9:00 pm on September 5th, 2014 if the project is fully funded.

Can I change my pledge?

Yes. At any time prior to funding, you can increase or decrease your pledge amount and make changes to your backer rewards.

Other Questions?

If you have any questions I haven’t answered, you may find the answers on Kickstarter’s What is Kickstarter? page.

If you have any other questions, please ask. And don’t forget to check out my Kickstarter project for On the Bottom of My Shoe!