If a writer is going to succeed in self publishing, whether through a Kickstarter campaign or just jumping in on Amazon, he’s going to need the trust of his audience. More specifically, his audience must trust that he will actually deliver the product, deliver it on time, and that it will be a quality product.
This, I think, is the ultimate key to self-publishing and/or Kickstarter success.
Let’s revisit the 1,000 True Fans theory for a moment. In a nutshell, it says a writer—or any creative type, really—can make a living off of 1,000 true fans, or 1,000 people who will buy anything and everything said writer/creator produces. Put up a book or a print? They buy it. Release a t-shirt? They wear it. Add content to an existing project and produce a special edition? They throw their money at you.
1,000 True Fans, then, are people who trust the writer. They have a history with the writer, and they have a reasonable expectation the writer will continue to deliver.
The writers with these fans are ready to go the self publishing route. (That’s not to say nobody else should, but that’s a subject for another blog post.) I think Brian Keene, for example, has the fanbase to pull it off. When he puts out an extra-crunchy edition of a new book, it sells out, often within 24 hours. When he puts his name to a publisher’s imprint as editor, his fans snap up those books as if they were his own. While he made the business decision to migrate to Deadite Press to avoid the logistical headaches of things like covers, design, and electronic formatting, several of us had no doubt he would have continued to sell well either way and made a living.
This extends to Kickstarter, too. Consider Chuck Wendig’s Kickstarter campaign for Bait Dog, the sequel to Shotgun Gravy (which, incidentally, he self published). Wendig doubled his goal. Why? His fans trust him. Check out all the Wendig content on Amazon and it’s clear the man is a writing machine. He’ll deliver. Shotgun Gravy‘s 71 four- and five-star reviews suggest they trust he’ll deliver quality, too. (I certainly enjoyed it.)
Boom! Project funded in ten hours because his fans trust him.
And to expand on yesterday’s thoughts, now Wendig can write Bait Dog with the confidence it will be worth the time it takes away from his other projects, such as his deal with Angry Robot Books (starting with Blackbirds, which I am currently enjoying), his recent three-book deal with Amazon Children’s Publishing, and the time he puts into his website and his books on writing advice.
Kickstarter is an effective tool when used correctly. Unfortunately a lot of people seem to treat it like a lottery ticket without reading the small print about the odds.