Aug 31st, 2020
The highly successful indie author, Chris Fox, joins the Am Writing Fantasy podcast in episode 88 to share how he managed to fully fund his Kickstarter campaign.
Chris collected almost $22,000 for his RPG rulebook, based on his fiction work.
If you have any plans to ever run a Kickstarter, or is just curious, this episode will offer you tons of inspiration and advice.
Links to resources mentioned in this episode:
Chris Fox on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCu6RYg6_-pTQxLVq3Fv6lYg
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Read the full transcript below.
(Please note that it's automatically generated and while the AI is super cool, it isn't perfect. There may be misspellings or incorrect words on occasion).
You're listening to the am. Writing fantasy podcast in today's publishing landscape, you can reach fans all over the world. Query letters are a thing of the past. You don't even need a literary agent. There is nothing standing in the way of making a living from writing. Join two best selling authors who have self published more than 20 books between them now onto the show with your hosts, Autumn Birt, and Jesper Schmidt.
Hello, I am Jesper and this is episode 88 of the am writing fantasy podcast. So, Autumn is taking a break today trying to get the final pieces of our wealth building costs recorded. So I've instead invited an awesome guest on, and that is Chris Fox. So Chris used to work with iPhone development, but has since gone on to write and publish over 20 novels. He also writes nonfiction books for authors, much like autumn and myself, and have spoken, I think probably all over the U S about writing to market and earning a living from writing.
Jesper (1m 6s):
So it's a great pleasure to say, welcome to the am writing fantasy podcast, Chris, thanks for having me on. It's a pleasure to be here. Yeah, that's great. And is there anything important that I left out of that intro there, Chris? I try to collect as much as I could from the internet, you know, there might be, but I'm not sure how relevant it is to your audience. I've got a lot of weird things over my career. Probably the odd thing is the app that I wrote was used to scope Stephen Colbert his ear on national TV.
Jesper (1m 38s):
So there's an episode that I got to watch the show where they use my app on it. It was pretty cool. Oh, nice. Yeah. But you, at some point you then decided no I'm going to do some writing instead of this stuff. I guess I always preferred writing and the writing was my goal from, from childhood, but we were taught, or at least we were taught from previous millennium that you couldn't make a living from your writing. And so I believed it and I gave it up because I didn't believe I could make a living. And as soon as I realized that I could, I got right back to it. Yeah. Good thing that you did because you're doing well nowadays, I guess, but yeah.
Jesper (2m 14s):
We're going to talk about how to run a successful Kickstarter campaign today, but I have to as well admit that I asked you to come onto a podcast, Chris, not only to share your insight with our listeners, but also because I have a personal interest in this topic because you see I've, I've actually written both a book on universal rules for how to run a miniature war gaming campaign, as well as another guide book on running a narrative campaign.
Jesper (2m 44s):
So that's almost like an RPG rule set, like, like you have run on a Kickstarter, which so I thought it would be excellent to talk to you about, you know, the Kickstarter campaign, how you did it, what things are good to think about and hopefully our audience, you will get a lot from listening to them.
Chris (3m 4s):
Yeah. I'm an open book. So if you have specific questions, I'm happy to answer them. Or if you want me to give kind of a broad overview of the process, I can start there.
Jesper (3m 12s):
Yeah. I th I do have specific questions, but maybe actually it would be a good place to, just to start a bit more general overall overview about Kickstarter. Maybe, maybe a bit of, I don't have any specific questions about the mindset going into running a Kickstarter. So maybe that's something you could touch a bit upon here.
Chris (3m 29s):
So stop. Sure. I recommend Kickstarter and there are other similar platforms like Indiegogo, but Kickstarter or any similar platform is a great way for you to allow your fans to express appreciation. So we all have super fans. If you're releasing novels and anybody reading them, and they're willing to spend a small fortune to support you, they want to see your art succeed. So Kickstarter is the way in which we can do that. I mean, all of your fans are gonna pay, you know, your $5 or whatever you're charging for your, your latest novel, but many of them would be willing to pay $500 for some special service or autograph book or a thing.
Chris (4m 2s):
You could do our mention of them in a novel somewhere. And if you sort of build a Kickstarter around fulfilling your, your super fans desires, you can walk away with quite a bit of cash.
Jesper (4m 14s):
Yeah. And the Kickstarter you ran, remind me again, how much funding did you get through that one?
Chris (4m 21s):
Just shy of $30,000.
Jesper (4m 24s):
That's pretty damn good because I think your, your goal was far less than that. Right?
Chris (4m 29s):
My goal was, I want to say 10, 10 loss. I should get it up and look, let me, let me look. What did I go for? We're already so far past the kick server. We just went live on drive-through RPG yesterday. Nice. Congratulations. Yeah. I'm looking to see what our original goal was $6,000 since the original goal,
Jesper (4m 54s):
Right? Yeah. Yeah. So you, you blew way, way, way past that. But I remember, I can't remember if it was because I read it somewhere or maybe I heard you talk about it somewhere, but I think I recall you saying something like that, going into it, that it was important for you to have a, you know, a mindset that this was more like, you know, if, if it gets funded great, but it was more like a learning experience. Is that right?
Chris (5m 21s):
Very much so. So if you are counting on Kickstarter is a means of funding, an endeavor that's really risky. And I was fortunately in a position where I didn't have to do that. I could bankrupt myself. So I was testing the market to see if they were interested in what I was producing. But if a flop I would have been prepared for that, I would have been a very valuable lesson about how much time and attention do I put into this project if the market's not really interested in it.
Jesper (5m 45s):
Yeah. Yeah. And also, I guess it can be a bit difficult to gauge from, from the get, go about, ah, how much engagement am I going to get here? You know, how many people will actually be willing to say, okay, I'm going to support this project, right?
Chris (6m 1s):
Yeah. Kickstarter's a wonderful weather in that way where, you know, if you have a big mailing list, we were fortunate enough to have been an author for a little bit. And you want to know if they're going to buy something and you ask them, they'll all say yes, but the, they actually call me the money and pay for it. It's a different story. So if you set up a Kickstarter, they're able to put their money where their mouth is. And one of the nice things too is if they ever back you or express any interest on one of your Kickstarters, anytime you post a new Kickstarter, they're going to see that too. So if you're a novelist and you're kickstarting your audio books, every time a new book comes out in the series, all of the people who backed it or were interested in backing, it will, we'll hear about the next one.
Jesper (6m 38s):
Yeah. And I guess as well, if, if your Kickstarter fails as in it doesn't, you, you doesn't succeed, you don't succeed in reading, reaching your goal. I guess you can use, do you still have access to all the backers there? So you could basically start, start over all over again, if you want
Chris (6m 55s):
You do. And in fact, what you can do is, and I want to say it was Kevin, Kevin Tomlinson, who mentioned this, but I could be wrong. Maybe, maybe I'm giving the wrong person credit, but the next day you can run a second Kickstarter and you can look at how much money you've actually raised and set a modest goal. So if your goal was 6,000 and you only got 4,000, you've created a Kickstarter the very next day for $4,000 and say, Hey guys, if you all back it again, we can fund it. And in his case, it's exactly what he did. And he funded it. So it was lower than what he had initially wanted, but he did still get funding to get the product he was making created.
Jesper (7m 28s):
Right. Yeah. That's smart. That makes good sense. Yeah, because you see the, the, the two books that I mentioned that I've written the next year. So from now on, and probably a year going in the next 12 months, we'll do some playtesting of the whole thing and do some edits and whatnot as necessary if we find something. But then the thinking is that once we get to perhaps late 20, 21, that we are looking to run a Kickstarter campaign in order to raise enough funding to, to basically pay for custom artwork, there was a lot of nice art where we would like create it, but it's not cheap that stuff for some,
Chris (8m 6s):
Yeah. It's definitely a huge fucking back.
Jesper (8m 10s):
Yeah. But I think maybe to dive in a bit on the actual sort of the page on Kickstarter, what, what are some best fundamental practices that you would say once you start, once you log into Kickstarter and you're gonna set up your first project there, or your first campaign, how do you fill in all the different fields that are there? What, what should people be thinking about in your view? What's the most important thing?
Chris (8m 38s):
Well, the first thing you want to do is come at this from a fan's perspective, what would interest you as a fan and get you to commit, to pledging your heartburn money for something that may not even fund or may not ever deliver after thoughts. And I think that starts with your video because the very first thing that people do when they come to your Kickstarter page is they watch that video. It's usually three to five minutes long. So recording that video is critical. So it's outside of Kickstarter itself as platform, but you need a video where you can say, Hey, listen guys, this is what I'm making. This is what I need from you guys.
Chris (9m 9s):
And this is what we'll be able to create. If you give us the resources that we need and the video that I have really killed it. I mean, people will enjoy it. It's only five minutes long, but it showed them exactly what we wanted to create. We showcase a lot of our high quality artwork. And then from there, once they've watched the video, they're going to start looking at the rest of the page and you're telling a story. You're telling us, this is what we built. This is how far we've come. And this is how far we have to go and showing them what they're helping you build. And then on the right hand side of the page, as they're scrolling down, they're seeing higher and higher levels of pledges.
Chris (9m 40s):
So we'll start with your low-level versions. And then by the time they get to the bottom, they're seeing whatever the most expensive thing that you can offer them is. And by that point, if they've read all the way down, they've seen your whole story. Those are the types of people who are likely to pledge at that level anyway.
Jesper (9m 54s):
Yeah. Yeah. And I think as well, when I looked through you, it's been a bit a while, but I did look through your entire project on Kickstarter as well. And if I remember correctly, you had quite a lot of artwork and different, you know, pictures of character sheets and stuff like that all the way down through the entire project description. Isn't that right?
Chris (10m 17s):
It is. And, and in my case, the reason for that is I am a gamer. I am my target audience. And I understand that for a game like Dungeons and dragons, if you're going to pick my interest, you have to do it visually. There has to be three or four things that really hooked me in that. Tell me this universe is going to offer something I haven't seen before. Wow. Never seen a dragon target department, star ship. If you can't show them that and then show them an awesome character sheet, other people can. And that's who we're competing with. Yeah.
Jesper (10m 43s):
Yeah. Nice. Especially remember myself that once I got to the character sheet, I was thinking, Oh, this is cool. For some reason, we always loved the character sheets, don't we?
Chris (10m 54s):
Yeah. It's such a gamer thing where you want to know, you want to be able to tell it all the information in, and we have this wonderful paper doll where you can see the power arm or that you'll pilot and there's little boxes that are drawn to each of the locations. You know, what weapons you have, where, what potions or your potion motors. That's pretty cool.
Jesper (11m 9s):
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And I think as well, in addition to whatever you posted on Kickstarter, you also recorded a bunch of like complimentary videos where I think both of you shared the RPG rules that you created. And you mentioned those in the Kickstarter campaign as well, basically pointing people out to YouTube videos and stuff like that. Did you feel like that was worth the effort? You know, did, did many people check out those videos or how do you feel about that?
Jesper (11m 40s):
Now? Looking back at it,
Chris (11m 42s):
I'm still releasing videos. I have another one coming out on Friday. I took a bit of a break because I was working on production, but my goal is to have every part of the system covered. And so initially I did all the rules for character creation. So if you're not sure exactly how to make a character and you have questions, you can actually go through the videos and it'll tell you how to do everything. I've now added them for various systems. So you can see how the magic system works and how combat works. And I think it helped a lot of people, but they wanted to see real game play examples like live gameplay. And so now we're adding videos using the roll 20 platform, which is a way for you to game online.
Chris (12m 16s):
And that platform is allowing us to demonstrate things so I can show them how spells work. I can show them how to run combat, or how to role play, or sort of what you need to do as a game master. And right now, I don't think that we're getting a ton of engagement. Cause it's still a very small channel with family. I have a couple of hundred subscribers, which, you know, contrast that to my writing channel, just like, you know, 36 or 37,000 people. It's a very small channel for the role playing game, but I expect over time, it'll grow as we release more books. And my goal is less total amount of traffic and more, if some random person finds this little while today, do they have literally every resource they can think that they would need in video form to teach them how to play this game.
Chris (12m 52s):
And I just want to make sure they have a complete library.
Jesper (12m 56s):
Yeah. So, so you think in terms of a longterm view, you, you think it's useful with those videos there? Because I know, you know, some years back before we started podcasting, we were doing YouTube videos as well, years back, and I know how much work it goes into creating those videos. Even if you're just going to release like a 10 minute video that takes hours of work. So I was getting frustrated at some point back then that, you know, if there wasn't enough views on it, I felt like, okay, why am I spending this much time doing these?
Jesper (13m 29s):
But are you saying that you think longterm wise, it is still a good thing, even though you might not right now have too much engagement.
Chris (13m 37s):
Absolutely. So let's say in five years, the Meditech Chronicles, I've already got 10 novels out. By that point, let's say I have 30 and all those and the magic Chronicles, there are 10 books on the role playing universe. We have hundreds and hundreds of hours of audio audible already. Like what if that's going to just keep growing? Eventually we're ramming for like a Netflix series. I mean, there's a lot we want to do with this universe. This is the backbone that games were going to need. And so every time somebody new comes, all of the work that I've put in over the last, you know, X number of years is going to be useful. And what really taught me, this is the other YouTube channel that I manage because initially I was, I was like, you are very driven by how many views am I getting by not getting enough views?
Chris (14m 15s):
And it comes over time. If you just keep producing good content, people will find you when it grabs since I'm much less concerned about that now.
Jesper (14m 22s):
Yeah. Yeah. That makes sense. For sure. So nowadays you, you said it just went live on, what did you say
Chris (14m 32s):
On August 18th? So today's the 19th that we're recording this. It just went live on the 18th and that's just the digital version. The paperback will probably be another two weeks and there's a hard back on live at the same time.
Jesper (14m 44s):
So are you selling them on Amazon as well, or
Chris (14m 48s):
That remains to be seen. And I think that's a great topic for the podcast. If you would ask me that a month ago, the answer would have been, no, you can't really sell them in the same way, how you could fulfill a role playing game order. So I could print books and do print on demand, but digitally you couldn't fulfill the order. Then I got an email last week that Amazon was folding Comicology into Kindle unlimited. So that got me really excited since that's where you read graphic novels, which is effectively what a roleplaying book is. And I went, I looked and sure enough, I'm able to translate my role playing game into a format that you can now read in Kindle.
Chris (15m 21s):
So if somebody has an iPad or even an iPhone, they can look at the rules and scroll through it and look at some of these pages. So I haven't uploaded it. Yeah. But my goal in the next week is to convert my role playing game, using their it's called the common creator into a format that I can upload and then start selling it directly on Amazon, through Kindle. And as of right now, to my knowledge, there are literally zero world playing games doing that. So it's sort of that first mover advantage.
Jesper (15m 47s):
Yeah, indeed. I also checked, you know, the, if you look at like the, the, the common like Dungeons and dragons books and whatnot, do you kind of course order all the hot packs and that stuff from Amazon, but indeed there was no Kindle version available of them, but I guess it's, isn't it mostly like a formatting? I mean, it's going to be a nightmare in, in our case, for example, autumn always format our books. So I'm sure she's going to have a nightmare with due to pictures and stuff like that, but isn't it mostly just a formatting problem. And I mean, if you tweak and play enough with the formatting, I don't see why you couldn't make a Kindle version.
Chris (16m 24s):
Well, we've never been able to do it in the past because the devices themselves weren't capable of really adequately displaying what we were building, but now they took the functionality from the comics allergy app, and I think they built it into Kindle. And so what happens is you have these, these stops, so let's say you've got four different paragraph headings on a page. If you tap the screen, once it'll auto scroll to the next paragraph. Right. And so that functionality you have to add manually. And I guess in that sense, there's some, some formatting, but the software makes it really easy for you to do that.
Jesper (16m 51s):
Yeah. Nice. Yeah, because a rule book, I think a RPG rule book in Kindle on Amazon, I think actually it would sell really well because there's not a lot of it.
Chris (17m 4s):
Yeah. There's not a tough competition. So we're going to see how it does. I should have it live in the next week or two, you know, I already spend between five and $12,000 a month in advertising, mostly to Kindle unlimited books. So know the market and know who to advertise to and know who to approach. So if people are interested, I, I will see if they'll buy it.
Jesper (17m 25s):
Yeah, yeah. For sure. Yeah. But the ones who then support it on Kickstarter, did you give them like a PDF version of the book once they, once the campaign was successful or, or how did you do that?
Chris (17m 38s):
We're, we're in the process of that now. So I sent them an initial PDF, like beta versions of the book, and I've been updating it ever since. And then just a couple of days ago, we sent them the very final edition of the PDF, so they can finally having their hands on it. So they've had a complete game they could play for, for a little over a week. There's also an art library, which has most of the artwork that went into the book, as well as, you know, character sheets that are sort of gathered in one location. So they have wallpapers and whatever else they want. And those have been passed out too. So people have kind of all the stuff they need to play.
Chris (18m 10s):
The majority of our orders though, were not digital. They were for the hardback version, lots and lots of people want that one hand. It surprised me. How many gamers still play using a hard cover book because I've been using personally and iPad for years. I love having, you know, the 50 books I needed for a risk game on one iPad, as opposed to carrying a duffle bag. Like I used to,
Jesper (18m 32s):
Yeah, I get that. And then, well, you, you need to have some sort of fulfillment thing there, but is that drive through RPG? Do they take care of that? Because otherwise you will be shipping a lot of hard copies yourself, which I assume you don't want to do.
Chris (18m 47s):
Right. So try through IPG functions very much like Amazon. And for those that don't know on Amazon, you're running through, it used to be create space and I can do it directly through KTP you're creating paperbacks and we do nothing. So Amazon does a hundred percent of the fulfillment and returns. We don't have to touch anything, they just pay us extra money. And it's basically the same thing with drive through RPG, for Kickstarter, you are responsible for your own fulfillment. And so what I recommend is you set up an account with a site called the backer kit.com. And what they do is help you manage it's the fill the whole Kickstarter.
Chris (19m 17s):
And also if you set up like a Stripe account or a PayPal account, they'll take orders. So if you have something like meeting your preorder selling, they can take reorders. They can even allow people to contribute to the Kickstarter after the Kickstarter is ended. So what people were doing is like I had one person paying an extra $600 to have the character and sort of do a novel. Another one wanted to go for a short story written for 400 bucks. So after the Kickstarter had ended back for kid allowed me to continue pulling in more fun so that we had a larger pool to purchase artwork.
Jesper (19m 47s):
Oh, okay. That's very cool. Did you say backerkit.com?
Chris (19m 52s):
Yes. Backer kit. That's a, B a C K E R kit.com.
Jesper (19m 58s):
Okay. Interesting. That's good. I didn't know that one. So that was, that was a good one. I know as well that you had some stretch goals on your campaign there. And I wanted to ask you if you, if you find a stretch goals important in terms, in terms of like enticing people to reach the next level, once you have fully funded. And if you do think that, do you have any thoughts about what makes for a good stretch goal?
Chris (20m 28s):
I think they matter a lot, a lot. And I think what makes for a good stretch goal is something that every person who looks at it feels like their involvement matters. So if somebody is looking at your stretch goals and says, I don't care about that one, I don't care about that one. I don't care about that one. That's not a good sign. You want everyone on the stretch goals? It'd be something like, Oh, I'd really like to have that. So in the case of an RPG, if you can, we're going to add two more classes. You know, there are classes that wouldn't be in the book otherwise, but you're going to unlock X class in Y class that are going to be in the book. If you hit this level, every player of the game, what's that extra content.
Chris (20m 58s):
So when you are crafting the rewards, just make sure that they're relevant to all, all backers. I think you also want to make sure that people in the sense that go ahead.
Jesper (21m 12s):
No, no, no. Just continue. I'll ask afterwards.
Chris (21m 16s):
Okay. I was going to say, I think they need to be achievable. So you want to make sure that when you are doing these rewards, that the things that you're agreeing to create for your fans, aren't going to cost you a bunch of extra money. I've seen this on a few Kickstarters where, you know, if we hit this goal, I'm going to make this thing that costs more than the extra stretch goal. So you want to be careful here. I have crafted all of my rewards in such a way that it's not going to cost us a lot of extra money to add it.
Jesper (21m 41s):
Oh yeah. That that's, it goes along with it. It's the same thing about the fulfillment stuff. Right? You, you need to be careful about those things so that you don't set yourself up. I mean, if you're going in blind, I guess people, some people have at least I have heard horror stories of people setting up stuff where they basically were intending. Yeah. I'm just going to ship this stuff out myself. And they ended up paying more in shipping than, than they actually funded in Kickstarter. Right. So the whole point is out the window.
Chris (22m 11s):
Yeah. And, and I really was cognizant that when I set it up. So for example, the delivery for the role playing game, if we're getting either the hard back or the paperback is going to be through drive through RPG and they print in the United States and in the UK. And so the backers are going to be responsible for their own shipping. I don't have to pay anything. It'll be, you know, the whole transaction will be handled directly through the site. All I do is send them a code. They plug in the code. So the book itself is considered free. You know, I've already paid for this code and then they just pay their own shipping and it gets sent out to them.
Chris (22m 41s):
And that fulfillment should be really easy for me to do. It's part of why I chose to do it this way.
Jesper (22m 46s):
Yeah. Because I assume you could also have set up something, you know, if you wanted, you could have, I know we just talked about the Kindle edition, right. But assume you could have set it up by Amazon as well. Couldn't you? Just put in the paper back there or something like that. Or,
Chris (23m 1s):
And I thought that was an option. And if you really are selling a lot of copies, you can actually start running stock and getting cheaper prices by printing larger orders. So it's certainly an option if you're done with the dragons that you gave, you want to run your own warehouse. So if you saw three Amazon,
Jesper (23m 20s):
And I think some of what you said about stretch goals, I assume that also applies to how you decided to set up your tiers, meaning that you probably had some thorough thinking about what to put into those tiers so that it would be interesting for people to, to sign up. But, but how did you, how did you go through the, what was your sort of thought process in terms of
Chris (23m 46s):
Both deciding what is the reward for each tier, but also how much money to ask on each of the tiers I looked at how much time it's going to take me to write the material, how much artwork I would need to acquire to deliver on the stuff I was saying, I was creating a, and then I sat tears accordingly. So this is stuff that I already wanted to build in the future. Anyway, it's just that we have to accelerate our timeline a little bit. And I just made sure to ask for enough money that I'd be able to pay for the additional artwork. Right. Did you also think about, you know, making sure that these T is something that gets progressively more and more interesting as you move down or, or was it more just purely, like you say, you know, about how much time am I going to spend on creating each one?
Chris (24m 29s):
And then the time consuming ones are just more expensive because I'm just thinking if there was a way to, you know, entice people to sign up for maybe that slightly higher tier rather than just the lowest ones. Right. And I think that I could have done a better job. That'd be the first thing I would say this being my first Kickstarter, right. A general idea of what I was trying to do, but now that I've run it, I would give a better and a little bit different stretch goal reward structure. And I would have a lot more purchasable rewards in the Kickstarter that offer different things.
Chris (25m 1s):
So as an example, I would offer autographed copies of various novels. They have nothing at all to do with the role playing game, but these are people that like the universe and I could allow them to buy a complete set of the main series novels or seven of them autographed. And, you know, I could charge 500 bucks and write them a special message. And I'm willing to bet I could probably sell 10 of those easily because people would love to have that autograph set on their shelf because you know, it would be numbered and signed and, and you, you know, you show them, Hey, no one else in the world, but the 10 people who get this are going to have access to it.
Chris (25m 32s):
And then you can give that to your fan. So I could have done a lot more of that than I did. I didn't create enough avenues for them to express their support. And I'm going to the next Kickstarter, which we're going to be running probably in late October or early November. Okay. Yeah. Do you think you can have too many tears? Yes. And so the, the reason why you don't list them all necessarily right off the bat is it feels impossible to hit some of the higher tiers. So what I'll do is I'll have them all written down, but I'll only post like maybe the next two or three they're currently relevant to things.
Chris (26m 11s):
So they're only saying, so you've got five define, they're only seeing three of them. So how does that work? Well, you can update the description on your Kickstarter or any time. So if you were to say what your stretch goal is, I've got a 15, 20 and $25,000 one when you're starting to it's 20,000, then you add a 30 and a 40. Right? Okay. So, so in addition to stretch goals, basically what, no, those are as stretch goals. Like you can keep redefining stretch goals whenever you want. So when you have stretch goals, you don't have to say on day one, here's every stretch goal I'm ever going to add.
Chris (26m 43s):
You can have of them. And then throughout the Kickstarter, you can just keep adding stretchables on any given day, just update the description. And here's a new stretch goal. So what I'll do is only list the ones that are easily achievable we're about to hit them. And then it looks like we can do, and then the ones that would be really expensive. So like I'm not going to put a $40,000 stretch goal when we only have $5,000 in backing.
3 (27m 2s):
No, that makes sense. Yeah.
Jesper (27m 5s):
Okay. I was thinking to move into a bit of the marketing stuff as well, because one thing is setting up the Kickstarter and think about all these best practices and, and, and all the important elements that, that you just have mentioned here through, through the episode so far. But the other thing is, unless we can get people to that Kickstarter page and get them excited about it, then the whole thing won't really fly very far. So in terms of marketing your Kickstarter campaign, I know that you said at some point that you were contacting other authors and so on to basically increase your outreach there.
Jesper (27m 43s):
But I was wondering, were these like authors, you knew them all already, or were you like cold pitching some authors or, or how did you do that?
Chris (27m 53s):
These were all people that owed me a favor. So in no instance that I cold email someone and say, Hey, can you share this with your audience? I was basically just calling in favors. I think it's a huge, huge ask to ask somebody to send anything to their list on your behalf. And so I'm very, very careful about when I ask. So I had spent a couple of years building up favors before I cashed that in. Right,
Jesper (28m 14s):
Right. Yeah. Because I would think as well, we also recently saw Brandon Sanderson have massive success on a Kickstarter campaign with like a limited edition or whatever it was of, of one of his books there. And I think with Kickstarter, and it's the same thing with Patrion and these kinds of things, unless you have the audience there, it becomes very, very difficult to market it very effective. I mean, if you're starting from zero, let's say you have, you have a, your grandmother and, and your cousin on your email list.
Jesper (28m 44s):
Right. I mean, it's going, I think it's going to be extremely difficult to build up very much momentum on a Kickstarter project, but what are your thoughts?
Chris (28m 55s):
Yeah, I agree. Okay. Kickstarter is not for you to say, okay, I want to build a business and I don't have any money. So I'm going to go make a Kickstarter page and people are going to give me a bunch of money. That's not going to happen. You really need a working product. And this is what Kickstarter expects. You basically need a prototype. You need to be ready to go with something before you start asking for more money. So what you need to do is build up a following first, if you have no following right off the bat, Kickstarter will be useless for you. You need to come in with, I've got an email list and I've been working with fans and they know what I'm building. Maybe I have support from other areas.
Chris (29m 25s):
So it's sort of the combination of that. And to that end, I would spend more time as a new creator working on the stuff I'm creating and I'm networking with other creators, then I would worry about crowdfunding,
Jesper (29m 38s):
Right? Yeah. Yeah. And I think that makes sense because it's, this, it's the same thing with Patrion and so forth, you know, it just because you release some YouTube videos, so nobody's going to sign up for patron and offer support unless you build, or you built that longterm, like trust and, and, and like factor there that they enjoy the content that you're putting out. And they know that as well, of course, that they can trust the fact that you will complete whatever you say, that they can be packing on Kickstarter and, and they will get their stuff in hand as well at, at some later date.
Jesper (30m 11s):
Chris (30m 14s):
Yeah. That's the big fear. I think for a lot of them is that, are you actually going to ever finish this and deliver because you walk away, they don't really have a lot of recourse by the time they figure out that they got burned, usually it's too late for them to refund or they don't really want to bother with it. So they count. Most people I know is lost money. If they've got something that isn't fun. So it's kind of a roll of dice on a lot of the Kickstarters that we backed don't go anywhere. So it is, I do have to say really, really nice to know that I'm living up to what I said, I will do. We have a complete game we're delivering exactly what we promised we would give fans.
Chris (30m 46s):
And I think if you can't do that, you're never going to be able to run another successful Kickstarter because you know, the whole thing.
Jesper (30m 54s):
Yeah. I think you're a hundred percent right there, but I assume that Kickstarter is sort of governing a bit as well, that the, you know, if the product is not delivered, then don't kickstart to make sure to refund people their money or send it back to don't. They like have the money sitting in a holding pot that they control or something.
Chris (31m 11s):
Not really. So what happens is they release the funds to you. So after the Kickstarter is done and all credit cards were processed, you've not got the money. If they file a dispute with Kickstarter, I think they can pursue you for a refund and get that money back. But very few people do that. Most people are just, you know, sort of eaten the cost and hope that it would get funded. So theoretically, I do believe every person who backed you could go to Kickstarter and say, Hey, listen, I want my money back. They burned me. And it was a scam. And that Kickstarter would prosecute the heck out of you. Their team seems to take that very seriously.
Chris (31m 42s):
And they were going to work with in that regard where they're, you know, if they saw anything was at all fishy, they would pointed out.
Jesper (31m 48s):
Yeah. And I guess if it does not fund successfully, doesn't don't they just send people back or maybe they don't even charge people money then or whatever,
Chris (31m 55s):
And no one gets charged at all. So if you try to fund, you get to 9,000 out of 10,000. No one's credit card will ever be charged.
Jesper (32m 1s):
Right. Right. Okay. That's easy then. Yeah. Okay. But maybe getting back from it a moment too, to those authors that you were casting in favors from, I think I saw at some point that you talked about that you were reaching out to a few a day or something like that. And I was wondering a bit about, because when you said that I could understand it from the like workload perspective, you know, that you're sort of spreading it out and you don't have to do too much every day and can take care of all your writing and other parts of your business, which makes completely sense.
Jesper (32m 36s):
But I was wondering a bit about how the worked out for you, you know, here in hindsight, in the sense that you have a Kickstarter, which is only open in this window here from date X to date Y, and if you, at least the way I understood it, and maybe I misunderstood and then you can correct me. But the way I understood it was that throughout that period of time, you were reaching out to a couple of people a day. But do you think in hindsight, if, if my understanding is incorrect and then correct me, but if that's correct, and do you think in hindsight you would still do it that way?
Jesper (33m 14s):
Or do you think it would be better to reach out and email all those people or contact all those people in advance of the start date, even so that they know that, okay, in two weeks from now, I would like you to do this rather than here's an email. Can you please do this now? Because the Kickstarter ends in two weeks, you know, something like that, do you get what I'm saying?
Chris (33m 34s):
I do. And it depends on how much social capital you want to burn. So the more you ask of these people and the more you say, okay, on this specific day, I need you to, to launch my preorder or like announced my preorder or in my case, talk about this Kickstarter. The more that you ask, the less, you're going to be able to ask later, if you send a single email and just say, Hey, listen, if it aligns with your audience any time in the next 30 days, if you could announce this, that'd be great. And you just leave it at that. If they can't do anything, you haven't really burned any social capital. If they do do something for you, great.
Chris (34m 5s):
It helped the vast majority of what I did to promote my Kickstarter. Wasn't going out and asking other offers. It was, it was telling my own audience. And those were the people that really were driving it. I don't think I got a ton of momentum from having other authors announce it. And about 50% of the people in the video that you're referring to, where I said, I was going to go talk to these authors. I didn't even actually message. I decided, you know what? I don't think this is a good thing for me to ask for some of those authors, like they probably would have done it because they owed me some favors, but I wouldn't have gotten very many sales because I'm asking science fiction authors to sell role playing games.
Chris (34m 38s):
And that doesn't make sense unless they have role playing game audiences.
Jesper (34m 43s):
No. So maybe, you know, like you, well, if you know them, of course, but like YouTube channels that are focusing on roleplaying games, for example, or podcasts focusing on focusing on role playing games, those kinds of people will, they will, of course have an audience who are interesting in the topic at hand. So do you think it would be,
Chris (35m 7s):
I think it's an amazing way for you to get publicity. Those are the people you want to spend your time contacting, set up a free version of your game or a copy of your novel. If that's more relevant and then, you know, reach out to them and say, Hey, listen, and this is always how I phrase it. This is how your podcast did. Your audience will benefit from having the honestly gas. This is what I offer you. This is why it's beneficial to you. So not from the perspective of I'm an author. I want to sell role playing games and books, but I think I can deliver some good content to, to an audience, a podcast.
Chris (35m 38s):
And you're more likely to be accepted. And that's a good use of your time and writing it for marketing.
Jesper (35m 43s):
Yeah. Yeah. I guess the trick then becomes to make sure that, that you can have those episodes go live while people can still support the Kickstarter, but that's probably a different conversation than
Chris (35m 54s):
That. That is an issue. That is an issue. Oftentimes though you can get people to share that stuff fairly far in advance. One of the things that I did as a mistake is I didn't set up a preorder for the Kickstarter. So for those that don't know, what I learned afterwards is you can set up a Kickstarter before it's set to go live. So if I don't intend it to go live until November 1st, I can build it today and I could put it up there and people can see it so that my followers know it's going to start way, way before I actually started. And I would have done that if you do that and you start going on some podcasts, then if it takes them a while to get the episode out, it's still before the end of the Kickstarter.
Chris (36m 28s):
So I think it matters a lot and I could have done a better job with that.
Jesper (36m 32s):
Yeah, yeah, indeed. And I think you mentioned as well, Chris, that you were doing some kind of paid advertising as well, but what did you do there?
Chris (36m 40s):
But I did do a little bit, so what I did and I'm actually doing some normal right now is I thought about areas where I, as a gamer would want to see this. Like if you were building a role playing game, where would I care to see it, where I would consider it to be space? And for me that was Facebook Reddit and, and really Amazon. And then the three locations I could think of where if I was scrolling through my feed and I saw the school role playing game and it was sponsored, I'd probably still buy it. So I ran like, I don't know, $40 a day in ads to Reddit and maybe slightly higher and Facebook and tried to drive some signups for the Quickstart guide.
Chris (37m 13s):
And then also now selling the book.
Jesper (37m 17s):
Right. So you were offering them, well, I guess you were pointing them towards the Kickstarter then, right?
Chris (37m 24s):
Initially. Yes. So I had to show them the Kickstarter page, which, you know, almost sells itself. It's great to have one page where they can pledge that has all of their marketing material, all of your images, even the video. So yeah, that was the primary place I was driving people.
Jesper (37m 38s):
Yeah. And I guess the thing that I'm a bit curious about here is because I fully get all the, you know, the, the, you have all the sales copy, basically, if we can call it that on the Kickstarter page. So, so that makes sense. But I'm curious as to, how did you entice, for example, let's take Facebook ads for as an example here. So of course it's a lot about targeting roleplaying, people who are interesting roleplaying or whatnot, but I'm just struggling a bit too.
Jesper (38m 11s):
And this is what I'm curious about too, to understand if I, for example myself, if I just take myself as an example, I see something popping up in my feed. It's an ad for some sort of Kickstarter thing. Then of course, I already know before I click on it, this is somebody who, which I, you know, they ask you for money for it, obviously. And if I don't know the person already, I'm just struggling to whether or not I would actually click on it. But, and that's why I'm, I'm, I'm a bit curious about how you, how you target at that and not, how did you get people to actually, because if they arrive at the Kickstarter page and you have all that good stuff that you have, the videos you have, the nice artwork and all that, then I'm pretty sure people will get interested, but how do you get them to go there?
Jesper (38m 56s):
How did you, how did you find like a good formula for what entice people to click on the ad?
Chris (39m 2s):
Well, that, that makes for a good advertiser. So we're talking really about psychology and reaching people and understanding what benefits and emotional triggers are going to get them to act. But you can boil it down simply and take all the marketing, speak away and say what interests your audience. Like if you're showing them exactly what they're interested in, they're going to click on it. So let me give you an example. I want a super amazing gaming table. We're talking like a several thousand dollar table. That is a super specialty item that most people will never order. And I started mentioning this to my friends and I was thinking about getting a custom made table table.
Chris (39m 34s):
And before I knew it, ads starting showing up on Facebook showing tables that were exactly what I was looking for. I don't care who spanking them. I don't care what the company is. I don't care anything about them. Initially. I care about the table. So I click on the ad because I want to see this table. Can they build what it is that I want? And it's the same for a role playing game. If you've been playing Pathfinder for the last five years and your group is just burned out on Pathfinder and you just are so sick of fantasy. And so you suggest, okay, like let's play shout around it. People are like, well, no, I don't really want to do that.
Chris (40m 4s):
And so you're looking for a new game and you see mine and happens to look like it'll, it'll scratch the, get your after it's some new world that you can sink your teeth into. It's the value proposition. Gamers want to be able to understand the nuts and bolts of how the universe works. And if I can give you a new universe with good rules and good artwork and a good concept, and you're excited about the character types that you might play. And then on top of that, you find out that there's novels available for it. Then that's an easy sell. So back in my youth, Sharon, BattleTech forgotten realms, dragon lands.
Chris (40m 38s):
These were the series that you got into as role playing games, because they had dozens of novels that you could read to further your understanding. So you just sort of come up with a overall value proposition, show people, Hey, listen, this universe is going to be worth your time. If you invest in it and that they get a lot more interested. And that starts with the image that you're choosing, that they're initially going to click on it, got to interest them. It's got to be some sort of deep symbol that they understand, you know, maybe they love dragons and they're used. And so if they see a dragon tearing apart a star ship, that's going to get them to slow down and actually look at it.
Jesper (41m 13s):
Yeah. And dragons and space that that's always cool. But was there any type of promotion that you would like to have done a crisp, but for whatever reason you didn't.
Chris (41m 27s):
Yeah. I would have done the podcast tour. So I have a good friend of mine who knows a lot about kickstarting. And he said that if you had come into this with six months of lead time, it easily could have been six figure Kickstarter. What I needed to do is get it up as soon as possible and started going on larger podcasts and start running more game sessions and showing more of what I had. And so when I run the second Kickstarter, we're going to test that stuff and I'm going to try going on much larger productions. And, you know, we'll be playing a lot more roll 20 games and having a lot more videos available and you know, a lot more extra stuff.
Chris (41m 58s):
And hopefully we can, we can sort of hit a critical mass and get a lot more people interested.
Jesper (42m 4s):
Yeah. Yeah. That makes sense. But I think, I want to say thank you so much for joining us today, Chris, and thank you for sharing your knowledge and your experience with, with such kindness as you, as you've done it.
Chris (42m 16s):
Yeah, my pleasure. Thank you so much for having me on.
Jesper (42m 19s):
If people want to learn more about you, where should they go? Chris,
Chris (42m 24s):
Chris Fox writes.com is probably the best central hub. If you are into videos that have information on how to be a writer, how to market, how to write a youtube.com/chris box rights. If you like fiction, I would check out the magic tech chronicles.com and you can see my role playing game and the associated novels.
Jesper (42m 43s):
All right. Thank you so much. Alright. Next Monday, autumn will be back and we are. I have a very interesting episode prepared for you sharing our results on lossing three nonfiction books here in 2020.
Narrator (42m 58s):
If you like what you just heard, there's a few things you can do to support the am writing fantasy podcast. Please tell a fellow author about the show and visit us at Apple podcast and leave a rating and review. You can also join Autumn and Jesper on patreon.com/amwritingfantasy for as little as a dollar a month. You'll get awesome rewards and keep the Am Writing Fantasy podcast going, stay safe out there and see you next Monday.