How to Launch a Book On Kickstarter: Go Behind The Scenes

I distinctly remember the moment in 2013 when my first book proposal was accepted by Routledge (Eye on Education).

It is worth noting that I sent proposals out to over ten different publishers, and the latest iteration of my proposal was sent to Routledge in April of 2013 after they had been acquired by Taylor & Francis (in short: this was a miracle in my eyes at the time).

The most amazing part of this proposal process is that someone has to take a chance on you. Once they take that chance, you don’t want to let them down.

Since that first proposal was accepted I’ve published two more books with Routledge. Published a group book with Corwin. And co-authored Launch (published by DBC) and Empower (published by IMPress).

I’ve also self-published two books.

The first, Learning by Choice, was a typical self-publish on Amazon process, while the second, The PBL Playbook, was part of a free-book + shipping experiment I ran a few summers ago.

I’ve published books in almost every possible way over these past seven years. I love writing, and I’ve always been intrigued by the publishing process.

Here’s the thing about writing: It is scary.

It doesn’t matter if you are writing a blog post, a book, or an article for a magazine. Any time you are writing for an audience, there is fear lurking.

The fear of failure.

The fear of public humiliation.

The fear of not being good enough.

The fear of online criticism.

The fear of no one caring.

The fear of being misunderstood.

The fear of perfection.

But, after you’ve been doing something publicly for a while, there is a new fear that sets in and won’t leave you alone.

The fear of not getting better. The fear of not living up to expectations.

John Spencer (my co-author for Launch and Empower) and I talked about this a lot leading up to the release of Empower.

Launch had been more successful than we ever thought it would be. It resonated with teachers, school leaders, librarians, parents, coaches, and all types of educators.

People were expecting Empower to be good. What if it wasn’t?

The same thoughts happen to all of us in our work and lives. We set the bar with a lesson, a gift, an experience, a date, a promotion, even a conversation…then fear sets in. What if what is next, is not better?

The Idea for My New Book

Here’s how it happened…

The idea started with my kids in September of 2018. That fall was tough on our family. My brother passed away in August, and that loss carried over to all kinds of interactions. I found myself getting frustrated with my kids, bothered at work, and struggling to make sense of it all (note: I still haven’t made sense of it all).

As the holidays approached, I felt a pull of emotions. I wanted to be around family, but it also hurt to be around family. I was in a dark place inside, even though I kept it fun and normal on the outside. All of a sudden I had newfound empathy for people who were going through loss and grief.

In those moments, my wife and kids showed me all kinds of love. They had true empathy. And then, one night in November, my son asked me, “Dad, are you going to tell us stories again at bedtime?”

It was a wake-up call. I realized I had stopped doing some of the things that mattered so much to my kids. The things that matter to all of us. The little things that make the day better, that build a relationship, that stick with us.

Every night before my kids go to bed I tell them a story. Sometimes it is based on the day’s events, and other times it is a story about when I was a child, sometimes something that happened in history, but usually, it is completely made up, and they love it. They also vividly remember the stories later on.

If I hit on a similar theme or topic in my bedtime story the next day, or next week, or even next month, they call me on it. They let me know that I talked about that before, or that this sounds like the other story I told them. They’ll also relate our bedtime stories to real events that happen, and many of the same themes and topics that come up in our stories, come up in our lives.

This is not unique to my kids, instead, it is based on science and research. “A 2010 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed an intimate connection between the brain activity of speakers and listeners in conversation, demonstrating how the brain of an engaged listener “syncs up” with a speaker. By engaging students with compelling stories that impart important material, teachers reach students both emotionally and biochemically, increasing the potential for rich learning experiences.”

That December, I started to tell my kids stories that were focused on one specific topic: Empathy.

Maybe it was the previous months that had made me reflect on my role as a parent. Maybe it was seeing certain situations all my kids were starting to be faced with. Situations where they could choose to be a bystander, or choose to have compassionate action. But, for the last year, we’ve focused almost every single night (yes, yes, I’ve missed a few here and there) on stories of empathy.

Which leads me to announce (and share a sneak peek) of my new book, Empathy Every Day.

It is going to be WAY different than any book I’ve ever published before. It is filled with 366 stories of empathy in action.

Each day has a short story, quote, or challenge to get us thinking about empathy in our own lives. It is the perfect book to read to your kids, as a family, or to your classroom as a short meditation every day. 

The Idea For A Kickstarter

You can read the reviews of any of my books on Amazon. Some, I want to frame! Others give me heartburn and make me want to crawl under my bed.

I continue to make lots of mistakes, and what I create will never resonate with everyone. I try to not get too high from the positive reviews, and I try to learn from the negative reviews (even when they hit close to home).

Which leads me to the current book I’m working on, and why I chose Kickstarter.

It may be a bad idea.

It may be an awesome idea.

I’m not sure, because it is completely different than any other book (or piece of writing) I’ve ever created.

All of my previous books have been written for school leaders and teachers.

This one is a bit different.

It is written for use with kids, not just adults.

I really want to write it and share it with the world. But, maybe it’s not the right time, or I’m not the right person to create it.

In any case, this is where Kickstarter comes in.

The platform has been used to successfully launch hundreds of books.

It has also been used to successfully weed out book ideas that were not ready for a public audience.

This is why I chose Kickstarter.

I’m going to know either way.

But, that doesn’t mean I’m just going to throw it out there and see if it sticks. There is a lot of work that needs to be done to launch a book on Kickstarter.

Things like…

  • Writing the book (already got that going for me)
  • Getting a cover for the book (done that as well)
  • Editing and Formatting the book
  • Finding the right printer for the book
  • Art and imagery to share on the campaign page
  • Copy to write for the campaign page
  • Rewards created for the campaign
  • Video created to launch the campaign and share the backstory
  • Getting the campaign approved by Kickstarter
  • Creating a marketing plan to spread the word about the campaign
  • Keeping backers updated and having some early bird bonuses
  • And the list goes on…

So, I’m going into this process ready to go all out!

And I want you to join me on the journey of launching a book on Kickstarter.

Because, I need your help, and I need your accountability.

Even though most people avoid it, accountability works. It really works. Here’s what Ben Hardy wrote about accountability:

Research studies have shown that publicly committing your goals to someone gives you at least a 65% chance of completing them. However, having a specific accountability partner increases your chance of success to 95%.

When most people think of an accountability partner, they cringe. It’s not something they feel excited about, unless they are highly motivated individuals.

One of the reasons “accountability” has slightly negative energy is because it feels like you have to do something. And accountability partnerships can give off that vibe even though, as a functioning adult, you get to make your own choices.

By adding an accountability partner to your life, you’re simply increasing your odds of success. You don’t want to lie to someone you respect. So when you tell them you’re going to show up this week, you’re more likely to do so.

It’s actually quite crazy, but we’re far more likely to lie to and let down ourselves than someone else.

Will you join me behind the scenes? Will you be my accountability partner?

I’ll be launching the Kickstarter in a few weeks, but I would like to have a team of people that can look at the behind-the-scenes process with me and give feedback leading up to (and during the launch).

Here’s what you’ll get by joining this Private FB Group:

  • Behind the scenes update each day on what the Kickstarter process looks like
  • Live Video chats a few times a week to share what is working (and what is not)
  • Q&A for your own creative pursuits (be it publishing a book or creating something for an audience)
  • First look at the campaign and book
  • Access to the Super-Early Bird Rewards

Join me Behind the Scenes, by requesting access to our FB Group:

*Note: If you don’t have FB but would like to be included in the group, send me an email and I’ll add you to our Voxer group chat.

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