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After smashing his Kickstarter goals, best-selling author Haje Jan Kamps shares the secret sauce behind his successes

Embarking on your first crowdfunding project is an incredibly daunting task. You may never have created a video before. How do you choose the prices for the individual backer levels? Will your idea be accepted by Kickstarter? Once you launch your project, how will you reach your potential backers? Will they back you? What happens if you fail or – perhaps an even bigger challenge – what happens if you reach your goal ten times over? Will you be able to deliver the project? What happens once you do? If you have all of these ideas swirling in your head, it’d be fantastic if there were somewhere you could turn for advice. And if there’s a question in that list you haven’t thought of yet, you definitely need some advice. That’s where this Kickstarter project comes in.

Why this book?

Haje Jan Kamps is one of Ilex Press's star authors, who turned into a startup founder after he ran a very successful Kickstarter project in 2011. When he was putting together the Kickstarter project for the Triggertrap v1, he desperately tried to find a book that would teach him how it was done. Back then, he couldn’t find the book he wanted to read, and made a mental note to write one himself.

Two years later Haje is the CEO of a very successful company built around the idea that sparked his original Kickstarter project. To bring their newest gadget to market, Triggertrap returned to Kickstarter (Haje's second campaign). In the name of research, he bought all the books about Kickstarter he could find, and ended up chucking them across the room in frustration – two years later, and the book he wanted to read still didn’t exist; there still wasn’t a book that is helpful enough to people creating Kickstarter projects.

So that's what this project is about; we're not guaranteeing you success in your projects, but we want to put together the best possible book for people planning to crowd-fund.

A selection of Haje's previous books for Ilex, and an open spread from The Ilex Introduction to Photography.
A selection of Haje's previous books for Ilex, and an open spread from The Ilex Introduction to Photography.

What’s this book about?

This book is a comprehensive guide to everything you need to know about running your own Kickstarter project. It’s split into two main parts. The most important part is, of course, what it takes to create a successful Kickstarter project. The other part is a series of masterclasses, walking you through some of the skills you will invariably need in the course of running a Kickstarter project.

Haje holds the dummy book in the Ilex meeting room (and library); at the moment it's just a cover waiting for you to help us fill it!
Haje holds the dummy book in the Ilex meeting room (and library); at the moment it's just a cover waiting for you to help us fill it!

Obviously, the Table of Contents depends on a lot of things, not least on your feedback and questions about what you want this book to be, but we know what we want the book to do for the reader, and that’s what this Table of Contents demonstrates. There’s the short version first, if you’re in a hurry, but if that’s not enough for you, there’s a long version on the Ilex website (you can see we've done our homework):

Table of Contents (Short Version)

What is Kickstarter? 

Where it came from, how it works, and what it can do for you – if you get it right

Top 10 tips for a successful Kickstarter project 

Diving straight in, these are the most important things to bear in mind.

What’s the story?

The most successful Kickstarter projects have a powerful story which the backers feel part of. This chapter shows how you can tell your story most effectively and involve your backers in it.

Creating your Kickstarter Page 

This hard-working section goes into the detail: how you should name your project, the importance of a good project cover photo, the crucial short project description, and every other part of the Kickstarter page. Tons of examples, checklists, and ideas will help you make your page compelling.

Creating your Kickstarter Video 

The video is the most important single element of the page – and this chapter shows you how to play to your strengths, tell a compelling story, and convince the viewer that you are deadly serious about making the project happen.

Creating your Backer Rewards 

Once you’ve convinced the viewer to join in, you need to give them different options: this chapter is a masterclass in creating rewards for every level of investment, from basic project up. There’s also a guide to budgeting – so that you don’t accidentally promise rewards that you can’t afford! 

Choosing your funding goal 

A big question – probably the biggest – and this chapter introduces the benefits and pitfalls of going high or low so you can make the right decision for your project. Features interviews with a number of veteran Kickstarters explaining their own thinking – whether they got it right or wrong!

Timing your Kickstarter project 

Your finger is hovering over the beautiful green ‘Launch Project’ button. When in the month should you be launching your project? When in the year is best? And, does the time of day that you launch and finish your project make a difference? 

Plugging your project

Once the project is out there, your job as a project owner completely changes - you’re going to have to dust off your networking skills, because this is when the real fight starts. This chapter takes you beyond facebook 'likes' and into the realm of journalism, PR, and the media.

Kickstarter Categories 

It’s pretty obvious that categories like food, dance and technology are widely different – but how does this change the way you promote them? 

Masterclasses

The key topics covered in the chapters above will also be covered in Masterclass sections – where you go beyond basic rules and learn exactly how the pros go about it. 

1) Project Management 

2) Communication 

3) Producing a video 

4) Creating a good project budget 

5) Public Relations & Marketing 

… and that’s it! Well, pretty much. We know that the book will follow this structure, and we know what we want it to do for its readers, but a lot of the detail will come in the research, writing and editing of the text – and, of course, in what you, the backers, request!

Additional masterclasses We’re considering a couple of bonus masterclasses, including potentially including a masterclass on patenting and intellectual property, marketing, and other topics. Which masterclasses we pick are up to you, backers – tell us what you want, and we’ll see if we can find a way to make them happen!

Why is this book on Kickstarter?

Ilex is a successful publishing company, so why are we using Kickstarter to publish a book? In short, because we're excited and we want to get the book out there long before we can persuade the suits that it's a good idea. That's where you come in; by backing the project early you'll not only get to shape the book you want, but you'll help us demonstrate to some of the less fast-moving parts of our own industry that there's a clear and present need for a high quality crowdfunding book.

We're looking to you not just to back the book, but – if you choose – to help influence the book's content. If you're reading this, the chances are you've got an idea you're thinking of crowdfunding one day soon; as a backer of this book, you'll be able to tell us about your plans and we can make sure they're covered. 

Biographies

Haje Jan Kamps

If curiosity killed the cat, Haje Jan Kamps is lucky to be alive (about.me). He spent a lot of time being curious about a lot of things. His career path started with a degree in Journalism, after which he set up a series of successful websites. He wrote his first book aged 25, and proceeded to produce a healthy bibliography of books about photography. He worked for the Gadget Show and Fifth Gear at Channel Five in London, before producing a series of websites (including one for Nokia!). In 2011, he did a Kickstarter project which sparked his current company, Triggertrap, into life. In addition to the Kickstarted Triggertrap v1 products, Triggertrap went on to become a huge success with their mobile products. In October 2013, Triggertrap launched their second Kickstarter project, which was funded within 12 hours of going live on Kickstarter, and hit 580% of its goal. Haje loves Kickstarter as a platform, and is eager to help others succeed on the platform, and we’re very pleased he agreed to write this book!

Alastair Campbell, Roly Allen and Adam Juniper of Ilex Press
Alastair Campbell, Roly Allen and Adam Juniper of Ilex Press

Alastair Campbell

As publisher of Ilex (and never having worked in Number 10), our Alastair Campbell has four decades experience in publishing illustrated non-fiction books, and it's his trained eye that oversees and finally signs off all Ilex books.

Roly Allen

As Executive Publisher, Roly handles Ilex Press's relationships with distributors and bookstores, and he'll be ultimately responsible for ensuring this book (with your name printed inside it) ends up in as many hands as possible.

Adam Juniper

As Associate Publisher and Head of Digital at Ilex Press, Adam's job title barely fits on a business card. His role is to develop new book projects from the moment the idea-bulb flashes on until the point it can be safely passed to Ilex's ultra-professional design and editorial team. Adam has over fifteen years experience in publishing, and sees this as a way to show the industry that the power should rest with you, not crusty publishing boards, something he's already been doing at Ilex Instant.

The Process 

Ilex have a lot of experience publishing illustrated non-fiction books
Ilex have a lot of experience publishing illustrated non-fiction books

Traditionally Ilex Press would work with an author to craft a book proposal that they call a 'blad', or 'book layout and design'. This is then taken to the publishing boards of different companies and Ilex makes a deal to share the distribution, Ilex handling it in the UK, Australia, NZ (and other places English language books are sold), but only doing so if a deal to sell the rights in the USA and Canada has been secured with another publisher first (this is explained in more detail on Ilex's website).

That means a lot of our most successful books have different covers, and different branding, in the USA and Canada, even though we do all the hard work! It's a great process in established areas like photography books, but it is time consuming and it puts the power into the hands of old-media publishers who have little interest in seeing Kickstarter projects succeed.

Ilex books often feature different covers in different markets.
Ilex books often feature different covers in different markets.

We want this book to succeed, and to do so quickly (to help you guys as soon as we can), so what better way than to skip the co-edition wrangling and just get you, the readers, to show the world that you want a high quality, professionally designed, full-colour book on crowdfunding, and that you want it now?

So we've set this project up. The target price covers the editorial and design costs, so if we reach it we'll be confident that the book has a market and will be able to go ahead and publish worldwide (Ilex would still stump up the printing and shipping costs, which is why for what would be such a costly book to produce, we're able to set such a low target figure).

Back us today, and help make the publishing industry a slightly better place.  More importantly, back us today to make your world a whole lot more successful

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Because we've got established distribution partners for English language books around the world, and strong relationships with printers, alongside a world-class design and editorial team, there is little that can stop the project once it's backed.

We also have a number of printing partners and we'd be using an established book format, so we have no concerns about the printing cost spiralling beyond that which we predicted.

Schedules do, of course, sometimes need to be tweaked by a week or two here, but despite running a busy and fast-growing business in Triggertrap, Haje has never let us down on a deadline yet.

Because we're also an established publisher of PDF, ePub & Mobi eBooks via our direct-sales site Ilex Instant as well as Amazon and iBookstore, we already have the network in place to create and distribute eBooks in short order (backers, of course, will be sent their special access codes via email).

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