Tag Archives: kickstarter

The VUTO Playlist

There is many a writer I know who records their playlist for each book they write – a list of the music they listened to while writing each individual novel. I am a writer who must have silence to write. However, I listen to music constantly when I don’t have a pen in hand and oftentimes that music speaks to my writing.

I thought it would be fun to share with you a playlist of the songs that spoke to me most during the time I was writing and editing Vuto. Three bands particularly stood out for me over this period of time: Imagine Dragons, Hanson and Walk Off The Earth.

Click on the name of the band to listen to the song, or the song title for the lyrics:

1)      Imagine Dragons, “It’s Time”

2)      Hanson, “Great Divide”

3)      Walk Off The Earth, “Red Hands”

4)      Imagine Dragons, “Bleeding Out”

5)      Hanson, “World’s On Fire”

6)      Walk Off The Earth, “REVO”

7)      Hanson, “Fire On The Mountain”

8)      Imagine Dragons, “Demons”

9)      Hanson, “Never Let Go”

10)   Hanson, “Strong Enough To Break”

Vuto is now available for purchase at Rocket Science Productions, Amazon.com and the iBookstore.

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Filed under Vuto, Women

The Story Behind Fire Dragon Love Sauce

Ever since launching my own Kickstarter for my upcoming novel, Vuto, several months ago, I’ve kept my eye on the crowdfunding site in search of cool and interesting projects to back. One that recently jumped out as a rather innovative campaign is one by Heather Cox Carducci and Gigi Otálvaro-Hormillosa for Fire Dragon Love Sauce – proclaimed by the creators as “the official hot sauce for gay marriage.”

“Let’s spread love and spice to kitchen tables around the world.”

Fire Dragon Love Sauce originators Heather and Gigi named the sauce after their signs in Chinese astrology; the couple also tied the knot in San Francisco last year, which happened to be the year of the Water Dragon. Put it all together in a hot sauce and Fire Dragon Love Sauce was born.

When asked why they decided to equate their hot sauce with the fight for marriage equality, Heather and Gigi said,

“Gay marriage is a hot topic, so we’ve decided to launch a thematic product in the heat of this very historic moment. We’ve been inspired by chefs and artists who work at the intersection of food, art, and activism, and are excited to join this growing community of innovators. We think that an interdisciplinary approach to reaching marriage equality is important. Thus, we are doing our part to spice up the movement and the dialog about gay marriage.

“An integral part of our creative process is the cultivation of the sauce’s synesthetic qualities, such as its ability to stimulate the creative, sensual, and intellectual senses by way of the gastronomic ones. In other words, we want to reach the hearts and minds of people through their stomachs. There are a lot of people in the world who love their hot sauce, but do not love their gay neighbors, so we’d like to make them think twice about marriage equality through hot sauce!”

According to their Kickstarter bio, “Gigi and Heather share a deep love and passion for hot sauce and began experimenting with their own hot sauce over a year ago. They truly believe in the power of hot sauce to transform communities by helping people reconnect with their bodies. They have delighted friends, family, and co-workers with their sauce and are now ready to share the love with the rest of the world.”

The couple added, “We consider the hot sauce a smart product, in that we are creating something that exists beyond consumption – something that makes people think and that engages them politically. In this day and age, people are preoccupied with their devices and disconnected from their bodies. So we want to encourage them to put down their smart phone, and to pick up their smart hot sauce! It’s also very delicious and synthesizes unique ingredients such as such as ginger, cocoa powder, mezcal, and of course, Dragon Love!”

Their campaign page states, “Spice up your Pride with Fire Dragon Love Sauce, a gastro-galactic hot sauce that engages multiple senses & promotes love, spice, and equality for all people!”

Heather and Gigi are trying to raise at least $4,500 by July 5th; funding will go towards business registration licensing, nutrition labeling, insurance, legal fees, permits and all of the supplies needed to create Fire Dragon Love Sauce.

This venture is not without its risks. Heather and Gigi explained,

“Notwithstanding our success thus far, we have also encountered challenges and animosity toward the hot sauce, not only from heterosexual people who do not support marriage equality, but also from LGBT people who do not support marriage equality because they consider it assimilationist and mainstream. Some leftist artists and activists consider this project too capitalistic in nature, whereas those on the other side think the project is too gay, political, weird, and edgy. Nevertheless, our approach to and ideas about marriage, capitalism, and subversive art practices are based on transformation and a vision for social change. We think it’s crucial to participate in these structures and practices, in order to transform them, rather than be defeatist and not participate at all.”

For more information about Fire Dragon Love Sauce, check out their Kickstarter page or visit their website.

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Filed under LGBT, Same-Sex Marriage

A Tribute to VUTO’s Kickstarter Backers

As promised, this blog is dedicated to all 197 of my amazing, wonderful and incredible Kickstarter backers! This campaign would not have been as successful as it turned out to be without each and every one of you. I am so grateful to you all and cannot wait to get the rest of the Kickstarter rewards into your hands — especially Vuto itself!

Listed in alphabetical order, thank you and zikomo kwambiri to:

  1. Adrian B.
  2. Alexander Keely
  3. Ali Rakowski
  4. Alice Simmel
  5. Alicia Winkley
  6. Alison Adams-Woodford
  7. Alissa Collins
  8. Alli C. Nelson
  9. Allie Trimble
  10. Amanda G.
  11. Amber Y.
  12. Amie Begg
  13. Amy Lopes
  14. Andrew Walkley
  15. Angela Gallo
  16. Angieleigh
  17. Anita Little
  18. Ann Rockwell
  19. Anna Sloan
  20. Anora McGaha
  21. Anthony K.
  22. Anthony Mathenia
  23. April D.
  24. Beatrice Z.
  25. Ben Walkley
  26. Beth Vandemore
  27. Betsy Nudell
  28. Brenda Lochinger
  29. Brittany McCutcheon
  30. Bundy Kim
  31. Camela Logan
  32. Caroline Newbould
  33. Caz
  34. Chloe Jenkins-Sleczkowski
  35. Christopher Hammers
  36. Chris McCrory
  37. Cory Aikman
  38. Cozi Orlen
  39. Dana Bilder
  40. Danae Markland
  41. Dani Shay
  42. Daniel Head
  43. David Baron
  44. David Talton
  45. Dawn
  46. Debbie Simon
  47. Deborah Bloom
  48. Derek Carranza
  49. Dian Thalman
  50. Diana N.
  51. Don Walkley
  52. Ed Israel
  53. Edward Payson
  54. Eileen Mullan
  55. Elissa I. Burr
  56. Elizabeth Russolesi
  57. Elvis Mendoza
  58. Emily Bahl
  59. Emily Rose Bainton
  60. Emily Walkley
  61. Emmy Swain
  62. Erin Cole
  63. Francesca DeCarli
  64. Francis Foy
  65. Frank Monahan
  66. Gay Gasser
  67. Hannah N.
  68. Heidi Ruby Miller
  69. Henoch Derbew
  70. Ivana Savic
  71. Ivana V.
  72. J.J.
  73. Jack Shannon
  74. Jacob M. Burch
  75. Jamie DeLoma
  76. Jamie Justesen
  77. Janet Rustow
  78. Jarrett A. Young
  79. Jason Inman
  80. Jenny I.
  81. Jesse
  82. Joan
  83. Joey Biagas
  84. Johanna Simmel
  85. John T.
  86. Jonathan W.
  87. Justin R. Simmel
  88. Justin Zagri
  89. Karen Di Prima
  90. Kelly G.
  91. Kelly Chesson
  92. Kim Estes
  93. Kim Rippere
  94. Kristen W. Terry
  95. Kristin Jekielek
  96. Lacey Tallmadge
  97. Laura Holmes Weber
  98. Lauren C.
  99. Lauren B.
  100. Lawrence W.
  101. Lindsay M.
  102. Liz Feola
  103. Liz Gilbert
  104. M.
  105. Maria M.
  106. Mary D.
  107. Mary S.
  108. Max Lee
  109. Meg Eilenberg
  110. Megan Kettmann
  111. Megan Rose Dickey
  112. Melina Marini
  113. Melissa Ross
  114. Meredith Hancock
  115. Meredith Smith
  116. Michael Weiner
  117. Miguel Tanudra
  118. Molly S.
  119. Nancy Fletcher
  120. Nancy Gardiner
  121. Nate
  122. Nicole B.
  123. Nina Antonsen
  124. Patricia W.
  125. Patty Ayres
  126. Paul N.
  127. Pepe L.
  128. Peter Drummond
  129. Peter Zarcone
  130. Rachel Grice
  131. Rebecca Stafford
  132. Rex Pickett
  133. Robert Rodi
  134. Ryan Burns
  135. Ryan J.
  136. Sam Osborn
  137. Sara Caldwell
  138. Sara Jane
  139. Sarah Feola
  140. Sarah Shapiro
  141. Shawn Michael Werner
  142. Sir Ethan J. Simmel
  143. Spring B.
  144. Stefanie Dinneen
  145. Stephanie M. Wytovich
  146. Stephanie Puszka
  147. Steven Correa
  148. Steven Ratti
  149. Summer Duncan
  150. Susan Ingalls
  151. Susan Self
  152. Susan Yolen
  153. Tim Walkley
  154. Todd Walton
  155. Tony Brasunas
  156. Travis Betz
  157. Vina Perez
  158. Zach Lahey

NOTE: Unlisted backers preferred to remain anonymous.


Filed under Social Media, Vuto, Writing

10 Things I Learned From Kickstarting My Book

Going through my first Kickstarter campaign, I learned a lot that I wanted to share with others considering this route to crowdfund a project – while these tips are slightly skewed to fiction projects, any and all can apply to any platform:

1. Reaching out personally to friends, family and fans is ESSENTIAL.

The first half of my funding that came in the first three days of my campaign launch was solely due to personal messages I sent via gChat, gMail, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Goodreads utilizing direct messaging. It might feel strange initially to send what could be construed as solicitations to people you may not have actually seen or spoken to outside of the Internet in years – but it pays off. It can also help reconnect you with those people.

For authors, utilize your Author Page on Facebook to reach out to fans personally in this way as well. They’ll feel connected to you and will be more likely to donate with that first-person touch point.

Also, while updating your status on Facebook and tweeting about your project is important, most times these updates can get lost in the feeds of your followers with all of the other updates coming through. You might think that posting 5+ times a day is enough, but I found that even with public updates, when I reached out to individuals, they were unaware I had a Kickstarter going on. This is why personal messages are all the more important.

I sent out 1,000+ personal messages within the first week and a half of my campaign – and then I retraced my steps to retouch those who didn’t answer my first message. This also proved to be important as some of those who got my first message forgot to actually click through to my Kickstarter page or had gotten distracted and let my request go by; this second touchbase garnered in more funding in the second and third weeks of the campaign. Within the last three days of the campaign, I circled around yet again for a third, final touch to those I had still yet to hear back from. This proved effective once more, friends thanking me for the reminder and pledging in the final hours.

2. Talk about your Kickstarter until you’re blue in the face…and then talk some more.

By the end of the first week, I already felt like a broken record talking about my project – but I knew there were still plenty of people who didn’t know about it that I needed to reach. So, I kept talking. And emailing. And messaging. And tweeting. And blogging.

The experts don’t lie when they say that the first and last weeks of a campaign attract the most donations. By the second week, there was a big drop off in the frequency of donations coming in – but this just propelled me to keep publicizing the project all the more.

3. Reach out to blogs – and blog yourself!

I have had my previous books reviewed on a variety of book blogs in the past. I reached out to every single one to see if they could feature my Kickstarter project in any way. A few were reluctant to publicize such a request – but they were happy to feature an interview or guest blog about the book itself. Even such blog posts where Kickstarter wasn’t specifically mentioned helped me publicize my book more, which led to an increase in donations as well.

As a blogger for The Huffington Post, I also wrote up two different blogs in the hopes that they would be accepted – neither of which were TOO self-promotional, but did mention my Kickstarter at the end. Both ended up being published within hours of one another and definitely helped increase the publicity to a larger audience.

I would also recommend lining up about 10 blogs to feature your project, interview you or even review your book prior to launching your campaign. This will save you ample amounts of time reaching out to people once you’ve launched, freeing up time for other outreach activities.

4. The more creative your outreach, the better!

I created homemade bracelets in the colors of the Malawian flag (the country in which my book takes place) and offered them to backers of a certain threshold. I made flyers with a QR Code that went directly to my Kickstarter site and passed them out at cafés and local independent bookstores in my area.

I tried to spice things up a bit by creating new rewards mid-project to try to keep the initial momentum going — a tactic I HIGHLY RECOMMEND! For instance, once I hit $3,500, I posted an update letting everyone know that if we could get to $4,500 by the close of the campaign, I’d film myself making a traditional Malawian meal from scratch and send it to all backers. Once that goal was met, I set another stretch goal of $5,000, letting everyone know that if we hit or exceeded that amount, I would publish an eBook all backers would receive for free of several short stories and poems I’ve written over the years.

Just before we hit the last week, I sent an update to my current backers letting them know that a pledge increase of just $7 would get them a tote bag with my book cover on it. In the final week, I let backers and potential donors know that the next 10 people to donate at least $50 would receive an advanced reading copy of Vuto prior to release.

All of these mid-campaign rewards definitely led to more donations, as well as pledge increases.

I also made sure all of my social media platforms were leading people to my Kickstarter page. I updated my Twitter background to my book cover; added the cover to my Facebook banners; and my web designer was able to quickly turn around the following update to my website’s homepage, taking people right to my Kickstarter page by clicking on the bug in the corner of the below image:

5. Think about when you’re asking people to donate money.

My Kickstarter went live on Tuesday, April 9th – four days before most people would be getting paid. This being the case, several people I reached out to assured they would donate once they had their next paycheck in hand – yet that didn’t always happen. Despite the fact that funds aren’t taken out of anyone’s account immediately, people will be more willing to donate once they’ve been paid – think the first of the month or the 15th of the month.

Also be sure to let people know that any money pledged won’t be taken out of their accounts unless the project is fully funded, and then only after the campaign has ended.

6. Don’t just keep tweeting out the link to your project; let people know what the project is about and give more details.

Reveal more tidbits about your writing process, the plotline of your novel, rewards you are offering, etc. Keep things new and interesting for those who are following your campaign closely, mixed in with messages regarding donation for those who are just seeing your tweet or update for the first time.

I highly recommend using the Project Updates you can send out via Kickstarter for this purpose. Backing projects myself, I’ve been surprised at how little this feature is utilized — but keeping your backers and potential backers apprised of what’s happening in your campaign, as well as providing more information, is quite important for retaining those backers and attracting new donations.

7. Figure out which hashtags will garner the attention of the audience you are looking to target with your project.

While there are some who feel as though blind-tweeting people using choice hashtags that speak to your project’s content is not a best practice – I’d beg to differ. I definitely got a handful of donations by targeting those on Twitter who were tweeting with hashtags like #peacecorps, #malawi, #africa, #womensfiction, #amreading and #amwriting – all topics related to my book. This tactic likely won’t garner an overflow of backers, but it could fill in some of the gaps.

8. Use the Kickstarter Status Board!

I wish I had known about this amazing tool much earlier on in my campaign, instead of when I did – with only 5 days left! Nevertheless, the Kickstarter Status Board is a must to determine where backers are coming from in order to tweak your outreach. You can download it into your browser’s toolbar, add your Kickstarter URL and continually check back to see your progress at any point.

9. Start a Facebook Event for the final 24-hour countdown.

Every hour on the hour for the last 24 hours of the campaign (minus when I was asleep), I updated the Event page with blogs that had picked me up over the last 30 days, interviews, images of the rewards and general updates regarding the current pledge level. This created even more excitement in the final hours of the campaign, and even led to some new pledges and pledge increases.

10. Make sure to update your page before the campaign ends.

Once the project has reached its deadline, you will not be able to update the main Kickstarter campaign page again. This page remains up and live online after the deadline, considering that you will be sending out surveys to backers regarding their rewards, as well as Project Updates as you fulfill those rewards and see your project through to completion. I updated my page the night before the end of my campaign, thanking all of my backers right at the top. I wanted that to be the message everyone who came back to the page in the days, weeks and months to come would see.

There will probably be even more to share as I continue this process, fulfilling rewards and completing the publication of Vuto. I hope the above will help others planning on Kickstarting or crowdfunding a project — fiction or otherwise!

Have you crowdfunded a project before? Do you have any additional tips or tricks to share? Please do so in the comments below!


Filed under Advice, Books, Guest Blogs, Interviews, Vuto, Writing

We Did It! Kickstarter Success!

This morning marked the end of my 30-day Kickstarter campaign to fund the publication of my third novel, Vuto. The process from Day 1 to Day 30 has been incredible, from the stress and adrenaline of the first week and into the second, surpassing my initial funding goal in 9 days; to the 24-hour countdown in the last day of the project; to today, when it ended with this wonderful image:

I’ve said it before and I will continue to say it — I cannot fully express how unbelievably grateful and humbled I am from this experience, from the 197 backers who believed in me, and the countless other supporters who tweeted, Facebooked and blogged on behalf of this project and my novel. I am forever indebted to you all.

I am so excited to move on to the next phase of Kickstarter — fulfilling all rewards, and getting Vuto published and into my backers’ hands before getting it out into the world. There is still so much to come, so stay tuned!

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Filed under Africa, Vuto, Writing

Kickstarter Stretch Goals and Rewards

Hello to all of my wonderful Kickstarter backers and those to come!

We are doing so extremely well and I cannot thank you all enough. We have broken $4,200 as of this morning and I think $4,500 is in sight! If you recall, should we reach $4,500 by the May 9th deadline, I will film myself cooking a traditional Malawian meal and share it with all of my backers.

Image courtesy of paradiseintheworld.com.

Image courtesy of paradiseintheworld.com.

Since I have a great feeling that $4,500 is possible, I am adding yet another stretch goal as well —

If we hit $5,000 by Thursday, May 9th at 8:16am MST, I will publish an eBook that my backers will receive for free with poetry and short stories I have written over the years.

Image courtesy of ebooknobrasil.blogspot.com.

Image courtesy of ebooknobrasil.blogspot.com.

And don’t forget – all backers who increase their pledges by $7 will get a tote bag along with the rest of their rewards. Let’s make the next 3 days count!

Thanks, everyone! Or as they say in Malawi – Zikomo kwambiri!

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Filed under Africa, Vuto, Writing

Kickstarter Rewards En Route!

Great news for all of my current Kickstarter backers and those to come – the postcards, bookmarks and posters that are available to donors of various levels are being printed and will soon be en route to me to send to you! Here’s a sneak peek:

Kickstarter Rewards for VUTO

Kickstarter Rewards for VUTO

There’s still plenty of time left to donate and get some great rewards, including the above! Check it out HERE.

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Filed under Africa, Vuto, Writing

Only $600 To Go!

In just a week of campaigning, my Kickstarter campaign for my third novel, Vuto, has raised $2,400 of the $3,000 goal! I am learning so much as this process goes along, and I’m recording all of these tidbits of advice to create a blog with tips and tricks for Kickstarter campaigns once my own is finished. I’m excited to share with you!

One tip I’ll reveal now is to reach out to other bloggers in order to get interviews, guest posts and the like on multiple websites throughout the campaign. I started reaching out once my project had already launched and, while I’ve been able to gain interest from several bloggers in the past week, I’m sure if I had planned ahead that interest might be greater and I could have lined up a blog every other day or so for the entirety of the campaign. Nevertheless, I encourage you to check out the following sites that have posted something regarding my Kickstarter already:

And, of course, if you haven’t donated already, please consider doing so HERE. If you donate today or tomorrow, you’ll also receive one of several free eBooks from my publishing company, Rocket Science Productions!

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Filed under Vuto, Writing

My Kickstarter for VUTO

As you may know by now, I have officially launched my first Kickstarter project for my third novel, Vuto. Before the end of Day 1, I was psyched to see that my project was trending at #1:

Image courtesy of www.kicktraq.com.

Image courtesy of http://www.kicktraq.com.

Reaching out to family and friends has proven to be a great success. I was personally touched by friends from high school who have come forward to support me in this endeavor. One friend wrote to explain why she donated:

“I just checked it out and it looks awesome. I donated because I loved the whole concept but also because I remember you always wanting to be a writer when we were young & it’s good to see you following your dream.”

It meant so much to me that she remembered this dream of mine, even when we haven’t seen each other in going on 10 years!

Now in Day 3, I have surpassed the $1,000 mark thanks to the generosity of said family and friends, as well as my fans. This is great news, as Fiction projects in Kickstarter have a large failure rate; those that do not attain 20% of their needed funds in the first week are usually doomed. Now that I’m over the 33% mark, I feel like I’m in very good shape for success.

I can only hope more readers see the value in this book as much as I do and continue to donate through May 9th. I have some great rewards – including specific ones for this week. From today through April 17th, all donors will also receive one of several eBooks being offered for free from my publisher.

Be sure to check out my Kickstarter project by clicking HERE. Any questions? Ask away!

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Filed under Vuto, Writing

Kickin’ Around Kickstarter

This past week I’ve been doing a lot of research into Kickstarter projects as I begin to move forward with the publication of my third novel, Vuto. There are many ways to go about a Kickstarter campaign, but I’ve noticed two specific tropes thus far that seem to make the difference between success and failure on this platform:

  • A kick ass video
  • Fabulous rewards

In my research, I also found some amazing projects that I’ve gone ahead and supported. The first is an album by music artist Dani Shay. You may recognize her from America’s Got Talent (Season 6) or The Glee Project 2.

Image courtesy of insidetv.ew.com.

Image courtesy of insidetv.ew.com.

I find her extremely talented and would love for her to come out with a full-on album. She created a fantastic video and is offering some pretty incredible prizes to those who back her, including artwork she’s created, clothing she’s worn on television, a personal visit on your birthday — and for backers who pledge $5,000 or more, a live acoustic show in your home.

I’ve also been looking over fiction projects specifically, especially those that have been successfully funded or are well on their way. It seems like a vast majority are in the sci-fi genre, which was a bit off-putting to me as Vuto is anything but.

One such project that has been gaining popularity this week is “STABBERS – The First Young Adult Novel for ADULTS.”

Image courtesy of travisbetz.tumblr.com.

Image courtesy of travisbetz.tumblr.com.

Travis Betz, a writer/director, is the creator of the project — which equates to him creating a really wonderful video for this project. Aka, a video I don’t have the ability to create! Travis presents himself as a very creative and likable guy in the video, however, which definitely adds to his chances of being funded. I’m hoping I will be able to do the same, even without video editing skills.

Then there are the “Most Funded” projects, most of which exceeded their fundraising goals, some by astronomical amounts. One project here that I found intriguing was “Robin writes a book (and you get a copy).”

Image courtesy of news.cnet.com.

Image courtesy of news.cnet.com.

In this project, the video was nothing overly special, mostly just Robin Sloan in front of a camera talking about his past writing and this project — where the idea came from and why he wants to write this book. The minor editing and effects he includes seem fairly simple — perhaps something I could do with the current software on my Mac. Like Travis, Robin presents as a likable guy. All of these aspects came together for Robin, and the $3,500 goal he started out with ended up landing him a whopping $13,942 instead.

Not bad. Not bad at all.

Along with the simple video Robin created, I was also struck by the low cost of each of the prizes he offered — from $1 for a PDF of the book up to $59  for multiple signed copies of the book and your name in the Acknowledgements. This was one of the lowest ranges for rewards I’ve seen, with many others offering prizes past the $400 or even $1,000 marks. This makes me wonder what I should offer my own backers and how high those prices should go.

I think I still have some more research to do before I’m ready to set my project to LIVE in Kickstarter. I’d love to hear from you before that point, as well!

Readers, have you ever funded a Kickstarter project? What do you look for in a campaign that encourages you to donate? What kinds of rewards would make you open your wallet? Please share below!

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Filed under Advice, Writing