Episode 57 : Kate Erickson
In this episode I am blessed to have on one half of the duo who make up the EOFire organisation, Kate Erickson. Together with her partner John Lee Dumas they released the Freedom Journal at the start of this year. It is a bound paper journal that launched to great success. They did this after running one of the best ever book Kickstarter launches (7,063 backers pledged $453,803) and have continued their success after the launch.
The book launch of the Freedom Journal was phenomenal, how far in advance did you start planning it?
Kate says that between initial planning and the launch was a time period of about a year.
With the benefit of hindsight would you run a Kickstarter campaign for the book again or do it differently?
Very much Kate would do the launch again as a crowd-funding campaign as it helped them to generate a lot of interest about the book launch. The benefit was the easy way they could make use of the existing EOFire community (mainly based on the massive podcasts they run) to get them involved in the launch process.
You gave a proportion of the money earned to charity. Was that easier to manage in terms of a crowd-funding campaign?
While the benefit to charity helped to give meaning to the campaign, Kate and John needed to pay out of their own money to match the contributions given for the campaign as Kickstarter’s rules prohibited giving any of the money raised to charity directly.
What lessons did you learn from producing a physical faux-leather bound book as opposed to a more conventional paperback or hardback?
They were lucky enough to come across an expert Richie Norton (Of Prouduct) who had the knowledge required to find people who could manufacture a product like a leather-bound book, rather than Kate and John needing to do it themselves.
Prouduct took care of sourcing the factories to manufacture the book in China, and they arranged the management of things like quality control.
Were you ever worried that you would be stuck with lots of unsold books if you had over-ordered copies of it?
Kate admitted that she was for a while very anxious about the amount of stock they had ordered (20000 copies), even though they had a lot of interest expressed, due to the fact that until people paid they had no idea if that interest was real. John Lee Dumas however was more confident and raised up the initial print run from 10000 to 20000 copies.
John Lee Dumas was interviewed on seemingly hundreds of podcasts, how difficult was it to organise those to coincide with your Kickstarter campaign and book launch?
Kate says that relative to much of the rest of the organisation of the launch it wasn’t that difficult. They had arranged 30 people to appear again on John’s EOFire daily podcast to talk about their planning strategies (which is the theme of the Freedom Journal) and asked them if John could appear on their podcasts and also arranged some guest appearances on the podcasts of other long-term friends of the show wasn’t that hard, because they had in effect been building up to it for years.
Apart from podcast interviews and podcast promotion, what other publicity did you do for the Freedom Journal?
The first thing they did was to use their existing e-mail list – they let them know about the project a long time before the launch date and gave a behind-the-scenes look at what was happening with the project. They gave people the chance to sign up to a different list to be notified when the project was available. That list had about 10000 signups by the time the Kickstarter was due to be launched. They also ran campaigns on social media and they hired a book launch manager, Tom Morkes (http://tommorkes.com/) who helped co-ordinate communication with every single previous EOFire podcast guest asking them to support the book launch. They also paid for Facebook ads and some YouTube ads, but in terms of cost it was a small percentage of the cost of the launch.
What lessons have you learnt from the launch of the Freedom Journal that you think would help you launch a book even more successfully the next time?
The biggest lesson Kate learned from the book launch was the importance of their community and their level of involvement in the launch. Making your community feel that they are coming on the journey with you really helps with the launch of a product of any kind. In terms of what she would do differently, they did an in-person launch party which while it went well, meant that they couldn’t invite all their global followers to attend in the way that an online event could have done.