Kickstarting a Book Series! A Chat with Dean Wesley Smith

Kickstarting a Book Series! A Chat with Dean Wesley Smith

By Angelique Fawns


Dean Wesley Smith has an online course which I studied before launching my current Kickstarter for the Horror Lite Series. I’ve gathered up some of my best dark tales and compiled them into three collections called: Cursed & Creepy; Peculiar Pets; and Mythical Monsters.

You can check out the campaign here:

My stretch goals focus on adding other authors to my anthologies and paying them for their stories! I am hoping to include 3 guest tales per anthology.


Dean Wesley Smith’s workshop is a fantastic way for authors to learn about using this platform to get more eyes on their new ventures. Dean Wesley Smith has built 33 successful Kickstarter campaigns and is working on his next one. Learn more at

AF: What made you explore Kickstarter as a viable way for authors to launch fiction?

DWS: We started off testing it as a way to raise money for our anthology project Fiction River. We did three of those over three years, then added in the Pulphouse Fiction Magazine subscription drive and then just added in novels. Just a logical addition. We do six or so campaigns a year now.


AF: Which campaign has been your most successful and why? 

DWS: They have all been successful. Depending on the project, they range from $10,000 to $30,000 per project. We keep our costs very low as well.



AF: My campaign did fairly well and funded in less than two days. How could I have improved my launch?

DWS: Not a clue to be honest. It builds with your fan base over time. Make sure your ask is set low and you have a good amount of rewards that will interest people. We always ask for $2,000 and fund normally in an hour, but we have a massive fan base.

AF: What is the number one error you see in first time campaigns?

DWS: Poor graphics, not enough rewards, and asking for too much.


AF: There seems to always be a lag in the middle of a campaign. How can an author keep excitement generated?

DWS: When you learn the answer to that please let me know. We sometimes do 10 day campaigns to cut out that middle.


AF: How do you get the coveted, “Project we Love” designation from Kickstarter? (Ps. I haven’t.)

DWS: You fund quickly, have great art, and offer the backers a lot of cool stuff. But funding quickly and having great art in the story really helps.

AF: Can you tell us about your next project? How will Kickstarter play a role?

DWS: Our next project is the Holiday Spectacular, which is a project edited by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. It is basically a non-religious advent calendar giving one original professional holiday story every day to readers from American Thanksgiving through January 1st.  We use Kickstarter to fund it. This will be our fifth year and the campaign starts at noon on the 17th. It is called WMG Holiday Spectacular 2023.

We will also start a brand new Holiday Spectacular Shopify store the day after the campaign ends. 


AF: You are generally considered one of the most prolific and successful authors of our time. To what do you attribute your success?

DWS: I just never quit. I write about a thousand clean words an hour, never rewrite, and just spend hours in my writing chair because I love to tell stories. I sold my first short story in 1974 and since 1990 I have averaged about 1.3 million words per year every year. And I love to keep learning, so I think that is the most important. I want to keep getting better. 


AF: As an author, I am constantly striving to find the profitability in our industry. Where have you found the most success? Any advice for my next steps?

DWS: No cash stream is too small. Sell your work everywhere around the world. Learn how to write sales copy and have great covers that fit genres. Keep learning craft and business. And then just never quit, never get in a hurry. The money builds up when you are having fun and not paying attention.



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