Not all Kickstarters will fund. Farewell, Something Lovely didn’t.
That was unfortunate, but it was not a complete loss. Some of the backers hadn’t backed Centurion: Legionaries of Rome, my successful Kickstarter, so I had increased my network. I also learned some lessons which helped me prepare for my ongoing Kickstarter for Nefertiti Overdrive: Ancient Egytian Wuxia. Since I’m a generous guy, let me share my lessons learned with you.
1) Expect failure and you can expect failure.
I went into Farewell, Something Lovely with a strong suspicion that I would fail. I’m not saying that I created my own failure… actually, I am saying that, but not that I gave up on the Kickstarter.
I kept pushing until the end. I wonder, though, if that expectation of failure curtailed my efforts in some way. Perhaps I could have done more if I believed the Kickstarter would succeed.
It’s similar to an explanation of backer psychology I heard: backers will only pledge to a Kickstarter they expect to fund. Just as a backer will create a failure by expecting a Kickstarter to fail, I have a feeling that if you go in with your parachute on, maybe you’ll bail out of the plane before absolutely necessary. Maybe if I had put more effort into the Kickstarter, I could have saved it.
I had planned to run the Kickstarter from around 15 Jan to around 15 of Feb. Then I had the opportunity to go back to Korea and visit family. The date for the trip kept moving and so my plans kept shifting.
Finally, when the date for departure was set (24 Jan), I decided to pull the trigger even though I would only have 10 days to fund it. That’s not even two weeks. I honestly think that I would have had a much better chance of funding if I had gone the full 30 days. Kickstarter indicates that “80% of projects that raised more than 20% of their goal were successfully funded” and Farewell, Something Lovely raised 37% of its goal.
3) Be flexible.
I stubbornly moved forward with the Kickstarter in early January because I had a plan and I didn’t deviate from it. I wanted to try to fund a short story collection before moving on to my next role-playing game project. If I didn’t move forward with the Kickstarter in early January – before my trip – I wouldn’t be able to do so until late February or early March, which would have meant postponing Nefertiti Overdrive.
So, lacking flexibility, I moved forward. I could have either delayed Nefertiti Overdrive or tried to fund Farewell, Something Lovely later. There will always be obstacles in your path and you have to remember that not every piece of metal in wood is a nail, sometimes it’s a screw.
This kind of seems counter-intuitive after telling you not to expect failure, but expecting success can be its own problem. I honestly think I had both problems. While my rational brain was telling me that I was placing a lot of caltrops in front of my own horse, somewhere closer to my monkey brain was riding high on the success of Centurion. “I raised 168% of my goal. I’m a total superstar!” In the end, I didn’t prepare well enough. I didn’t get publicity lined up until too late and I don’t think I did enough publicity for it. Which leads us to…
Here’s the thing: I’ve been told that fiction is a tough sell on Kickstarter and that short story collections are tougher than novels. Then again, this may have been someone’s way of trying to sooth my ego.
If it is true, it’s especially true for me because I am not a famous author. I’m not even a known author. If I have any level of z-list celebrity at all, it’s in the role-playing game community, and while there is certainly an overlap, it doesn’t necessarily translate into trust. I think my work in role-playing games gave people confidence both that I would complete Centurion and that it would be playable. Without any real presence in the speculative fiction industry, I needed to get the word out better and give backers a better reason to trust me.
Those are five lessons I took from my failure. There are more, but right now I’m testing out my ability to fund a bigger project.