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The Kick That Did Not Start

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014 | Posted by FraserRonald

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.

Centurion: Legionaries of Rome2) Over thirty days is probably unnecessary, but under thirty days has its own problems.

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.

Nefertiti Overdrive4) Don’t get cocky, kid.

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…

5) Publicize.

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.

 

 

4 Comments »

  1. I’m sure all of the stated reasons played into it, but also, there may be more fans of Tolkien, Donaldson, and Eddings out there than you counted on. Seeing as a lot of people like all kinds of writers – I myself am a fan of those three plus Leiber and Cook (I haven’t read Gemmell or Eddings, but I think I would like them both) – you may not want to deal so many people out of the game before it even begins. (Knowing of course that you need to be honest about exactly what you’re offering – as you were.)

    Comment by emcgargle - April 1, 2014 3:27 pm

  2. One cannot discount that one’s product does not have a strong enough appeal. That is entirely possible and the niche appeal of sword noir stories certainly was a factor in its failure. That is also the one factor which one cannot improve. I can’t fix that part of a Kickstarter campaign, but I can attempt to address the other problems so that I can boil down the failure to simply the product’s appeal. I want to be sure that it is, in fact, the product that has lead to failure so that I don’t surrender a feasible idea due to other failures.

    Comment by FraserRonald - April 1, 2014 4:17 pm

  3. I’m not sure the appeal wasn’t broad enough. There seems to be a core group who like sword noir.

    I think the problem could have been getting the word out to the right people within the window of opportunity. There have been a number of successful Kickstarters I didn’t hear about until they were over that I would have pledged in a heartbeat. These were well-publicized projects that exceeded their goals. I just didn’t hear about them.

    One possibility could have been the time of year. Many people may not have had the cash for something that close to the holidays. If I’m strapped, I don’t pay a lot of attention to Kickstarter. Just a thought.

    I hope you don’t completely give up on Farewell, Something Lovely. I like the concept and was disappointed it didn’t meet its goals.

    Comment by westkeith - April 3, 2014 10:02 am

  4. westkeith – I’m finding that as the number of Kickstarters increases, the number of venues that are willing to talk to you or otherwise help promote a Kickstarter without monetary remuneration decrease. There are a few places with which I have an existing relationship that I’ve been able to use to help publicize, but I have become more and more dependent upon the backers to help proselytize Kickstarters. Sometimes that works, but sometimes it doesn’t. No one is as invested in your campaign as you are.

    And I haven’t given up entirely on the stories from Farewell, Something Lovely. Some of them are available in For Simple Coin, and I have plans for some of the others.

    Comment by FraserRonald - April 3, 2014 9:18 pm


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