Kickstarter Success Story: Where I went wrong

Last year I tried, and failed, to fund a book project of mine using Kickstarter.  I don’t regret the 90-day experience, but I have learned a lot since then.

Last week, my friend Patrick launched his own Kickstarter project to build out and complete a comic book art gallery (brilliantly called “The Rogues Gallery”).  

Patrick reached his funding amount only 12 short hours into the campaign.  

The
simple reason for the project’s success is that it’s a great idea which
appeals to a talented and passionate community of artists and fans.
Beyond that, Patrick asked for a relatively modest amount, making the
funding all but guaranteed.  
Simply put, Patrick had the right ideahe understood his audience, and he didn’t ask more of his audience than they were willing to give.

When
I plotted out what I actually needed to take my Kickstarter book
project to completion, I accounted for a lot of big ticket expenses.
 Among them:
  • Professional manuscript editing
  • Page layout and cover design
  • Offset printing run of 1500-3000 copies
  • Fair and respectful payments for the three principal photographers who contributed images to the book
  • Professional indexing
  • Legal representation
  • Web hosting to support the online home of the book

Those
(and other) expenses had me estimating my needs at a shocking 17K.  I
knew it was a ballsy amount to pitch, so I worked my ass off to raise
awareness and generate interest over those three months.  Along those
lines, I:

  • Did interviews with any media outlet that would have me (Good morning, Rockford!).  
  • Wrote a new blog entry every day about a topic specific to the book for the full 90 days of fundraising,  
  • Called
    and contacted old friends, new friends, and people I barely knew,
    trying to spark interest up and down every possible online and offline
    social network.
In the end, I hit $10,294.  It was a
massive amount, for sure; just not massive enough.  At the end of the 90
days, the funding board was wiped clean and I had no finished book to
show for it.  I had asked for too much money to fund a fairly niche
book…in a recession.  My book strategy of “doing it right” led me to
not doing it at all.  
If I were to use
Kickstarter again, I’d use it to launch a project that required
significantly less funding, or I’d at least find a way to better handle
costs.  
From a “sizzle” perspective, I’d also
take the time to record a video message for my funding page, rather than
rely on a static picture of, say, Al Jourgensen.
Back
to Patrick and The Rogues Gallery, funding’s already gone $1300 over
the target.  In one short week of activity, Patrick has taught me how to
do this right.  I’m not ready to test the Chicago Rocked waters again,
but there will be other projects down the road…
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