I’ve opted today to suspend my book’s crowdfunding campaign at Kickstarter. The project is only a bit over 10% funded and unlikely to succeed. But I’m happy about it. Why? Have I gone crazy?
No. I learned an enormous amount through this effort. Let me share a few pieces of feedback and insight.
Clear vision. When I started thinking about this project, I envisioned a coffeetable book that would spread some of the excitement about crowdfunding with insights about what worked. As I developed it further, I realized my strength, and where the greatest interest lay, was in a how-to book. I never entirely centered the book’s mission on that new goal.
Pre-order versus support. As noted in other posts, many successful projects are of the “do another thing like that thing I liked before,” such as a musician releasing a CD of music like the music that fans like. My crowdfunding book is, in many ways, unlike everything else I’ve done, and I don’t have a “natural” (or existing) audience for it. Thus, for some backers, friends and colleagues, they supported me by supporting the project.
But for a larger group, and I think this included folks who might have retweeted and otherwise spread the word about the project, the pledge levels were too high. The ebook was $25, the paperback book $50, and the hardcover limited edition $125. This reflected the cost plus a portion of the overall project budget. But that wasn’t how it was seen by folks who saw this as pre-order not support.
When I relaunch, the ebook clearly needs to be about $10 and the paperback $25. (The speaking/site visit levels still make sense because of the time and cost issues.)
Pre-write some of the book and shoot some videos. I also received clear feedback that not seeing any of the book, just several articles I’d written, didn’t give backers who didn’t know me a sense of what the book would actually be like. My thinking was that much of the book involves interviews and research, and thus I couldn’t write a draft. But to make it work, I’ll need to write, at a minimum, a chapter and a prospectus that lays out the project better. The same with videos. I should be able to rent decent equipment and undertake some video interviewing in Seattle and Portland in that regard.
Find an audience. I plan to continue to update this blog, and hope you’ll come with me (and comment on it) as I go. This will be a good place for me to discuss ideas and solicit feedback as to what works for folks.
All of this was invaluable, and I count all the time towards the project as time well spent. I talk to other people working on and planning crowdfunding projects regularly, and have exchanged and learned quite a bit from what they’re up to, as well as provided advice that has actually worked as a result of previous research and what I’ve learned from this effort.
I’ll be back! Keep reading, and pass the URL for this blog on to others.