Elizabethan London

Elizabethan London
Tyburn was an infamous execution spot west of London, used since medieval times. The Tyburn "tree" - a unique, multi-person gallows - erected in 1571 became a popular public spectacle, drawing crowds of thousands.Tyburn Tree blog is less blood-thirsty but hopefully topical, interesting and informative, if slightly bent to my personal topics of interest - books, writing, history, technology, with a smattering of politics and dash of pop culture, science and the downright strange. So "take a ride to Tyburn" and see what happens...

Monday, July 28, 2014


Kickstarter Campaign Autopsy

Now that The Jesuit Letter Publishing Kickstarter campaign is over, and successfully funded (thank you backers!), I thought it would be helpful to do a bit of an autopsy and analysis of how the campaign unfolded.

The campaign generated 116% of the $2800 target, topping out at $3,270.  There were 42 backers that contributed.  

Here are some of the more interesting snippets that sprang out:

  • Only 3% of backers came through Kickstarter itself. 97% came from external sources
  • The vast majority of backers were direct contacts.  Social media contributed less than 8% of the backer connections however it was a major factor in outreaching to everyone.
  • 10 backers were responsible for 86% of the funding, two backers alone contributed 53% of the goal funding (very unexpectedly I might add!)
  • Average contribution worked out to $77.86 – boosted a bit by the aforementioned contributors, however when their contribution is not incl. in the average, you still end up with a robust $44.25 average contribution.
  • Only 8 out of the 42 backers (19%) were unknown persons prior to the Kickstarter.  The vast majority of backers were family, friends, colleagues & co-workers
  • The campaign reached the goal of $2,800 on Day 16, roughly the midpoint of the 30-day campaign.  The slope of the campaign tailed right off after reaching the target, partially because I curtailed some of my activities and partially because I expect contributors didn't see the urgent need to back the project once the goal had been reached.

 So how does this roll out into recommendations for other people contemplating a Kickstarter crowd-sourcing approach for funding publishing projects?   Bearing in mind, projects vary wildly in approaches, content and responses.  Here are some points to consider:

Who do you know? How big is your existing network?  People who don’t know you or your work are significantly less likely to step in to contribute to your project. Don’t expect having a lot of casual twitter followers or Facebook acquaintances will necessarily end up garnering support.  You need a solid direct support network …and you need to actually actively ask them for help you can’t just rely on the “Field of Dreams” model (that’s “build it and they will come”, for those who haven’t seen the movie).

What is the nature of your project?  Crowdfunding supporters tend to skew in fairly specific directions – projects that involve Internet or tech-based elements, software, gaming, personal electronics, comics, horror, sci-fi, anime, graphic novels etc., have (and no, I don’t have any stats on this, this is more perception than proven fact) a higher level of general Kickstarter support.  The mileage may vary on other platforms but you need to study what projects are getting funding on your crowdfunding platform.

Do you have clear goals/objectives, and usages set out for the funds? You and your project needs to be transparent, credible and believable.  People are backing your project because they want it to succeed and they’ve weighed the info/evidence you’ve provided and decided

a). the project is worthy to happen and
b). the project is likely to successful if you get the funds you seek.

If you don’t have a clear and consistent message on what you are doing, timetables, how you are doing it and what the backers expectations are, you will not likely receive the support you need, even from people you know.

Honesty & sincerity count for more than slick presentation – I worried and revised and fiddled endlessly trying to perfect my presentation and my video.  The flaws that loomed massively large to me were, from the feedback I've received, not a problem but rather an advantage.  It gave the project a genuine feel that a more tailored and pristine approach would have lacked.  At the end of the day, it is both the project and the people behind it that will help make your backers decide to step up.

Visuals trump copy – you need visuals on your campaign, you need imagery, you need to create a visual identity for your project, even for a written work.  They help to draw people in, generate interest and encourage someone to look beyond the headline.  For me, given that my work was historical fiction, I was able to pull Creative Commons images of public domain artworks to help with my book trailer and marketing.  Failing that, you can source low-cost stock images from dozens of sites around the web at a fairly low cost.

Writing a Novel? Don’t hit backers for funding until you actually have a book.  You unfortunately see a number of projects from people who want to write a book and have unreasonable expectations that a Kickstarter will help fund the writing.  Re-think that.  There is a world of difference between taking a completed project to crowdfunding to raise capital to fund publishing, and having your writing life funding via Kickstarter.  Unless you are a known quantity, with some strong indicator of your writing abilities, it is highly doubtful that anyone will dish out money to fund your future potential writing.  Leave the crowdfunding campaign until you have something that warrants support.

Listen to advice, quell the urge to run or reject it, think about it and then make up your mind.  Test your assumptions, test your messages, see what people in your field think about your proposal.  The best advice I received was monumentally negative and very disheartening.  I thought about it for a few days and then ended up re-structuring much of my rewards for backers and my goals to a much tighter and more practical level.  It was painful but ultimately helpful to receive such blunt feedback from a third party.

Don’t give up and don’t be afraid to take the leap. It can be extremely hard to put any creative project out for people to see.  All I can suggest is try it.  The worst thing that can usually happen is…nothing.  Most of the time you find even in trying and failing, you achieve.

Try different approaches – The best single marketing piece for my Kickstarter was a business card, with my project info on one side, and the book title/project artwork on the other. It gave me a conversational opener with people for face-to-face discussions, provided something I could drop on people’s desks or for friends to pass along to other friends.  It forced me to get comfortable and refined with discussing my project. 

Tell your story - You need that story, that elevator speech, you need to be able to get people excited about your project because, well, they’re busy. They have kids, work, spouses, relatives, hobbies, bills, sports, chores, dogs etc. and it is very easy to have your initial email or approach appear on their radar and then vanish without a trace.  I've had at least 10 acquaintances and friends approach me in the month following my Kickstarter to apologize because they didn't get around to backing me, or they didn't see my email until after.

I think that about covers what I can tell you.  

I hope it helps any of you that are planning to launch a crowdfunding project now or in the near future. 

Best of luck!

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed the description, and analysis, of your project.
    Although I'm not looking at doing anything of this kind, you've widened my understanding of how to approach such a project.
    Thanks for sharing and good luck with 'The Jesuit Letter'.