on running crowdfunding

I have SO MUCH to write about what I’ve learned from running the Kickstarter campaign that I’ve basically been unable to move forward on it, you know? Too much information and not enough mental capacity to break it down. Fortunately for me, a friend who is looking at running some crowdfunding had a list of questions to put to me, and that’s giving me some badly-needed structure. So I’m gonna hit this thing over a series of blog posts, and will do my best to include further questions asked in comments and the like as well as break out my own personal experiences.

…all of this stuff basically assumes you’re a writer running crowdfunding, but I imagine that after the fact a lot of it might be helpful to other people. I hope so, anyway.

What would be a reasonable amount to set as initial goal? (I understand the part where if you don’t make goal, you get zero.)

For me, this depends on anticipated wordcount, but the “if you don’t make goal” bit is the kicker.

For “No Dominion”, which I planned as a novella, I set my initial goal at $4000. I chose that number because I’ve sold 3 novellas in the past, and was paid approximately $3K, $3500 and $4K for them. So I’d been going to split it down the middle for “No Dominion” and ask for $3500, but then I jumped the gun and got Kyle Cassidy to do the cover art photo shoot, so I went ahead and rolled the cost of that into the campaign, thus setting the dollar amount at $4K, and setting the novella price point as a whole for the campaign at $4K.

Tim Pratt set a $6K goal for his novel-length Kickstarter. I suspect I would do around the same, probably topping out around $7500 for an anticipated, say, 80K novel, because the *idea* here is to get the cash in the door, so it’s counter-productive to aim super high and not make it. It’s a question of what’s the minimum bearable to make for your work, but one of the positive sides about crowdfunding is it frees you to do something you really want to do, and that may be worth taking a little less cash in hand.

How long does one run this thing?

Kickstarter itself suggests 30 days, because there’s pretty inevitably a trough in the middle. I ran “No Dominion” for 45 days and will do that for any other Kickstarters I run, because 45 days is pretty likely to mean everybody who might want to buy in is going to have a paycheck in that time. 30 days can miss out on people who only get paid monthly, and that can make a difference.

What’s with this video one does?

I think the video is God’s way of being cruel to writers. Honestly, for mine, I wrote a 45 second speech, practiced it a bunch of times, then set up my phone to record me and recorded it about twenty times until I had one where I hadn’t embarrassed myself stumbling over the words. I was very proud of myself for managing to put a fade out at the beginning and maybe the end. Regardless of the approach, keep it short, because people lose interest fast. Under 60 seconds is genuinely fine.

Assuming it makes the goal, when does payment come in, all at once or in chunks?

All at once. Amazon takes approximately 2 weeks to process it, and then it’s all yours. This is a totally bizarre concept for writers: the entire advance up front. This is also why you’d better be pretty goddamned sure you’re going to do the project.

And how does one disseminate the rewards?

For writers, your major reward is of course your novel/short stories/etc, which you would *think* Kickstarter would allow you to attach to the patron email lists they automatically create for you. For some bizarre reason they don’t allow epub/mobi/pdf/doc attachments, though I’ve suggested it to them (and if, say, everybody reading this would like to go suggest it to them too, Kickstarter’s contact link is at the bottom of any given page).

I do not yet know if you can attach such files to the finalized mailing list that they suggest you create, because I haven’t gotten that far yet. At the moment, I’m providing links to a password-protected Tumblr page for rewards, and have taken their Excel files to create a mailing list which I’ll end up using at the end of it all if I can’t attach an e-pub file of some sort.

Other rewards of a physical nature are sent to addresses which you can collect via the above-mentioned finalized mailing list they suggest doing shortly before you’re ready to send everything out.

Except for international patrons, shipping appears to be assumed to be included in the patronage reward level, so bear that in mind when setting reward levels.

Are there deadlines for writing/producing these?

Only those you set yourself. Probably adding an extra month to any deadline you think you might actually make is smart. She said, having not done that. :)