Becka Sutton, author of the web series, Dragon Wars, and The Haventon Chronicles, has stopped in at Cheapass Fiction as part of her blog tour for Land of Myth, Book One of the Dragon Wars saga, now available in ebook and paperback formats. She’s already covered dragon languages, world building, and dragon attack survival tips, so here Becka’s talking about her experiences with crowdfunding.
So without further ado I’ll hand you over to Becka for……
We hear so much about the amazing successes on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo that I thought it might be interesting to talk about my merely adequate success by way of contrast as it highlights the most important thing about crowdfunding.
You to have a crowd.
You can have all the donate or flattr button you want, you can set up campaigns on IndieGoGo or Kickstarter but if you don’t have a crowd to click the buttons or contribute to the campaigns you’ll be shouting into an echo chamber.
For donation and flattr buttons this is a minimal problem. You can put them up and then build your crowd since they have an indefinite duration and you can gradually pick up momentum. You still have to build your crowd but you don’t need to start with one.
Using the crowdfunding platforms like IndieGoGo and Kickstarter is different – you need at least a small crowd to start with and the more enthusiastic the better. In fact, unless your crowd is really large I’d say enthusiasm trumps size in most ways.
But we’re not here to talk generic advice. We’re here to talk about my IndieGoGo experience.
I chose IndieGoGo because I live in the UK and can therefore not use Kickstarter. There were other similar platforms available to me, crowdfunder.co.uk and Please Fund Me for example, but I judged that IndieGoGo’s higher profile would encourage backers where having to join an unknown platform might not. Plus, IndieGoGo was the only one that was not “All or Nothing” which was attractive because I was aware my crowd was small and I was not confident of reaching my goal. I now know that if I could have used Kickstarter, I probably would have reached my goal and therefore paid less fees but only because Kickstarter’s minimum is lower and I only needed around $300 or so for the Land of Myth Campaign. On IndieGoGo, the minimum target was $500 and my crowd did not quite have the legs to reach that.
Anyway, I’m not the type to jump into things without looking into it, so I researched as much as possible what successful campaigns had in common. I made a little video of me explaining why I wanted backing, I thought up some perks, I set the target as low as possible to make reaching it more likely and went for flexible funding. Then on the day I launched I shouted all over and got a few of my crowd in to back me. So it got off to a reasonable start but after that it got really slow. In the end I got $285 from the campaign (minus fees) and another $30ish via paypal from someone who missed the campaign end. In the end all of the backers were friends or fans (my crowd) the campaign did not rise fast enough to make the front page and attract newcomers and this is what often separates success from failure. Which of course is not their fault – people give money when they have it and not when they don’t. I do the same so I have no issues with that.
Still, I count my campaign as a success because the amount raised was sufficient to cover the perks, copyedit, cover art, internal layout, and blurb doctoring I had done for Land of Myth. This meant the book has broken even before any sales (and I’ve had a few) – which is kind of awesome and relieves a lot of the stress of self-publishing.
The downside is that I now know I need a bigger crowd if I want to do a larger campaign, and I really want to do a larger campaign for Haventon Born (The Haventon Chronicles #1) as it needs more work (read: I want to get a developmental edit not just a copy edit for it) to be ready to be a great book in my estimation. More people requires marketing and marketing myself is one thing I really haven’t cracked yet.
So the best advice I can give anyone who’s thinking of using one of the crowdfunding platforms is to be realistic with themselves. There are three questions that you need to answer before starting:
1. What is the absolute minimum I can do this project for (allow for the fees and paying for the perks in this figure)? (That should be your target)
2. How big is my crowd and how much are they really likely to contribute? (Can I make my target?)
3. If there is a shortfall between 2 and 1 how can I either grow my crowd or cover it myself?
If you can’t make the maths add up on this part then you need to go back to the drawing board. For Haventon, I’m back at the drawing board stage trying to find a way to make the project cheaper without cutting corners or a way to reach more people. I’m confident of solving the problem by the time the campaign in imminent as it’s a few months off yet.
Anyway I hope you’ve found this brief overview of my crowdfunding experience interesting.