Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Time and Money, thoughts on crowdfunding and the growing pile of projects on my desk
I have been remarkably fortunate with the success of my crowdfunding efforts. Thanks to my wonderful supports on KickStarter, I've been able to release four books (so far) and my fifth book (Whispers of Persephone) has reached 72% of its funding goal in just the first four days of its campaign. Things are going well, so why are projects piling up on my desk?
The answer lies in the age old relationship between time and money.
While I make time to write in my evenings, money to pay for art is slow in coming. It takes time to lead into a crowdfunding campaign, more time to make it through that campaign, then if it is successful it often takes as much as two weeks before you have your money in hand. Time ticks away, leaving you with ample time to write but without art. Once you have money with which to pay the artist, you wait for the art to be completed. Time ticks away a bit more. Assuming that your artists meet deadlines (and I am very fortunate in that the artists I contract with do), you spend time formatting the art into your book, correcting any problems with the text layout and putting the final polish on your book.
Lately my question has been, 'how do I accelerate the funding cycle so I can keep the art coming in steadily and produce more books?'. I look at the pile of projects I want to produce, the books waiting in various stages from outlined to 'just needs art', and I ponder how to get speed things up.
Whether or not you agree with old saying that 'time is money', it is a fact that if you are like me and lack the skill/talent to create professional grade visual art, then you need money to pay artists to create that content for you. You'll need time for them to create in, and you'll want that time spent in parallel with any remaining writing/development you are completing. This will allow you to get the book/product out to the audience expediently.
What has and hasn't worked:
I've had success using KickStarter and no success on other crowdfunding platforms (GoFundMe, Indiegogo and Patreon). As I look back I realize that I didn't really give Patreon a chance. I needed to provide more value for patrons, should have kept the page up and running, and really should have done more research before my first attempt at using the site. My Indiegogo and GoFundMe campaigns simply didn't get the attention that my Kickstarter campaigns have garnered.
Insanity or insight?
*Edit* Following the release of this entry, I received an invitation to become a creator on KickStarter's "Drip" platform. After reviewing the data available on that platform, I've decided to launch my monthly subscriptions on Drip. I'll be posting a new entry concerning my thoughts on Drip and pointing out some other creators who are already there.*
What is the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Or so the common wisdom would have. So I have been taking a look at where I've failed in the past. How do I utilize sites like Indiegogo, GoFundMe and Patreon to enhance my crowdfunding efforts? These are big questions and I'm still working on some of the answers.
I do have an idea on how I can use Patreon to some effect. Whether or not it will work, remains to be seen. As this blog is all about my adventures in game design, writing and self-publishing I'll choose to look at this as yet another encounter along my journey. Time will tell if this was insightful, or insanity. See what I did there?
Patreon, as I understand it, is premised upon people providing some monetary support that you then use to fund your creations. While I understand that there are people who earn their primary income on Patreon, I am convinced that number is very small percentage of the overall Patreon creator population. Fortunately, my goal isn't to earn a primary income, but to help fund art for my books. So my page needs to be set up with this in mind.
Monthly subscription options, are one of the patronage types available. As I have a monthly product I want to release anyway this is something I'm going to offer for patrons. Patrons should receive good value for their support (see any of my prior posts about providing the best effort for your audience). So, I want to provide something that is unique for those patrons that is manageable on a recurring basis. Fortunately, I have something that fits the bill nicely. I've set up a total of three monthly subscriptions, ranging from $1 to $5 (with the $5 having a physical reward). These are to facilitate the monthly release, which will now be done exclusively through Patreon, and it looks like it will be easier to fulfill this through Patreon anyway.
One time payments are of particular interest for directly funding future products. With this, I conceive of a tier where I would transmit a Print on Demand code as well as PDF for those patrons who pledge that tier (Pledge? I wonder if that is correct terminology. Donate?... please comment below which you think is more appropriate). In this way it acts just like a KickStarter Tier. I do have one bit of concern, which is that this may migrate many of my KickStarter to Patreon. I happen to really like KickStarter, as it has fantastic RPG and comic book communities. The potential advantage is that I can deliver these rewards upon release of the title, while earning revenue to pay for art ahead of time.
Content for the Patreon needs to be more than just product in order to deliver real value (my opinion, feel free to disagree). So I will be posting exclusive behind the scenes commentary on development, project progress, triumphs and setbacks. It will be more detailed than what I manage to squeeze in here, more raw in many ways. Who knows, maybe it will help patrons develop their own content. That would be amazingly cool!
That's the theory anyway. Will it work? I don't know, but I'm certain it will be exciting.
I want to thank you all for joining me on my adventure. I hope that this blog will help you along in your own creations, and that you can avoid mistakes I've made.
Presently Whispers of Persephone is live on KickStarter and doing very well, but it could use some help to reach its goals. Please do check it out (link below) support it if you can and please do share it with others. Thank you!