I failed Kickstarter and I’m devastated because I wanted to succeed. I didn’t simply want the money, I desired dozens – ney – hundreds of people to be part of the Beyond Parallel journey. I failed Kickstarter, though. I wasn’t one of those screaming success stories and I didn’t fail by a few. I failed spectacularly, but would you like to know something? I’m still here!
- I did not die
- The world didn’t end
- I’m still a writer filled with hope and ambition
Failing hurts, but as I recently discussed in one of my Weekly Newsletters (Sign Up Here), Failing Does NOT Make You a Failure.
What I’ve Learned From Kickstarter Failure
I spent weeks planning the Beyond Parallel Kickstarter Campaign: plotting each reward and section, shooting and editing the video, contacting folk and asking questions and favours, imagining the good and bad, spending large chunks of time and effort on every single detail…
I knew from the very beginning that I could fail – in fact the odds were stacked against me because raising nearly £3,000 is no easy task for a writer still developing his platform and building a readership. I decided to try though, and I’m glad I did because many lessons were learned. Here are three of them:
1: You Learn About People
I may have failed Kickstarter, but I like to think I didn’t fail friends and family, and boy did I learn a lot about those around me. Certain pledgers are those I’ve not spoken to for years - not through bad blood or argument, simply through drifting away. I’m amazed by some of the support and I won’t forget any time soon.
On the flip side you don’t receive the help and support from some you assume you might. I’ve not fallen out with these people or hold any untoward feelings, but when you run a campaign like this (or do anything a little risky – write a book, start a business, travel the world) you discover A LOT about A LOT.
You also uncover those readers, friends, strangers… who go above and beyond to help in numerous ways. They Tweet and Share and send messages of support, and yes, they spend money, money they may not have. My advice is to take note of these people and never forget them. You are in their debt and it makes this whole process incredible.
2: You Cannot Rely on Kickstarter
I knew I’d never be able to raise the full £2,743 through friends and family alone. I’m not that popular
I needed the Kickstarter Platform to send strangers my way. This didn’t happen because only a few people pledged organically through the Kickstarter Platform (with no help from me). My suspicions are either:
- The Campaign wasn’t good enough
- Fiction on Kickstarter isn’t a popular subject
The Campaign could be improved, this I have no doubt, but my suspicions are that Fiction on Kickstarter isn’t particularly popular. Maybe we need a ‘Big-Time’ author to bring intrigue, or maybe other platforms such as Indiegogo are better suited for writers. The truth is I don’t know, but hope to find out.
I plan to ask a few successful and unsuccessful Kickstarter Writers about their experiences. Watch this space…
3: Transparency Creates a Humbling Experience
A site like Kickstarter provides a great deal of transparency. I could have crowdfunded this campaign on my own back by setting up a Paypal account and asking for donations, but the numbers could be fudged, I could lie about how many people have pledged, and how many limited edition Hardcovers are left. OR, I could simply avoid sharing the bad and focus only on the good.
Kickstarter doesn’t allow this. It’s transparent and the WHOLE story is available for anyone who cares to look. You know who’s pledged, how many books are left, and how successful the campaign is. There’s no hiding, and would you like to know something? It’s a humbling experience!
I was out in the open for 30 days, asking for money and directing people to a page that demonstrated my struggles. I found this hard. I think most people find this hard. But guess what… I’m still here… I’m still alive… The world didn’t dissolve around me.
A Lifetime Of Lessons
I learned many other lessons: how to write better copy, what makes a great video, what messages do and don’t work - but these are the three I’m focussing on. This post isn’t designed to shy you away from Kickstarter or other Crowdfunding Platforms. I actually encourage you to consider the possibilities NOW.
The journey you’re on is mysterious and there’s much to learn – no matter how successful and experienced you are. Crowdfunding is hard and scary and takes a great deal, and if you fail it hurts… A LOT… but you don’t die. It doesn’t make you a failure and it doesn’t prevent you from moving forward with your head held high.
You learn about yourself and those around you, about those who care to unfathomable extents, about the process and what you’re good at what you’re not, and about what it means to be out in the open for the whole world to dissect.
I was recently at a BBQ and spoke to a lovely young lady about many things, one of the subjects being Julien Smith’s book, The Flinch. She told me about facing fear and pushing forward. Everyone has individual fears, but I think most share the fear of failing, least of all failing in front of a huge crowd.
I failed Kickstarter in front of the world. It hurt but I’m still here, fighting and ready for the next step
Turndog – @turndog_million