About a week ago, I had the pleasure of announcing the advent of Stone Box Press, a new e-publishing venture that I’m running jointly with my business partner, Monte Cook. Our first book is a non-fiction book co-written by the two of us called Kicking It: Successful Crowdfunding.
When the book was announced we had a lot of great, positive responses from people in all realms of the crowdfunding world. Backers who’d watched our Kickstarter projects were excited to hear more about how we’d been successful. Artists and authors who were getting ready to kick off their own campaigns said they found the book helpful.
And that, truly, is why we decided to write the book — we worked so hard before we even launched our Kickstarters, researching other Kickstarters to see what made them wild successes or absolute failures. And even in the midst of our campaigns (which Monte and I happened to run at the same time), we often had conversations about what we wished we knew before we started, or about things we learned along the way that no one had told us. We changed strategies mid-stream, tried to play a lot of catchup with things like stretch goals when our campaigns took off beyond our wildest imaginings, and I, for one, learned more in six weeks than I’d learned in a year of watching other crowdfunding campaigns.
When people starting coming to me and asking for advice on how to successfully crowdfund, I realized two things:
1. I didn’t have the time to answer everyone individually
2. I didn’t actually know yet what I’d learned, because everything had happened so fast and so on-the-fly, and I was so unprepared for most of it.
Which is when we came up with the idea for a book, a way to offer all we’d learned along the way and hopefully help people with great ideas get the funding that they dreamed of.
All of that being said, it’s funny to me that since the book has come out, there have been a lot of responses along the lines of, “Well, of course a Kickstarter succeeds when you’re famous. I want to see a Kickstarter book written by someone without a big name behind it.” (Note: Most of these comments are not directed at me — I’m hardly a big name. They’re directed at my co-author, Monte Cook. Who, granted, is a pretty big name in the gaming world.).
The logic seems to make sense, but it’s actually quite faulty. Let’s break it down a little:
1. We’ve seen “big names” fail at Kickstarter projects. This usually happens when the big name doesn’t know how to properly describe their project, set good backer rewards, or use their social network properly. For every Amanda Palmer, there’s a big name that has cancelled their project or failed to fund. You just don’t hear about them.
2. We’ve seen “no names” succeed hugely — so big that they’ve now made a name for themselves. This is especially true of artists, film makers and others who really know how to present their product and get people excited about the campaign. Or people who have a small and loyal fan base and wanted to rise to the next level.
3. Someone who is a big name typically becomes a big name by being successful (they’re usually not born with a huge social network and a famous moniker). How has someone become successful? They’ve: worked hard, treated people well, made a plan, stayed professional, created great products, kept their promises, offered good customer service, and learned their craft and the business. Well, guess what? Those skills are also the secret to running a successful crowdfunding campaign.
So if you say, “That book isn’t useful because it’s written by someone who was destined to succeed,” then you’re absolutely right.
But if you say, “That book isn’t useful because it’s written by someone who’s famous,” then you’re missing out on a great opportunity to learn.
Kiss kiss bang bang, s.