Recently, a friend, Darrell Drake, told me he was doing a Kickstarter for his new book. This had me curious. A Kickstarter I mostly associate with inventions and games. This will be his fourth book. So, I shot him a few questions to find out more about this.
Hey, Darrell, when you shared with our group of acquaintances you were funding your book via Kickstarter, I was curious. What factors made you decide to go the route of using Kickstarter for your newest book?
Evening, chum. Initially, A Star-Reckoner’s Lot was meant to be pitched to a literary agent—reluctantly so. The yoke of big publishers is something I’ve been ambivalent toward for some time now, but after all the time and effort I’d invested in the novel I wanted A Star-Reckoner’s Lot to succeed. So I’d made up my mind to suck it up and prepare a pitch. I have one around here somewhere. Odds are it isn’t a very good pitch. Not my strong suit. Fast forward a few months, and I’m strolling through Toronto’s High Park with an author and game designer friend of mine. He’s run several successful Kickstarter campaigns of his own, and he allays my fears. Suggests I give it a shot. The rest is historical fantasy.
So, you decided to go this route. Describe the process of putting this on Kickstarter.
E-mails. Your life is now e-mails. Organizing the logistics of a Kickstarter is a nightmare. E-mails about shipping—through several outlets. Contacting reward fulfillment firms. Working through all the possible rewards and methods of fulfilling them while trying to find something that’s financially viable. You never really consider the minutia of a Kickstarter until you’re the one getting a campaign together. Contract agreements, fonts, a song for your Kickstarter video, the press release, organizing events, correspondence with your stretch goals. Did I mention e-mails? It’s stressful not knowing whether a link in the chain won’t come through. Then, after all this, I realized my modest goal of $1,500 was completely bonkers. I’d hardly have enough to pay the setup fees with my printing press, much less hire the artist and editor.
All the gloom aside, it has given me the opportunity to work with people I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t went with Kickstarter. I mean, I have a guy who does Magic: the Gathering art as a stretch goal for an alternative cover. As an MTG fan, that’s a big deal for me. Fortunately, I began planning months in advance, so I had plenty of time to gather some talented individuals and get the logistics covered. I also benefited from the experiences of other authors who’ve went through Kickstarter.
What were your emotions like during these first steps and how have you handled those emotions?
What followed clicking that launch campaign button was a profound sense of relief. The months during which I planned the Kickstarter were incredibly stressful. The initial wave of support having passed, I found the campaign in trouble—I knew that the two highest periods of pledges typically fall within the beginning and the end of a campaign. Being met with such a lackluster start was disheartening—a gnarly blow to the gut. This only got worse when the community I’d been banking on didn’t respond as I’d hoped. Or at all, really. I already knew I didn’t have a large following. You need to be well-known, in a supportive community, or favored by Lady Luck to succeed. I’m still waiting for Lady Luck to blow on my dice. All that said, the campaign is at 20% with 18 days to go. I’m still doing everything I can to chase success. Sending e-mail after e-mail, calling in favors. Anything. Heck, I biked 45km today just to find a paper guillotine. I haven’t biked in at least five years.
As far as handling them is concerned . . . scotch.
Scotch is a great thing!
I find that success is generated via learning. What have you learned and what do you view as your successes and failures so far?
Other authors went a long way in helping me to prepare for this Kickstarter; their articles and answers to my questions were a real boon. I never really felt unprepared, and I think I did a fine job of putting it together. But I’ve failed miserably in generating substantial reach.
What would you do differently? Would you go the Kickstarter route again?
I should have spent a year or more establishing myself in relevant communities. Posting and sharing and participating. Although it’d honestly be disingenuous on my part. I’ve tried working toward that already, and visiting those communities goes a long way in leaving me depressed.
I don’t want to say never, but if this fails it’s unlikely that I use Kickstarter again. If I do, it’ll only be under the condition that I’m popular enough to know it’ll succeed.
Best of luck to you, Double D. I supported your Kickstarter, as I’ve enjoyed your previous books. Plus, it’s always nice to know a bit about the author.
Much appreciated! Your invitation to conduct this interview (and support besides) is a kindness not many have shown, so I meant it all the more when I say I’m grateful. Thanks for having me.
Darrell Drake is a fantasy author. His previous books, The Flameforged Saga series, are available on Amazon (that’s where I bought my copies via Kindle). He’s a fellow cat lover. His current book, A Star-Reckoner’s Lot, is still up on Kickstarter.