Of Shoggoths And Stretch Goals
The first week of my Kickstarter campaign for The Littlest Shoggoth went well . . . quite well, actually (though I’m having a difficult time figuring out how the week passed that quickly). I started the week with a stated goal of raising $5,000 over the course of 35 days, and I end the week with over $4,900 already pledged. Yes, we’re over 95% of the way to the initial funding goal.
Of course, if you read the posts I made back in August giving my musings on how one ought to do a Kickstarter, you’ll know that $5k was never my ultimate goal—it was my minimum level goal. (If you go back and read that article you’ll also see that I picked some numbers out of thin air quite accurately . . . and others less so.) I’d hoped to get to the $5k mark by the middle of the drive, so that there was time to push some stretch goals, and now . . . well, I’m ahead of the game. But that actually kind of ups the ante. You’d think that having more time would be a huge bonus when doing fund raising like this, but it’s not always the case.
Before I go any further, I want to be clear that I am NOT complaining. I am INCREDIBLY lucky and blessed to have done this well on this Kickstarter in such a short period of time, and I am in no way being dismissive of that. What follows is a walk through the thought process I have to indulge if I’m going to reach beyond my initial goals and try to accomplish something extraordinary with this drive. I just want to be clear that making that attempt and thinking along those lines does NOT mean that I’m feeling thankless for or denigrating the success and wonderful support I’ve already had.
Just wanted to be clear on that. Anyway . . . .
If The Littlest Shoggoth Kickstarter campaign had gone absolutely bananas (raising, say, 2 or 3 times the target goal during the first week), then that would be one thing, but it’s merely done very well—raising almost its target goal on one stellar day of sales (Day 1) and a solid 6 other days of a few hundred dollars a piece.
That’s an awkward place to be because the fans can be complacent—certain that the drive will fund and they’ll get their books—and they aren’t jazzed by a massive groundswell of support that seems to be leading to a wild, unexpected level of super-stretch-goals. And without that buzz, they are less likely to get out there and evangelize for the campaign, thus bringing in more supporters. Because of this, the middle weeks of many Kickstarter campaigns tend, from everything I’ve ever heard or observed, to be slow—the fund raising hits the doldrums, and it’s not until the end seems to be looming that people begin to get excited and things start moving quickly again.
There’s nothing wrong with that.
I mean, I’m going to get The Littlest Shoggoth back in print, pretty much for certain. But there are so many MORE things I’d LIKE to do, more goals I’d like to reach. The first three stretch goals are as follows:
$7,500 — If the drive reaches this level, I’ll produce a special holiday post card and send it to all backers at the $25 level and above.
$10,000 — If the drive reaches this level, the book will be produced in color, and the size of the pages will be increased to 6″ x 9″.
$13,000 — If the drive reaches this level, the book will be produced in hardcover.
That all is good. If nothing changes about the drive, if we don’t pick up any kind of crazy momentum, suffer through the doldrums, and have a strong finish, chances are that we’ll be able to hit that $13k level just around the end of the drive.
But I’ve got some other goals—things I hinted about in the pitch video. I’d like to do an audio-book version . . . pay to have a professional voice actor (and preferably one that has at least a bit of geek culture name recognition) read the story. But doing that would require an additional $7k-$10k . . . which means the drive would need to hit the $20k level. In order to do THAT, the drive cannot slip into the typical doldrums—it can’t afford to have a fortnight of slow motion progress. There just won’t be enough time or momentum at the end to hit that large extended goal.
So I have to find a way to avoid the doldrums. But how?
PUBLIC RELATIONS: I’m doing my best to get myself out in the public eye for any reason. If I can get folks’ attention, I can get a chance to mention this fund drive. I’ve already seen it work. So far this week I’ve done one podcast, one online seminar, and given one interview for a news article. Through mentions by friends and fans, the fact that the Kickstarter exists has been covered by a handful of sci-fi and fantasy news and fandom sites. Every time one of those things goes public, I see a notable uptick in pledges. Even if it’s only a half-dozen, they are people who might never have heard of the campaign otherwise, and now they’ll tell their friends about it.
WORD OF MOUTH: The last sentence above is what I’m talking about. Friends telling friends. Social networks causing an electronic ripple. That’s the most powerful promotional tool I’ve got. I’ve seen where sending an email to old college and high school friends whom I KNOW have zero interest in Lovecraftian parody has paid off because, despite their own indifference, they have current friends and colleagues who like this “weird stuff.” And once they pass the information along, it spreads throughout a whole new social group of like-minded fans—people who would NEVER have connected to me on their own.
Seriously, if there’s one subliminal message I could plant in the brains of everyone on my contact list, it would be to make a small, unobtrusive post (including a link to the Kickstarter page) on Facebook, Twitter, or their blogs two times each week during the course of this fund drive. The amount of good that would do is, from my perspective, immeasurable.
ACTUAL ADVERTISING: I’m not always the biggest fan of traditional advertising, particularly for niche products like The Littlest Shoggoth. We geeks are fairly inured to standard advertising, and it’s relatively expensive to get a message in front of enough eyeballs to make a numerical difference. But in this instance, the combination of the off-beat idea, the appropriate holiday theme, and the fact that we’re about to hit the busiest shopping time of the year mix to make me a little more gung-ho about the potential.
Over the next week or two (just as the drive is getting ready to hit the usual time of doldrums), I’m going to buy a bit of online banner advertising spots. I’m going to hope to try to use the confluence of events I described above to pull people in and counteract the slowdown that otherwise would likely settle in.
Of course, I’m going to be fairly circumspect about how much I spend in this regard. I need to buy enough to prime the pump, but not so much that it eats into the revenue that it generates.
As I said, it’s a tricky balance. And all in an effort to take a really great first week and springboard it into a whole month of solid fund raising. If I can do that, you’re going to see some very interesting shoggoth-related projects being released in 2013.
Whatever happens, though, I want to reiterate that as this week draws to a close I feel truly blessed, and luckier than I deserve. And, as it turns out, this is a week when I’m going to be especially mindful of that.