Well, it’s day 14 for my Kickstarter project for Sorry, Charlie. Seven backers have pledged a total of $160, which is 17% of my goal. And while I am very happy that anyone’s even looked at it, much less donated to the cause, the project is about $300 short from the midpoint goal.
Disheartening, but not overwhelming. I have a split personality when it comes to the backers. Part of me is very happy that only one name on the backer list is a friend. Why? Because that means that total strangers have looked at the project and decided it was cool enough to donate to. One person has even hit the $100 mark and gets to be a character in my next horror short called The Trolley. It’s a certain kind of validation when people who aren’t emotionally attached to you in some way decide to back something you’re doing. Sometimes friends and family feel like they have to smile and say nice things about what you’re doing even if it really sucks. Strangers however, will tell you it sucks.
The other part of me is a little irked, and for basically the same reason. Only one person I know has backed the project. One person. I’m not sure what that says, really. The people who normally feel obligated to put my stuff on their refrigerator door have inexplicably gone stealth on me.
I’ve listed some of my obstacles related to the project.
People don’t know – A lot of the people I talked to about my project had never heard of Kickstarter. This was weirder to me than it should have been. I made the mistake of thinking that just because I have known about Kickstarter for over a year now, that everyone else should know about it too. After all, I’m the guy who is usually last in line to pick up on Internet memes or the latest vernacular trends. I was still saying ‘Oh, snap’ up until about 6 months ago. So how could everyone else not have heard about Kickstarter? I think people were still trying to wrap their heads around the whole Kickstarter thing while I was droning on and on about the project. I have since opened with, “Have you heard of Kickstarter?” and progressed from there.
People don’t care – Some people have been very helpful. They let me post my bookmarks on their boards or set them on the counters next to the checkout. And there are some people like the lady at the library closest to our home. I go in and the lady at the front hands me over to another very professional-sounding, smiling face. I think, ‘awesome.’ I explain my project. She smiles and says to follow her. We move to the back of the library. I follow her into a small office in the back. There is no light in this office and I find myself looking around at my dark surroundings with slight apprehension as I move through the office. She opens another door at the back of the office and there is a corridor. There is no light here either, so she takes out her cell phone and uses the flashlight thingy on it. I start to speak, but before I can she reassures me, “Right this way.” She is still smiling. I follow. The hallway has no windows and as we turn a corner, I notice the ceiling is getting lower and lower as we move along. I am becoming uncomfortable. We turn another corner and there is a set of stairs leading down into darkness. I stop. I say, “I’m really in a hurry. I have to get my lunch’s haircut appointment,” which doesn’t make any sense, but I was nervous. She replies, still smiling, “Don’t be silly. Right this way,” and continues down the stairs. I turn around to leave, but then realize that the only light is headed down the stairs with her and the hallway behind me is getting darker. I move forward down the stairs. We descend two flights in silence. I am afraid to say anything. When we arrive at the bottom, we both have to push through some heavy, hanging plastic. Maybe they are renovating or something. We walk for a distance that seems like to me should take us directly underneath the grocery store that is across the street outside. As I am about to speak up again, we stop. “Right here, sweetie,” she says and hands me a sledgehammer, her light shining bright against a concrete wall. I am hesitant, but have no other alternative. I pick it up and begin swinging; closing my eyes each time the iron connects with the concrete, little specks of shrapnel filling the dark corridor. In a few minutes, there is a small hole in the blocks. She motions for me to stick my head inside the hole, which I finally do. She leans the phone in and points it down. At the very bottom of the hole, next to the overturned, exoskeleton of a roach, is a small tin container that holds a few pens with business names on them and a couple of library sanctioned bookmarks. She smiles and says, “You can place your bookmarks here.” I slide my arm down into the hole and drop a couple of my bookmarks in the tin. I am sweaty from the manual labor. My face covered in a white dust. I resemble the ghost of a miner. I am ready to go now, but she points at the hole in the wall and says, “Well, cover it up.” Okay, this isn’t exactly how it happened. But this lady and a few others directed me to put my bookmarks in places that no one would ever, ever see. So really, what’s the difference? Some people just don’t care, and there’s really nothing you can do about that.
People are afraid – One guy handed me two bucks while I was out proselytizing the Gospel of Sorry, Charlie. He didn’t like online transactions. Don’t get me wrong. I’m very thankful for those two dollars. But he represents another layer of possible donations that are buried under a fear of financial transactions over the Internet. My mom said the same thing when I told her. “So, I have to do it online? I have to put all my card and financial information online?” Well, yes. I’m sure the people at Kickstarter don’t want thousands of checks mailed to them each day. And the more I think about it, the more I wonder, even in this day and age of tech savvy consumers, if the whole process of having to set up a Kickstarter account and link it to your Amazon account has put a lot of people off. Older people who might give, but who aren’t really sure how all that Internet stuff works. And then there’s a lot of younger people who would drop you a dime, but don’t have an online account. But what would be a feasible alternative? I’m not sure there is one.
I don’t have a website for my book . . . yet – I know. Very stupid. Should have done that before I even launched my book. Agreed. But I didn’t have a lot of time, and honestly, if I would have waited until my site was up to launch my book, or this Kickstarter campaign, I would have never done either. Sometimes you wait yourself out of ever doing anything. I felt like I had to do something, or the moment would slip away and never happen. So I did. But having a website is very important for a number of reasons. I’m still working on it.
I don’t have a social base built up – From everything I’ve read, this was the number one thing that propelled a lot of projects far beyond their original goal. They already had a relationship with readers, fans, or clients. Some had thousands on mailing lists or following their blogs. When I started the Sorry, Charlie Kickstarter project, I had around 30 followers for my blog. And I’ve never been one of those people with 500 friends on Facebook. More like 30. And Twitter? An embarrassing 5. I know how to grow these numbers on Facebook and WordPress, and I’m doing that daily, although it may be way too late to help this project. But I still have no idea how to get followers on Twitter. None. And I’m long-winded. How would I condense this short story of an article into 140 characters? I guess I could link to it. For my 5 followers.
Blogging more – I have been visiting other blogs and trying to increase my followers. It is very time consuming. And I don’t want to do what I call spam-following or spam-liking. You visit 1000 pages a day and like everything or follow everything, all in hopes that people will do the same for you. You might get 5,000 followers that way, but none of them will be interested in what you are saying. It’s a meaningless swap of ‘I’ll pretend to like you if you pretend to like me.’ Each blogger never again reading what the other puts out. I’m very particular about who I follow and why. If I follow you, I am generally interested in what you are doing. And finding blogs out there that are generally interesting takes surfing time. I’m doing better, but I have to allocate more time to connecting with other relevant blogs and people.
Niche blogging – My blog is a mix of rants, poetry, updates on my writing, projects, short fiction, and more rants. What it is not is a single resource for all things writing. I’m going to start doing more how to’s and exercises gleaned from books on writing. Exercises and resources. Things that can hopefully inspire action in other writers. And I may change the theme of my WordPress blog. Something with a menu that will clearly separate poetry from book promotion.
Bookmarks – I did design some bookmarks. My book cover is at the top, followed by where you can buy the book, and ending with a note to check out my Kickstarter project and the QR code that can take them to the Kickstarter project page. It looks decent. I’ve given away 250. I don’t know if it’s helped at all. Maybe. Maybe not. I probably need to give away more like 2,000. But color copies cost money. And the heavy-weight, gloss paper cost money too. With the slight margin I’ve given myself on the project, I’m liable to go in the hole as it is the next time I spend $30 on guerilla marketing. I could have also listed some of the rewards for different pledge levels on the back of the bookmarks. People like rewards.
Social – I did the initial spamming of friends, family, and acquaintances. And promised not to bother them again. I will though. I put a link at the end of my email signature that links to my project page. And I have started contacting online bloggers who review books and have thousands of hits on their blogs.
In summary, I am doing things post-launch to get the project rolling, but I was not as nearly prepared as I thought I was going into it. Even for the small projects category. Wish me luck and check out the project if you have a second.