Kickstarter Experiences??

PG put up a post yesterday about Kris Rusche’s analysis and suggestions for indie authors using Kickstarter.

If any visitors have their own Kickstarter thoughts or stories to share or can point to accounts written by other indie authors about Kickstarter, feel free to share them in the comments to this post or send them to PG via the Contact link on TPV.

15 thoughts on “Kickstarter Experiences??”

  1. Continuing my comment on the earlier KKR post here, I’ve now pledged to three Fiction Kickstarter projects: one that will definitely NOT meet its goal, one fantasy one that will, and that Brandon Sanderson “The Way of Kings” one that has ALREADY raised $5.8 million at the time of this writing (and is WAY over pledged).

    I’m doing this to see what a Pledger sees. And the cost to acquire this knowledge is incredibly cheap, i.e. in my case, $1 per. It’s called a “Pledge without a reward.” I’ve already received some Kickstarter emails but I’m waiting to see what sorts of communications the authors send, both successful and unsuccessful ones.

    Should be interesting. I had never really considered Kickstarter for my Indie fiction, but reading that KKR post and seeing what Sanderson is doing has got this author’s wheels turning.

    P.S. Here’s that actual Brandon Sanderson project for checking out:

    • FYI: here’s what I got back from KS on that Sanderson pledge…

      What’s next
      1. If The Way of Kings 10th Anniversary Leatherbound Edition reaches its funding goal [it already has], your card will be charged $1.00 on August 7, 2020 at 5:05 pm.
      2. Keep an eye on your inbox. The creator will keep you posted about progress, struggles, wins, and setbacks as they work to make their project come to life.
      3. The creator will reach out when your reward is ready. They might contact you before that if they need your mailing address or other necessary details.

  2. Ah, Kickstarter. I’m watching them to see how they plan on wooing creators now that they’ve gotten rid of their WrongThink Czarina, Camilla Zhang. They lost a lot of money because of her practice of gatekeeping projects off of Kickstarter. Todd MacFarlane, for example, is using KS to fund a new version of a Spawn figurine / toy. The Cancel Culture mentality would have put him in the “wrong” side of the czarina, but she’s gone now. I hope it’s a sign of things to come.

    On to practical matters: I saw in the last thread, Dave wondered about the price point of Sanderson’s leatherbound books. Sanderson’s $200 special edition makes sense for what the product is, but if it were a regular book it would cost 10% of that price, give or take. I’ve looked at a few projects on IndieGoGo, a competitor of KickStarter. IGG doesn’t gatekeep, and allows creators to keep more of the money; they. Graphic novelists usually ask for $15 – $25 for the paperback versions, and closer to $50 for hardcover.

    A few months ago I backed a graphic novel on IndieGoGo, partly out of curiosity. The writer is a young YouTube vlogger who loves “Dune,” which is a favorite of mine. He’s never crowdfunded or put out a graphic novel before, but I noticed he’s teamed up with other people who have, so we’ll see. He’s definitely met his funding goal! The story sounds interesting enough, but what I’m mainly interested in seeing what pitfalls he might experience, or avoid. He sends updates via IndieGoGo, and he may post more details on his YT channel.

    But — the YouTube vlogger factor, and MacFarlane’s and Sanderson’s notoriety, underscores to me that I’ve never seen successful crowdfunding campaigns from creators who don’t already have a following to advertise to. The successful crowdfunded video games I know of were done by companies that already existed. Obsidian Entertainment crowdfunded their “Pillar’s of Eternity” games, but they were already known for Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2, Neverwinter Nights 2, Fallout: New Vegas, etc.

    For writers, though, assuming you meet the “existing fanbase” requirement, crowdfunding a short run print makes sense. I’ve seen two printers who specifically say they help out with campaigns for novels and graphic novels, but I haven’t probed deeply into them. They help with variant covers / editions, etc. Right off the bat, though, short run printing is cheaper per book compared to POD, so you don’t have to charge as much for each copy.

    One of the two, PrintNinja, has a handy price quote tool so you can immediately see what I’m talking about in terms of price. However, they print in China, which may be a problem these days. I discovered them because they had a handy guide for dealing with CMYK vs. RGB, which could be useful even if you intend to use POD. PrintNinja will make dust jackets, slipcases, miniatures, the works.

    The other short-run printer [that I know of] that works with crowdfunding indies is in Minneapolis; they’re called Bookmobile ( Unlike PrintNinja you have to email them for a price quote, but they offer very nice options, too.

    Crowdfunding seems a viable idea to me; I didn’t realize it was considered “news.” Definitely something indies should look into.

    • Obsidian found a deeper “kickstarter” by “selling out” to Microsoft. 😀
      “Go, hire and code. We’ll pay the bills.”
      So far it’s going well.

      GROUNDED just launched to good reviews but it’s just a side project from a small team.

      Their main project just got its first teaser trailer last week.
      They’ve been working on a first person open world PILLARS RPG, called AVOWED. They’ve been working on it for two years and by the teaser trailer it looks like it’ll be out in 2022, a year maybe two before Elder Scrolls 6.
      Sounds promising and the teaser looks good, of course, but it’ll be a while…

      • I’m way behind on news of those projects. My governor may keep the lockdowns going, so if schools doesn’t open in the fall, I’ll get “Grounded” for my nephews. It looks like a fun way to keep their stir-crazy at bay. And preserve the sanity of my brother and his wife…

        I was wondering how the Obsidian-Microsoft deal was structured. I remember that PoE was copyrighted by “Dark Rock Industries” — *cough* Black Isle Studios *cough* — specifically because Feargus Urquhart was trying to make sure Obsidian never loses the IP rights. I would suppose that he’d structured the partnership so that if Microsoft pulls a Darth Vader and “alters the deal,” Obsidian can keep the IP. But I never found out for sure. It does look like the team-up is going well, though. Hopefully that trend continues.

        • It’s not a partnership.
          It was an outright purchase, like when MS bought Bungie back around 2000.

          When the Bungie staff wanted out, thinking the grass was greener with Activision, MS agreed to let them go…but kept the IP and any employees who chose to stay behind. (Of course, we’ve since seen how that turned out for Bungie. Not only did they divorce Activision and take the kid with them, they’ve enrolled DESTINY in MS GAME PASS along with all add-ins including the next one. The grass isn’t always greener.)

          As for OBSIDIAN, the way Urquhart put it, they were tired of trying to figure out where the next paycheck was coming from. Plus Bethesda stiffed them on NEW VEGAS. Plus they had tons of ideas for new IP and no money at a time when developing a new AAA game runs $50M+. Plus everybody got good money, maybe options. (Which the way MS is blooming under Nadella are better than cash.) As Michael Douglas said in ROMANCING THE STONE “I can be bought but I ain’t cheap.” They have operational autonomy but MS owns them. Along with a bunch of other studios they’ve bought over the last two years. 15 so far. And tbey’re not done. They’re doing due diligence on WARNER GAMES and several Polish Studios. The plan appears to be to have enough first party studios to release a new AAA first party game every other month. Different genres, of course. In between, they’ll do smaller games.

          It’s all about GAME PASS. 10 millions subscribers and counting.

          As for GROUNDED, the game’s biggest threat are spiders. It does come with a very fine-grained Arachnophia mode to control how spidery they look from realistic to floating white boxes.

          Also, it can be played solo but was designed for coop. If it has local coop it might work well for the kids.

          • Very interesting, I’d missed that detail about Obsidian being bought. I’m a PC gamer, but to me the benefit of XBOX was that being Microsoft owned, the games were more likely to get a PC port than a PlayStation game would.

            Polish game studios — Like CD Projekt Red? I looked up the company just now, since I noticed that “Grounded’s” trailer mentioned “Cyberpunk 2077.” Microsoft is trying to get that game for their Game Pass. I didn’t know Microsoft was doing game subscriptions; I’d heard about Sony or Steam offering them from an acquaintance who has since passed away. He was making a case for why game subscriptions worked for him, because I was wary of the concept. Columbia House 2.0, I do not want. I’ll investigate Game Pass.

            Thanks for the tip about Grounded.

            As Michael Douglas said in ROMANCING THE STONE “I can be bought but I ain’t cheap.”

            I love that! I did not remember that line, but it’s been ages since I’ve seen that movie. I don’t think they make movies like that anymore. That’s the sort of romantic comedy I like, where there’s action and adventure.

            • CD Project isn’t interested in being bought out but several other studios are. MS is still negotiating with them but its to get Cyberpunk into GAMEPASS early. One side effect for tgird party studios is that just like on Kindle Unlimited, discrete sales go *up* while games are on GAMEPASS and shortly after they leave.

              Game Pass is big and about to become inmense.
              Their cloud gaming project is going to be *free* to GamePass Ultimate subscribers and GAME PASS ULTIMATE allow play on consoles, PCs, or both.
              Also, their exclusives are also on STEAM.


              Some are on Nintendo and even Playstation.
              They’re not proud; they’ll take anybody’s money.

              Things of note:

              – XBOX SeriesX isn’t the only new console they’re bringing to market. It is simply the high end model to compete with Sony in the $400-500 range. (They’re playing chicken to see who sets a price first.) Sony’s problem is the SeriesX is 30% more powerful. It is also comparable to the top NVIDIA card out there today. It won’t last but with hardware Raytracing and SSD storage it is a giant leap forward. It will baseline at 4K/60fps but can theoretically do 4K;120 or 8k/30. Oh, and it will play (and enhance) XBOX ONE, 360, and original XBOX games. Most will play at higher resolution with AI improved HDR lighting and zero load screens if running from the SSD. HARDCORE.

              – Unannounced but an open secret is a second console code name Lockhart/ SeriesS, rumored to baseline at 1080p and 1440p. It do hardware ray tracing, run an SSD, and run *all* SeriesX games. Price is expected to be *half* the hardcre gamer model to compete with Nintendo and even the NVIDIA SHIELD.

              -MS officially discontinued the existing XBOX One X and One S digital-only but not the basic One S that can be had for as little as $150. They also announced that unlike Sony, all their new game this year and next, possibly through 22, will run of the XBOX ONE, PC, and the new boxes. As well as the cloud gaming service, which will run on Android, XBOXes, non-gaming PCs, and Apple.

              – Finally, they already have a program called XBOX ALL ACCESS that bundles the XBOX Hardware of your choice with two years of GAME PASS ULTIMATE to be paid in monthly installments. All games from MS GAMING STUDIOS, old and new, are on GAMEPASS from day 1 along with an assortment of rotating third party games, totalling around 200 games. This includes crown jewels like Halo, Gears, Forza, Outer Worlds, etc.

              You get the idea? A true NETFLIX for games.

              While the media and pundits fret over who will sell more high end consoles, Sony PS5 or SeriesX, MS is quietly enveloping the entire gaming world with their subscription service. $10 a month if you already have XBOX LIVE GOLD or $15 if not. And they won’t care if you have a new XBOX; high end, low end, old or new; gaming PC or laptop, android phone or tablet. Obviously, the graphics will vary but it will be the exact same game.

              GAME PASS has 10M subscribers right now. That’s $1.5B a year.
              And they just reported at 67% growth in hardware sales over last year, despite the new boxes coming in three months. They’re just getting started.

              Whole new ballgame.

  3. I have been using KS in exactly the way KKR seems to think it should be used… since 2012. Year after year, I’ve been running projects, and since that first one in 2012, I’ve run 17, all successful.I’ve raised capital for everything from audio editions to paperbacks to “advances” for books I was interested in writing but wasn’t sure there would be an audience for them.

    Using the success of a bestseller who built their career on tradpub, marketing a special edition of an existing book to existing fans, as a data point in how Kickstarter can revolutionize publishing for everyone… let’s say it feels fantastical to me, and I say this as someone who uses KS as part of her business plan, every year. $5 million projects for a household name is not a gamechanger, it’s an outlier.

    What it really looks like in the trenches? One to three microprojects a year, earning around $1500 to $2000, for as tight a prize line-up as you can brainstorm. Repeat. Do not pass $10K. Break out the champagne if you even hit half that.

    Has Kickstarter revolutionized my business model? Yes. Has it revolutionized my INCOME? Not a chance. It’s another source of capital, an extra income stream, and exactly as profitable as the number of internet-savvy superfans in your audience. Plan accordingly. :,

    Here’s my public profile if you want to see what “best practices” look like from someone who does this year in, year out, without a team to help handle fulfillment. Please, ask questions if you have them. I have in fact taught classes and seminars; I like passing on what I’ve learned. You’ll probably get more useful answers from me than from someone who thinks even a $500,000 KS is a Thing Normal People Can Aspire To.

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