Monday, March 18, 2013

That is why you fail

The explosive success  of the Veronica Mars Kickstarter campaign was caused muttering in the depths.

If you want to read someone's opinion about the mutterings, read Chuck Wendig who covers it quite effectively, if crudely. (Chuck has a potty mouth pen so if you're offended by that sort of thing, best not read it.)

But I'm not going to talk about that.

I'm going to discuss success instead, which might seem like a strange thing to do when our Kickstarter campaign (with an £85K goal) failed so miserably. However that's fine because, in the crowdfunding world, when projects fail they fail badly. It's the nature of things.

So why do some big projects succeed so easily and others fail? It's the same reason that studio execs bet on sequels, prequels and adaptations: Pre-awareness. And if anything the crowdfunding experience reinforces the idea that their approach is the right one.

It has been evidenced again and again that big campaigns require pre-awareness: the market is already there. Veronica Mars, Elite:Dangerous, Amanda Palmer, and the rest. People knew what they were, wanted it and did not require educating.

The only apparent exception I know of is the Mary Shelley/Ada Lovelace detective agency "Wollstonecraft" book. The author (a screenwriter, as it happens) wanted $4K and got nearly $92K. But even here there was pre-awareness of the individual elements (Mary Shelley, Ada Lovelace, kid detectives, Victoriana [well Georgiana really since it's 1826]) and the beautiful image that tied it together perfectly here.

It doesn't matter how big or how small the campaign. What matters is whether enough people understand what you're doing - and want to help - to provide the funds. And if it seems like I'm stating the obvious, well, yes, but it's an obvious that we and many other people manage to miss.

We made the mistake of going too big before anyone knew who we were, and what we were trying to achieve was simply too much to take in and easily comprehend. You might ask why we went early if we knew all this - and that would be a fair question. Quite simply, despite all the research we did (and believe me we researched a lot) this simple fact did not come up. Until a week after we started and examples, and articles about it flooded in.

We could have stopped but decided to continue since there was always the chance we might find the right wind and sail to victory. We worked hard on spreading the word - even had someone dedicated to the task - constantly finding new places to talk about what we were doing. But you can't rely on luck.

So we have a new plan - build the pre-awareness and then do it again.

What's on the turntable? "What goes up, must come down" by The Alan Parsons Project from "Pyramid"

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