Wednesday, December 05, 2012

In Which The Warlock Contemplates the Kickstarter...

Friends and neighbors, I'll make no bones about it.  This week has been an utter whirlwind, between Kickstarter publicity, setting up demos, virtual meet-ups and the like, on top of my normal schedule of gaming and teaching.

However, I'd like to use this space over the next few weeks to record some thoughts about my Kickstarter experience and how things have been rolling out over time.

At the time of writing this, I've just hit the 30% funded mark, thanks to two massively generous donations from ChaoticLauryn and CinciNick, as well as ChaoticFrederick.  For whatever reason, the 30% mark seems to be the "magic number" for determining the success or failure of a Kickstarter drive.  According to Kickstarter's own metrics--as cited here, by a successful film project--if a project manages to hit that 30% mark, it has a greater than 90% chance of being fully funded.  While the actual reasoning behind this seems to be somewhat nebulous, the fact remains that people seem to be more likely to shell out for a product that has a demonstrable chance of success.  As such, hitting 30% only 5 days in means that we have a real shot of making Cold Steel Wardens a reality!

All the KS stats you could possibly want!
I've got to say, the whole Kickstarter process is incredibly nerve-wracking.  The temptation to keep hitting F5 in the hopes that someone has pledged in the 5 minutes since the last time you've looked is overwhelming at times.  A mixed blessing among the Kickstarter furor has been KickTraq--an analytics site devoted to processing data specifically from Kickstarter.  While KickTraq has been invaluable in assessing the relative success and failure on any given day, it's hard to avoid "armchair quarterbacking" every moment of the drive.

Publicity has been a struggle, though I feel that I've been fairly successful in areas.  My attempts to contact actual comics news sites has been an utter failure, with not even so much as an email back from any site that I had contacted (of seven).  Facebook has been useful, and I've seen good metrics from the Blackfall Press Facebook page, but the limitations on page-based posting (at least on a free basis) makes it difficult to keep word spreading.

I've also encountered something of a conundrum, for which I have no easy answer.  I began this Kickstarter drive for three primary reasons:  art, layout, and an initial print run.  As is, I can afford none of these three.  The Kickstarter was designed specifically to pay for these items.  However, I'm finding that one of the biggest criticisms leveled at the KS is that the art doesn't look "professional" or "refined".  Well...that's probably because it's not.  It was done by a good friend, pro-bono, who's never had formal art training.  While I like the cover image we've been using--I think it fits the tone and genre of the comics I'm attempting to emulate--it's not professional by any stretch.

But, because of this, I find myself in a catch-22.  I ran the Kickstarter to afford high-quality, professional art...but I find myself in need of said art in order to succeed at the Kickstarter.  Established companies have a decided advantage in this regard, as they have both numerous freelance art contacts and, in many cases, in house artists.  But, if that's the case and they have that funding already available, why are they doing Kickstarter?  Frustration, thy name is crowd-funding!

That said, the drive goes on!  I'm the featured guest at the Beautiful Brains BackRoom Chat tomorrow evening (9pm EST), so if you'd like to chat with me,  you can catch me then!
If you haven't pledged, check out the Cold Steel Wardens Kickstarter page, and stay posted through the Blackfall Press Facebook page!

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