With the conclusion of my second crowdfunding campaign, it’s time for some quick evaluation of lessons learned. Learning from everything, successes and failures, is how one gets better at anything, after all.
So, let’s look at what went right with the A Fiery Reckoning campaign first. Most obvious positives are the fact that I ended up with both more total funds earned and total backers than the previous campaign, with a fairly decent retention rate of previous backers. Additionally, I feel like I did a better job getting the word out, between social media sharing, and podcast/stream appearances. It wasn’t a huge jump forward in terms of getting my name out to where it’ll be more widely recognized, but it’s definitely progress. Similarly, now that I’ve run two campaigns, and, once this is out, will have gotten the books out on time again, I make a statement that I get the work done, and the product out, as promised. Lastly, for reasons I can’t quite explain with any degree of certainty, my Amazon sales noticeably went up during the campaign period. It could have been due to interest in the series organically generated by the campaign, but could also simply have been because of me just talking about the series more online. All things considered, this was a step forward.
Of course, I can’t call it a complete success either, as I didn’t hit my total goal again, and while I did raise more, the goal was higher by almost double.
So, time to take a look at some potential mistakes made this time; hopefully this will be as helpful for anyone else considering running even somewhat similar crowdfunds in the future as I think it’ll be for me going forward.
One obvious mistake, in hindsight, was trying to fund two books at once. Considering my still fairly small online platform, doubling the goal amount so soon, even for twice the product, was probably a bit too ambitious a bit too soon. Going forward, at least for this series, it’ll just be single book crowdfunds unless something drastically changes between now and then.
Next, one mistake I’m realizing I made was trying to target a couple target groups that ended up largely being a waste of time and effort. It wasn’t a poor attempt, really, as the two primary ones here seemed like good choices in theory.
The first of these was disaffected Star Wars fans. In theory, this is the perfect group for me to target. The Galaxy Ascendant is action-packed space opera, and takes a fair amount of inspiration from good Star Wars. Additionally, the franchise’s many missteps lately had provided me with many great comparative marketing angles. On a separate note, fans’ dissatisfaction with Star Wars is arguably at an all time high, especially on my side of the political aisle, with the whole Fandom Menace group, which includes a number of people with large platforms. However, that approach proved less than successful. Based on what I’ve seen, and an apparent disinterest by anyone with a big platform to talk about any alternatives to Disney Star Wars, preferring to continue milking the “Star Wars sucks now” line for Youtube money. Additionally, the simple fans also seem incapable, by and large, of thinking about any Star Wars alternative. I suppose it’s more the style of the internet to whine than actually try something new, and actually enact change in the culture.
This isn’t universal, of course, but it has been a clear trend, and while my books will obviously remain a superior alternative to what is being put out in the Star Wars franchise, I will likely be spending less time in the future marketing it that way, as Star Wars fans seem to by and large be a waste of my time.
I have similar feelings regarding (English-speaking) Jewish SFF fans. It didn’t feel particularly naïve for me to hope that an orthodox Jewish author, writing in Israel and in the IDF, would generate some interest within the community (beyond people I already knew.) However, that does not seem to have happened in the slightest, and I don’t think I’ve generated any sales from sharing my stuff in a particularly active online group that falls into this category. I can really only speculate as to why, but seeing as most of the chatter in the group is about Pokémon, Harry Potter, Doctor Who, and Star Wars, my guess is that a lot of it comes down to normie tunnel vision on mostly big franchises. I’ll probably continue with some low effort promotions there in the future, but it’s unfortunately clear that it’s not an audience worth courting at this time. Oh well.
I’ve seen much more success making inroads into fan communities of other indie military sci-fi/space opera franchises, and I think that’s where my time will be better spent going forward.
So the TL;DR version is that trying to get (a significant number of) normies to turn away from their nostalgia franchises, no matter how terrible they’d become, is really not worth the effort. Find the groups of people who actually want to see something new, who just want great projects in the genre you write in—as opposed to more of the same, or who harbor unrealistic dreams of “saving” franchises over which they have no control.
Of course, there is always going to be an asterisk in any attempt to judge the performance of Galaxy Ascendant series crowdfunds, as I didn’t start running crowdfunds until book 3. I don’t know if there is anywhere where I can find the numbers, but I’d be willing to bet that things go better when you start crowdfunding with the first book(s) in a series. I suppose I’ll find out in 2020, once Galaxy Ascendant 7 is out and I start marketing a new project!
I’m currently running a follow-up campaign over on kickstarter, both to try & raise more funds toward the books and to test out the platform, so if you missed the indiegogo, you can still help out over there! All of the most fun high level tiers are avaiable, and unlike indiegogo, kickstarter is all or nothing, so any help is greatly appreciated!
Overall though, considering my current life situation, things are moving in a positive direction, the books will be coming out very soon, G-d willing, and there’s more awesome stuff coming both later this year and in 2020!