My campaign to raise £5,500 to fund a print run of The Oracles of Troy in paperback and hardback has, unfortunately, fallen short by around £1,000. This has left me with a couple of questions:
- What went wrong?
- What now?
Before I answer either question, I would first like to say a BIG THANK YOU to all those 90 people who generously made pledges in support of the campaign. Together you offered a total of £4,246, which was 77% of the amount needed! I also want to thank all those people who intended to support the campaign but were unable to do so for a variety of good reasons. Thanks, too, to everyone who has provided encouragement and practical support in different ways, such as promoting the campaign on Facebook and Twitter. And lastly, thanks to Graham Copekoga for shooting the video.
So, what went wrong? With hindsight I think there are three answers to this:
- I’m not a salesman
- The target was too high
- It’s hard to appeal to new backers halfway through a series of books
A good salesperson gets a kick out of hunting down a sale. This is the key to selling yourself in an increasingly competitive world. It counts for Kickstarter projects, too. To succeed you must be able to hound people into backing your campaign; you must shout your idea from the rooftops so that everybody knows about it; and you have to do it with a shameless glee, remaining totally focussed on the goal. The problem is, I’m not really like that. I’m a fairly modest chap and I don’t mind admitting I feel a bit embarrassed about asking people to support my project, even when I know they’ve read the other books and are desperate to get the next one in print. I’ve swallowed my awkwardness and worked hard at getting the word out, but it’s not my natural gifting. I prefer to write books.
As part of my research for the project, I read what others had to say about running a successful Kickstarter campaign. Most of the information was very useful, but not all of it is relevant. One thing everyone said was to make sure the campaign target will cover all the costs – “don’t undercut yourself”. When I added everything together and came up with very nearly £5,500 I thought it sounded too high (based on the readers I’m in touch with and allowing for some backers who had never heard of my Odysseus books before). I had though £4,000 was a more realistic target, but decided to go with the advice of the experts. Should have gone for my gut instinct!
Lastly, most successful Kickstarter campaigns rely on two sources for pledges: the people the campaign creator already knows (family, friends, work colleagues, existing “customers”); and newcomers whom they can interest in what they have to offer. More often than not, the key to hitting a target comes from the second group. The problem with raising interest in a book that is the fourth in a series, rather than the first, is that backers aren’t just gambling that they’ll like one book – they’re gambling on liking all four. For this reason I wasn’t able to attract much support outside of the people who were already readers of the Odysseus series.
No point dwelling in the past, though. So what next? Firstly, let me say that I still love writing the Odysseus books. I like the characters and the world they live in, so intend to carry on writing the series and see Odysseus through to his ultimate destiny. That said, I will also consider options for new, unrelated books – a fresh start, if you like. Secondly, there’s a gap on my bookshelf that’s waiting for a print version of Oracles, so somehow I will fill that gap. As I see it there are two ways to do this: save up and pay for copies to be printed and distributed; or go down the Print-on-Demand (POD) route.
With the former, it’s more cost effective to get between one and three thousand copies printed and to pay the publisher to market and distribute them on my behalf (as I say, I’m no salesman). If it works, I start to reconnect with more of the people who bought the first three books and stand the option of making a little bit of money to pay for more books to be printed. If it doesn’t, I end up with an attic filled with many hundreds of copies of an unwanted book. Great for insulation, I suppose.
With POD, the cost is much lower because you only print a few books at a time and therefore they could be available in a couple of months. Neither do I run the risk of an attic full of books. On the downside, shops don’t tend to take POD books and therefore the chance to reconnect with readers of the previous novels – or even find new readers – will be limited.
I’ll consider my options over the next few days and post an update here when I’ve decided on the best option. If you’re interested in a paperback copy of The Oracles of Troy and you’re not already on my e-mail list, please let me know via my contact page (https://www.glyn-iliffe.com/contact/) and I’ll add you.