Saturday, January 19, 2013

Some crowdfunding insights

I started to post a comment on Joseph Bloch's blog, and realized it was a post unto itself. Here it is.

I was never a supporter of Dwimmermount, so for me some of the noises coming from people have been hard to understand. But, I have now at the start of the year been reviewing some of the crowdfunding campaign I have been contributed to and contacted some of them for news. I think I have realized a few things.

First, if you set up such a project, thing long and hard on how long time every step will take.

Secondly, review that time estimate with a critical eye. Now double the time estimate. If the estimate is more than one year, try to find ways to do most of the work ahead of time, before going public.

At this stage I think you should probably re-think the whole gamble if you can't push it down below one year. I gave Chaosium the benefit of the doubt, but I would not do it for some random dude with a blog.

Thirdly, make sure you update regularly. Those who are stakeholders after the campaign have finished should be able to see what's going on after you took their money. Preferably, keep everyone posted on how close you are to the planned schedule.

Fourthly, make sure everyone else gets update too! This is something very few do! The thing is, for some high profile campaigns, even those who did not chipped in will hear some of the Chinese whispsers that spread on the net. If someone hears the wrong thing, rumours will spread and the next thing you know "facts" about you taking the money and running is all over the net. Regardless it will probably hurt you.

Now, sitting on the first row, without being involved in crowdfunded publishing myself, it's very easy to have opinions. Take these my thoughts for whatever they're worth.

5 comments:

  1. It's all good advice Andreas. My big two are make sure the project has already been written before kicking off the call for cash, and communication is your best friend, ignore it at your peril.

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  2. Sometimes it's not possible to have it all written, even though it sure will make it easier to make it happen in less than a year, but it sure is the first thing to look at. If possible, that is the key!

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    1. It's always possible to have it all written, but it depends on whether the publisher is willing to treat crowdfunding like a Print of Demand service or like a pre-order method.

      If a publisher wants to use PoD to publish their product they first have to have a finished product. Only then can it go ahead. When it comes to crowdfunding there's no reason why the product can't be fully written before kicking it off. Sure, it might need formatting, editing, proofreading and illustrating, but there's nothing stopping the publisher holding back until the thing is actually written before asking people for money.

      Sadly however, too many publishers are treating crowdfunding as a convenient way of selling pre-orders as a fund raising activity. Looking back at our hobby, with both amateurs and professional publishers, pre-orders seem to have a history of going wrong and upsetting customers. Taking people's money on a promise is always a risky strategy. To do so before the product has even been written pushes that risk to the extreme. And when it inevitably goes wrong, such as running drastically late, it's no surprise that customers begin to get irate and vocal.

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  3. Why not just complete the project first, then find support?

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  4. Looking back at our hobby, with both amateurs and professional publishers, pre-orders seem to have a history of going wrong and upsetting customers.

    Do I remember those events? Ouch, some still hurt.

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