Today is the last day to pledge toward my Kickstarter fundraiser for the creation and publication of Time, emiT, and Time Again. If you have been waiting to pledge, wait no longer. Time is running out!
In about 20 hours, the widget here will change from counting down the hours to saying I was “successful.” Which is awesome. For an attempt to try to raise funds to cover publishing costs by selling art, it has been a success. As you may already know, if you have looked at this kickstarter project’s progress at any time in the last 44 days, I actually surpassed my funding goal on day 1. I had two pledges on the first day, one for the “signed paperback, plus” level, at $15, and one for the “painting and everything else” level – at $500. Then last night my sister pledged another $15 – which I appreciate; she’s certainly my most loyal and supportive reader, always helping with editing and then buying the books she’s already read anyway. She has a full collection of every book I’ve published.
What I find troubling/frustrating is that in the time from the first day to the last, my project received no other pledges. I recognize that this may be, in part, because when they went to the page it said I’d already surpassed my $300 funding goal, having $515 in pledges from day one. I further recognize that it means that only 3 people (so far) considered this to be a good way to pre-order this book, and support the project. Maybe I didn’t sell it well enough. Maybe people aren’t interested in time/love stories, sci-fi stories, or it’s the “short stories and essays” part that’s throwing them off. I don’t know. But I tried.
My furthest-reaching campaign was via podcast. I created an ad and had it inserted into 5 of my audiobooks over at Podiobooks.com. I realize it was a little long, at a full minute, and that the same ad played before every single episode of each book, so that some people may have gotten into the habit of skipping past it… I’m going to work on refining my advertising attempts in the future, I assure you. (Literally days after I submitted my ad plan to Evo, he sent out guides to the entire PB authors community explaining how to do better than I did – not mentioning me, just … basically, it felt like a response, addressing a laundry list of things I did “wrong”.) Still, the ad was attached to somewhere in the neighborhood of 19k+ episodes of my books. At a minimum (if there was 100% overlap of readers between books) around 475 people downloaded at least one episode with the ad, based on the stats I have, and perhaps more than 1650 listeners heard it. On my own podcast, the promo itself was downloaded another 50 or 60 times by itself, and I’ve mentioned it in four or five other episodes, to try to remind my readers about it. Now, since the first 2 pledges came before the ad started running, and the other pledge was from my sister, I know that advertising this on my podcasts has had a 0% response rate.
Hundreds of people visited this blog, over a thousand people follow me on twitter, I have another couple hundred ‘friends’ on facebook, and I’ve tried not to mention the fundraiser too often but I’ve certainly mentioned it plenty of times in the last 6 weeks. The backer that wasn’t my sister (and wasn’t for the painting – that guy is a patron who funds lots of kickstarter projects) came from someone who saw it on Facebook, so that was semi-successful. But blogging, twittering, podcasting, talking about it at parties to my longtime friends, and the rest of it seems to have drawn no interest.
I don’t know what else to do that I can afford to do. Yes, it was “successful” in that I reached the goal amount and will be able to print the book without going further into debt. Yes, this book will be profitable before the first copy is printed and sold, and will continue to be profitable just about forever (because while I’m not great at business, I at least know how to subtract). Yes, that’s wonderful and I’m grateful, and I’m looking forward to being able to continue using the sell-art-to-publish-books model in the future. I think it’s great.
Still, I wish I had a broader (paying) readership. People who were so looking forward to my next book that they’d be willing to pay $15 for a signed copy (or $1 for the eBook! Seriously!). I’ve had at least 6100 people download at least one of my eBooks or audiobooks (and perhaps as many as 28,000 people) in the last couple years. I know those aren’t “big” numbers, those certainly aren’t “big publishing” numbers, but if 1% of 6100 people had been willing to pay $15 for my next book I’d have had triple the amount currently pledged and could publish my next few books without worry. If one-tenth of one percent of 6100 people had pledged, I’d have had twice as many pledges as I do now.
It’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that people just aren’t interested in reading (or paying for) the books I’m authoring.
I suppose I’ll just have to keep working on it. Keep trying to be a better and better author. Keep trying to find new readers and new listeners, hopefully some who can afford to pay a few dollars a year to buy my books. Keep coming up with effective ways to keep profitable if/when that doesn’t happen. Persevere.