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Kickstarter – the post-mortem

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:

    1. What went wrong?
    2. 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:

    1. I’m not a salesman
    2. The target was too high
    3. 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 (http://www.glyniliffe.com/contact/) and I’ll add you.

 

13 Awesome Comments So Far

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  1. Saleh
    March 8, 2014 at 2:38 pm #

    it’s a shame that it didn’t work out. but i know you can get on your feet again and figure another way out. sincerely 1 of 90

    • Glyn Iliffe
      March 10, 2014 at 8:12 pm #

      Thanks Saleh. The good news is that things are already moving and I should soon be able to announce a few details. And thanks for supporting the campaign!

      • Saleh
        April 10, 2014 at 10:55 pm #

        So I just finished reading The Oracles Of Troy, and I was wondering if you’re planning on writing another book. And if you I hope it’s the best one yet

  2. Mrs C
    March 12, 2014 at 12:41 am #

    It really is a shame it didn’t work out. I couldn’t pledge due to low funds on my own part (making me very frustrated) but I do own the kindle version of Oracles (and the paperbacks of the other three) and I thought it was just brilliant. My favourite books set in the era without a doubt. I hope there comes a way to get this (and hopefully more!) Into print. Good luck!

    • Glyn Iliffe
      March 21, 2014 at 11:38 am #

      Hi Mrs C
      I’m hoping to release some good news about a paperback soon. I’m currently in discussions with a publishing company who’ve provided a cheaper quote than the previous company (but for the same quality of print) and if everything works out I’ll provide more detail on this website and via my mailing list.
      Glad you liked the series, and thanks for supporting the Kickstarter project in spirit!
      Best wishes,
      Glyn

  3. Endorearwen
    March 18, 2014 at 5:36 pm #

    So disappointed to hear this news! I’ve finished the King of Ithica (sent you a few comments as well…) and am more than half-way through the Gates of Troy now so it looks like I’ll have to read the Amour of Achilles v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y! I wasn’t able to pledge during your drive but do hope to get a copy of the fourth book as quickly as the fates permit you to realize a printing!

    • Glyn Iliffe
      March 21, 2014 at 11:42 am #

      Thanks again for the comments. It’s always very encouraging and enjoyable to read well-meant feedback. I’m desperate to tell people about the print solution I’m working on for Oracles, but being cautious by nature (and having been disappointed before) I’m keeping my power dry until things are more certain.
      Thanks (to everyone) for your patience.

  4. Gregory
    March 23, 2014 at 11:45 am #

    Hi, I liked your project and sorry it did not work out, I only discovered kickstarter recently, otherwise I’d have pledged!
    (A also did Classics at Nottingham)
    This might be a silly question, but seeing that you only had a 1300 left to, what prevented you to post the missing amount yourself, thus completing the project ? Then continuing the fundraising on your site for a stretch goal to get back the missing amount ?

    • Glyn Iliffe
      April 1, 2014 at 9:50 pm #

      Hi Gregory
      Sorry for the late reply. The Kickstarter shortfall wasn’t much but I couldn’t stretch to it at the time because of other commitments outside of writing. Fortunately things have changed for the good since. I’ve found a cheaper quote, which has knocked over £1500 off the target; I’ve also received a combination of income from my e-book of Oracles, my half-yearly PanMacmillan commission and a Public Lending Rights payment. Together this has helped me to put together enough funds to get a paperback version in print. I’m hoping to announce a date soon, but don’t want to say anything until it’s all written in stone.
      Thanks for your interest. Always nice to hear from another Classics student. How was the Classics department at Nottingham? At Reading they were quite young and enthusiastic, which made the whole experience very rewarding.
      Best wishes,
      Glyn

  5. Linos
    March 25, 2014 at 5:14 pm #

    Hi there

    I’m not sure if the following facebook page is really yours or not, but I’ve left you a message about the funding at https://www.facebook.com/GlynIliffeAuthor

    Hoping to read from you soon.

    • Glyn Iliffe
      April 1, 2014 at 6:52 pm #

      Hi Linos
      I’ve replied via Facebook.
      Thanks,
      Glyn

  6. Shaun
    April 19, 2014 at 2:04 pm #

    Hi Glyn,

    Just wondering if there is any news about a print version of The Oracles of Troy yet?

    Shaun :)

    • Glyn Iliffe
      April 26, 2014 at 9:57 am #

      Hi Shaun
      Yes, I have a publication date now. I’ll be sending details to everyone on the e-mail list (which includes you!) within the next day or two, then I’ll be posting full details on the website.
      Thanks for your patience!!!
      Glyn

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