What I Learned from a Failed Kickstarter

My book, Advent 9 is already a success.

Its Kickstarter, however, has been a dismal failure. Which is rather fortunate, for one reason above all others.

I Was Planning to Lose Money on this Kickstarter.

It’s a common occurrence with many crowdfunding efforts: they actually cost more than the revenues they give to creators. Many first-time crowdfunders fall prey to this. I, on the other hand, planned my campaign around it.

In my Kickstarter, all offerings that included the eBook or audiobook version of Advent 9 were designed to lose me money. I was offering them for the same retail price they would sell at once the book launched. I did this as a service to the people who were genuinely interested in this project.

And since the Kickstarter company takes 5% of whatever haul a crowdfunder makes, I would actually be losing 5% on every copy of the eBook or audiobook I sold. I was willing to eat that cost as a way of incentivizing people to buy in and receive a copy.

The tiers which would give backers a physical copy did have a slight markup. This was mostly done to cover shipping costs (there was no shipping surcharge to backers who lived in the U.S.) and the level of profit would be highly dependent on how big a print run I made. This is why tiers that included multiple copies of the physical edition came with steep discounts. The more people bought into those, the cheaper it would be to print physical books.

However, imagine the following scenario: the Kickstarter turns out to be a hit, but people are only interested in acquiring the digital or audio versions of the book. If that happened, I would be in deep financial trouble. It was a risk I was willing to take.

Instead, the Kickstarter simply failed, which came with one other distinct benefit.

Advent 9 Is Now Launching Earlier

This portrait of Advent 9 was drawn by the AI artist, Midjourney. You could think of it as the very first fanart for the book, though Midjourney is only a fan because I commanded it to be. It’s not a bad portrait, but it would have been unsuitable for any official product connected with the book. Would make excellent concept art for a movie adaptation, though.

My original release date was going to be November 2nd. But the Kickstarter’s failure meant that I would not be obligated to make a physical version of the book (it was going to be super-high-quality, too; the backers would have been very happy).

And without that bottleneck, I am now free to release Advent 9 almost half a month earlier. Preorders for the eBook are already available on Amazon. And the audiobook is already up for preorder on Barnes and Noble. More platforms will be added as the release gets nearer.

And with the money I saved from not getting fleeced by the Kickstarter, I have the resources to make a substantial marketing push.

But Wait! There Will Be Physical Copies

A limited print run of Advent 9 is currently being produced.

This run will consist of 55 trade paperback editions of Advent 9. These will not be for sale. Instead, they will go to reviewers, influencers, and other people who can help to promote the book.

So if, for example, you see a YouTuber holding a trade paperback version of Advent 9 while talking about it, then that is something they are privileged to have, as a collector’s item.

But don’t get discourage yet. There is still a way for you to get a physical edition of the book, though it will require some…cooperation on your part, and on the part of the entire community.

Another Kickstarter

If, through my efforts to market the Advent 9 ebook and audiobook, I end up getting a lot of fan support and groundswell, it is not inconceivable that I may seek to publish another physical edition of Advent 9. This time, it will be as a hardcover book!

And if I do this, then there will be another Kickstarter, possibly as soon as next year. When that drops, you will have another opportunity to get a physical version. And if the book is really successful by then, I might have enough money to rent out some warehouse space, get some employees to ship books, and offer hardcover editions through my own online store. But that is a long shot.

Until then, I do not hesitate to recommend the digital and audio versions of the book. Michael Kramer’s narration is captivating, Paul Pederson’s illustrations are illuminating, and Carly Milligan’s cover art is mind-blowing.

You’ll understand once you have the book to yourself.

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