Nearing The Finish Line
After 21 days, 36 people have donated $3,207 for the next issue of Letter to Jane. With 8 or 9 days left in the fundraiser that leaves a gap of $1,793 to reach the goal of $5,000. That’s a pretty tall order to fill, but I haven’t given up. I know that a couple people buying ad space or the source can help us reach the goal in a day, so there’s still hope. I think it is time to talk about what happens to Letter to Jane does not meet its funding goal. I’ll give you the short answer first then the long version.
Simply put, If the Kickstarter project fails there will be no issue, and probably no more Letter to Jane.
It’s a bit more complicated than that though. Everything will not completely go away. I’m going to still be making apps with other magazines, the website will still be here, and very soon I’ll be announcing a new blog that I’ll be writing for that will still create all the same content that you find in every issue of Letter to Jane. So in other words I’m not officially ending Letter to Jane, but I’m not going to give it anymore attention until there is some money available.
This may sound a bit dramatic to some of you so I’ll try my best to explain my reasons behind all of this. A couple of years ago I had just graduated college, had plenty of money in the bank, and a steady job. I was miserable. I wasn’t doing what I wanted to do, and I couldn’t figure out what it even was that I wanted; basically I was in my early twenties. Letter to Jane came out of this confusion, it became my place to experiment, try new things, and to take a shot at everything and see what failed and what succeeded. Now the project has been more successful and fulfilling than I ever could have imagined. If I had my choice, I would do this for at least 10 more years. These last couple years have been the best of my life, but they sure haven’t been easy. All that stability and money quickly disappeared. Letter to Jane was never intended to make a profit, I could honestly care less about money, but I do need to live. For the last 2 years I’ve probably had on average $15 dollars to my name at any given time. I’m constantly struggling to pay my bills and I’ve never been able to settle down and find a place to live. At this moment I have maybe $8 in my bank account and I’m $200 short of paying my bills for the month. I’m not really worried because things have always worked out, the money always somehow shows up and I’ve always found a way to do what I love and keep learning how to make apps and products for people.
The truth is I probably could continue to keep doing things this way and I probably could make another issue the same way I’ve made all the rest. There are a couple problems with continuing all of this which is why I have decided against it. The biggest reason is that up until the last issue, everything has been an experiment, what you got is what you get. Throughout that time I’ve received a good amount of attention, followers, and there are certain expectations now. That doesn’t mean I have to make some grand gesture, but it does mean amateur hour is over. I can no longer be happy with making an issue and just be happy that I made it. I know what level of quality it has to be now, and I know I’m ready to reach that level of quality so anything short of that would be a failure. The other reason is that, I’d kind of like to live with a bit more stability. I’d like to be able to go to the doctor when something happens, I’d like to be able to repair things when they break, I’d like to be able to repay my students loans (where 200% of my anxiety comes from), and I’d like to replace my 2006 Macbook that crashes when you watch a YouTube video. I don’t mind this life, but there are certain limits to things. Selling each issue at $0.99-$1.99 means I make barely anything off app sales. I would raise the price, but people don’t place enough value in the work for me to do that. The other day I averaged out what I make an hour doing Letter to Jane and it was like 20 cents.
So, I decided in September to figure out how to make the best issue of Letter to Jane I could for the most reasonable price. I knew full well that it wouldn’t be easy to get the money, but I knew it was going to be all or nothing. So I put it all out there and I’ve let the public be the judge. When I say all I mean all. I’m giving away the issue, original content, credit, ad space (which I’ve never included before because I’m crazy protective of the space in my work), and even the source code to the magazine itself. There is literally nothing else I can offer. When I started the fundraiser, I felt pretty confident that I could raise $2,000, but $2,000 might as well be $20 when it comes to covering costs; it’s just not enough to make the app.
So what would this app look like? I can try to describe how it works. You would open the app, the cover would show you different sections in a pretty slick way. You open up a section and start reading an interview with Neon Indian. The interview is presented in a nice scroll based view but it’s more sophisticated than that. Depending on the length of the text, the scroll gets broken down into chapters to easy keep track of what you’re reading. You can bring up an options pane that will let you let you do what other issues of Letter to Jane have let you do, but with a twist. You can still share the interview with your friends on Facebook and Twitter and things like that, but each feature have better options that relate to what you’re reading. So since it’s Neon Indian you’ll be given with a list of other interviews with musicians you might like to read from all 4 issues, and you’ll be able to check out the latest on lettertojane.com that has to do with music. There is also no more separate text mode since all the text in the app will be native and you’ll be able to select what you want directly. That is just a basic layout of how things work in the app, but it gives you a small taste of what I’ve been working on. I don’t view the iPad magazine as a magazine that does more, I view it as a magazine that can better relate to you personally.
I’m still very confident that this app will get made, but I’m also realistic that it may not. I went into this with my eyes open. I’m not giving up and I hope none of this sounds defeatist. I feel blessed that I've been able to do something I like for as long as I have. Like I said earlier, I’ve never been happier making Letter to Jane and if I could, I would keep doing it, but sadly it’s just not possible by my own means. Maybe I can figure out some other way to make money, or maybe this will get funded. Nothing more to do than to wait and see. I say none of this to add a sense of desperation because I am not desperate in the slightest. I have a lot of the issue already made, and it won’t go to waste so things are pretty good. I’m being this honest because I feel like I can. I’ve been grateful to have a gathered a very personal and helpful community around this project. I’ve gotten to know a lot of people through this and I feel like I don’t have to bs anyone when it comes to the latest developments. Many of you are creative professionals, I know I can’t surprise any of you. I just wanted to have a minute to warn readers of the future of the magazine depending on what might happen in the following week. I’m very happy that I can just be direct with all of you and know that I will be understood. This may not be my best sales pitch, but I’m not trying to sell something, I’m trying to create something, and I’m trying to create something that can benefit others.
Sorry for such a long post, and thank you to all of you who listened and have supported Letter to Jane. There’s nothing more to do other than wait and see. If you’ve been thinking of supporting the fundraiser, please do, now is the time. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at email@example.com. I promise I will get back to you, but I have been very behind lately as I’ve been busy getting everything in order behind the scenes. For better or worse this have all been very fun and exciting and I can’t wait to share with you all what I’ve been working on.
pledged of $5,000 goal
seconds to go
Oct 24, 2011 - Nov 23, 2011 (30 days)
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A copy of Letter to Jane Magazine: Issue 04 + A personal thank you on lettertojane.comEstimated delivery: Jan 2012
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Above + Digital download of an exclusive soundtrack for Kickstarter backers.Estimated delivery: Jan 2012
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Above + Digital download of our original short film and a special PDF version of issue 04.Estimated delivery: Jan 2012
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Above + digital art booklets exclusively made for the soundtrack and the short film.Estimated delivery: Jan 2012
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Above + Producers credit on the short film and in the magazine.Estimated delivery: Jan 2012
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Above + Xcode sample project that shows how to make everything that's in Letter to Jane Magazine, so you can learn to make your own iPad magazine (some knowledge of Xcode required).Estimated delivery: Jan 2012
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3 backers Limited (7 of 10 left)
Above (including source code) + full page ad.Estimated delivery: Jan 2012