General status and lessons learned
Good day, everyone. As stated in those backers-only updates, electronic rewards have been delivered. Be patient with downloads: they are obviously larger than the demo. I'm testing them from a slow connection, and I've had a few failures, so it may be difficult when many backers try at once. Consider saving to your desktop (instead of viewing in a browser) or whatever method gets you a download progress meter.
Next, remember when people asked about PayPal donation to reach a stretch goal? It turns out it's not economical for a few $15 or $40 pledges left over: not when we can just print the books and sell them. However, anyone interested in getting or upgrading to a high-level pledge (ordering many books, becoming an Arcana Agency character, or just being a philanthropist and supporting the cause) is invited to contact us directly. We'd love to expand our stock, so we'll gladly arrange something!
In related news: we've done some math and we CAN afford to add the demo file as "case 0" in the full book! Arcana Agency: The Thief of Memories will now be a whopping 230-pages full-color hardback! This will wipe out the Kickstarter funds, so, again, anyone seeking a higher pledge so we can be prepared for the future would be greatly appreciated.
But this break-even point means we're set! We did it! You all will receive the rewards you requested, and the book will go on sale. Expect backer surveys for physical objects toward the start of 2013 for our delivery in February. Now, I think it makes sense to look back over the last month-plus and think about . . .
Anyone out there thinking of starting a Kickstarter project? I found it helpful when other creators reflected out loud, so I thought I'd try it myself. In those 45 long days, I learned . . .
Kickstarter consumes your life
Everyone warned us about this: you think you can get some other work done while running a project, and then you just don't. I personally (this is Richard) have a file where I saved all my e-mails, forum posts, and other bits of promo so I could copy and paste. It is over 44,000 words long. When you add in Mikaël and Paul, the three of us wrote more words in promo than are in THE BOOK WE WERE TRYING TO SELL. (If I slap some illustrations in my file, think anyone will buy it?)
You need publicity inside and outside of Kickstarter
Who was/is our audience? Demographic A is people who grew up with gamebooks, grew up with RPG or other popular games from the same time period, or never heard of this stuff but still enjoy creative books/games. Demographic B is people who are active on Kickstarter. I have a list of 35 websites, blogs, forums, and social media pages where we sought the mythical "gamebook audience," but demographic A just amounted for 50% of the pledges: the rest came from Kickstarter alone, a community of people who've pledged before and are comfortable with it. You Kickstarter people are great, and I hope all you folks new to the site will take the opportunity to back other projects, too.
. . . But publicity inside Kickstarter is complex
A seeming triviality like project category made a huge difference. We put our gamebook project in "Tabletop Games"; we could have chosen general "Games" or some "Publishing" category. Then we were lucky to become a "Staff Pick." But Tabletop has very slow turnover, so we remained visible as a "Staff Pick" at the top of the "Discover" listing in our category for WEEKS. Even after we were bumped off, some of our replacements finished running before we did and we went BACK to the top of the page. This auspicious placement kept momentum going through the long haul, and about 1/4 of all backers found us this way.
Spamming strangers with a million advertisements they don't like doesn't work. Recommendations from trusted names (both "big names" and "small names") does. Now, I'm not going to NAME names, because it would be very rude to imply "These people are walking, talking money! Harass them until they endorse your product and make you rich!" This is not true. What is true is that we spoke with every relevant creator we could find (i.e., relevant to "demographic A"), got in cross-promotion with some on Kickstarter, and got social media mentions from others. Every good word brought a jump in newcomers, and a lot of those were folks with similar backer history (i.e., other gamebooks). And, of course, we reciprocated publicity where possible. Speaking of which . . .
Please and thank you
We tried to be as polite as we could. It seems like, in return, almost everything about the campaign has been positive. We've gushed before, but it's because you folks deserve it: all those who wrote to us, commented on Kickstarter, mentioned us on your own social media of choice, or even talked to us out on the various blogs and sites where we did promo, have been incredibly friendly and made the effort worthwhile. I guess it's the community: people aren't here JUST to buy a book, but rather to share in the creative process. People want to have fun. If we as creators didn't have something fun to share (images, text, links, the occasional witticism), then we wouldn't have deserved the support.
Thank you for deciding we deserved it. We think Arcana Agency: The Thief of Memories will be the best book it can be, and we hope you'll share in our fun in future projects.