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Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Responsibilities of a Kickstarter Project Manager / Publisher / Writer - From an Annoyed Customer

Revising today's Overdue Kickstarter List got me thinking - it seems some folks think that Kickstarter is there to raise money for them and their "customers" don't need to be satisfied in a timely manner, because they've "already paid" and there are no refunds with Kickstarter. This works if you never plan to publish anything ever again, because with social media, we will be sure to tell your future customers how we've been treated. We will tell them until your ears bleed. And then we will tell them again.

Do yourself a favor, and try to follow the suggestions below:

1 - If you are funding an RPG game or supplement, make sure it is 99% written before you ask for a single cent. Outlines, scribbles, wish lists and Magic 8 Balls do not count. Your biggest issue in hitting your "estimated release / ship date" will be actually writing the project. If it's done up front, your main hurdle is behind you. For board games, have a working prototype. For computer games, have a fucking title for your game, not just a placeholder.

2 - Communicate - If you can't communicate with your backers at least every other week, and preferably every week, don't bother with crowd sourced funding. Communication takes the sting out of things like lateness and makes your backers feel like you really care about them, even if you really don't. In all seriousness, if you keep your backers in the loop, they will be less likely to complain about your lateness. If you are afraid your backers might bite, there's less chance of that happening if you communicate frequently.

2a - Fuck Forums - I don't like forums. Actually, I hate most of them. Don't force me to sign up for yet another forum just so I can find updates for a project I backed. Update me via Kickstarter once a week. It's easy enough. I'm sure you used it while pushing you're projects funding. Use it when your project is late too. Because, like I said, I hate forums.

3 - Make realistic completion / shipping estimates - Estimate the time you think you would need under ideal circumstances, then double it for unseen illnesses, flakey artists, European Vacations, natural disasters, writer's block and Murphy's Law. After doubling, add at least two months to the new estimate. You'll probably still be late, but by following suggestion #2 your backers might not be too upset.

4 - Shipping costs - include this in the actual funding levels. Adding it after the project completes is total bullshit. Most projects do this. Others try to keep their "funding levels" artificially low, and then hit you on the back end. Like I said above, bullshit.

I'm sure there are others...

7 comments:

  1. Also, if you include your shipping costs in the rewards themselves, they count toward getting funded at all. Just sayin'

    I wrote about Kickass Kickstarter Projects, and it sounds like we're in agreement on responsibilities.

    I didn't focus as much on having it written first, but I do software development for a living, I'm accustomed to having to get funding before starting. Points 2 and 3 I agree totally. Point 4 I didn't mention, but it's sensible.

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  2. Sadly, the mismanagement of the model by many of those who got in early has spoiled it for those who decide to publish through it later. The whole crowdfunding thing has lost its shine for me, mainly because of the issues you have listed here Erik. I'm sure I'm not the only one who switches off now when I see the words "Kickstarter" or "Indiegogo".

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  3. @David M - yes, it is sad. Sometimes I feel like our money gets taken gladly, and then it's a big "Fuck You" when it comes to a timely release of what you already paid for.

    Some folks behind Kickstarters start running late and then completely stop communicating, probably more out of embarrassment than anything else.

    Communication is key. These Kickstarter post that I do that talk about late projects are my attempt to keep the folks that took our money honest. If nothing else, it will make people think twice before backing another project by certain creators.

    You take thousands of dollars for a project and you are a professional, whether you like it or not. Folks need to start acting like professionals.

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  4. I'm sure I'm not the only one who switches off now when I see the words "Kickstarter" or "Indiegogo".

    You're not wrong, David. I now completely skip over any newly announced Kickstarter unless it's from an established company or an author I trust.

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  5. Yeah, my List of overdue proejcts is getting longer too.
    But there are also some shining examples how to do it.
    The new "Spears of the Dawn" Camapign. Kickstarter is still running, but the backers already have access to the alpha version of the game.

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