11 June 2014

Crowdfunding interview with Janine A. Southard

a guest post by Andrea Scovel (@AndreaScovel1)

How did you decide that your project would be good candidate for crowdfunding?  
Aren’t all creative projects good candidates for crowdfunding?
Less facetiously, my recent professional background has all been in gaming. (I’ve worked in creative content for a variety of Seattle game companies since 2008.) Crowdfunding has exploded for the gaming community, and hearing those stories inspired me to try the same.
Plus, there’s very little risk with choosing to crowdfund a project. If you don’t make your monetary goals, you haven’t lost anything. If you do make them, you’re financially better off. Either way, people who will be interested in your project have heard of your name and your work!
How did you decide what to include in your budget?

My first project: I included EVERYTHING I could think of. And then I learned that first-timers with no audience can’t expect to make a lot of money. (I see this a lot on Kickstarter, actually. There are always people asking me for advice reaching their goals, and the goal is $100K for their first picture book, and I’m like, “be realistic.”)

After that, I set my goals at the amount I would still go forward with the project from. That way, if I surpassed my monetary requests, great! If I squeaked by, I’d still be able to make my art.
If you want to know what actually goes into my budget, you should check out my recent Kickstarter video for my novel, Hive & Heist. Around 1:20 I give a glimpse into my process. (I thought it’d make for cool video content.)

What do you feel made your crowdfunding project successful?  

I feel successful when anyone talks about my work! 
Unless you mean why do I think people backed my project? It helps that I have a few projects now, and people know what they’re getting. I also think that: a) following the Kickstarter best practices b) having a sample of the finished product that people can check out c) having REAL rewards at the $5 and $25 levels d) being transparent about my timelines and plans all have affected my success with the funders. 

Did you include Pledge packages in your project? If so, how did you get the prizes? Were they donated? Did you buy them out of pocket?  
People need a reason to pledge their money at this level! I paid for (or made) all my rewards out of pocket. Since I’m making a product, the most obvious reward is to give people the product! I also gave related products, digital and physical goods, and intangibles like letting backers name a character in a novel.
What website did you use for your crowdfunding project? Why did you choose it? 

I chose Kickstarter because (as previously mentioned) I come out of a gaming background. That’s where all the gamers go.
These days, I hear a lot about indiegogo and Pubslush (for publishing projects only).
As I recently told a group of writers, though: “I know people who put projects up on Pubslush. I know people who spend their money on Kickstarter.”

After your project was funded did you find that it actually wasn’t enough? If so, how did you come up with additional funds?  
For my first project, I was right on budget. But, as I mentioned in the “how did I set my budget,” I learned the lesson of “take what makes you successful.” So for my later projects, I haven’t made nearly enough to cover all costs. But I didn’t expect to, either!
I know in advance how much money I’m willing to spend on the project on my own. I think of it as being my own main investor.
Of course, my projects are relatively small. I rarely go above $5K in making a book, including marketing. (If I had a spare $100K from crowdfunding, I’d probably place a magazine ad for my next book, or go on a book tour to locations in my work, or upgrade my formats and per-printing costs. But I don’t NEED those things yet, so I don’t worry about them.)

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