Monday, 16 July 2012

Kickstarting Primae Noctis, or what I've learned from my first 168 hours in crowdsourcing's cybertrenches

The most important lesson that I have learned from crowdsourcing my novel, Primae Noctis, is to keep hope alive after the initial shock and panic of being out there.  I say this even though there are only a few more short weeks to go. There are plenty of projects that don't reach any tangible mass in just a few days and go on to succeed, so there's plenty of cause for continued optimism. The one thing that should be avoided at all costs is public or overt pessimism, even if one isn't delighted with outcomes to date.

As I think that I've mentioned on my blog before, I am generally quite loath to self-promotion. I feel bile moving deep in my gullet whenever the notion of telling others anything for personal gain crosses my mind. But especially in the case of crowdsourcing, one must get the word out by any means necessary! Who will support you if you don't support yourself?

The first week of crowdsourcing is a difficult experience, unless you've prearranged a vast amount of support for your project in advance. I had a modicum of support lined up, and it softened the blow a little bit. Other than a mention on my website and on a couple of message boards, I thought that it would be premature to announce a Kickstarter project that hadn't yet been approved.

I was probably wrong, and using a Barnum-style rationale, I probably should have rented the online equivalent of a Sydney bus overflowing with rugby cheerleaders and eskies full of free grog. But that's right, we are crowdsourcing because we can't afford to play like the big guys do... bribery and appeal to sexist stereotypes are generally out of the question to gain the favour of the 'crowd'.

Spreading more information about yourself across the web is painful, especially if you value your privacy or sanity. But to have the best chance of success, you will need to swallow your pride (and possibly your chewing gum) and start a conversation with others about who you are, what you hope to achieve, and why they should help you. State your objectives succinctly, directly, and hopefully with a touch of panache.

A key consideration is how you manage and control the flows of information that you send from your computer. Even consider what I've done: create a flow chart to see where your messages from different sources end up, so that you don't get unnecessary repetition.

Managing your voice and message across Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Kickstarter, your blog, and other platforms is a full time job. It is important to take care and make sure that you have a consistent voice that is reasonably clear in your objectives to all audiences. Probably the biggest embarrassment that can happen is if you contradict yourself and thus discourage supporters. So far, I have been lucky enough to avoid this. 

If you ordinarily blog or share social commentary with others, you should continue to do so.  If you don't, then you'll need to learn how to real quick.  If your ordinary social commentary presents you in a less-than-appropriate light, then you may wish to wait about a decade after scrubbing the Internet with virtual steel wool and soap before attempting anything at all.

Your backers probably don't want to be deluged by more requests for assistance. The public doesn't want to be nagged or spammed to death by an unreasonable amount of requests from you. You don't want to lose followers or potential supporters due to message fatigue.  I wasn't a luddite when I began, but learning the nuances of gaining support on Twitter and Facebook is challenging.  But don't lose hope, as there are plenty of resources about to help anyone get up to speed that are worth looking at.

Inevitably, your friends and family will bear the brunt of your social media onslaught, so you'll just have to promise them that you will take them for a night out on the town or do their chores for a few hundred years to make up for it. If any of my friends or family caught that last bit, please disregard it...

Finally, always get in the plug.  You can help to support the editing and release of my new science fiction novel Primae Noctis on Kickstarter at

See, I haven't lost hope yet!

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