Preparing Sun Spots Kickstarter

Well, it’s official — I’m gearing up to launch the Sun Spots Kickstarter on Tuesday, September 13th! Right now, I’m busily running around behind the scenes, getting all my PR in place, writing press releases, finding play-testers, reading online resources, and basically just trying not to freak out about the whole thing.

Because now there are expectations. Expectations! I’ve already had one successful KS project, and I really want to outdo that one in many ways. Furthermore, I started working on this book nine years ago (2007! that’s BEFORE Obama was elected!), and to have it see the light of day and be finished will really be a significant event in my life. Like I said, lots and lots of expectations.

As I’m going around reading different resources for how to run better Kickstarters (these and these have been particularly helpful), I realized that I had written my own lessons learned at the start of 2015, when I thought (incorrectly) that I was gearing up for Sun Spots early last year. You can read about it here, and as I’ve been working on this project anew, I’ve come to understand more about what I was talking about:

  1. Prepare Stretch Goals Ahead of Time: Absolutely. This is perhaps the most important lesson of them all. I still feel bad for Ben Patey, purveyor of the infamous Masks of Nyarlathotep Props Kickstarter. See, Ben contacted me before his project went live; I had purchased his props directly from him, he was thinking about doing the KS and had seen how my project was successful, so he reached out to me for a phone conversation. My most important lesson was to WATCH YOUR PROJECT SCOPE, specifically your stretch goals, because this is where most projects fumble the ball — they don’t know how to scale their projects, end up committing to way too much, and ultimately fail. And then Ben went and had too many goals and wasn’t able to scale, ultimately failing. So this is a huge lesson and one I’ve taken to heart. Fortunately, due to all these problems, backers are less eager for stretch goals, and I’ve been prepping just a few, key goals to add to the project.
  2. Be Very Clear About Int’l Shipping: I’m not sure this ever got better, but I did look up the rates for DriveThruRPG POD shipping and found this chart to be extremely helpful. Fact is, international shipping is still a drag, and will be until the technology for shipping overseas radically changes. The key, then, is just to be clear about how much it costs you, how much it costs your backers, and what you’ll be charging them.
  3. Find Collaborators Ahead of Time: This is a great idea, and something I’ve already thought about. But I’ll want to wait until I’m a little closer to launch before finding active KS projects to collaborate with. I found this great link, which easily sorts the active RPG games live on KS for you. So that’s something to always be checking.
  4. Shorten the Project Length: After some back and forth, I’ve decided to run my project from Sept 13 to Oct 9, which is 27 days. I think this is the right amount, and the start and end days line up with best practices suggested by Jamey Stegmaier and Fred Hicks. And it’s shorter, which aligns with my own needs and observations. While it’s not a lot shorter, I’ve been thoughtful in my planning and am happy with it.

So that’s it! The Kickstarter is getting primed behind the scenes, and I’m running around like a busy little bee. I really can’t wait to share the book with everyone — the art, production, design and maps, not to mention the writing itself — are really top notch and will be amazing once put together. I can’t wait for you to see it!

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