Article #1 – To Kickstart or not to Kickstart?

So you’re considering your own?  GREAT!  The world needs brilliant minds to do what they believe in!  And those brilliant minds need funding, and the voice of experience to guide them.  Kickstarter provides the funding, and I’ll provide some experience.

Should you kickstart your idea?

No. Don’t do it!  (relax, hear me out) The real answer is Yes, but you need to consider these ideas first)  Here’s why:

  1. Above all, you need somebody to tell you “No”.  Like a Best Man on the morning of the wedding, “Are you sure?”.  You can’t have everyone saying “Do it!” or you might make a bad choice.  Consider not doing it, and see how you feel.
  2. The process can kill you.
    It will take 9 months or more, and upwards of 80 hours a week at that. YES, 80.  You got that kind of time?  Are you ready to commit to finishing every last step of it when you are burnt out 6 months from now?
  3. Your family needs you.  If you have a Wife, kids, a 40+ hour a week job, or a very attached vision for your project/art… you’re not going to have time for all of them.  So it’s time to give up your other hobbies for a while.
  4. You’re going to get beat up.  If you don’t have a tough hide, a duck’s back, the soul of a Saint …or are a Weeble… you are going to get beat up by the system and unpleasant people’s negative, often cruel, comments.  (I survived praying to have the soul of a Saint, and all the while believing I’m a Weeble, FYI.)

 

Ok, fine, you can do it. But…

…only if:

  1. You absolutely believe in your idea with 92% to 98.5% of your heart.
    Any less is an insult to those willing to fund you, any more means you won’t do #4 below.
  2. Your design already exists, has been tested and works, and is liked by at least 74% of those who try it.  (We can get that percentage up with time, don’t worry.)
  3. You have a FLAWLESSLY designed budget based on WEEKS of research, AND don’t expect to make mint.   Because “Making Mint” is not something that happens on Kickstarter.
    See Article #7 for tips on how to make a Kickstarter-ready budget.
  4. You can take advice.
  5. You are (or can be) nice to people when they are mean to you.
  6. Your family knows what THEY are getting themselves into.
  7. You’ve prayed about it.  –  Look, I know you’re not all the praying type, and I respect you; but I am, and I trust you respect me too; and I tell you that I would not have survived without this one.  You can take it or leave it, but I will tell you that it’s how I survived the rough patches.

So are you still thinking about this?

Of course you are!
You’re thinking: “Well, I don’t know if I have all that yet… but I might”.
I know.  I was there once too.
So, that’s good enough for now.  I hereby promote you to the next article. ; )

John

6 Comments

  1. Constance Douglas
    November 1, 2016 @ 9:30 am

    1) Why do you say it takes a lot of time?
    2) Are people buying your product?
    3) If so, do they get one if they make a dollar donation?

    Thanks,
    Constance

    Reply

    • John Wrot!
      November 1, 2016 @ 4:04 pm

      Great questions, Constance.
      1) All the design, pre-planning, managing, processing, email & comment responses, maintenance, updates, campaign page updating, pledge managing, ordering product, budgeting, shipping, and fulfillment are each very time consuming; and together they really add up. I’m much more communicative that many creators I back; one could save a lot of time not responding to emails/comments, but I make it a point to respond to every one personally if at all possible. That’s the one area I can think of that you can shave off time, but for me I just can’t take away from that area.
      2) Yes. It’s a “pledge” for one, but every business and legal entity in the world sees it as a business transaction. So expectation to deliver, taxes, etc are all of importance there. – If you’re alternately asking if my products personally have been successful, yes to that too, both during and after the campaigns. After = more income, but also more time added to #1 above (usually worth it!).
      3) No. For $1 they get access to the Project Updates, and if it’s a game I’m making I give access to the Print n’ Play (free download paper version), but not the final product. For that a full pledge for the product amount + shipping (where applicable) must be made.

      Thanks for the great questions.

      John

      Reply

  2. Julie Ehrentraut
    December 13, 2017 @ 3:32 pm

    John,

    I have a 12 yr. old some (on the spectrum) that has made huge growth in all areas of his life over the last year and he has taken me by surprise this year. He came home one day from school and told me he had created a board game and wanted my husband and myself to play it with him. I was shocked to see how fun it was to play. I want to encourage him in finding this new way to communicate and educate others on his interests through games. I have made a prototype of the first game he created as a gift for him. What would you suggest as an avenue to help him market his games?

    Reply

    • John Wrot!
      December 14, 2017 @ 1:02 am

      Julie, thank you for sharing that great story with me.
      I’d start by sharing it around various friends you know, perhaps any that are gamers like yourself, by way of Playtesting. See if you think it has merit outside your mommy and daddiness. (I’m a dad too, I openly admit I have obvious biases, and occasional blind spots ; ). Then consider sharing it with a publisher or five if you think it might really have merit. It’s a long journey to “published”, so take it slow, and see if it’s what’s right for his game(s).
      John

      Reply

  3. Norton Hart
    February 13, 2018 @ 12:09 pm

    John,

    Great advice! Could you explain the process to get to publishers? Do’s. Don’t s. How to protect yourself and Getting picked up.

    Which ones are more likely to be friendly?

    Thanks

    Reply

    • John Wrot!
      February 13, 2018 @ 11:04 pm

      I’m probably not the best person to respond to this one as I haven’t opened GKG to game submissions yet (though have received plenty regardless), so haven’t spent too much time with it, and prefer to give advice from experience.

      That said, James Mathe has a solid article on this on his blog here: http://www.jamesmathe.com/courting-a-game-publisher-dos-and-donts/

      The experience I do have says:
      -Address the publisher directly and specifically, don’t group mail me. It’s too important.
      -Be kind and friendly and open to change and direction, and make that clear; or if you’re not, make that clear.
      -To find one that’s friendly to the idea, A) find a friendly publisher (ie: the owner / face of the company), and B) ask before pitching. A simple email like this might be a great start: “Are you currently accepting game submissions in the XYX Genre, with a flexible XYZ Theme? I’ve attached the sell sheet, and would be glad to provide all the detail if it interests you.” I know it would get me to at least look at the sell sheet. : )
      -Have a sell sheet before starting.
      -Go to publisher-designer events at bigger cons. James Mathe (linked above) often runs a “Designer/Publisher Speed Dating” event at Gen Con. I’ve attended several times and always find it fascinating.

      Hope this helps!

      Reply

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