Something made me think about Kickstarters, and the actual duration of a project.
We’ve established many a time that the end of the fundraising campaign is just the beginning of a successful crowdfunding¹; depending on how many backers you have looking for rewards, it may be a long process to get all of them happy. On the off chance that it’s going to be a long fulfillment, I recommend frequent updates and something like Rich Burlew’s Workometer, which shows after a mighty effort (and honestly, too much work for one man, even one without a half-severed thumb) he has only two pieces of fulfillment and some personalizations yet to go. Actually, let’s make that another rule of crowdfunding — it’s awesome for your backers to get caught up in the frenzy, but don’t let it happen to you without a lot of helpers.
Point being, it’s almost a given these days that a Kickstart will blow deadlines on fulfillment — whether due to scope, number of people available, injuries, postal rates changing between fundraising and actually sending things, the tax man taking a chunk on a campaign ending in Q4 but stuff not going out until the next year, or a boat nearly claimed by Poseidon’s watery grasp², the best intentions mean exactly squat. But even in the case of the heavens aligning and everything going well, there will still be bits you have to attend to.
Case in point: Ryan North has updated his To Be Or Not To Be funding campaign for the 68th time:
Everyone should have their everything
By now everyone should have their everything! We sometimes get the occasional email saying “oh hey by the way did the book come out?” and that turns me into a SAD PANDA. I wanted you to read it by now! I wanted you to be chuckling LITERALLY MONTHS AGO. So if you have not gotten your stuff, let us know directly!
At the same time, we’ve discovered that Kickstarter messages/comments aren’t the best way to do customer service (some replies were getting lost). So if you’ve sent a Kickstarter message and haven’t gotten a response, email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll sort it out!
We’ve done a check of the existing Kickstarter messages recently to make sure nothing got lost and everything is settled, but I’d rather be safe than sorry (and rather you have your books than be sorry too!)
As it turns out, even North still has one bit of fulfillment to do, although not one that any particular backer is expecting to be delivered to an address, postal or physical:
I still owe you a pizza shaped like Hamlet!
YES. One final reward still outstanding. It’ll be awesome and tasty and I’m actually a little intimidated by it. The longer we wait the better it has to be. So this pizza is gonna be OFF THE HOOK.
Personally, I wouldn’t mind if Ryan North never quite got around to eating a pizza shaped like Hamlet, except that I’d feel bad for him having had one less tasty pizza in his life. But he made a commitment and he’s going to stick to it, dammit. And you know what? When Romeo and/or Juliet is done (a stretch goal of TBONTB), that commitment that North made — and went to heroic lengths to make good on, even to the point of literally exploding — will mean that his next campaign may well surpass what is still the most-funded publishing project in Kickstarter history³.
And the one after that? Bigger still.
¹ And naturally, everything here applies equally to Indiegogo and other similar platforms; Kickstarter, like Kleenex, has reached the point of the specific term also being the generic.
² To mention just a few things that beset campaigns that I have personally backed. But on the plus side, I’ve only had one totally finished Kickstart that completely pooched fulfillment of stuff that I expected to receive (no names). I’ve also told a couple of creators “send mine last”, especially when there’s a lot of customization.
Oh, and one that’s mostly done, I got the part I really wanted, but it isn’t reasonable to expect final fulfillment yet: some day, I will have a copy of the book-of-the-film for STRIPPED. It’s only now that the film is done that Kellett and Schroeder would have time to breathe, much less bash together a coffee table book. It’s cool if they ship the poster with that book whenever it’s done, too.
³ Look, I love Planet Money, but a) screw squirrels, seriously, screw them, and b) their campaign was an act of journalism, not book publishing. So Ryan’s still number one as far as I’m concerned.