Aaron Pogue is a husband and a father of two who lives in Oklahoma City, OK. He became a sensation in the indie publishing community in 2011 with the phenomenal success of his epic fantasy novel Taming Fire. Now the author of several bestselling fantasy novels, he's also written mainstream thrillers, urban fantasy, and several kinds of science fiction, including a long-running science fiction mystery series focused on the FBI Ghost Targets task force.
Aaron is the president and CEO of the Consortium, Inc., an Oklahoma City-based non-profit that's striving to establish a new patronage. He's also head publisher with the company's imprint, Consortium Books. Aaron earned a Master of Professional Writing degree at the University of Oklahoma in 2012. He has been a Technical Writer with the Federal Aviation Administration and a writing professor at the university level.
Aaron maintains a personal website for his friends and fans at AaronPogue.com, he runs a writing advice blog at UnstressedSyllables.com, and he is a founding artist at ConsortiumOKC.com.
Hey, Carlton. I understand your frustration. It's something of a chicken-and-egg problem. To get more than hobby money out of KickStarter, it seems like you already need to be a pretty well-established business.
For our part, we had some money to spend on video resources, but what we lacked was time. By the time we started on the KickStarter campaign, we had to choose between moving ahead without fancy graphic effects (like even cover art), or postponing the book's release so we could make a more impressive video.
Our hope was that the public interest angle would generate enough response to make up for the rushed production. It hasn't. We sent out press releases to hundreds of sites a couple weeks ago, and they've only been picked up by two real news sites (a publishing-industry site where the other writers hated my attack on copyright, and here at TechDirt). The press from those two sites was enough to gain us about 15% of our goal, but we'd hoped for follow-on publicity from dozens more sites, and that hasn't come through.
By comparison, we ran a campaign back in December for book 2, where we were only looking to cover production costs (our goal was $2,000), and we just barely managed that at the last minute. We went a lot more aggressive this time, banking on the publicity angle, and it fell through. We could have asked for a much smaller number, but that probably would have resulted in even less press attention.
Which probably means you're right back where you were. Build a platform, engage in social media, find ways to keep in direct contact with the fans you do pick up along the way, and eventually you'll be able to direct-market to enough people to make a KickStarter successful.
In other words, KickStarter doesn't actually solve any of the start-up problems. It just makes an easy way to request and collect cash once you've solved them yourself.
As I mentioned on Twitter, I just discovered Unglue.it, and I'm excited about it!
As to your other questions...we're back to the old open-source-software conversation about the difference between free-as-in-speech, and free-as-in-beer. That's also an answer to an objection someone else raised below (about us offering a KickStarter reward for a bundle of e-books that could be bought for $13 individually).
This campaign isn't really meant to get consumers free stuff. It's meant to get artists free material. We're asking art-lovers to patronize the production of new art.
We do still sell the book products on Amazon (albeit at a much lower price than traditional publishers might ask). The proceeds from those sales fund our organization.
Perhaps KickStarter could prove a reliable alternative, and we could stop selling products. Perhaps Unglue.it could serve that purpose. At the moment, Amazon is a much easier way to achieve our goals, even with CC0 products.
So far, it doesn't work at all. The organization isn't funded yet. But our business model is centered around a Renaissance-inspired mentoring model.
So we'd have Master-level artists who are responsible both for producing new art, and for training up the Journeymen (who are producing new art and training up the Apprentices). An artist's salary, then, is based on his or her current level.
You make a good point, Torg. My first attempt at a KickStarter was aimed directly at my fanbase (and, specifically, at the narrow subset I could reach through my blog/Facebook). I figured they were the only ones who'd care.
That one barely squeaked by with a $2,000 goal, though. Admittedly, its purpose wasn't quite so noble (it was just meant to fund production costs). We raised the stakes on this campaign with the specific goal of reaching a much wider audience, and then I neglected to introduce myself or the popular fantasy series to the new arrivals.
I appreciate insight, and I wholeheartedly support your conclusion. Whether or not I can make a campaign like this succeed, the model could still be sound.