At this point, the crowdfunding site Kickstarter has become the go-to for just about every role-playing game and board game franchise, with dozens of tremendously successful games funded thanks to the support of fans, friends, and family. There have been missteps along the way of course, but for every disaster that results in a lawsuit, there are plenty of Kickstarters that succeed -- and yet still leave a bad taste in everyone's mouth. Many of these issues can easily be avoided with some planning and forethought. As someone who has backed over 30 projects, with some amounts exceeding $200, here's a list of pet peeves that I hope will help -- seriously guys, cut it out.
- You refuse to acknowledge risk. Your risks section better be more than one sentence. There are risks in producing EVERYTHING, even when you've written the entire book and it's a heartbeat away from being printed. Your failure to acknowledge risk tells me that you don't want my funding that badly. If you can't have a serious conversation about what could go wrong, why should I trust you with my money?
- You start a new Kickstarter while you're screwing up the first one. Gamers talk. We are one of the most community-minded, Internet-savvy types of funders, so when you mess up in one corner of the Internet, we notice. Admit your flaws. Don't hide them. And for the love of all that is holy, finish one Kickstarter before you start a new one!
- You refuse to admit you screwed up. It's one thing to change the Kickstarter mid-stream, but if you're just outright failing with your Kickstarter, it may be time to refund everyone's money. This is most often an issue with manufacturers who fail to deliver. Look, we get it, manufacturers are unreliable and difficult to deal with. That responsibility is on you to address this, and if you didn't do your homework ahead of time...too bad. The buck still stops with you.
- You change the output of the Kickstarter mid-stream without explaining. If you decide to suddenly change the format from hardcover to softcover, or from resin to metal, this tells me something went wrong behind the scenes. Be honest about it -- if it's a manufacturing cost you screwed up on estimating, just say that. But don't just mysteriously change the nature of the Kickstarter.
- You sell product from a Kickstarter before the funders receive it. This is a known tactic -- you screwed up your estimates, got too popular, and didn't allocate enough funds to move all your product. The problem is usually in shipping, but it can happen in manufacturing too. So what happens is publishers try to start selling product early to fund the rest of the Kickstarter. This is just uncool, because what it means is you screwed up and are hoping we won't notice. Newsflash: WE NOTICE.
- You release your content at a con before the backers receive it. Gen Con is important, we get it. But when you do this, you're communicating to backers that con-goers are more important than the funders who put their money and faith in you before you showed up at the con. That just pisses us off.
- You refuse to put the size of your miniatures front and center. I'm sure your board game is really amazing. But here's a fact: many of us will never play it. A lot of funders support Kickstarters because they want the cool components in the game. If you produce a game with miniatures of any type -- monsters, humanoids, animals, whatever -- some of us just want to know what scale the miniature is. I know you know this, because after launching the Kickstarter the FAQs are inevitably updated with this information. If you want my money, just recognize that I might only be interested in your Kickstarter for the miniatures. And speaking of which...
- You won't sell the miniatures separately. Like #7, I get it that you want to sell a board game. I'm sure your board game is amazing. But I just want your miniatures. Want my money? Sell the miniatures separately. Want all of my money? Offer a "all miniatures in one package" deal. I've supported Kickstarters that have offered this and backed out of Kickstarters that won't acknowledge their precious board game isn't what we're interested in.
- You clam up on Kickstarter, but are still active on the Internet. So you've screwed up royally and instead of fessing up, you just stop talking to us. But if you think you're hiding but are still active on social media and elsewhere...well this just makes people even angrier. There's nowhere to hide on the Internet. Having an active Facebook or LinkedIn profile while you refuse to acknowledge your Kickstarter contributors is proof that your fingers still work, you're just ignoring your customers.
- You attack your critics. Please note that when a crowd speaks to a company, we see each other as equals. If you attack any one of us -- including the loud-mouthed jerk writing a top ten list -- we see it as an attack on any one of us. You don't have to love negative feedback, but if someone calls you out on something like a failure to deliver on time, threatening a member of your crowdfunding pool is suicide. You can be sure that for every person who was loud about it, there were five who said nothing but don't plan to ever give you another dime.
Need more help? See this Kickstarter advice.
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