"A series of unfortunate events"
During the last 18 months I learned a new english word: setback.
If I translate it literally in Italian, this word means "put in the back", and it's curious how sometimes different languages, mixed together, create cruel (and effective!) associations of ideas.
In Italy, when something or somebody put a spoke in your wheel, and gives you a strong and unexpected discomfort, we usually say that "they put it in your back".
Yeah, it's an explicit sexual allusion: you will easily learn, if you keep reading my future posts, that in Italy basically every single life-situation could be explained with a sexual allusion.
So, I find the word "setback" incredibly appropriate for my last 18 months of work, because I have repeatedly felt annoying and unexpected pain in my ass.
- this is me, trying to reach my delivery-goal during the Kickstarter campaign. -
Before going on, I want to make an important premise: I know that every single job in this crazy world is haunted by frustration and pain. Maybe, being paid a million to cuddle a baby panda could be an exception, but I consider pandas incredibly annoying and I really don't like them. However, I'm not here to complain about my work, I know that a heart-surgeon handles a stress that would kill me in a couple of hours. So, take this post just as a cathartic "behind the scenes" of a miniatures manufacturer at his first, big, Kickstarter project.
ACT I : "naive ouverture"
I believe that, at least for a greenhorn creator, we could divide the emotional approach to a big project in 3 parts: the naive ouverture, a dramatic stichomythìa and, finally, the exodus.
The first part is the reason why people keep creating, despite all the troubles and failures that infest the vast ocean of business like insatiable sharks: you, the creator, can't help but thinking ONLY about your project, and the lenses of your emotional glasses are made by hope and positiveness. In my personal naive ouverture I spent days and days defining every single detail of the upcoming Kickstarter campaign, and in my mind everything, of course, would have worked as expected.
"Why not, after all?" I wondered.
I knew that I was creating a really cool range of miniatures, and I scoured all my budget to hire the best commercial partners for having the highest quality possible. 15microns-resolution 3d prints? I had them. One of the most appreciated resin casters of the market? Hired.
The closer we got to the Kickstarter opening date, the more confirmations we received: the mighty Paul Bonner and Guillottine Games, for example, endorsed our dwarves spontaneously, giving us a great visibility. I pushed random buttons on Facebook Advertising (I know about advertising as much as bio-engineering of sugar beet), and miraculously it worked, making us gain a wider audience.
At that time, it seemed that Odin looked for a moment to the Earth, and noticed us.
"What could possibly go wrong?!"
Well, borrowing the words of Shalev: "men make plans while Gods laugh" or, referring to the most famous Murphy: "If anything can go wrong, it will".
Let's start with a normal aspect of business: competitors.
In February 2017, apparently, everybody wanted to create dwarf miniatures, and they all decide to start their campaign a week before mine. My fault, obviously: I should have waited to announce urbis et orbi my campaign opening date. In my naivety I thought it would have been cool to announce it a month before the start, to give potential backers the time to organize and plan their purchases, but I fear that I gave a tasty key-pass to my competitors: such a shame for a proud Italian football-passionate, I should have mastered the art of waiting-and-strike!
Too easy, for them, to score an easy goal.
As expected, in a couple of days some competitors announced their datelines, and in the month that will be remembered as the "month where everybody funded dwarves", I came last.
Don't misunderstand me: I respect them, and I know that, in business, is absolutely normal to try to take as more advantage possible. Moreover, a couple of them created interesting miniatures, so I can proudly say that it was a hard war, that, and my dwarves had not disfigured at all, despite the disadvantage of starting 1-2 weeks after their rivals, when a lot of peoples already placed their pledges.
However, even if I don't complain at all about the economic result of my campaign, in a month where (including me) at least 3 manufacturers funded a fantasy dwarf range, each of them gaining 40-60k €, and Games Workshop put in stores the brand new Kharadron Overlords, I can't help but thinking about how it could have been for my range, without all that saturation of stunties.
Well, as I said before: it's business after all.
- a rare footage of me, launching my campaign opening date -
However, despite my first, critical, strategic mistake, the naive ouverture withstood.
In the first day of campaign we easily and rapidly reached our funding goal. To me, that in that moment I was in a classic stage-fright (I thought that only my parents and friends would have pledged), it was a great relief.
Moreover, the naivety of a greenhorn creator hit again: how to maintain, and possibly increase, people's interest?!
The campaign, in fact, was growing faster than expected, a really good news, obviously, but it also opened (perhaps too soon) a very obscure path: the stretch goals forest.
I was under pressure: I knew that a Kickstarter campaign bases a significant slice of success on stretch goals. After all, people want to have something for their bet on your project. I honestly thought about SG, before starting the campaign, but I didn't expected such a great success in such a short time!
So, maybe driven by the fear of disappointing expectations, after a long talk with my sculptors, I decided to put the heart over the barricade: do people want SG? I will give them GREAT stretch goals!
- this is me, preparing to unleash the fury of freebies on the campaign -
Warning: this is not a classic "oh, you promised too many stretch goals and you failed" story. Even if rashly, all our SG were calculated and they didn't afflicted the campaign economically. However, they were a big piece of the unfortunate puzzle that made my campaign a valley of tears.
In the fury of the campaign, I just fell in a sort of berserker mood: people just wanted more stuff, and I wanted only to create more stuff. I really didn't care about money, just about "we HAVE to unlock this new dwarf, it would be amazing!!".
So we unlocked new characters and new stretch goals: the funding growth, and the enthusiasm of backers had a sort of drug-effect on my soul.
I think I don't exaggerate, if I tell that if we judge this campaign only by the positive atmosphere that lingered above the project, it was one of the best miniatures campaigns on KS, at least of recent times.
In a pyrotechnical crescendo of success, the campaign was over before I even realized we reached more than 50k €.
Consider that, before the start of the campaign, I would have signed with my blood a path with the devil, for a 20-30k€ final result.
I was overwhelmed by joy.
Perhaps it was that joy that didn't make me see, on the horizon, that gigantic iceberg of resin that pointed right in the direction of our ship.
>continue in the next episode.