Plans for ROCKET JUMPImage Not Found.
Rocket Jump’s extended campaign on Indiegogo ended a few days ago. If you’ve been following along, you’ve no doubt noticed that we failed to meet our funding goal there and on Unbound. Unfortunately, that means our campaign has come to an end.
Since announcing the campaign’s end on Twitter, I’ve had a few people tweet and DM to express their disappointment that they won’t get to read the book. You will get to read it. It just won’t be published by Unbound. The publisher/crowdfunding platform and I have amicably parted ways. That makes me a free agent where Rocket Jump is concerned.
I try to be transparent with my fans, so I’d like to use this final update to give you an overview of where things went wrong and talk about my next steps.
First things first: I was and remain beyond impressed with the diligence and determination of everyone at Unbound who teamed up with me to give this book its best shot. Before I dig into what went wrong, some thank-yous are in order.
The publisher’s design team did a fantastic job with their cover and layout mockups, and I’m genuinely sad I won’t get to see the results of their creative genius and hard work on my bookshelf.
Beth Lewis, my editor, fought as hard as I did to make the campaign a success. I am tremendously grateful for her support and grit. Any Unbound authors who work with her are lucky to have her in their corner.
Matthew Clayton was the first manager at Unbound to reach out to me after Rocket Jump went viral after its publication on Shacknews.com last December. He was so excited to talk to me about the book, and his enthusiasm was infectious throughout the campaign.
I Backed the Book. Do I Get a Refund?
The short answer: Yes.
The longer answer: Unbound will be taking down the Indiegogo and Unbound project pages for Rocket Jump next week. At that time, you should receive an email asking if you prefer to get a refund for your pledge, or if you’d like to transfer it to credit for Unbound’s online store.
What Went Wrong?
Another preface: I’m not pointing the finger at anyone. As Rocket Jump’s author, the buck stopped right here. I was ultimately responsible for pushing the book across the finish line. I did my best, and so did my team.
The first problem I perceived was a lack of transparency. Unbound’s platform does not disclose certain information to users. You can see how far along a campaign is in terms of percentage funded, but not the specific monetary goal an author is trying to raise.
Unbound does this so they can be flexible with funding goals. Rocket Jump is the perfect example. When the book floundered, my team and I decided to shift from full-color to black-and-white printing. This let us lower the funding goal. Overnight, a campaign that was 25% funded jumped up to around 43% funded. That helped! Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough.
Our second issue was the initial campaign’s duration. Unbound runs campaigns for around 90 days instead of the recommended 30 commonly seen on Kickstarter. Kickstarter allows for some flexibility in the duration of a campaign, but the reason so many creators opt for 30 days is because keeping people interested in and excited by a product is hard to do for longer than a month. I pounded pavement to do podcasts and interviews; I published excerpts; I shared information on social media. I truly believe I did my best, but keeping momentum going for three months is very, very difficult.
Third, the campaign entered limbo between the end of the 90-day period on Unbound and the campaign’s extension on Indiegogo. During that time—almost three months—the book was just kind of… there. It had not funded, but it hadn’t not funded either. That likely scared off potential backers. If I saw a book sitting at 25%, or any percent funded for months, I’d assume it was DOA, too.
Our initial plan was to shift the campaign over to Kickstarter. We both agreed—and still agree—that Rocket Jump would have funded over there. Why? No offense to Indiegogo, Unbound, or any other crowdfunding platform, but Kickstarter is ubiquitous. It is crowdfunding. Creators get more exposure there than they could hope to get anywhere else. I’m not saying that funding the book would have been as easy as launching a Kickstarter and putting my feet up for 30 days, but it would have helped.
So, why didn’t we use Kickstarter? Beth explained this to me. Kickstarter forbids creators to launch a second project until they’ve finished their first. Finished does not mean reaching the end of one funding period. It means that if you fail, you’ve finished, but if you hit your funding goal, you have to manufacture and distribute your product before you can launch another campaign.
Unbound happened to have funded another book on Kickstarter. At the time Beth and I were hoping to move Rocket Jump over, that book hadn’t even entered printing yet. That’s not Unbound’s fault. Making a book takes a long time! Believe me, I know. If our timing had been better, maybe things would be different. Shoulda, woulda, coulda.
Fourth, there was a funding snag on Indiegogo. For almost a week, the book sat at 1% funded. Then I received a message on Twitter from someone who wanted to let me know he’d tried to fund, but had received an error message from Indiegogo. Something about the project creator needing to finalize their payment information. So, for all I know, hundreds of people tried to back the project that first week, but couldn’t. From the outside looking in, my book sat around for a week and barely made a dime. Again, if I were a prospective backer, I’d assume the book wasn’t going anywhere.
Fifth, I’d already spent four months (January, when Beth and I built the Unbound campaign, through May, when the 90 days expired) drumming up support for this book. Many of the outlets who were interested in promoting the book the first time around either had a rule against double dipping for promotion, or weren’t interested in promoting a book that had already failed its first attempting at funding.
Again, I do not blame anyone at Unbound for these circumstances. Because that’s what they were: circumstances. Everyone worked hard, and I am extremely grateful for that.
You’re going to get to read Rocket Jump. In fact, you’ll get to read the whole thing in less than two months.
If you’ve followed my work, you know that I participate in Story Bundles 3-4 times per year. Story Bundle is a pay-what-you-want platform, like Humble Bundle, but for eBooks. Spend a little, and you get a few eBooks. Spend a little more, and you get every book in a bundle—usually around 10. It’s a great deal.
Three to four times a year, Story Bundle runs promotions on books about game development and culture. I’ve had books in their bundles for nearly two years running. The next one is planned for November, and Rocket Jump will be a part of it. You’ll be able to get the book in epub and mobi formats. Better yet, I’ll have a second book in the bundle. If you support it, you’ll get Rocket Jump, plus another book of mine, plus 6-8 more, for a great price.
As for print editions of Rocket Jump: I’ve got a few options. Rest assured that if you want to have Rocket Jump on your bookshelf, that will happen.
My final thank you goes out to each and every backer on Unbound and Indiegogo. If you’re one of the excited readers and gamers who supported my work: THANK YOU, from the bottom of my heart. Your support and encouragement mean the world to me.
Anyone who wants to keep tabs on Rocket Jump and my other books—such as Stay Awhile and Listen: Book II, which I funded on Kickstarter earlier this summer—should visit www.davidlcraddock.com and follow me on Twitter @davidlcraddock. I’ll be starting a newsletter soon that will detail what projects I’m working on and when and where you can find them.
Until then, thank you one more time for your support.