A Most Successful Kickstarter Campaign

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Gary Carbon’s in-progress cover

I attempted to fund my homage to the golden age of pulp magazines, Thrilling Adventure Yarns in 2019, estimating I needed $4500 to pay the authors somewhat below market rates, a cover painting, and book designer. I was shocked to do 200+% better with 400 backers.

Encouraged, I tried again with TAY 2021, which asked for a bit more, $6000, and got a bit more, $10,323, but once I factored in printing and shipping, I wound up losing money on the project (which certainly came in handy at tax time).

I really believe in the anthology, now a series, so wanted to try again. Deb rightly points out that given the hours invested in wrangling talent, running the campaign, and filling orders, I was treating this more as a hobby than a business, but I shouldn’t be losing money on it. I polled the backers from the first two books to see which genres they liked and which they didn’t along with other factors. Using that, I was prepared to go forward.

With her grudging blessing, I tried again. I invited a very different collection of authors to increase the range of outreach and variety of voices. I took a hard look at what it would cost to pay the writers, the cover artist, the book designer, printing and shipping. I pared it down the best I could and came up with a $10,000 ask. Some veteran campaigners thought I was asking a lot, but I saw a robust market and thought it was worth a try.

I admired all the graphic novels and comics-related projects that launch and fund within hours, so I was hoping to achieve a similar velocity. I also pared back the timing from 30 to 24 days, to truncate the dreaded middle of the campaign doldrums.

Gary Carbon’s cover designs

We launched on July 11 and by July 23, we hit the goal. That was slower than I had hoped for but was very pleased. Then came the stretch goals, which would ensure I could afford the four premier authors—Alex Segura, Diane Duane, Steve Savile, and Lawrence Watt-Evans—and hit those by August 1, which was impressive. I then rolled the diced on illustrations, pricing it so we could do it in halves. To me, having the art helps really make the book feel like an old-style magazine.

And we hit those too. To my utter shock, we sailed past that final goal, $17,000, and finished with $18,176, and 398 backers. Interestingly, given how many in the final two weeks ordered the full three-volume set digitally or in print, means my plan worked and we received new readers.

Along the way, other authors reached out, inquiring about being in the 2023 edition. My hopeful answer is that after printing and shipping are finalized in December, there will be a small profit allowing me to go one more time.

For those who somehow missed we ran a campaign, the book will be available for sale in print and digital around January 2023. I’ll keep you posted. For the record, here’s the full list of authors:

  • Raymond Benson (many James Bond novels)
  • Russ Colchamiro (the “Angela Hardwicke” series)
  • Greg Cox (many Star Trek novels)
  • Kathleen O. David (The Fans are Buried Tales)
  • Peter David (Spider-Man 2099, Star Trek: New Frontier)
  • Keith R.A. DeCandido (many Star Trek and Supernatural novels)
  • Lester Dent (creator of Doc Savage)
  • Lucienne Diver (the “Vamped” series)
  • Diane Duane (the “Young Wizards” series)
  • Mary Fan (Stronger than a Bronze Dragon)
  • Michael Jan Friedman (many Star Trek novels)
  • David Gerrold (Star Trek‘s “The Trouble with Tribbles”)
  • Glenn Hauman (Star Trek: S.C.E.)
  • Paul Kupperberg (creator of Peacemaker)
  • Will Murray (co-creator of Squirrel Girl)
  • Fabian Nicieza (co-creator of Deadpool)
  • Jean Rabe (many Dragonlance novels)
  • Aaron Rosenberg (the “DuckBob” series)
  • Jenifer Purcell Rosenberg (Bad Ass Moms, Devilish and Divine)
  • Catilin Rozakis (Baker Street Irregulars, Aurealis)
  • Steven Savile (many Warhammer and Torchwood novels)
  • Bart Sears & Michelle Sears (longtime comics artist)
  • Alex Segura (Secret Identity)
  • Hildy Silverman (Space and Time)
  • Geoffrey Thorne (Green Lantern, Leverage)
  • Mark Verheiden (Timecop, Battlestar Galactica)
  • Jody Lynn Nye (An Unexpected Apprentice)
  • Lawrence Watt-Evans (Legends of Ethshar)

And me. For this book, I returned to Sword & Sorcery, but went for a lighter touch. Based on a suggestion from Peter David, I had the beginnings of a story and broke it down with the assistance of houseguest Kelli Fitzpatrick (who appeared in TAY 2021). I wrote the story and this week she returned her comments, which were constructive, but also laudatory which warmed my heart.

Now we assemble the book. I’m awaiting a handful of manuscripts and I am beginning to assign artists. This should be something I will be very proud of in the end.

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