Some time ago, I started a project called Hoods, Hot Rods, and Hellcats. Besides wanting the experience of self-publishing something, I wanted to put together an anthology of crime fiction that I’d like to read. Not only was I tired of all the modern
crime fiction squalor porn set in trailer
parks and meth houses, but I was sick of everything that took place in the past
being all fedoras and jazz music.
For me, the 1950s was an easy choice of time periods. It’s close enough to be familiar but distant enough to allow a bit of freedom, while still managing to carry a conflicting set of images. The 1950s is both A Rebel Without A Cause and Leave It To Be Beaver—which says a great deal about the time period, I think. Far better than I ever could, the legendary Mick Farren, one of my personal heroes, provides in his introduction a far more eloquent and succinct overview of the Eisenhower years as the clash of a newly crowned superpower’s love of placid consumerism with the dissatisfaction of the individual. Crime fiction (I refuse to use the word “noir”—see above for my feelings on fedoras and jazz music) is, to me and in spite of its hijacking by the Dirty Harry crowd, leftist fiction. It’s about class struggle or, if you want to avoid quite as overt political language, you can opt for Lehane’s carefully worded: “working class tragedy.”
Politics and social dynamics aside, I also wanted motorcycles and hot rods and leather jackets and switchblades and girls in tight sweaters all soundtracked by a rockabilly beat.
More than anything else though, I knew I wanted the writers to get paid. None of that bullshit about getting “your name out there” or the hollow promise of somewhere down the line maybe seeing $5 once the profits over the last four years, after production costs, were divided up 30 different ways. Now, since I don’t just have that kind of money lying around, that meant raising it through crowdfunding.
The Indiegogo campaign was moderately successful, earning enough to pay the writers and cover almost all of the costs. Where the crowdfunding money fell short was mostly due to first-time mistakes, planning oversights, and the unavoidable things life throws at you. Yesterday, far behind schedule, I sent out the last of the Indiegogo donation level gifts—paperback copies signed by everyone except Mick. Hoods, Hot Rods, and Hellcats is now, finally, making its way through Createspace and Kindle Direct Publishing toward live sale. I hope you’ll check it out when it becomes available. In the meantime, if you’re thinking about doing something like this, I want to give you some advice:
1.) Real life and most other people don’t care about your plans.
- Not only did Mick Farren die before the project was fully complete but my wife’s vision problems became far more serious.
2.) Overestimate delivery and completion dates.
- Things will run behind schedule (see #1). Not only will it relieve some of your stress if you’ve given yourself far more time than you think you need, but donators are always happier to receive something ahead of schedule than months late.
3.) Keep your donation levels simple.
- More donation level gifts mean:
- More work.
- More cost.
- More chance for things to go wrong.
4.) Be realistic with your cash goal.
- Too high and your campaign might not succeed, so you either get nothing or you get hit with the far higher flexible funding cost.
- Too low and you’ll end up in the hole.
- Absolutely do not think to make up costs with stretch goals. Stretch goals only work for projects with a large and existing fan base. Mostly, stretch goals are just #3 mistakes in a different package.
5.) Complete everything you feasibly can prior to the completion of your campaign.
- This will help:
- Your stress when #1 happens.
- You find someone new when someone flakes.
- The project keep on schedule.
6.) Mailing your donation level gifts:
- Triple check your estimated mail costs before taking your campaign live.
- Personally confirm the mailing addresses of all your donators.
- Send everything you can with either tracking or delivery confirmation.