“Should I give up?”, a question everyone will ask themselves at least once in their lifetime. We asked ourselves the same thing after our first crowdfunding campaign went down in flames. After some thinking and talking we decided there’s no chance in hell we’re giving up, we believe in the project way too much to give up. But then another question appeared – are we brave or just plain ol’ stupid? It seems that you can’t know. Well, at least not right away.
A couple of years ago I ran into the quote from the title. Coincidentally, about that time, I got my first gig in advertising and my boss said to me that I got the job because, talent and skill aside, I showed persistence. “Just stay persistent” he said and that stuck with me ever since. But the question is – how the hell do you know if you’re a f*** up or not?
Well, as far as I have figured it – you don’t. You just keep going, learning on the way and doing your best. If you’re not a f*** up it will come to fruition. But it’s not a smooth ride.
Just keep going.
A little backstory before we start
Back in 1886, when Robert Louis Stevenson started writing The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde under the heavy influence of cocaine (medically prescribed; back then it was a “cure” for almost anything), it took him three days to write it. When it was finished it was burned. Some say his wife burned it after reading, saying that it was one of the most disturbing and disgusting things she has ever read in her entire life. Others say he burned it to force himself to write it anew, because his wife said it should be written as an allegory. One way or the other, the book was burned. Whichever story holds true, Mr. Stevenson (still under the influence of cocaine) proceeded to write it again, achieving a feat of approximately 65 thousand words in mere six days. Mind you, there were no typewriters back then in 1886.
No typing, just quill and ink!
Medical “effects” aside it always fascinated me how he shrugged it off and did it all over again. Of course, now it’s all told matter-of-factly, but what was going on in his head? Was he hurt? Bewildered? On the verge of quitting? Surely it must have had some effect. Because we sure felt down when our first crowdfunding attempt for Jekyll & Hyde failed.
But remember – persistence is a virtue*.
*if you’re not a f*** up.
If you build it, they will come… or will they?
Somewhere in December of 2015, behind every launch schedule that we planned and with only one prototype of the book finished, we launched our Kickstarter campaign. Utterly dumb move, mind you, now that I look back, but hindsight is always 20/20.
Well, they say bad decisions are best lessons, so…
Hear me out – the thing is, after working on the books for almost a year, selling personal belongings to gather enough money to finance it (special thanks to my ex PS4, Nintendo Wii U and Xbox 360, among other things), focusing everything on product development, we forgot one thing – the thing that proved to be crucial and critical – we forgot to tell everyone about it.
Pretty embarrassing when you consider most of us have a background in advertising.
All the shame.
So… What now?
There’s an old saying – The cobbler’s children go unshod. Granted, doing a campaign for big brands vs. doing an online campaign for a crowdfunding project are two vastly different things, but the mechanics are the same. Instead, we didn’t do much on that front and little that we did we focused on the Amaranthine Books as a brand instead of the project. The campaign was slowly starting to burn out. Nevertheless, those that did find out about the book were thrilled and complimented us on our work, pledged for both versions even, but the problem was that we simply didn’t reach enough people. So with the imminent fail upon us we were trying to figure it out: what can we do better next time? What needs to change? What needs to be dropped?
It was… Difficult.
Even so, failure hit us deep, and I personally didn’t see a way, not at first at least. But this is where persistence came into play. We worked so hard, sacrificed so much… For nothing? So now we quit? Hell no! Sure, we saw no way out, but that didn’t stop us before. The first realization that got us through was when we remembered that little detail from Stevenson’s story from the beginning of this text. Sure, his book was burned, but did he give up? Nope. Sure, our campaign “burned”, but will we give up? Nope. We took it as a much needed symbolism. Embraced it. Like we needed to fail first so we can do it properly the next time. And then step by step, little by little we figured what can be improved. How to focus on the project; how to build a better web; how to improve the product and so on. And a few months after that came the first big recognition – our associates, Cerovski Print Boutique (they do our whole print production and we love them for that, they are truly the best) won the Inkspiration award for Best in Publishing category at DScoop in Tel Aviv with our Hyde edition. That was the moment we knew we created something special and that it was just a matter of doing things better in the future.
Soon we’ll see if we’re a f*** up or not. But we sure are persistent.