Tobias Buckell Goes Deep and Comes Back With Data

Toby Buckell did a Kickstarter for his novel The Apocalypse Ocean, and being Toby Buckell, now that he’s done with it, he’s written up an extensive (i.e., 5,000 word) post-mortem on the project, which includes context for the Kickstarter, the choices he made before, during and after the Kickstarter, and the lessons he’s learned from the project (and whether he’d do it again).

Toby’s write-up is very interesting to me, and I think will be for a whole bunch of writers who are considering doing their own Kickstarter projects. As with anything, we hear a lot about the exceptional Kickstarter projects — the ones like Amanda Palmer’s, which generated over a million dollars in funding — but not so much about the more modest-yet-successful efforts. Toby aimed for $10k with his Kickstarter and ended up with $11K and change when he was done… and yet still had to deal with all the back end issues of completion, fulfillment and so on that every successful project, modest or extreme, has to handle.

None of the rest of us are Toby, with his own specific set of conditions and challenges. That said, Toby is a good example of a mid-career novelist looking for new ways to get his words to people who want to read them, so the data and observations he’s got here is going to be useful for a bunch of folks. Again, if you’re a writer and thinking of using Kickstarter or some other manner of indie funding for your work, you’re going to want to read his write-up. This is good stuff.

11 Comments on “Tobias Buckell Goes Deep and Comes Back With Data”

  1. I purchased the book on Friday and finished it before going to bed. It is great, and I highly recommend it. (He has the ebook for sale directly on his site for a very reasonable price) if you have read the previous ones, I highly recommend it. If you haven’t had the fortune of reading his work I recommend starting with Crystal Rain.

  2. Yeah, it was nice to get a clear and honest picture of what was going on.

    Also, the printed version of the book is absolutely gorgeous.

    I would love to live in a world where more books got produced this way.

  3. I find this type of reporting fascinating and I’m not remotely in the business. It’s all very interesting insight into some hard core professional level thinking and discussion about working in a shifting environment. What works. What doesn’t. I can’t put my finger on why I find it compelling. Like I say, I’m not a writer. But, I think I’ll have to tell Professor Buckell thank you for his insight.

  4. I also participated in the KS project, a great book and as I told Toby, fantastic quality in terms of binding, paper quality (archival) and so on. Hopefully the sales will convince Toby to complete book 5 in the series !

  5. Two great examples of how Mr. Buckell’s three insights into building a good Kickstarter project are demonstrated are in the Fate gaming system ( and the Guide to Glorantha ( Currently Fate Core has raised $155,000+, approximately 5190% of its $3000 minimum, while the Guide to Glorantha has raised $232,000+, approximately 638% of its $36500 minimum.

    If you look into the background of both projects, they are remarkably similar–both projects were created by people who already had reputations for delivering quality products (#2) and needed funding to create a cool new product (#1) that appealed to an audience that they had already built up over many years (#3). Sounds like Tobias is onto something.

    (NOTE: For the sake of full disclosure, I am a backer of both Fate Core and the Guide to Glorantha.)

  6. This was a really cool look into the making of a book. I really enjoyed the article and the insight it gave into the process. I didn’t buy the book because I want to start with the first one but I did buy his book “Nascence: 17 Stories That Failed and What They Taught Me”. I’m really looking forward to reading this and getting more behind the scenes on the writing process and how to learn from stories that don’t turn out the way you want them to.

  7. Excellent – another Xenowealth tale! You are right to start with Crystal Rain, @Jeremy G: these books are so fast-paced that playing catch-up would be well-nigh impossible! Congrats to Toby – wishing him continued success!

  8. Very interesting reading- thanks for the link. I’d never have found it. And I’ve been looking for some escapist sci fi/fantasy to read, so I went ahead and bought the first book in the series.

  9. I’d be fascinated to see how much of a bump his other books get from this – I’m another one in the “never read any of his books, just grabbed the Nook of Crystal Rain” group.
    Maybe he’ll do a followup in a couple weeks, because that would be really interesting and has to be counted into the success of the kickstarter, I think.

  10. Cool post by Tobias. He sold me. Going to buy some of his books. BTW, there is a CNN article about how most kickstarter projects are really late or take the money and run. Unfortunately its not that hard to scam people on there.

    Not a knock at Tobias and as I said his blog entry is getting me to buy his books.

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