On a failure

Here is a story about a recent failure of mine.

It all started with an idea, which I knew, just knew, was brilliant. I told my friend, to check, and she thought so too. I invited her to do the idea with me, to make it happen in the world, and she said yes. We couldn’t believe our luck, to have stumbled on such a good idea. Plus, we were going to get to work together again, what larks!

We took our idea to a publisher. They liked it very much. They got it pretty much instantly. From my initial email pitch to getting the green light took half an hour. A record. I pinched myself. What we love about your idea, the publisher said, is that everyone gets it straight away. It’s brilliant. Thank you, I said, I think so too.

We wrote a contract, invited other poets to participate, and made a video to launch it online. Everyone we spoke to said what a brilliant idea, we can’t believe anyone has not done this before. The pledges to support the book went beyond 10% in the first week. We knew we were on to a winner.

The pledges began to slow down, as we expected, over Christmas. It’s nothing to worry about, the publisher said, we can relaunch the idea in the new year with a social media campaign. Still the pledges seemed to stall. When we hit the seemingly magic figure of 33% our spirits lifted. The social media campaign came and went, nudging us to 36%, then, a few weeks later, to 37%. Which is where it stayed.

We decided to throw the towel in earlier this week. Speaking personally, I am really sad that this brilliant idea, the one that is so easy to get, has been so difficult to sell beyond our immediate circles. But I am kind of relieved as well. No more measuring my self-worth in pledges or likes on Facebook! Perhaps there is a lesson there. What hurts is not the failure. That is pretty much assured. It’s the gap between people’s eyes lighting up when they hear the idea and their reluctance to put their money where their mouths are when we ask them to pledge their support. I do hope we will be back, perhaps with another publisher. I do still think it is a brilliant idea, even though it was a failure. Now I move on to my next one.


  1. This is a great story! I too have fallen victim of this failure in thinking that I could write poems and people would donate to charity. People like the poems but very few give! I really wanted to support you, it was on my birthday list, sadly I couldn’t justify just doing it for my own guilty pleasure -there is a lesson there! Good luck with it, never stop!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This reminds me of the story of The King’s Tailor. You have made a story out of the story. But maybe, for this one, crowd funding wasn’t the right route. I’ve pledged to a number of crowdfunded projects that haven’t come off. I’m not that keen on crowds….. There are other ways. I do, however, like the picture of the sludge in the corner of the room.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Nell. I really appreciate your thoughts. I am actually still chipper about the idea, but like you I doubt that crowdfunding is the way to go with it. I’d like to pitch it again, elsewhere. Watch this space. You are still invited. As ever in awe and thanks, A


  3. Thanks for sharing this story. A failure seems too harsh a term to use. I think you draw attention to the flaws of using crowdfunding. Perhaps this is an interesting point in the life cycle of that method of financing arts projects and perhaps this setback in your venture will lead you, or someone related to this, to come up with a new, as yet uninvented, method. On another point, I love the new look on your blog – it’s very fresh and inviting. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hi Josephine
      I really appreciate you taking the time to say this. Thank you.
      I’m still optimistic about the idea. Still think it has legs in some form or other.
      We will see, and hopefully go again.
      I’m really pleased you like the new look on the blog. As you know I don’t think it’s the main thing, but it’s so nice to have it noticed. I took inspiration from your layout quite a lot. As ever with very best wishes

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The idea IS brilliant, of course. Your post reminded me viscerally of the stresses of an on-line fundraising project I undertook 3 years ago. It was not a joyous process; I recall hating the ways it made me feel, just as you describe. But the idea? For the book? It hasn’t failed at all. It is beautiful! Blessings.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Just a few words, Anthony…

    Don’t Feel Too Much

    Don’t feel too much, or else
    You might become attached to all of this.
    Robins sing like crisp and freshly-folded Irish linen,
    Sparkling-green, unfurling leaves subdue the air,
    A chipmunk rustles through the brown,
    Dry grass and hops across my path.
    In this moment, above the cold and purling creek,
    A loon wings by, crying to the wind, the trees, the sky.
    Ahhh, Spring! life’s poultice for this weary world,
    And on this day, the seed potatoes came
    To my awaiting garden.

    Take care, Jerry.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I was glad to be one of your 37% and hope the book will eventually see the light of day. It is a brilliant idea, even if crowdsourcing somewhat less so.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much Maggi. You are indeed in the 37%. (I should get a T shirt.) Which I appreciate deeply. I’d like to go again. Still think it’s a brilliant idea. Thank you again for your support, Anthony


  7. The word “failure” seems to carry a lot of baggage in today’s world. I’m not a big fan of its use. I suspect that, in a matter of months, when you’ve gained new perspective on your life, the unachieved goal will be viewed as a small part of a rich life. Kudos to you for continuing the daily effort of fully living your dreams.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Thanks for an interesting and honest post Anthony. I have been hesitating over doing a Kickstarter for a Proletarian Poetry anthology. However, I feel very uncomfortable about asking people for money, especially in these uncertain times. Your experience has made me finally decide not to go that route. If I can’t get ACE funding or other means, then it won’t happen; and I am fine with that. Best of luck with your project. Peter

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Dear Peter
      Thank you so much for your generous comment.
      I’m not against crowdfunding, but it just wasn’t right for this project. The entry level pledge was a tenner for an ebook, then up to £25 for a hardback. I’m not sure that really washed with the poetry audience. I’ve pledged to projects as a punter, to the Rialto and Enitharmon, so know it can be done.
      I think our next move is to take stock, then possibly pitch it elsewhere. Do keep me posted with how you get on.
      With best wishes

      Liked by 1 person

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