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.