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Five Reasons Why Supporting Enclave’s Kickstarter Is A Good Idea

Splickety Magazine owner/editor Ben Wolf shares five informed reasons to support Enclave Publishing ’s Kickstarter.
| Jul 25, 2014 | 17 comments |

When Enclave Publishing (formerly Marcher Lord Press) announced its Kickstarter campaign to help fund and promote their fall 2014 lineup of books, Speculative Faith’s own E. Stephen Burnett posted about his support of the endeavor on his Facebook page.

And the thread caught fire. I’m writing today to clear up some misconceptions about what’s really going on, here.

Splickety Magzine editor and owner Ben Wolf

Splickety Magzine editor and owner Ben Wolf

Let me preface this by saying that I’ve had multiple conversations with both Steve Laube (owner of Enclave) and Thomas Umstaddt, Jr. (his web designer/marketing consultant on the Kickstarter campaign), about Enclave, marketing, and Kickstarter in general.

I’m not an employee of Enclave, nor do I work for Thomas. I’m the Executive Editor/Founder of Splickety Publishing Group, a freelance editor, and author. We don’t compete with Enclave because we publish magazines.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I have paid money to see both Thomas and Steve teach at conferences, and I have personally backed (at least) two of Thomas’s Kickstarter campaigns, both of which delivered the promised content for what the level of support I committed. I also intend to back the Enclave Kickstarter based on the reasons I’m going to detail below.

I say this to establish that I’m both more or less objective (I really admire and like both Steve and Thomas, and I’ve learned a ton from both of them) but also more attuned to what they’re trying to accomplish because of conversations we’ve had and based on past kickstarter campaigns and marketing endeavors.

I’m also well-acquainted with Jeff Gerke, the founder and former owner of Marcher Lord Press (MLP). He and I have also discussed the shift of MLP’s ownership from himself to Steve, and he has had nothing but praise for Steve and encouragement for readers, authors, and followers to continue to support MLP/Enclave under Steve’s management.

Without further delay, here are five reasons why we should support the Enclave Kickstarter.

1. Kickstarter is a legitimate crowdfunding site.

People/businesses use Kickstarter these days. It’s part of this new technological age we live in, and it’s silly to chastise Steve Laube, the owner of Enclave, for using a tool that is available to him.

Ever heard of venture capitalists or angel investors? Ever been given a loan or a gift from a friend, relative, or even a perfect stranger that you then used to accomplish something?

That’s what this is. It’s startup cash. It’s coming to Enclave in a different form, yes, but essentially it’s no different. In fact, it has additional benefits that don’t come with angel investors or venture capitalists.

2. They will deliver on their promises.

Some people have criticized them for using Kickstarter itself because of allegations of misuse or even fraud and scams that other users have run through Kickstarter, which is a legitimate concern.

But that’s not Kickstarter’s fault. That’s the fault of the folks who abused a great tool and cast Kickstarter in a negative light. Criticizing a company for using a tool that is available to them to expand their business is ridiculous, especially when that company (or the person or persons behind it) are known for their integrity.

Thomas UmStaddt, Jr. ran two Kickstarter campaigns in the last few years that I supported. Guess what happened? He delivered exactly what he said he would, and he delivered it earlier than he said he would.

Steve Laube is widely respected for his integrity and stellar career within the CBA. According to Amanda Luedeke, an agent from MacGregor Literary, Steve “would never do this to pocket money or improve his bottom line.”

As a further testament to his integrity, let me tell you a story that involves Steve and Havok, Splickety’s spec fic imprint:

Jeff Gerke committed ebook versions of all 40-ish of the books he’d published through MLP as a prize for Havok’s first ever contest in our July issue of this year. Then he went and sold the company to Steve.

I contacted Steve to follow up with him about the prize, and while he said he thought the prize was quite steep, he agreed to honor Jeff’s commitment. After the contest, he awarded the prize to our winning author. He didn’t argue or try to renegotiate—he just fulfilled the obligation, even though someone else had obligated him to do it.

Suffice it to say, I think you can trust these guys.

enclavenewsletter_nevergiveupneversurrender

3. MLP may be five years old, but Enclave is just a baby.

Let’s be realistic, here. Enclave is, for all intents and purposes, a new business. When Jeff Gerke left MLP in Steve’s hands, there was one publishable manuscript available and a very different process and infrastructure. The rest had to be restarted from scratch.

Now, within six months (or so) of the purchase announcement date, there are five. That takes some serious spending (covers alone can range from $300 to $800 or more for great-quality work, plus Steve is paying top level editors their market wage while Jeff did the editing himself) and this Kickstarter is only trying to raise $2500. That’s easily 1/4 or smaller of the investment Steve is making in the launch of these new books.

Do you really think Steve needs an extra $2500 to make these books go? Come on. He’s just asking us to be good capitalists and to vote with our wallets. If you don’t want to vote, then don’t.

$2500 is a pittance, and the money itself is likely not the reason they’re doing it this way. In fact…

4. Kickstarter is as much a marketing effort as it is a fundraising effort.

enclavepublishingBy stirring up controversy we’ve just drawn more attention to the supposed trickery and evil of Enclave, and as such, now more people know their name. Mission accomplished.

As Kickstarter says on its own website: “A Kickstarter project does more than raise money. 
It builds community around your work.” Again, mission accomplished, especially since they’ve already surpassed their $2500 goal.

What’s more, it’s a convenient, fun way to preorder Enclave’s books. They have plenty of options (prices and rewards in exchange for various levels of commitments) for you to choose from should you decide to invest. That’s really what this is: a streamlined way to preorder books (at nice discounts, might I add).

Amanda Luedeke added that, “this is a way for him to take pre-orders without having to [go through] Amazon.” Apparently, it’s harder for small houses to get the perks that larger houses get from Amazon, and preorders are a part of that. This way Steve can offer his readers discounts without being at Amazon’s mercy.

5. Steve is one of us.

Steve Laube is a speculative fiction aficionado and he’s easily the nerdiest (in a positive, cerebral way) lit agent I’ve ever met. I swear to you—I was actually surprised at how big into spec fic he was. I had no idea. He’s an avid spec fic reader, and he knows and loves the genre better than most (if not all) of us do, Christian or otherwise.

He’s every bit as dedicated to making Enclave (and Christian speculative fiction on the whole) succeed in our marketplace as Jeff is/was, and he wants all of us to be a part of that.

Steve and Enclave are NOT evil or bad or stupid. Steve is going to take Christian spec fic to the next level, and we should help and support to do it. So, if you’ve got a grievance, air it out in the comments section, and let’s get to the root(s) of the issue(s) and find a way to move forward.

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Sarah Grimm
Guest

Great points, Ben.

I’m proud to say that I have backed this campaign. One reason is because I figured I’d buy the books on the list anyway. Another is because, as a Christian writer of speculative fiction, I want to see this genre succeed. I want to see it grow within the Christian community. This marketing effort, this ability to support a publishing house who wants the same things for the Christian spec fic genre, sounds like a great way to try and reach those goals.

Bethany A. Jennings
Member

Another happy supporter here!  I didn’t really have any suspicions about the campaign.  I was excited to support a company I love as they rebrand, and plus – discounted books!  😀

Josh
Guest
Josh

I’m happy to be supporting this project. And I wholeheartedly agree with what all y’all have said.

Ben Wolf
Guest

Enclave sparked a major FB debate on whether or not this was an outright scam or something legit, but for anyone who actually knows Steve and Thomas, we know they are two of the most upright, noble, respectable guys in the CBA. It’s silly to point fingers at people for wrongdoing when there is no wrongdoing being done, so E. Stephen asked me to write this post since I felt so strongly about it.

Bethany A. Jennings
Member

That’s crazy!  I guess some people just don’t know what Kickstarter is, or what crowdfunding means.

Ben Wolf
Guest

No kidding, Bethany! It’s comparable to getting a loan from a bank, or to getting someone to invest in your company. Instead, it enlists multiple people to help support the company, which increases Kickstarter’s overall value because it directly connects people to the company running the campaign. Marketing + fundraising = win.

D. M. Dutcher
Member

I don’t know why people would think it a scam. You could debate about the ethics of preordering as basis for kickstarting, but few projects would be as rock solid as this.

D. M. Dutcher
Member

I’m not doing the kickstarter, mostly because it’s more of a pre-order thing for established books. I mean, it’s not like he’s asking money to do it, or that if he failed to meet his goals they’d not come out. There’s not even any stretch goals like the early release of another novel; it’s all preselling. So there’s less of a sense of urgency, and it’s more an appeal to people who want a good deal on books.

This isn’t bad at all; honestly it’s a great deal. But I already own two of the five books; Knox’s Irregulars was self-pubbed before Steve picked it up, and I have the annotated Firebird. (By the way, the annotated version is worth buying; the insights into Kathy’s mind are actually better than the book itself.) There’s Failstate legends, which I intend to buy along with the earlier books, and then there’s the two original books.

I hate to say it, but I’m not really keen on them enough to preorder.  I really am jaded on “girl on the cover” fantasy or (rarely) SF. So I’ll probably pick them up later.

I didn’t participate or know about the facebook thread, and Steve seems like an okay guy. I wouldn’t advise against supporting the Kickstarter at all, but for me there isn’t enough desire to participate.

Ben Wolf
Guest

Thanks, dmdutcher. Steve is an AWESOME guy. Choosing not to preorder because you don’t want to preorder is totally a valid reason, as opposed to some of the Enclave-hating reasons that have been floating around.

Teddi Deppner
Guest

Great thoughts, Ben! When I saw your article title, I laughed because I wrote something similar last week. It was refreshing to hear your thoughts, since you came at this with your own personal experience with Umstadd’s other Kickstarters and addressed concerns that I hadn’t come across in the Facebook threads I’d participated in.

I supported the campaign and am looking forward to getting the books. I’ve only just started reading fiction again in the last year or so. As a busy mom and freelance web designer, my pleasure reading had taken the back burner. Some years I might have only read 2-3 new books the whole year, with a smattering of re-reading favorite chapters of certain favorite books now and then. In the last 12 months I’ve managed to read books from the library, books on my Kindle, and even a few paper books I purchased here and there or won in online contests. Feels good to explore new worlds again.

I’m looking forward to seeing whether I connect with the sorts of books Steve wants to publish. If nothing else, I want to support the genre whether or not these particular books turn out to be favorites. Sure would be great to see more Christians finding this stuff and enjoying it.

Teddi Deppner
Guest

Huh. Not sure why the system didn’t automatically grab my last blog post and link to it. Here’s the link to my 7 Reasons to Support the Enclave Publishing Kickstarter.

 

(Oh, and lookie — the Comment Luv plugin worked this time, it’s attached to this comment, too…)

HG Ferguson
Guest
HG Ferguson

Resistance is futile.

D. M. Dutcher
Member

What would you resist, man?

I’m often critical about Christian culture, but I don’t get why people would hate on this.

Paul Lee
Member

HG’s comment could merely be a jibe at the hyper-enthusiastic marketing. The campy marketing combined with the blatant capitalism of the Kickstarter campaign is enough to make the whole thing <i>feel</i> kind of gimmicky, like an infomercial. At any rate, in light of the “Never give up! Never surrender!” HG’s comment is funny.

They should have named it “Collective” instead of “Enclave.” 😉

Ben Wolf
Guest

I sense some disdain from you, bainespal, about this campaign. What makes you consider it “hyper-enthusiastic marketing?” And what about it is “blatant capitalism,” and why is that bad? Inquiring minds (brainwashed or otherwise) want to know.

Paul Lee
Member

Not specific disdain. Marketing and capitalism are not bad.  Sometimes, it just seems a little silly.

But, I do have a tendency to support the minority opinion. I actually paused for a long time before submitting my previous comment. I wasn’t sure that I was going to submit it, and then I accidentally tapped my laptop’s touch pad and clicked the button.

I kind of wanted to support HG’s “resistance,” because it appears that pro-Enclave is the Official Position. It’s so official that Speculative Faith is doing free PR for it. It makes it seem like everyone who reads Speculative Faith is implicitly supposed to be a big fan and customer of Enclave. The sanctioning makes it feel a little more silly. 🙂

Sorry. I really didn’t want to be divisive. But HG kind of started it, and then you asked for clarification.

Ben Wolf
Guest

Hey bainespal, I hear you, and I don’t think you’re being divisive. I do want to clarify a few things for you, though–I’m not employed or connected to SpecFaith except that I know E. Stephen through a conference we both attended last year. I generally HATE blogging, in fact, so I typically don’t even do this sort of thing.

My post was really more of a reaction to the Enclave-hate that has been swirling ever since Steve purchased Marcher Lord Press from Jeff Gerke. Then more hate from when he changed the name from MLP to Enclave. And now more hate because he’s using a Kickstarter to raise funds.

Suffice it to say that “pro-Enclave” is not the official position of any organization except for Enclave and its authors. If SpecFaith wants to make a definitive statement one way or another, they can, but I’m not one of their official reps in any capacity, so don’t view my blog as their stance on it. They just appreciated my unique perspective (as I know Steve and Thomas and know what’s going on from having spoken with them a bunch) and they asked me to post that perspective here.

As to your comment about SpecFaith fans being Enclave fans, I suspect there is plenty of crossover. The history here (and maybe you know this already) is that MLP had a massive nerd/Christian spec fic reader following, but now that Steve purchased it and is rebranding it that following may be in jeopardy. My hope is that the following won’t segment and will rally to support Enclave, as Enclave is still carrying he banner as the leader in Christian spec fiction from what I can see.

In any case, thanks for commenting.