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.
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.
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.
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.