Months and months ago, when I first heard that Jamey Stegmaier was writing a book on crowdfunding, I remember being super excited and thinking to myself, “automatic buy”. If you know who Jamey Stegmaier is you might have thought the same thing. Because Jamey built his personal and professional brand (Stonemaier Games) on the philosophy of fostering positive relationships, putting people/customers first, and delivering an exceptional product, Jamey has quite a large fan base. And with each product Stonemaier game produces, that fan base grows. Not only does the fan base grow, but they actively and willfully consume anything with the Stonemaier logo. In fact, as of writing this, Jamey (via Stonemaier Games) has generated over $1.4M through crowdfunding.
For those familiar with Jamey’s extensive crowdfunding focused blog, you might not think you need the book. There is, in fact, a very large amount of content on Jamey’s blog and some of his “KS Lessons” in the book can be found on his blog. So, why do you need A Crowdfunder’s Strategy Guide? For starters, the book has a narrative; it tells a story. In A Crowdfunder’s Strategy Guide, Jamey shares a lot of personal history and some behind the scenes failures that led to where he is today.
The book is also concise and organized. While Jamey has made great strides in organizing the plethora of content on his blog, the sheer size of it makes it a bit unruly. The blog contains a massive amount of information to sort through. The book, by contrast, lays out a step by step process of increasing your chances of crowdfunding success. It contains checklists and stats from multiple crowdfunding projects and presents them in an easy to digest manner.
The checklists and steps to follow are crucial, but Jamey’s story and philosophy, which is woven into the book, is the most vital aspect of the book and is really what sets this book apart from any other book on the subject. The philosophy of putting backers first, of building a genuine authentic community, might as well be trademarked by Jamey Stegmaier. These are his hallmarks, and they have worked decidedly well for him.
Having said that, these represent only one perspective. If you were to ask Seth Hiatt, CEO of Mayday Games, or Chern Ann Ng, Co-Owner of CMON Games, about their crowndfunding strategies, you’d get a different answer from each of them. And their answers would be different from Jamey’s. Mayday Games and CMON Games both have quite a few successful Kickstarter campaigns, more so than Stonemaier Games. So, who is right? For me, and many Stonemaier Games supporters, it always comes back to Jamey’s personal philosophy, which translates directly into how he operates his business. His transparency and “backer’s first” mentality are what sets him apart from his contemporaries.
I feel like I’ve mainly been evangelizing Jamey as opposed to providing a solid book review, but Jamey’s personal approach to tackling crowdfunding is the core of the book so we’re not exactly out in left field. The tips and tricks in the book will definitely work, I don’t think there is any question about that. But you are going to need to do some legwork. The book is not about how to hose Kickstarter or how to get rich quick. Instead, it offers a practical guide on the most important aspect of crowdfunding: building your crowd. The crowd is important for many reasons and it isn’t something that can be bought or gained over night. You are going to have to put in some time and effort, but doing so, and following all of the crowdfunding tips in Jamey’s book will certainly pay off.
A Crowdfunder’s Strategy Guide: Build a Better Business by Building Community, gets right to the meat of what it takes to succeed at crowdfunding. Throughout the book, Jamey looks at successful crowdfunding projects and gives insight into why each one was successful and offers ways in which you can emulate the methods used in your own campaigns. A Crowdfunder’s Strategy Guide also looks at some unsuccessful campaigns, which it is great to also see what doesn’t work.
While I enjoyed the entire book, and was pleasantly surprised at how much narrative it actually contained, the Resources section is probably going to be the most referenced, read and re-read, part of the book. The Resources section, which comes after the main chapters, provides a condensed list of 125 Crowdfunding Lessons in 125 Sentences and a One Week Checklist. Both of these lists provide a really solid foundation for anyone wanting to throw their hat into the crowdfunding ring. I want to suggest getting your highlighter out for this section, but you’d just end up with completely yellow pages.
Another thing to note about A Crowdfunder’s Strategy Guide is its length. It is 216 pages long. I’ve looked at other books on crowdfunding, but their page counts range from 24 – 90, on average, so Jamey’s book certainly wins in terms of value. And a lot of the books you’ll find on Amazon on the subject don’t have actual print editions and the authors do not list any credentials. I’m not trying to say that paying $10 for a 40 page book is a bad idea, but the methods outlined in A Crowdfunder’s Strategy guide are well documented and proven. Jamey walks the walk. He isn’t trying to cash in on the Kickstarter craze, but rather he has used Kickstarter to create a sustainable business that allowed him to quit his day job. For a lot of people, that’s the dream.
The proof of the pudding: if you are reading this before November 5th, 2015, check out Jamey’s most recent Kickstarter campaign for Scythe, a tabletop board game, which is currently live on Kickstarter. As of writing this, Scythe has raised $887,953 from 9,174 backers and has 19 days to go. I don’t think anyone can argue with that kind of success or Jamey’s credentials. He has turned crowndfunding into an art. Lucky for you, he wrote a book on the subject and you can follow in his footsteps.