Written by Rich Forestano, firstname.lastname@example.org Thursday, 10 October 2013 00:00
When Anthony Clark learned a crowdfunding project for his book The Last Campaign: How Presidents Rewrite History, Run for Posterity and Enshrine their Legacies, successfully garnered the required $7,500 on Kickstarter.com to secure his trip to U.S. presidential libraries, he couldn’t ignore the irony. Clark reached his goal the same day the federal government shut down, effectively putting his trip to the remaining libraries on hold, for now. All federal landmarks, including the libraries, are closed due to the shutdown.
The Mineola native started the campaign on Sept. 1. He had until Oct. 1 to raise enough money in the all-or-nothing fundraising effort.
Clark, 47, cleared the $7,500 minimum by 118 percent, topping out with $8,870 from 172 backers. He expects to publish the book by July 2014.
“It’s a great irony that I can’t go any of the places that I just raised over $8,000 to go visit,” he said. “There’s a lot to be done.”
The St. Aidan’s alum did incur some fees (Kickstarter charges 5 percent of the total earnings, while Amazon, which handles credit processing, charges 3 to 5 percent on each transaction), but feels it’s worth it. Clark estimated a 10 percent fee.
“I couldn’t have possibly done it without Kickstarter and I don’t have the ability to process credit cards,” he said. “I originally thought I’d reach $7,500 and I’d have to pay about $750 in fees, but even after the fees, I’m still above my goal.”
Clark’s obsession with the libraries was sparked during a political science class in graduate school at the Appalachian State University in North Carolina in 2003. His passion took him from traveling to each of the 13 libraries, to a position managing investigations into the libraries and the National Archives and Records Administration.
Clark was appointed by Senator Lacy Clay (D-MO). His appointment ended in January.
Since Clark’s last trip to the libraries, six of them have undergone renovations. He plans to visit the updated sites for research purposes. They are the FDR, Jimmy Carter, Lyndon B. Johnson, Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon and the George W. Bush libraries.
“I want to get to FDR first because it’s the only one in the northern part of the country and fall’s a comin,’” he said.
In the 48 hours leading up to Oct. 1, Clark was constantly checking the site, wondering if he’d meet the goal.
“Kickstarter warns you that the most pledges come in the first few days and last few days, but you’re not prepared for that,” said Clark. On Sept. 13, we had raised $3,700. By Sept. 21, we had only gone up $700. That whole time, it seemed like nothing I could do worked.”
Clark pressed on and received a sizeable chunk of his donations, surprisingly, from strangers. The Chaminade alum said 47 percent of the donations came from people he didn’t know.
Twenty-three percent of the backers were Kickstarter users.
According to Kickstarter, the publishing category is one of the least successful. Such projects succeed 32 percent of the time, a trend Clark was happy to break. “[The publishing category] is the third largest number of attempted projects on Kickstarter,” he said. “About 29,000 film projects were attempted while 24,000 music projects were filed and 14,000 publishing. It’s one of the more popular projects.”
A $30 donation gives a backer a copy of the book while a $40 pledge garners a signed book and a thank-you note. A $75 donation grants backers a signed book, note and an invitation to the Washington, D.C. launch party next year.
His biggest backer donated $500, while two forked over $250 and eight sent in $125.
Clark was surprised that 23 backers pledged money and chose not to receive an award. “That helps me out because say you pledge $30 and say ‘I don’t want the book,’ that saves me the money,” said Clark.
Clark is planning a book tour, and will loan some items to the Mineola Library for a planned display featuring presidential libraries.
“[The Mineola Library] is where I got started reading,” he said. “I want to be able to give back.”