Anatomy of a Crowdfunding Campaign Part 18: Tarot Fundamentals Book + Knocking It Out of the Ballpark

This has been a wild year for Crowdfunding decks. I was bitten by the campaigning bug almost a year ago, and life has been on the fast track since that fateful moment. There have been some really interesting campaigns launched since I began tracking this all, and an exciting new book on Tarot that is drawing strong support. I have a healthy list of other Crowdfunders I would love to interview, but honestly I am just too busy with my own career and speaking engagements to reach out to all of them. So along with telling you about this new set of Tarot guides I want to give you updates on the campaigns I have written about and a few others that are on my wish list to dissect more thoroughly.


Comprehensive Compendium of Tarot

Tarot Fundamentals is potentially a three-volume guide to the world of Tarot. This is a very ambitious project, offering wisdom to a range of readers from the emerging novice to accomplished sage. The game manufacturer River Horse and the Italian deck publisher Lo Scarabeo have teamed up with Tarot scholars, educators, and practitioners to offer a broad and useful collection of readings and research on this evolving topic. The people I know who are involved in this grand undertaking are Sasha Graham, Barbara Moore, Marcus Katz, Tali Goodwin, and Lunaea Weatherstone. My experience with each of these folks is a high level of integrity and they have each contributed an enormous amount to the field of divination.

The Kickstarter campaign is only three days in and it has already reached its first stretch goal of adding an extra 32 pages to the first book. It reached its initial goal of 5,000 pounds ($7646.90) within 12 hours and is now at 171% of its goal at 8541 pounds ($13,021.95) with 293 backers. Pricing of the perks can have an impact on people’s commitment to campaigns, and they seem to have chosen well with the first book at about $20 shipped to the US.

Mixed Reactions

The Tarot Fundamentals campaign has brought up some interesting reactions from people. Most of them positive but there is a contingent of folks who are suspicious about Crowdfunding and question why a professional publisher needs to use this resource to produce the series. I see Crowdfunding as both a great way to gauge interest in a potential project as well as a pre-ordering system. When my own campaign for my Oracle of Initiation Tarot-sized deck last year had under 100 people choosing the new deck, I decided to print them in batches of 72 instead of the initial goal of 1,000. This has been a really good business decision for me and the campaign helped me see what the market was calling for at the time. If you choose Kickstarter as your platform your pledgers will not be charged if you do not make your goal.

Because Marcus Katz and Tali Goodwin of the 15,000 member Facebook group Tarot Professionals are intimately involved in this project there has been a lot of discussion there about the campaign. Some other online Tarot forums have also had to mediate discussions about the campaign to refocus folks onto the project itself and not to simply criticize the funding method. Statistically there have only been a few campaigns that have not delivered on their promises, but there is a vocal minority who wish to discredit the entire process.

As I offered in a discussion on Tarot Professionals yesterday, crowdsourcing brings up a lot of shadows for people about claiming their own power and going for their dreams. It is a new paradigm system designed to reprogram everything we learned about giving and receiving. For some people it is easier to sit back and criticize someone else’s initiative than to explore their own issues about putting themselves out into the world. We are all  in a process of healing this and it is a journey to transform the wounds.

The forthcoming Fountain Tarot
The forthcoming Fountain Tarot


Along with the Tarot Fundamentals campaign there have been some others that have hit it out of the ballpark. I hope some of this information inspires you to plunge in and bring your own decks to life. That is why I do all of this, to support other magical tools emergence.

Profiled Decks

I am delighted to say I have received all of the decks that have been profiled here in this series. Each of them has such unique magic and I am so proud to be part of a community that is producing such high quality offerings. There are also congratulations in order for almost all of the people interviewed for this series because five of the decks discussed here were voted top fifty essentials by theTarot Professionals organization (Burning Serpent, Tarot de St. Croix, Zirkus Magi, City Mystics NYC, and my Oracle of Initiation). And Doug Thornsjo’s Tarot of the Zirkus Magi was voted the top self-published deck for 2014 by Tarot Professionals as well as The Wheel of Fortune Tarot’s  life-size wheel installation at Burning Man being voted the top interactive Tarot experience of 2014.

Robert Place is at it again, he is now at five campaigns total, and almost all of them have done extraordinary well. His current 4th edition of The Alchemical Tarot goes for 42 more days and is already at 220% of his initial goal on Indiegogo. The deck alone is $37 during the campaign and the deck and companion book are $65 shipped in the US. For some reason his New York Lenormand Oracle Card campaign is only 24% funded with 18 days to go. I am not sure what this is about. Two thoughts are that the cards are not as bright and sumptuous as his other decks, and maybe the combination of he and Rachel Pollack for the Burning Serpent broke beyond Lenormand borders to reach a wider divining audience.

Robert Place's forthcoming 4th edition of The Alchemical Tarot
Robert Place’s forthcoming 4th edition of The Alchemical Tarot

Knocking It Out of the Ballpark

There have been some campaigns that have blown beyond previous funding levels and offer the potential of a truly sustainable career as a deck creator. This is similar to when the Indie film world broke the $100,000 barrier with Crowfunding and the game changed. The most highly funded Tarot deck campaign that I am aware of brought in almost $80,000 on Kickstarter last year with 1,185 backers. The only other one close to that is the Amanda Palmer Tarot at 70K with 78 different artists marketing it. 80K is a serious chunk of change for one person to raise when Pamela Steele told me historically self-published decks didn’t sell more than about 250 copies on average. Social media and the internet are changing this, but magnetizing almost 1,200 backers is incredible.

The Forthcoming Prism Visions Tarot
The Forthcoming Prism Visions Tarot

The Prism Visions Tarot by illustrator James R. Eads is the home run deck I spoke of above. He has done two campaign over the last two years, and there seems to be something to building your audience over multiple launches. This second campaign brought in 561% of his original goal of $14,125. The deck had an early bird rate of $37 with shipping included, and the full retail price will be $49 with its 100-page booklet. He had some nice perks, and like the Wheel of Fortune Tarot campaign he sold a lot of prints. He also offered a lovely limited edition etched wooden box at $150 that had 150 pledges, as well as panoramic prints of his unique system of the minors being one long image when pieced together. He also had a special Vision Kerchief that could be used as a casting mat, to wrap your cards, and/or a jaunty fashion statement.

Eads first campaign was much less ambitious and still did extremely well. It was for the predecessor to the Prism Vision and was called The Light Visions Tarot Deck. There were 500 of these printed and they are now sold out. He raised almost $25,000, 151% of his initial goal. He also offered sets of special edition prints, postcards, and collaged tarot images. I am not totally sure why these campaigns have done so well. The artwork is lovely and I am waiting on my own copy of the deck, but the numbers are three times what Robert Place has done and he is a rock star in the Tarot world. So I will keep you posted if anymore insights come my way. Mr. Eads must be one hell of a social networker.

The forthcoming Arcana Playing Cards
The forthcoming Arcana Playing Cards

Limited Edition Playing Card Bonanza 

Also worth noting is the insane amounts limited edition playing cards can bring in. There have been some fabulous Kickstarter offerings from an artist couple under the moniker Uusi as well as the current Arcana Playing Cards by Chris Ovdiyenko. Chris had two previous campaigns last year that both brought in over $50K. His artwork and designs are really top notch, and I am still blown away by the amounts that are coming in from this market.

Before I began my campaign last year I spoke to Tarot maven Carrie Paris asking her advice on the launch. She suggested doing limited edition playing cards along with my deck because it could bring in a different demographic. I ended up being so swamped with the campaign that I did not pursue it, but it sits in the back of my mind as a descent possibility.

Chris Ovdiyenko’s current campaign for the Arcana Playing Cards has brought in almost $135,000! He has over 2500 backers and the decks initially started out at $11 each. There are four more days left in this campaign, go check it out. These limited edition playing card price points are a lot lower than most Tarot and Oracle decks, but there seems to really be something to this niche.

The Wooden Tarot
The Wooden Tarot

There were a few other campaigns I supported last year and have received the cards including the charming Halcombe TarotThe Tarot of Creativity with beautiful artwork, and the surreally gorgeous Wooden Tarot. I also supported Julia Hesse’s Living Tarot Oracle event in Durango, CO, and am awaiting the Lila Creativity Cards and The Fountain Tarot deck.

Tarot of Creativity
Tarot of Creativity

Along with Robert Place’s two campaigns and Chris Ovdiyenko’s Arcana Playing Cards there are also currently The Isadora Tarot which is funded at 271% with six days to go, and the campaign to reprint the World Spirit Tarot is at 51% with 26 days left. You can secure a copy of the Isadora at just $20 and reinvigorate the World Spirit for $40.

Anne Steveley in Santa Fe with she and Jill's Wheel of Fortune Tarot
Anne Staveley in Santa Fe with she and Jill’s Wheel of Fortune Tarot

Happy creation all, and bring those dreams to life!

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