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If anyone cares about steampunk, science, and education, read on, otherwise, just click to another diary.

OctopodiCon, for those new to my diaries, is a steampunk weekend university style convention that I and a group of friends (well, they are friends now, but most were strangers when all this started) are putting on.

We've acquired the support of the Oklahoma City Metropolitan Library System and the Society of American Military Engineers (SAME), among other sponsors.  We have college professors presenting lectures and demonstrations, as well as people who are extremely knowledgeable about steampunk - Dr. Grymm of Grymm's Laboratories, for instance, and Ay-Leen the Peacemaker. We have Prof. Elemental as our star entertainer, backed up by DKos's own Tom Smith and a few other local performers.  Sandra Martin, who is knowledgeable about Victorian sideshows and is herself a sideshow performer, will be there giving a lovely vaudeville show and promoting her own vaudevillian convention.

The Library is sponsoring a literary guest and a film festival leading up to and during OctopodiCon. SAME is giving us cash for prizes for 2 contests we're running - a junior/high high school contest for building an automaton or gear driven toy, and a college/adult contest for building and racing RC airships, plus they'll help advertise the contests.

Some of the local schools will provide us with volunteers to earn their community service hours.

When we started OctopodiCon, the idea was to draw on local talent, people who were dedicated to steampunk as a lifestyle, who wanted to share their tips and information so others could also have fun and learn new things.  The idea was always to be a convention that was mostly hands-on and interactive so people could learn about steampunk in a pseudo-university style.  Attendees would be "students" and the guests would be "professors" (and many of the guests are real professors teaching at local universities), and they'd earn "credit hours" by participating in the lectures, makeshops, panels, and demonstrations, and those hours would count towards earning a novelty degree in steampunk (Bachelor of Steampunk, Master of Steampunk, Philosophy of Steampunk, Post Doctoral Steampunk, depending on the number of hours they earn). Other conventions loved the idea, so we created "tentacle courses: whereby those who were professors at OctopodiCon could have a steampunk class at other conventions and attendees could earn hours towards their steampunk degrees there - it would encourage people to attend other conventions, and draw the attendees at those conventions to future OctopodiCons.

So many college professors and high school teachers were so excited about having a popular culture event that promoted science and education that they contacted us asking to be a part of the program.  We evolved from an amorphous "let's teach steampunk to those who love it and want to get involved" to "let's teach science and art and literature and music via steampunk to everyone".  Then it really took off with people wanting to get involved.

As excited as everyone is, our advance funding to actually pull this event off is lagging. Most of the grants we applied for were declined because we are a first year event and they want us to prove ourselves first.  There's not much we can do about that except to proceed with other plans.  We do have several people who have offered to lend us money, but the sum total of their offers is just enough to cover the unexpected increase in transportation costs for the invited guests (Dr. and Mrs. Grymm, Tom Smith, Prof. Elemental, Prof. Peter Pixie plus one, Leanna Renee Hieber, and Ay-Leen the Peacemaker plus one).

I know we will recoup the cost of the event through enrollments to attend OctopodiCon, but we're getting to the wire for one of our biggest expenses (the convention center at $12,500 - we have nearly $3,000 of it after paying all our expenses so far - printing costs, the web hosting site and anti-spam program and virus filters, postage, advertising at other conventions, the first round of fees and expenses for our Distinguished Professors, the business organization filing fees and taxes and permit fees, and the monthly Tea Parties) which is due in May. I know I cannot borrow that amount of money.  Period.  Trying to borrow $3,000 for Itzl's surgery was a no-go (and I am so extremely happy that y'all at DKos came through for him - he is walking so well now!).

I'd like to do a successful Kickstarter campaign.  I am lacking in any sort of performance style skills and severely lacking in production and filming skills (and equipment) and it seems (after donating to several Kickstarter campaigns and researching others) that cute or compelling short films and photos and a creative and "kicky" spiel will draw in the donations.  $10,000 is not even an unreasonable amount to ask for at Kickstarter.  I researched it.

I have a series of rewards planned out to give to donors depending on their level of donation (postcards, buttons, bumper stickers, Pod positions, Pod paraphernalia, certificates, notecards, pens, enrollments, mini top hat...).

What I need is artistic direction, advice, help, information on how to run a successful, compelling Kickstarter campaign.  And people to help make it go viral so lots and lots of people donate. Lots and lots of small donations add up quickly.

If any of y'all have any advise, or can magically appear here in Oklahoma to help film some compelling footage, or are willing to try to help this go viral, I'd really, deeply appreciate it.

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