Failure is pretty common, despite all the preparation in the world (we put 100s of hours into ours with many custom images and about 5,000 words). Why do we think it failed? #1: We did not have a big enough number of supporters/subscribers/friends/etc. before starting. Really it takes 100s of close people because many who say they will support ultimately won't. And unless you can get at least 30% of your goal right away, then strangers won't participate either because many only want to back a winning idea that others are already in line for. We thought many people would jump onto what we thought was a savvy campaign and a great book, but alas, very few people got excited even with an amazing video, book cover, and free chapters to read. Really, most just did not seem to care one way or the other. So always make sure you have a lot of people lined up before you even start. Don't expect to get a lot of "surprises". Sure they happen but don't plan on it as part of the core of your campaign in order to reach your goal. We didn't get any supporters for our high end rewards.
Another reason why we failed was likely because did not promote the campaign as a "pre-order". The book was done but like Faith mentioned we didn't use the right wording (e.g. "support" rather than "pre-order"). This probably created in some people's minds that the book was not done and it may end up never reaching them. We also had the delivery date too far out. 90 days waiting time to get the rewards is the most you want to do.
We also likely set the goal too high and that probably dissuaded people from participating. We also should have had pictures of hard copy books sitting on a table top so people could see the final product. Many people have gotten taken in the past, never receiving any rewards, so many are shy now about supporting other projects. Seeing an end result ready to go would probably alleviate some of those fears. Another issue was getting people to spread the word about the campaign. So many did not want to, we don't know why. Maybe because of all the issues mentioned above regarding our campaign. It did not look "strong" enough to them so they were shy about telling others. We did do podcasts/radio/website interviews and advertised like crazy but nothing really seemed to work. Another issue was likely because we used an off brand name like PubSlush rather than Kickstarter and people were not familiar with that website. Friends were asking if their credit card information would be protected or not because there was not the brand recognition with such a new site. When we do another campaign we will definitely use Kickstarter rather than anyone else.
The end result was that the campaign came to an abrupt halt three weeks early because PubSlush suddenly went bankrupt. All the supporters money we worked so hard to raise was refunded. It was emotionally very devastating to work on preparing a campaign over three months, spending 100s of hours, and then it falling apart like that. The good news is because the website no longer exists, no one can ever see the failed campaign, whereas at Kickstarter people can do that.
Afterwards we quit doing anything creative for six months. There is a lot of emotion and hard work that goes into a campaign and creators who are thinking about doing one should prepare themselves for such. Someday we will try again, but not until we have 1000s upon 1000s of subscribers who want a pre-order hard copy of our manga . . . and gaining a following like that could literally take years to build. . . if ever.