A couple of days ago, the Petals and Thorns Kickstarter reached its conclusion. After the slump of week three, week four saw the struggle between increased rate of last minute cancellations and increased rate of last minute pledges. There was an early blow when, about four or five days from the end, one of the $100 pledges cancelled. By three days before the end, we’d recovered from that, but we were still fighting to get back up to the $2,800 goal that had seemed so easily within grasp a few days before.
Then the 48-hour reminder emails went out. $300, then $800, then finally over $1,200 in the final 48 hours came flooding in, the biggest spike of any 48 hour period in the entire campaign, even the day one spike when a combination of my pre-existing supporters and a Giant in the Playground post surpassed my original goal and first stretch goal with over $800 in the first two days.
In the end, we raised over $4,000 and had 199 backers. That’s over five times the amount of money and, more importantly, over four times the number of people reached that I was willing to call the Kickstarter an unqualified success. Not only do I have the funds to afford a full set of maps and tokens to make each unit of each faction distinct, I’ll even be able to commission some extra illustrations to make the .pdf a bit less barren. Not only that, but some of these tokens and art pieces are becoming permanent parts of my library, which I’ll be able to reuse indefinitely (although to be clear, that is only true of some of them). And this improved version of the work is going out to well over a hundred new members of my audience (not for this blog, specifically, but for my work in general).
I mentioned before that my primary fear at this stage is that people won’t like it, and that is still the biggest looming if: if my new audience actually likes my work. We are still firmly in the period where all of this could end up being a huge waste of time. The money raised from this Kickstarter is all earmarked to be given to people who are not me – the writing was done completely for free out of hopes that I would make money on selling it in online marketplaces after the Kickstarter concluded, and there is no guarantee that there’s anyone left out there who wants what I’m selling. There’s no guarantee that the people who pre-ordered what I’m selling will like it when they get it. Maybe, upon actually receiving the product, it’s going to turn out that people like the idea of having to grapple with the limitations of mortal power and make compromises, but they don’t actually like doing it. Maybe there’s just not enough there, since a lot of neat ideas I’d had did have to be cut in order to fit into an adventure I could plausibly afford to produce. My original adventure concept would likely have cost twice as much as was raised, and included the entirety of the Eastern Frontier and a much more thorough exploration of the factions involved. How much of that adventure – the one I wished I had the resources to write – wormed its way into how I presented this much more compact adventure without my noticing?
If this adventure leaves most of the Kickstarter backers satisfied, then I can probably count on similar success in the future. As I get a larger library of art assets permanently at my disposal, less and less of the new money will have to be directed towards commissioning and licensing new art, and more and more of that money can be dedicated towards my goal of self-sufficiency on my creative work. It will also increase my backlog, and if I get a steady stream of new fans seeing my latest release and buying up my old work, then the amount of income each new fan brings will grow over time.
But there’s still a lot of ifs in there. If my backers actually like the adventure once they have it in their hands, if my adventures sell beyond the initial Kickstarter audience, if new releases then reach new fans and bring them to my backlog rather than just getting the same number of sales from the same dedicated fans every time. Nevertheless, I am certainly now closer to achieving my goals than I was before, and while a lot of things could still go wrong, there’s no strong reason to believe they actually will go wrong outside of my standard pessimism.
On a slightly related note, Let’s Reads should be resuming in a few days, although with how busy I am assembling my Kickstarter rewards I can’t promise we’ll be going back to daily blog posts. I haven’t quite decided which book I want to read next, but I’m leaning towards Threadbare, since I’m curious to see whether that series gets better as it goes or succumbs to its flaws to crash and burn. I think these reviews are at their best when I don’t know how things are going to turn out in advance, and Threadbare is the one series so far where that’s still true even after the first book.