When this goes live, the Kickstarter for Heroes of Ramshorn will be a mere four hours from completion. As of the writing, it’s sitting at about $2,500. Funded, and with the Pathfinder stretch goal reached, so that’s a lot of extra work for probably very little profit. I had originally hoped that putting the Pathfinder goal low would allow me to hit it sometime in the doldrums of the midpoint of my project, and thus bring in a new surge. Unfortunately, this Kickstarter proved significantly less successful than the last, so that didn’t happen.
If I can’t raise at least $3,000, preferably from at least 150 backers, then this campaign represents a significant contraction of my audience. Although I do have an outline for a third installment, I’m uncertain whether I will bother actually writing it. We’ll see how I feel after I’ve finished the Pathfinder conversion of Heroes. Certainly in this scenario making Ashes of Ramshorn will be purely to tie things off for the people who really liked Strangers and Heroes, who, regardless of whether or not there were enough of them to make this viable, did all they could reasonably be expected to in order to make these adventures a success.
If I raise between $3,000 and $5,000 from between 150-250 backers, then that represents somewhere between a minor contraction to a minor expansion of my audience. Regardless of exactly where the number lies, it’s definitely worth making a third adventure to see whether or not things are petering out, stagnating, or growing steadily.
When I first started the Kickstarter, I told myself that if I raised over $5,000 from over 250 backers, I could call that an unqualified success. It would mean that I had retained most of my existing audience and seen significant growth. I estimate that I need to make about $7,000 per Kickstarter in order to pay for expenses and, combined with the income my professional GMing makes, be able to become a fulltime creative professional. If I could get over $5,000 on this Kickstarter, that would mean my audience is still growing and strongly suggest that hitting $7,000 reliably might soon be viable.
At this point, it seems very likely that this is not the case. It is still possible, though very unlikely, that I’ll get enough Pathfinder backers at the very last minute to make this Kickstarter comparable to my last one, at which point I have to wonder if I’ve hit my ceiling or if I just need to commit more time to growing my audience and backlog.
The long term strategy runs face-first into a second issue, however: 5e won’t last forever (indeed, its expiration date is most likely sometime between 2020 and 2022), and once people move on to 6e, or if 6e sucks they move on to Routelocator or whatever, my adventure library needs to be updated to the new edition or else it becomes near-worthless. People do occasionally buy third party adventures for deprecated editions, but it definitely won’t be enough for me to draw continuous income from my backlog through those means. If writing adventures is going to make up a significant portion of my creative income, it needs to be bringing in enough money to do that based on new releases. Right now, it looks like it’s probably barely covering expenses.
On the other hand: Books. Books – particularly ebooks, which is definitely what I’d be doing – tend to make between $3-$4 per sale rather than $14-$17. On the other hand, not only do books almost never go through edition changes, books have considerably lower initial costs. I need only a single cover illustration, much lighter formatting work, and require at most one map, often none at all, and certainly require no tokens. The bigger my audience gets, the more the higher price point but higher initial costs of an adventure makes sense, but real life has terrible game balance and the audience for books is actually considerably wider, even considering the niche genres I’d be writing in.
So, writing books is probably the way to go here, even though it can’t draw anything except seed money from my professional GMing success.