by Rob Balder
Bank it. Remember that the money pledged does not equal profit. You've gotta pay fees, and you have expenses for each additional reward you print and ship. The money never goes as far as you think it will.
As many of the other backers, I've backed this project considering all the enjoyment already had with the story, and a wish to see it continued. Having said that, you probably could save the extra to cover unexpected occurencies. Having said that, though,I'd love to see some miniatures of the main characters available on this or as another future kickstarter project. Keep up the good work.
My 2 cents (this is a crowdfunding site, yes?) would be to not ty to do anything that would add to your time or headaches or financial distribution that could be going into current updates/prepping for book two printing. You say the there will be a second campaign in the "fall"--I don't know when exactly that will be, but you don't want to add anything that will jeapordize the delivery of these rewards before the second one starts. I would take this as a good support-temperature reading and use this experience to design a great fall Kickstarter with aggressive and prepared stretch goals instead of tacking some on to this one.
Maybe that was 4 cents, but hey, Kickstarter!
Whilst using any surplus money from this project to fund website development and ploughing any of the remainder (if Kickstarter allows that) back into Erfworld is cool I do think you are right to ask us if there is anything else we would like.
The big thing for me if you did want to stretch this project further would be around Book 0 as that story is as engrossing as Book 2. Could you put the money into paying Xin to keep the illustrations going for the rest of Book 0? Or even release it, on a publication date TBA basis, with full art (single image or a whole strip) on one page and the full text on the next?
This is the first hardcopy Erfworld book I've considered getting, so adding in additional pledge levels for Book 1 and Book 2 to be included would pry my wallet open even further. Maybe use some of the money to sponsor booths at various conventions to spread the word even more.
I agree with everyone else. Bank the money and give yourself a cushion. We all want to see the entire Erfworld story to its proper end, and a safety net would help you continue during the more difficult times.
As much as I love little extras, I have to agree with those below me: website fund, then bank the rest. Erfworld Insurance is as good a term as any. Once you *have* a substantial rainy day fund, you can throw some stretch goals onto the Book 3 kickstarter in August if you like.
I am reminded of the OOTS stretch goals (knock on wood) Perhaps we could have bonus side stories about favorite side characters. Something like "Bogroll Steps Out" or "How Maggie Got Her Groove Back." Put them in written form with illustrations like the klogs or the text updates.
Then again an erfworld Atlas would be fun. Maybe just the areas around gobwin knob or the magic kingdom. Actually a poster map of the magic kingdom would be cool. You could put all the little illustrations of people and places. All kinds of opportunity for erf induced wackiness.
On the third hand I do need a new t-shirt. Something with a dwagon and a pun...
Or you could bank it and use it so you don't have to do the bologna and ramen diet.
Please stick to your original goal and put all extra money received towards the new website.
I think that your best bet is to bank it. In the past, everything has cost more than estimated and taken longer than it should. Don't take on more until you have delivered what has been promised.
I don't disagree with the advice to bank it, but you know what I'd really like to see? A rule book. Playable or not. We get several glimpses into the mechanics of Erfworld, but it's been really difficult until now to know whether you've been operating under some well-defined rules or just sort of winging it as you went (or a bit of both). I've been working under the assumption that as a creative geek you have some well-established rules all mapped out that you hew to.
Both Order of the Stick and Erfworld are at very interesting junctures in their story lines currently, but when I asked a friend about what he though of the Erfworld one after we discussed OOTS, he replied (pasted from my chat buffer), " I gave up on it a long time ago, I never could follow what was going on." That's a real shame, because as anyone here can attest, Erfworld has many wonderfully entertaining things happening. Sometimes Parson's contravention of the norms are what make it particularly engaging.
If the rules can actually be firmed up enough to make a playable game that would be fantastic, but even if not then something like "A Field Guide to Erfworld" would be wonderful. It would be one handy place where the knowledge of how everything works resides, even if that knowledge is imperfect (such as 19th century archaeologists and explorers writing their theories on the history of the sub-Saharan Africa or the Amazon basin).
A lot of people are saying you should bank the surplus, and I *mostly* agree with them. You shouldn't add things that will significantly increase your costs; Kickstarters are intended to be profitable. However, stretch goals are awesome, and can even encourage folks to upgrade their pledge, so I don't want to dissuade you from being creative here.
I can't speak for anyone else, but I'd bump my pledge by $5 if it got me an EP of ErfWorld-themed music (maybe 2 or three MP3s, digitally downloaded).
(For instance, I bet you could do an Erfworld-themed filk of Rich Fantasy Lives -- it'd take some time maybe, but probably might not increase your cost basis much at all. Obviously, you should avoid music that you'd need to pay a lot to license...)
I support the opinion expressed in the first post by Shorthope (did you....did you take that name with this post in mind?!). I would really like the book 2 hardcover (i imagine that's the base for august's kickstarter). You could also expand the erfabet a little? maybe some extra pages taken from the erfwikia or character's sheets some trivia or anecdote. But really, the financial security of the comic (=yours) should come first.
If Xin can find the time and agrees I'd love to see more of book 0 and her amazing illustrations. Put money aside for hiring her to that purpose.
I'd be happy with any stretch goal that doesn't include a physical shipping component. You've been bitten by those in the past. I'd be happier with less of my donation going to paying some shipping company anyway. :)
In an update to my comment about Wanda being drawn a lot sexier in Book1 than Book2, I was thinking of an FHM style magazine, with illustrations of the main female characters along with some interesting back stories or "interviews". This would allow us to see a whole new side of the characters that you normally don't have through the comic.
I wholeheartedly agree with the majority of comments about banking the current surplus for either rainy day / website fund.
A reward for future kickstarters (I'd definitely donate to a separate "Let's get this website funded now" kickstarter) would be naming rights for cities or other places, items, people, etc in Erfworld. I would definitely kick in $500 or more to name something in Erfworld and have it be immortalized in the comic (sorta like some of the rewards in the first kickstarter that had donors appear as casters). I think something like this might bring in some money without taking up time/resources.
Don't worry quite so much about us. Try a new approach to the website, squirrel some money away for a rainy day, buy a new computer, upgrade your groceries, or just have a night on the town.
Or, from a business perspective, use this as a chance to practice keeping project scope under control. If it works out this time, you can try all the fancy stuff next Kickstarter.
I agree. Extras are nice, but not as nice as knowing the story will continue. Play this one conservative and make sure you can go forward. Then do the next one big if you want.
+1 to Book 0 PDF or any character side-stories etc. and +1 for non-physical goods. I would hate to see another shipment gutted like a fish by our customs department. :(
Also I agree with keeping the funds to continue with the great story we all like to read.
Your safe bet would be to bank the excess, but to secure even more excess some effort is still required as stretch goals and activity are proven ways of getting more funding. And getting to $65-75K and securing the minimum estimated funding for the website should in essence be a goal.
As such you should try to make a couple of stretch goals that would be easy to fulfill and not too costly. Some example GenCon strech-goals: 40K You cosplay as voted by backers, 50K David cosplays as voted by backers and if Xin attends she cosplays at 60K.
As for stuffamancy, some of your current stuff is running out of stock, you can consider replenishing some of them.
New stuff and side projects, you should start planning on some now and have them ready for the next kickstarter. Many good suggestions here as well already.
I would suggest non-physical goods that scale well, like extra updates, side stories, PDFs. Also, consider making backers "Tools", to get access to those benefits.
Copy what someone (David?) said about a rule book, but I realize that that one might be a lot more work than you have time -- since I imagine you'd be the one writing most of it. Some other ideas, with an eye towards simple solutions:
- a push to add more items to the store; t-shirts, knick-knacks, etc. I'm less suggesting a specific thing, and more just saying that the current offerings are a little bit bare. Might be cool to have some sort of contest/drive to have people submit new ideas for swag to sell.
- shore up your back-end: you can be vague or specific to us on this, but I'd say take the extra dollars and get the whole house a little more in order. Since it seems like you've got a pretty solid idea for what needs to happen in the next 6 months to a year or more, I'd out money down to make sure that you have what you need to make all of those plans happen logistically.
- general emphasis on digital stuff; I agree with a few of the comments below that you've been burned by shipping costs/companies before, so in a lot of cases why bother? Much as I love the massive hardcover Book 1 I own, I would have been totally happy with a huge PDF and less bother on your part. Maybe take a page out of Rich Burlew's book and make some optional side-stories as add-ons or stretch goals. (In fact now that I've written this, I like this idea a LOT.)
This is not to say that you shouldn't just save it all for a rainy day/the website/savings, but a lot of people have suggested those, so I thought I'd go out on a limb with new ideas. Also I cannot emphasize enough how cool that last idea (PDF short stories as add-ons/stretch goals) would be. :D
One thing to keep in mind is that some people might not donate once or twice per year on the same project. You have a great response now but maybe you shouldn't try to milk it too much if the next campaign is around the corner. It might be smarter to have one or two large campaigns than multiple small ones. So maybe just taking what you got now and banking it might be the best idea.
Also having some extra cash might help you better prepare for the August KS (which is far more important than this one), get some promotional material made for the campaign, buy some advertising slots on other comic sites and possibly even pre-produce some potential rewards.
While I'd love to see more stretch goals right now I'm happy with the current rewards and wouldn't feel short handed if that's it.
If you insist on adding more goals, I'd highly suggest to keep them digital at this time. I wouldn't add more reward levels but simply say "if we reach xx I'll throw in a 15 page PDF, and if we make yy then it'll be 20".
Agree with Shorthope. Keep it simple. Bank the excess. Keep the main story flowing, the artist happy, yourself happy and if there is money left which can be re-invested back into the business to grow the business, then consider whether to do that or keep for a rainy day. Someone below suggested converting backers into Tools - that's an interesting idea but do the math on that.
If you were to keep with the alphabet theme, you could expand the book by doing the alphabet, and numbers 1-10 (perhaps working in some of the world rules with the numbers).
Of course, the advice to simply bank the excess isn't a bad one. I'm sure it isn't easy to keep a webcomic running, and having a little extra cash in the bank certainly doesn't hurt.
Use what you need now for the web-site development. Bank the rest for future issues.
I agree that you should keep the Kickstarters separate. Let me pledge to the next one separately. Also, I know you're planning on offering original art as rewards, but I encourage you to think of any digital rewards you can offer during that campaign as well. Digital rewards cost almost nothing to fulfill, and I'm trying to keep my physical possessions to a minimum (I'm trying to adopt a travel-friendly and moving-friendly lifestyle).
As for the rest of this project, I'd suggest that you use whatever money you need to finish the website and/or the motion comic so that you can keep your promises for both kickstarters (note: that is not meant as a criticism, but I'm sure you want to see the site and motion comic done). And if there's money left over, maybe pocket 30-50% for yourself past a certain amount, and save the rest for future projects.
You've mentioned your take home has been "below the poverty level". I have no objection to you saying "50% of the money raised past $50,000 will go toward my living expenses" or something like that. We want Erfworld to be sustainable (and rewarding) for you.
Looking at some of the other comments, I think David C Lawrence's idea of a rulebook is an awesome one (although I realize that this might be difficult as you don't want to constrain your future writing direction where rules haven't been crystallized yet).
I'd also like to point out that simply banking the money for future expenses allows you the flexibility to use the money to pay David for book 3 later if you decide that's what you need it for.
I like the rule book idea, but that might take more time than it's worth since I'm not even sure there is a "rule book" per se--I'm thinking it's more like scattered notes.
Personally, I think you should just bank it. Truth is that Erf is not on solid footing so I'd rather it become so. Don't reduce yourself back to step 1 through bonuses.
* Promise a solid week or two of updates--that would cover work you'd have to do eventually anyway.
* Promise to PDF not-yet-PDF'd Erf works.
* Include a free month of Tool status to contributors above a certain amount.
* Unlock limited tiers with "name a character/city/side/landmark/spell" or similar.
* Additional art of Wanda. ;)
* Or Archons. ;) ;)
I don't know how feasible this would be for you Rob, but maybe a week of Erfworld comic updates to the main site as a reward similar to OotS's.
Hmm stretch goal. Get enough money now so that you can develop the website now and host your own kickstarter, (i.e. preordering) so you can save kickstarter fees on the August bonanza?
Give yourself backpay.
Add a few non roman letters, alpha, omega etc.
Do pdfs of extra stories, so we can buy stuff, and still be uncluttered. (Loved Belkars story).
Please don't do stripperific shots of characters who usually wear sensible clothes, if it feels out of character for someone to pose for playboy then don't make them do so. Luckily Rob has already commented on this after requests re the flashmob.
Re schlock mercenary: customised dice.
Strongly feel you should put any excess into pre-funding Book 3, and/or the website, as that is a previously stated goal which you also believe is important to future revenue.
I'd guess that most of us are funding based on past appreciation of Erfworld, and in the hopes that Erfworld will continue. And I would hate for anything to distract from the latter.
I also agree that additional reward levels for the physical books here would be great. And if people want a stated goal to shoot for, maybe if you're willing to tell us what the target is for David on Book 3 (or at least for the first issue of Book 3), I'd guess that would be a strong motivator.
1. No problem with keeping excess in reserve or for webpage development (not that I have a major problem with the webpage)
2. Minis. D&D-playable minis. At the least, one of each of the "base" classes represented by Erfworld characters would be cool. This could be a separate Kickstarter, or for the Book 3 one planned.
3. The Erfworld iOS app (don't know whether there was an Android one) could do with updates. Would like to do more than read Book 1 over and over again.
I'm thinking Erfworld condoms. The wrapper could say "protect your one-eyed warrior" and have a picture of Bogroll bouncing off a giant rubber trampoline.
I am getting book 1 in hardcover, and 3 copies of the alphabet book (2 for nephews learning to read).
I would like to see book 0 and book 2 fully illustrated and published as well as the intermissions and epilogues. What is the timeline for that?
I really think you'd do best to give yourself back pay - mustn't forget YOU in all of this - even while you're thinking of us :) I do like Dennis Cho's pre-funding Book 3 idea. And if you really feel you must do something additional, I like Christine Delon's idea of adding alpha, omega, pi ...mmm....pie....
Add my voice to the "bank it" chorus. You deserve back pay for what you do, too.
But if you'd like to offer a stretch goal... I'd like it to be something that wouldn't add too much to your stress-load--something that doesn't depend upon anyone else but you to accomplish. What would I like to see as a stretch goal? I want more Erfworld stories. Do some sort of "Tales from the Erfworld" thing where you explore an entirely different character (or characters). Make it text-only, unless you can reasonably get David or Xin to do a couple of illustrations (like you're doing right now with the text parts of the story.). You could make it part of an email, or collect it into a PDF, or create some small-print-run pamphlet if backers really wanted a physical object.
Rob, having known you as long as I have (though not as well as I'd like, perhaps) I would like to add this little snippet to the voices saying "bank it": revel in it as well. What you do, and have done since I memorized as many of the Lunchtime Trio songs as I could, is really smart, really creative, really funny stuff. In my opinion, it is of a level of quality that you should be able to earn a living from it, a comfortable one even.
I've been a fan of yours for most of my life now and this is the first time I've had the ability to repay you just a little bit for every ditty, every clip, every Erf, and every terrible drink I've learned to avoid by following your exploits. Hell, I first charmed my wife because of a filk I wrote of Always a Goth Chick. I would be delighted to see that getting a book and a plushie gave you a chance to live by more than the skin of your teeth for a while. You've earned it and then some.
Allow the surplus to not only give you a financial buffer but an emotional one as well. Let this be its own success and let it be as successful as it can possibly be. And then move on to the next one. And the next one.
I've been a tool since shortly after the move from GITP. I backed the motion comic at the 'sponsor one page' level, and am obviously a backer for this Kickstarter. (Also, count me in for August) I say all that not to say 'look at me; I got more money than brainz', but to say I'm a longtime, committed supporter. I do all this because I love Erfworld and want to see that it continues.
In that vein; I say squeeze every drop of funding that you can from this and following kickstarters. I would be totally thrilled if you said "everything above '$x.xx" is reinvestment into Erfworld as a business. I would also be thrilled if you added stretch goals with low cost to you but high potential for backer attraction. Many ideas already stated would fill that role. My #1 idea is already mentioned, pdfs of short character stories. I'm more interested in background than anything else, so these could be non-illustrated. (Maybe get Xin on board for cover art) I don't mean to look down on David, but Xin has brought a magic to Erfworld that will be difficult if not impossible to replace. While I understand she can't be a primary content creator for Erfworld due to her commitments; I and a lot of others would still love to see her fingerprints in Erfworld continue.
I would advise against the challenge coin copy, as, well erfworld doesn't have that traditional military feel to it that schlock does. But if you're lookin' at Mr.Tayler for inspiration, a calendar wouldn't be too bad an idea for separate revenue(but probably not a stretch goal due to cost)
+1 on the bank it band wagon, but perhaps a little something for Xin too, It's good to help those going through hard times...
If Rob can earn $600 for 10 hours of consultancy, why not spin of a small side business in that? 10hours/$600 a week seems like decent money (though I have no idea what the cost of living in the US is). If you have too many clients, just ramp up your pay scale so you only spend 10hrs a week on non-erfworld stuff.
Agree with the others you should just bank it. And hopefully in a small way it is thanks for all of the enjoyment you bring to your readers.
Lot of great ideas though which you may want to consider for your next kickstarter. And my view is I don't think you should rush your Book 3 kickstarter.
No more stretch goals. IF you have money left over after the website you can put it towards the next book. If the website is that important, you really need to have a reserve in case of it costing more than you think....again.
What (if anything) to add to this project? A pile of money to keep the project alive, at least to its natural conclusion. So yes, here's another vote for bank it.
I would suggest not to try and squeeze more out of this run if you have a larger one planned for August. Better to save up some stretch goals for the next Kickstarter then. Bank the current sum and optionally focus on non-shipping stretch goals such as PDF's for what remains for this campaign.
Bank it. I do want to get a print version of Book 2, but if they won't be available until the next Kickstarter you do then it can wait. Make sure that first and foremost the ongoing comic is funded.
I'm all for extra digital content, background on any part of the story, etc, in ebook or other format is what I'd be up for and would probably get me to up my pledge (even with money being tight).
Otherwise bank/website away.
After reading Tomas' comment below, and re-reading your update note above, I think it would be great to push at least a third of the August Kickstarter (i.e. $15,000) into this one, so that we can shoot to pre-fund the first issue (assuming three issues for Book 3, similar to Book 2) and allow you to push the next Kickstarter to later in the year or even to early next year, thus avoiding the need to "go to the well" too often or too close together.
I understand your desire for us to see more of his work before committing, but speaking only for myself, I've already seen enough to know that he's worth supporting. Moreover, it's the story that I find most compelling, in any event. That's what I want to support the most, and to see continue.
Anyway, just some food for thought. I'm obviously supporting this one regardless, and I might even support another one in three short months if you continue down that road... but if you've already got attention and momentum from this one, I really think it may be better to allow some more space between them, especially if this one is generating significantly more than you originally expected. Best wishes regardless of what you decide!