Audiobook + EOE: Volume I Second Edition
So, obviously, this campaign's success took me a little bit off-guard (thank you again for that, by the way!) I spent the first few days of the campaign at Fanfest rallying support from EVE players and doing press interviews (which was a big success and we ended up with articles in PC Gamer, PCGamesN, MassivelyOP, Shacknews, I talked with a BBC reporter (fingers crossed,) and a whole lot more.
After a day off doing Icelandic tourism and a day traveling, I'm back in the United States and ready to work to continue building this campaign!
My goal for this Kickstarter campaign is to make it an unambiguously good idea for as many people as possible to support it. So over the next few weeks I'll be adding tiers to make the campaign more attractive to a wider range of potential backers. I'll also be sweetening the pot to entice those who are considering waiting until after release, and I'll be doing that by giving all of you rewards for being at your current tier and strong incentives to upgrade.
I don't like to do Stretch Goals if I can help it, because those tend to be a means of milking extra money from a campaign's community and I'm just not really about that. (I do have one idea for an obscenely cool stretch goal that I think would be worth doing, but I'm really going to take my time thinking about it before I present it to you all. I'm not yet confident so don't get excited. Yet.) I'm trying above all else to make an amazing project that you'll be proud to have been a part of, because I believe that's the best possible moral goal for a Kickstarter.
As of now I'm not going to be announcing stretch goals per se, but obviously we have more money to work with and you deserve to know what this means for the project. But before we do, I want to walk you through some of the expenses that a project like mine has to deal with because it puts hard limits on what is achievable, and I want you to understand where we're going and why.
The first thing to remember is that the vast majority of this project involves physical products which need to be manufactured, shipped via freight to a distribution center, and then shipped individually to each backer. Which means as our funding goes up, so do the costs.
As a loose rule, shipping physical products costs about 40% of what was raised. If you backed at a physical tier, you paid an extra shipping fee at checkout, but this is only to help me *partially* offset the cost. The actual cost of shipping is much higher. The true cost of shipping a book within the United States is about $15 (warehouse space, packing materials, labor, trucks, and postage) while international parcels average out to $35-$45 EACH. From $25 to Canada on the low-end, to $70+ to Australia and Japan.
The overall costs break down like this. These are loose numbers and shouldn't be taken too seriously. This is back-of-envelope math to help me paint a picture for you:
40% - Shipping and fulfillment
20% - Manufacturing (each hardcover comes out to about $10, softcover $6ish)
23% - Kickstarter fees, credit card processing, taxes, other fees
10% - Production (Contractors, editors, art etc)
7% - "The Oh Shit Buffer" (Whatever is left after all other costs is kept as a discretionary fund for dealing with unexpected costs and disasters.)
Now. Let's talk about these numbers. It all adds up to (very roughly) 100%. Because Kickstarters are hard and dangerous, I prefer to put as much surplus as I can into the Oh Shit Buffer. If I do my job well and there's money left-over in the Oh Shit Buffer then that becomes my post-release marketing budget.
You'll notice there's not even any funding allocated for me personally. I don't make money off the Kickstarter unless we reach some very high levels of funding and economies of scale start to kick-in.
Where I make money for my part in this project is baked into the Manufacturing tier. I print extra copies to sell on Amazon after I've delivered your books to you. This has the added bonus of lowering the per unit cost of each book that is printed which keeps the price lower for you.
This is how I run projects. I build it in such a way that I only make money after the campaign has ended and I've delivered your rewards to you. The only way I can make money is by completing a great book, making you happy, and in doing so, building the book's reputation so additional people hear about it and want to buy it after the campaign is over.
I like this method because it ties our fates together. I get happier as you get happier. If you are disappointed, I am disappointed.
Now that you know a bit about how I plan these things out, you can start to see both the restraints and opportunities we have on this project. It's pretty critical that anything I add to the project is able to generate additional revenue to pay for itself, either by incentivizing backers to upgrade to a higher tier, or by becoming a salable product after the campaign is over.
With that in mind, I'll be using the money raised so far toward a few main pursuits. The first and most important of those is making an amazing audiobook production of Empires of EVE: Volume II.
In 2017, I published my own audiobook production of EOE Volume I and it was a smashing success. I narrated the book myself, and it has so far sold more than 1400 copies and was given great reviews by listeners (4.8/5.0).
I built that audiobook mostly by myself (I had an audio engineer help me with some of the finer points,) recording takes late at night when the Seattle street noise was at its daily low. It turned out exceptionally well, and I've decided to jump back in and produce another one for EOE V2.
The audiobook is going to be introduced as a solo $25 tier, as well as a free bonus to backers of the $80 combo pack tier (I can't edit the text on the reward, but I'll still get it to you.) I'm looking into ways (such as Backerkit) that will allow backers to add the Audiobook to any order ala carte.
Because this is a separate production, it may take some extra time to deliver this version of the book. My plan is to produce the audiobook while the physical book is being printed/shipped (which usually takes 3-4 months.) However, since I've never done that before, I want to make sure you know there is some uncertainty at work here. I may end up needing more time, and I also may not. I can only say I'll do my very best for you all as always, and that I'll make sure it's ready before I ship it.
The second thing I've decided to do is to create a Second Edition of Empires of EVE: Volume I. I'm currently just about sold out of hardcovers of Volume I on Amazon (Amazon.com is completely sold out of hardcovers, and there are less than 20 still on Amazon.ca) and with so much interest in the Combo Pack tier, this is the perfect time to revamp the book and make it compatible with Volume II.
What does it mean that this is a Second Edition? For starters, I'll be commissioning a re-edit of the book by a trusted editor who will help me streamline the storytelling, clean up typos, and generally improve it as a written work. I'll also be talking with sources to try to add additional information, anecdotes, and stories wherever possible (because I can't yet know what type of content we might add, I won't make any promises about this aspect.)
I'll also be re-doing the hardcover layout design to make it look more like Volume II so that they look great together as books in a series. The cover, for instance, will be emblazoned with "Volume I" on the cover and spine so that it matches seamlessly with Volume II.
The Second Edition will be an automatic upgrade to all tiers that include a copy of Empires of EVE: Volume I. Which brings me to my next item!
Finally, I've decided to include an ebook copy of Empires of EVE: Volume I (Second Edition) as a universal bonus with every tier as a thank you to all of you for making this campaign such a huge early success!
Again, I can't alter the reward text for tiers, but when the funding campaign is over I'll send out an update that makes the different versions available to all of you.
1) I'm making a Second Edition of Empires of EVE: Volume I! I'll be commissioning a re-edit and revamping the hardcover version to make it look more compatible with Volume II.
2) All tiers will get the ebook version of it as a free thank you gift!
3) We're making an audiobook! It's a $25 tier that comes with the softcover ebook free. Backers of the $80 Combo Pack tier will also be getting Volume II audiobook downloads!
Thanks for reading! I can't wait to see what we're able to do going forward. I have more ideas for how I'd like to proceed with the project, but that can wait until the next update.
For now, let me know what you think of these plans! Thank you again for an amazing start to the campaign.
I'm so excited to get to work on this.