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Kickstarts. Must Be Tuesday

Things are racing to their logical conclusions (i.e.: overfunding) all over the damn place. Let’s have a looksee, shall we?

  • Howard Tayler¹ has been grinding out a hell of a complicated Kickstart for just about two years now. The fact that it’s about a year overdue on much of its deliverables² would ordinarily make the prospect of launching another Kickstart suicidal; crowdfunding backers will turn on you when they don’t get what they want. And yet, that appears to not be the case.

    For starters, Tayler and his production team have been communicating with their backers on a regular basis, identifying where work is being done, advising early about hiccups, delays, and the reality of scheduling. In the two years since the Planet Mercenary role-playing game campaign wrapped, there have been 55 updates (call it every other week) to keep backers in the loop. That honest outreach buys a hell of a lot of goodwill.

    The update four days ago let backers know that non-paper items needed for fulfillment are either on hand or arriving within the week, and paper items would be going to print. This puts reward assembly in the late June timeframe, and shipping completion (by my estimates, there are about 3300 backers that still need stuff shipped to them) in July.

    Expectation. Communication. Modified expectation. Happy backers. ‘Taint rocket surgery.

    And that’s why the same day that We’ve gone to print was shared (that would be yesterday), Tayler, et. al., were able to launch a second Kickstarter campaign, for a game master’s screen. This one hasn’t been buried by a host of Oh, this one’ll be a year late too for an important reason beyond the accumulated goodwill: it’s limited. Much like the challenge coin campaign, it’s for a single item, designwork done, limited reward tiers, simple stretch goals, and nearly immediate shipping — in this case, the screens will be shipped in July (possibly concurrent with the PM fulfillment; I can see a lot of backers of the game wanting the screen), and backers will have ’em in time for GenCon.

    And it’s working; we’re in Day Two of the 19 day campaign, with 85% of the US$19.4K goal in hand. More interestingly, as of this writing there’s a significant phenomenon in the reward tiers: 438 people have backed an early bird tier that gets you three big things and three little things (details aren’t important, work with me here) for US$20; 10 people have backed the non-early bird equivalent tier that gets you three big things and one little thing for US$25.

    Either Tayler’s backers aren’t good at reading (which is not characteristic of his demographic) or ten people just wanted to give him more money. That can’t be explained by short campaign lengths, simple reward structures, or short fulfillment times. That’s entirely down to goodwill, and it’s worth more than any six-figure campaign of the past³ or future4.

  • I’ve lost track of how many Kickstarts C Spike Trotman has run by now5, but in a lot of ways she runs hers the opposite of how Tayler runs his — there’s a template there, one that she follows every time, tinkering around the edges but not messing with success6. The latest project to get the Spike treatment went live last night, and about sixteen hours later is closing in on US$10K of its US$25K goal.

    As The Crow Flies by Melanie Gillman is about a queer, black teenage girl at an otherwise all-white Christian summer camp; if you’ve not read it, you can get a flavor of it from an autobio piece Gillman did in The Nib last year about her own experiences at Christian summer camp.

    It’s the sort of story that it’s hard to imagine finding a foothold at a publisher other than Iron Circus; queer themes, POC protagonist questioning faith, cast dominantly made up of teen girls, but no magical destiny or powers or adventure? All done in colored pencils, with whole pages given over to wordless (sometimes characterless) landscapes, as many as it takes to set the mood? It’s a damn good story, one that deserves to find an audience, and thanks to Gillman and Spike now it will.

    As The Crow Flies: Volume One will collect the first 270 pages of story (Gillman’s on page #286 now), which constitute approximately the first half of the story’s weeklong structure. Backers can get physical and PDF books, signed bookplates, and for the ridiculously low price of US$100, original story pages. There were commissions available, but they’re gone; but if you’re looking for a speaker, US$1000 (plus travel and lodging) gets you a visit from Gillman, a full day of instruction, and 20 copies of ATCFv1. At US$30K (only US$5K over goal), Gillman adds a side story to the book.

    That’s it — simple, straightforward, the material is all produced and it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that the book layout is all done and just waiting for a number to be attached to the print run. Oh, and one other thing — this is only the second Iron Circus Kickstart of 2017; Spike’s gonna have plenty more for us before the year’s out.

Spam of the day:

Get up to $15,000 Overnight!

Yes, “ZippyLoan”, borrowing fifteen large from unknown persons in Nevada is absolutely something that does not make me think I’ll end up owing The Mob an extortionate interest rate and possibly a kneecap.

¹ Evil twin, etc.

² A major component, the 70 Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries books, has shipped, albeit about nine months late.

³ The challenge coins funded at US$155K, the PM RPG at US$349K.

4 By the FFF mk2, the game screens are heading for US$40K +/- 8K.

5 Eleven as of about 9:00pm EDT last night; number twelve is now live.

6 And for five measly bucks, she’ll tell you how to do it, too.

Would someone please explain these basics to Jill Thompson? She is years late, doesn’t update and treates her fans like they owe her something.. Not only has she not produced her Scar Godmother doll yet, she hasn’t delivered on the other incentives, is rude to her fans, and refuses to communicate or offer refunds. “What do I oew you?” is not a very nice conversation opener when you politely ask her what is going on with the project. $200,000, years to wait, and she has time to do everything but send a print. I’ve had it with her.

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