Saturday 2 November 2013
Kickstarter - the results are in
Fabled Lands book seven? It's the inevitable question. We're certainly considering it. But if you're thinking it would be a shoo-in on Kickstarter, I do just have to point out a couple of caveats.
Nobody actually gets to take home forty thousand dollars for The Way of the Tiger. Kickstarter takes a fee off the top. Artists must be paid. The text must be scanned, cleaned up and edited. Printing, packaging and postage eats up most of what remains.
And Way of the Tiger was already written - six books of it, at any rate - and the new artwork was able to build on what Bob Harvey and the cover artist had aleady done.
In contrast, FL book 7 needs to be written. It must have all-new illustrations by Russ. (Everyone agree? Thought so.) An awesome cover image too that must hold its own beside Kevin Jenkins's classic paintings. And then there's editing and typesetting. That all has to be paid for by the profit margin, not the whole amount raised.
Profit is not the right word anyway, as the hundreds of man-hours that Richard S Hetley, Mikaël Louys, David Walters and others put into running the WOTT Kickstarter campaign were purely a labour of love You could say, in effect, that Kickstarter took all their unpaid efforts at one end and turned those into a couple of thousand bucks to pay editors and artists with.
Of course, that's not all a Kickstarter campaign does. Its main value is as a publicity campaign to make people aware that Way of the Tiger is back. If new readers flock to join the nostalgia buffs willing to spend $50 a book, then it becomes a viable business.
About a decade ago, there was a show on British television called Restoration.The idea was to get the viewers to vote which of several worthy but crumbling old buildings would get lottery funding. Each project had to explain how the restored building would save itself from sliding off into penury again. In most cases you had well-intentioned twits pitching the repurposing of (say) an 18th century Shropshire manor house into an arts commune. "Artists will live here and paint and the public can come and buy their work, and that will pay for maintenance of the property." They might just as well have dynamited the bloody building right there and then.
Faced with the exact same problem, the Landmark Trust came up with an ingenious solution. Charitable donations pay to restore old buildings, which are then rented out to the public as holiday homes via a second, non-charitable organization whose profits go to sustaining the buildings. This works because it is a real business. A successful Kickstarter needs to be less like Nigel Means-Well, more like the Landmark Trust.
What that boils down to is whether Way of the Tiger or Fabled Lands can make the next step. Can they go from having a hundred or so fans who remember them with open-walleted affection to several thousand fans who will buy the paperbacks and apps at a moderate price? We'll test the water with WOTT paperbacks next year, and that may indeed point the way to Fabled Lands books 7, and 8, and 9, and...
Whoops, mustn't get carried away!