KickstARTing Something Stirs in the Blackscale Brakes?

So you might have heard of this Kickstarter a while ago, in which Jason Lutes very transparently lets you know exactly how much money he needs and where it is going.

Given that I have been burned by more than a few Kickstarters (well, the ones that actually delivered), I really appreciated this transparency as it allowed me to determine if it was going to be worth the cash without actually having to fork over any cash at all.

I am going to do the same thing with Sundered World (though with a slightly different scheme of stretch goals that allow the use of increasingly better artists and/or more art), but in the mean time I wanted to try a similar route with with an existing adventure, Something Stirs in the Blackscale Brakes.

Counting a new cover I would at least be aiming for six digest-sized pieces, with the cover being in color and the interior ones being black and white. I have seen rates range from $30-80 a pop, which would mean an initial total of from $180-480 (or an average of just over $300). The idea would be to get in touch with an artist, get a solid rate, and then develop a bare minimum amount, followed by stretch goals that would allow me to fill in some of the gaps.

My question is this: if I were to put this up on Kickstarter with the express intent of paying for art, would you pitch in?

Since the pdf is currently free (well, Pay What You Want) there would be the typical $1 amount, but the only other option that comes to mind is charging something like $7 for the actual book (since printing and shipping the book costs $6.17), with perhaps a larger option allowing for a full-color and/or hardback.

The existing pdf would be updated on DTRPG, so if you already own it you do not have to re-buy it, and I would also be for giving backers of a certain level discounts on existing products (obviously more than what you pay, so you get a net gain). If this works out I would also try this with If These Stones Could Scream and pretty much everything else I work on down the line.

So what do you think? Is this something you would support? If not, what could I do to entice you to back it?

EDIT: Someone mentioned that they would be up for it if I promised additional content as well. I do not want to promise a specific amount of a certain type ahead of time (I do not want to make a promise that I will be unable to keep, or unable to deliver satisfactorily), but if anyone let me know where they felt it was lacking I would be able to better address that need.


  1. I read the adventure and think you did a great job with it!

    I would certainly take part in the kickstarter if you just improved the layout a little. My suggestions are to make it easier to navigate (I find it difficult to know in which section or chapter or the book I am) and to fill the pages a little more, it doesn't matter the page count decreases.

  2. Thanks! If anything the page count would increase a little (I would place an image at the start of each chapter), but I could add a notation somewhere on the pages to indicate what chapter you are in.

  3. Setting donation tiers is really tricky, but probably the most important part. The rest of this post is a spam of numbers, but it's wisdom some friends ended up eating bologna sandwiches for a year to gain, so hopefully it comes useful.

    The best advice I can give is to calculate out the worst money-maker out of your pledges and multiply out how many of those you'd need to pay for everything. That'll give you a safe goal.

    For your $7 book example: you'd only get $0.83 to spend on art for each book pledge. Which would mean the total kickstarter to cover $300 would have a goal of over $11,000.

    And that's not accounting for kickstarter fees or any snags you run into. If we assume US credit cards, the fees end up being 10% plus $0.05 per transaction between Kickstarter and Amazon. So $0.75 for each $7 transaction.

    Which means you'd get $0.08 for each $7 book pledge. Or, going back to our estimate, a $26,250 Kickstarter to make sure everything gets paid for.

    At $9 a book, you end up at $0.90 in fees, so you'd be getting $1.93 per book. That's a $1,400 kickstarter.

    If you go up to $10 for a book, the fee structure changes and it costs $1.09 each, so you'd get $2.74 from each book. At that rate, you'd have to sell 110 copies of the book to cover $300 in art. So a $1,100 goal.

    $11 a book? $1.17 in fees, the artist gets $3.66 a book. You need to sell 82 books, for a goal of just over $900.

    Even if you were purely taking donations with no rewards (except the PDF), you'd want to set the goal around $350, just because the fees cut into $1 donations pretty deeply ($0.15 a pop).

    Since the focus of the kickstarter is on the art, you might want to focus the rewards there as well. Originals or prints are an option, but you'll have to work that out with the artist (and figure in the actual value to the kickstarter above). Other classic rewards are stuff like including your characters in the art. If you can get someone to "sponsor" one of the pieces by having their characters in it, that's a huge weight off.

    Bonus PDF content could include things like pretty move cards, if you don't already include things like that. That seems handy to drop on the table for location-specific or monster-specific moves and could integrate art from that location or chapter.

    Other random things you've probably figured out, but I'll mention for the sake of completeness:
    * Include tiers for international shipping when you're dealing with physical items. It sucks for people in other countries, but look at the margins you're dealing with. You can't afford to soak that as a creator.
    * If you have stretch goals for additional content, be sure to figure in changes to cost in printing and shipping. More than one Kickstarter has found that enough stretch goals can actually make each pledge lose them money.
    * Figure in some money to pay yourself for your time. Fulfilling even a small Kickstarter is a lot of time you could be spending to do other productive stuff. If people don't want to pay you, make another few PDFs with that time instead.


    1. Wow, my math was incredibly off (plus, I was not aware of an Amazon fee or whatnot)...

      My intention was to funnel every single penny solely for paying for art, but seeing as there has not been much response to this I might make this a stretch goal for another adventure kickstarter. Like, if it gets x cash, add art to it, and even give coupons to reduce the cost of getting the printbook.


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