Never Let the Right One Go – Kickstarter not funded

The Kickstarter campaign for Never Let the Right One Go ended a few hours ago. There were $361 in pledges from 14 different backers, 10 of whom pledged $30 or more and wanted the limited-edition hardcover. Unfortunately, since the goal was $1000, no funds were collected, and none of those people (currently) have per-orders in place for the book. What I expect to do is post a backers-only update, when I have the books in hand, and offer the finished books to backers at the Kickstarter price. (Or the final price, plus shipping, whichever is lower.)

The main thing this Kickstarter campaign was meant to do, which it did quite successfully, was to gauge reader interest in my new books. As I said before, if a hundred or more people would have been willing to pay $30 for the hardcover, I wouldn’t want to have limited the edition to 50 copies. If 1,000 people wanted to buy the book, I’d certainly want to do an additional unlimited-edition (paperback) and also pay the LSI distribution fee, at least for the first year, getting the paperback on Amazon &c. for that huge audience’s friends. Likewise, if fewer than 50 people expressed interest (as has happened), then my planned limited edition of 50 copies is sufficient.

Interestingly, the Kickstarter campaign’s gauge of interest showed me something else: I had nearly double the number of backers, versus my last two Kickstarters. Half of the hardback-level backers were people who found the campaign on their own, browsing, and liked my project enough (not knowing me or my existing body of work, not following my links, my friends’ links, or any other thing extended from my online presence & social network) to pledge. This speaks well to the general-public appeal of the books, I believe. Perhaps the eBooks will, indeed, find an audience.

re: Printing the hardcover edition, when I take into account all the costs of producing a hardcover print run (setup, proof, printing, shipping, ISBNs, free copies for the photographers, et cetera), if I want to keep the pricing in line with my new scheme, and start at $25 or $30 a copy, and not lose money (presuming all copies eventually sell), I can’t realistically do an edition much smaller than 50 copies. In fact, I’ve been running and re-running the math, and if I follow my current/new pricing scheme, and if I start them at $25, and if I sell all 46 salable copies, my net profit will only be about $70 for the whole publication. If I start at $30, I can double that, and if I sell all 46 copies at $30 I can net roughly $457 of profit. My current estimate puts me at having spent between 1,000 and 1,250 working hours on these books by the time I’m done, not including the hours it’ll take over the years to actually sell them. Yet here I am, trying to decide between valuing my time at 6¢/hr or 11¢/hr, and feeling bad about having the audacity to suggest I might like to earn 38¢/hr for my efforts by standing fast to a single price for all copies of the signed, limited-edition hardcover.

Actually, technically, with the latest numbers, I can’t really afford to print the limited edition without putting my company in the red for the year… I’ll need to actually sell a bunch of copies to earn the difference between my early estimates and the actual numbers I’m getting now. And/or sell a few more pieces of art soon. Ack. Not to mention, the profits mentioned in the previous paragraph are on a per-title basis, not an overall-business basis, and do not take into account my overhead costs. Like, I keep thinking/wondering/hoping about how many copies I’ll sell at Phoenix Comicon, and how much money I’ll earn that way – but showing at Comicon costs me hundreds of dollars, dollars which have to come out of “profit”, one way or another. If I price to only earn $70 or even $140 on the full print run, even the best-case scenario of somehow selling out at Comicon wouldn’t actually be profitable, after overhead. I’m terrible at business, I guess.

Of course, there’s no good way to know how many people will buy the book (or the eBook; if the eBooks sell well, it takes a lot of pressure off the hardcover edition), regardless of venue. At the last two Comicons, I sold only a couple dozen books across all my titles, including very cheap books, each. My best-selling title (in paper) has sold fewer than 20 copies in two and a half years. If I were to guess, I’d say that probably 3 or 4 of the backers will follow through and actually buy the finished book, now that the Kickstarter has failed. I have no clue how it’ll do at Comicon: Probably either really well, or like a lead balloon. It would be foolish to expect to sell more than half the print run before the year is out, based on the data I have now. That many sales would cover my accounting underestimation, but then what?

I don’t know. I’m very frustrated, right now. I probably need to get some sleep. I was hoping I could work through more of this, and come to a better emotional point through logorrhea, but I still feel quite mixed up, and my eyes are begging to be shut. Expect another couple thousand words on this, and related topics I don’t want to even begin to write about tonight, soon.

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Author, artist, romantic, insomniac, exorcist, creative visionary, lover, and all-around-crazy-person.

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