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More good news, and a dilemma

August 3, 2013

First things first: awesome news! Alan, who runs the popular site Polyamory in the Media, has also stepped up with matching funds for the Indiegogo campaign. He’ll be matching up to $1,000, bringing the total amount available for a match to $6,000. And author and journalist Louisa Leontiades has just offered e-book copies of her novel, The Husband Swap, as an additional reward.

With the matching funds and the many generous offers of reward items, we’ve been able to significantly slash our fundraising goal, to a number that’s starting to feel much more achievable.

Now we have a choice to make. We’ve already decided that everyone at $15 and above will get an e-book, and everyone at $100 and above will get a signed, first-edition hardcover–the only hardcover edition of this book we ever plan to print.

Our dilemma concerns the $25 an above level. It makes a big difference whether we choose to offer print books as rewards to people at the $25 contribution tier and above: basically, printing and shipping all those books will cost us about $4,500. So the choices:

  • Set our goal at $26,300. Give backers at $25 and above a paperback copy of the book.
  • Set our goal at $21,800. Give backers at $25 and above coupons for $10 off online purchase of the book when it’s published. And set a stretch goal for $26,300, after which everyone at $25 and above gets an actual copy of the book.

We need about 350 backers for the lower goal, and 450 for the higher one. It’s pretty unusual for a writing campaign on Indiegogo to get more than $25,000, and as optimistic as we are given all the support so far, we don’t want to overreach–you get dinged pretty badly on Indiegogo if you don’t meet your goal.

At the same time, what we’ve read about stretch goals indicates they’re not really all they’re cracked up to be, as campaigns tend to lose momentum after they reach their initial goal. We don’t really have anything exciting to offer with a stretch goal, like a new character or quest for a video game, and we’re worried people will be put off by a $10 coupon rather than an actual book.

So we want to know what you think. Do we try for the whole thing in one go, and offer everyone a print book at the outset, or do we take smaller steps, and make the print book a stretch goal? We’ve created a very short survey [survey now closed, see below] for you to help us get a better handle on this question. If you’re considering supporting us at $25 or above, please take a moment to fill it out.

Thank you for your help!

UPDATE August 4: Thanks to everyone who filled out the survey! It looks like people overwhelmingly want a paperback book as part of the main goal (not as a stretch goal), so we’ll be figuring out a way to do that–more info soon. In response to the many suggestions that we simply raise the dollar value of the reward level: good idea, but it won’t solve our problem. For a brief explanation of why, see the comments.

  1. Ewen McNeill permalink
    August 4, 2013 1:14 am

    Maybe I’ve missed something, but have you considered the “includes a print copy” level being higher than $25? Eg, at $30 or $35 you’re getting to your goal with fewer copies to print/mail. If pre-buyers are getting “print book, eBook, and name in lights” it’s at least worth considering they’d pay “more than print book retail” for the privilege.

    If you feel you must have a $25 level, maybe there’s some other intermediate rewards that doesn’t cost you much extra but has value to the buyer? (And if you do have a $25 level, having $15/$25/$35 would make sense.)


    • Eve Rickert permalink
      August 4, 2013 8:23 am

      Hi Ewen, thanks for the suggestion. A number of people have suggested that, but unfortunately, it doesn’t solve our problem. The problem isn’t the cost of printing and shipping relative to the reward tier, but the amount that having to print and ship X number of books adds to the total goal amount.

      These numbers are made up for the sake of simplicity: let’s say a book costs $10 to print and ship. At $25 a book, you need to get 400 backers at $25 and above. So you have to add $4,000 to your goal to account for the rewards. At $35, you only have to get around 300 backers. But that still means you have to add about $3,000 to your goal. So it doesn’t help you very much if you’re trying to keep your goal reasonable. The number of $35 backers may drop a little more, as some people opt for cheaper rewards, but not by much.

      As an example, I experimented with what it would look like to ship a paperback at $50 and above. It still bumped our goal up over $25,000.

      • Eve Rickert permalink
        August 4, 2013 8:26 am

        But you don’t really have time to explain economics like this in a crowdfunding campaign; people just want to know where the books are 🙂 And the people have spoken (via the survey), and they don’t like the coupon idea. So we’re going to have to find a way to factor the paperbacks into our main goal.

  2. Ewen McNeill permalink
    August 4, 2013 1:20 am

    As one of those “I wish I’d thought of it before hitting submit on the first comment” suggestions: maybe the $25 level could have more than one chapter as a PDF preview, in serialised form, as they are complete? (Probably not all of it; as you get towards the end they’ll get the eBook to “finish it off” anyway.) At minimum it seems to have a good cost/value ratio.


    • Eve Rickert permalink
      August 4, 2013 8:24 am

      Yes, we’ve already decided that anyone contributing $15 and above will get an e-book. So the question is just what else they get for bumping their pledge up another $10.

      We thought about just putting the e-book at $15, but that puts us way out of step with other crowdfunded books.

  3. Ewen McNeill permalink
    August 4, 2013 1:57 pm

    I appreciate that charging, eg, $35 for the “includes paperback” book doesn’t _solve_ the problem, but assuming you get enough people to back it, it does increase the “profit” of that goal (ie, the money available to, you know, actually cover writing the book, as opposed to printing/shipping). Low volume printing is expensive — it’s effectively print-on-demand. And having read “debrief” summaries from some successful crowd funded experiments one of the key things they’ve said helped was ensuring that there was ample extra money received beyond the incremental cost of producing/shipping the rewards — otherwise you haven’t really raised much beyond “physical production” costs.

    Hence the suggestion of rewards that have high value to the “purchaser”, but relatively low cost to produce. Like serialising the book as it is produced to an “in-crowd” (ie, chapter 1 after 1 month, next chapter after 2 months, etc, until nearly done: then get eBook to finish it off). The incremental production cost is almost zero. But the value in “don’t have to wait to read it” is pretty high for the purchaser.


    PS: If $25k is a psychological barrier (and it appears you think it is, even though I think that’s actually pretty low end for specialist book budgets), then I suspect the remainder of the solution is to find other “angel” investors that will back it outside, to bring the crowd-funded part down low enough to be perceived as “safe”. You could consider those angel investors being able to recover some of their money from any mass distribution of the book (so part of it becomes a “repay only when you’ve earned the money back” loan).

  4. August 4, 2013 1:59 pm

    I wonder what would be the economics of, say, a separate indiegogo campaign *just* for the print book?

  5. August 4, 2013 2:00 pm

    (or kickstarter, or whatever)

    • Eve Rickert permalink
      August 4, 2013 7:30 pm

      Kickstarter said no. They don’t accept “self-help” materials, and they decided that’s what we were. It’s a shame, because Kickstarter has about 6x the user base of Indiegogo, and Kickstarter projects tend to raise a lot more money than Indiegogo projects.

  6. Ewen McNeill permalink
    August 4, 2013 7:50 pm

    In case you/others are not aware, Kickstarter got pretty badly burnt by adverse publicity from a pretty… icky set of PUA material, a few months back (see, eg, June 21 posting on their blog). Given your book material pushes some of the same buttons for the general public, I can understand them being wary. (Hopefully they can fine tune their criteria over time.)



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