The BNW Kickstarter Rewards

I was all set to launch the Kickstarter for the first of the 12 for ’12 trilogies today, but I’ve been sidetracked by delays in Amazon Payments verifying my bank account. I love my small-town bank (1st National Bank of Beloit), but there are times that it would be easier to be one with one of the nationals instead. With luck, it should be a short delay, maybe a day.

In the meantime, since I have the extra time, I thought I’d run the reward for the first Kickstarter past you. These are for the trilogy based on my Brave New World Roleplaying Game, a dystopian world packed with stunning superheroes, powerful themes, and political intrigue.

This is all subject to change until I post the Kickstarter page. Here’s your chance to comment on the particulars before I launch the project, so don’t be shy. Let me know what you think.

The Game Plan

I’m hoping to line up about $5k worth of pledges for each 12 for ’12 book before I write it. Because I’m so eager to start the first book, though, I’m setting the goal for this Kickstarter project at only $3k. Once we reach that, I’ll get ready to start writing the first book on January 1, 2012. After that, though, we have a few other goals to shoot for too:

  • $8k: The second book in the trilogy is unlocked! This gets added to the ebook and print omnibus editions rewards for free!
  • $12k: An ebook edition of “Goblintown Justice,” a short story set in the Shotguns & Sorcery setting of the second trilogy is unlocked and added on to all reward levels for free!
  • $15k: The third book in the trilogy is unlocked! This gets added to the ebook and print omnibus editions rewards for free!

I want to thank you in advance for your support. Please pledge whatever you like or can, but also don’t forget to spread the word far and wide about this project. Tell your friends, family, and neighbors and even strangers if they’ll listen. It’s going to be an amazing year, and I really can’t wait to have you along for the ride.



    Extra: An ebook edition of the first Brave New World novel (delivered in both ePub and Kindle formats).


    Player: A personalized and autographed ebook edition of the first BNW novel (delivered in both ePub and Kindle formats). If books 2 and 3 are unlocked, you’ll get copies of those too. Plus, an MP3 of Makeshift Prodigy’s “Revolution,” to go along with the book. Plus, you’ll be credited as a Player in the ebook editions.


    Citizen: A limited edition hardcover of the first BNW novel, as well as the eBook edition. Please add $10 for international shipping.

  4. PLEDGE $100 OR MORE

    Guide: A personalized and autographed limited edition hardcover of the first BNW novel, as well as the eBook edition. If books 2 and 3 are unlocked, you’ll get copies of those too as part of an exclusive omnibus edition. Plus, an MP3 of Makeshift Prodigy’s “Revolution,” to go along with the book. You’ll be credited as a Guide in the hardcover and ebook editions. Please add $10 for international shipping.

  5. PLEDGE $150 OR MORE

    Sidekick: All the benefits of being a Guide, plus you’ll have the chance to read the book as it is being written, delivered in weekly installments in all its to-be-polished glory. You’ll be credited as a Sidekick in the hardcover and ebook editions.

  6. PLEDGE $250 OR MORE

    Hero: All the benefits of being a Sidekick, plus I’ll name a character in the book after you. You’ll be credited as a Hero in the hardcover and ebook editions.

  7. PLEDGE $500 OR MORE

    Limited Reward: 10 of 10

    Delta: All the benefits of being a Sidekick, plus I’ll work with you to create a superhero or villain (a Delta) as a character in the book. You’ll be credited as a Guide in the hardcover and ebook editions.

  8. PLEDGE $1,000 OR MORE

    Limited Reward: 5 of 5 remaining

    Alpha: All the benefits being a Sidekick, plus I’ll work with you to create a major superhero or villain (an Alpha) for use in the series. You’ll be credited as an Alpha in the hardcover and ebook editions.

  9. PLEDGE $2,500 OR MORE

    Limited Reward: 1 of 1 remaining

    Omega: All the benefits of being a Sidekick, plus I’ll fly to an agreed-upon location in the United States with 25 copies of the hardcover (or the omnibus hardcover edition if books 2 and 3 are unlocked) for a reading and a signing with you and your friends. This comes with a copy of the ebook edition and an MP3 of Makeshift Prodigy’s “Revolution,” to go along with the book. You’ll be credited as an Omega in the hardcover and ebook editions.

  10. PLEDGE $5,000 OR MORE

    Crossroads Omega: All the benefits of being a Sidekick, plus I’ll fly to an agreed-upon location anywhere in the world with 50 copies of the hardcover (or the omnibus hardcover edition if books 2 and 3 are unlocked) for a reading and a signing with you and your friends. This comes with a copy of the ebook edition and an MP3 of Makeshift Prodigy’s “Revolution,” to go along with the book. You’ll be credited as a Crossroads Omega in the hardcover and ebook editions.

Comments 27

  1. Overall, the plan sounds solid. It’d be nice to know what the visuals and video are going to be, but absent that context this plan sounds like something I’d recommend.

    Note: I think there’s a typo in #7, did you mean to credit backers as Deltas?

    1. Post

      Thanks, Daniel! I did name them as Deltas, because that’s what we call supers in Brave New World. I might strip all of those labels off though. The “Extra” one, for instance, is what we call NPCs, but it looks a bit confusing there.

  2. The “Crossroads Omega” reward is cute, and I’m all for the super-ultra-high reward no one actually expects will happen. But just imagining for a moment some Bangalore or Bahraini millionaire were actually to spring for this, it looks like your airfare and hotel alone could take a huge bite out of $5,000, enough to bring it down to mere Omega level. Then, too, it’s a big timesink when you’re trying to write a novel every month. Am I overthinking this?

    1. Post

      You’re correct that the outlay would tear a chunk out of the profits, but I think that’s a problem I’d be happy to worry about should it happen. Maybe some wealthy Canadian will grab it instead. 🙂

  3. So I’m just going to shotgun my comments:

    1. Make your initial threshold the bare-bones minimum you need to make the project happen. Do you need $3k to make the book happen? If so, great. If not, set it lower. The thing about Kickstarter is you will either get nothing or more than you asked for. Very, very few projects end just over threshold. A kickstarter is sort of a trust-fall with your supporters: if you’ve got an idea that they want, you’ll soar over your “goal” anyway.

    2. Your $25 and $50 rewards, when combined, are the $100 reward. Which seems kind of weird.

    3. Your reward tiers seem a little high to me, or to put it another way, you have very few tiers below $100. The vast majority of your backers will want to be somewhere in here, so give them lots of options to “fine-tune” their level of support. If somebody wants to give you $40, they’ll sign up for whatever level is right under that ($25). It’s rare that they’ll decide to toss in more to make it to the next reward ($50).

    3. I’d put the “subscription” to the book as it gets written a lot lower on the rewards tree (like maybe at $40).

    4. I’m idly curious how you’re personalizing and autographing ebooks. I’m sure it can be done, but I don’t see how you can do it without a lot of very nit-picky HTML/epub tinkering.

    5. The reward entries are a little verbose. I’d cut them down significantly. Since everything is “the first book, plus the second and third if we get there,” I’d just make it “the book(s).” Explain the stretch-goals in the main text of the kickstarter page (what they call “The Story.”)

    5b. Tangential: you cannot edit the backer rewards once people sign up for them. So make absolutely sure they’re what you want before you hit Launch.

    5c. More Tangential: Naming the tiers is kind of inconsequential. Folks will just tell you they backed “at the $50 level,” because that’s what they’ll remember. It’s cute, but essentially meaningless, and it bulks up your reward text just that much more. I won’t say “cut those bits,” but I will tell you you’ll lose nothing if you do.

    6. Speaking of stretch goals, I’d recommend NOT putting those on the page until you hit your initial goal. Then explain what the next goal is, not the whole theoretical path to $15k. This limits information-overload for your potential backers and also gives you a good excuse to do an update with actual content and news instead of a running tally of your current total.

    7. Once it’s up and running, Updates are essential. So start thinking now what you’re going to drop in there. Teasers (art, prose, whatever) are great for this.

    7b. Tangential: once you hit your end-date, you can no longer edit The Story. So in the last hours of the kickstarter, be sure to replace the sales-text with a redirect to your webspace, so people who come to the completed kickstarter page can find out how to pre-order the book(s).

    8. Do you have a video? Do a video. Put your face on it. Make a connection with your backers.

    1. Post

      Thanks, Josh! To attack these in order:

      1. I actually need $5k. I lowered it to $3k. I might be willing to go as low as $2.5k though. The print rewards require cash outlay, so if I get exactly $2.5k worth of those alone, this will be a painful project. I’m betting that won’t happen though.

      2. Not quite. The $50 book doesn’t get autographed or numbered, nor does it get the extra books for the omnibus version as books get added. The $100 level gets those.

      3. The pledge requests are high, but Tobias Buckell (whose successful novel project just got funded) showed me some research that showed that the most popular amount to pledge is $25 and that the ones below that often amass in the single digits as a percentage of the total. Other bits I’ve seen argue that you should only have about 5 regular levels for pledges, plus the high ones if you care to add them. Otherwise, you wind up with pledgers suffering from choice paralysis.

      3(a). I’d consider lowering the “read as it’s written” benefit. $40 seems a bit low though.

      4. I’ll admit I’m learning this as I go, but the plan is to autograph something, scan it, and add it as a picture to the ebook as its frontispiece. I’ll have to regenerate it each time, which is a bit cumbersome but not terrible.

      5. Not everything is the first book plus others. The $5 and $50 rewards don’t give those. But you’re right that I could trim it all down.

      5b. Right. That’s why I’m asking for opinions now, and thanks for them.

      5c. I think you’re right about the level tags. I may remove those.

      6. I see your point about keeping it simple, but I’d also like to be upfront about the program rather than springing surprises on people. On the actual page, all that “Game Plan” stuff comes at the bottom of the “Your Story” section, so hopefully it won’t overwhelm much. Again, I could trim.

      7. Excellent point. I want to keep the momentum high.

      7b. Hadn’t thought of that at all. Thanks!

      8. I do have a video, and it should be done tonight. It features me talking, plus bits from the Brave New World proof-of-concept video for some nice eye candy.

  4. I would consider adding another step between the $25 and $100 levels. Instead of a $50 reward, could you think of two things to put at $40 and $70?

    Also, the $2500 and $5000 rewards are too similar; the $5000 reward needs something really extra special compared to the $2500 in order for it to be attractive. Maybe add some other thing you could do while in town for the reading, like taking the backer and some number of friends out to a fancy dinner after the reading/signing, or maybe they also get an autographed copy of every book you’ve ever made — something like that.

    1. Post

      Thanks for the feedback, Gary!

      I’ll have to noodle that around. Again, I don’t want to give too many choices for fear of causing choice paralysis. I like the idea of adding something cool to the top level. Maybe I toss dinner for four, plus my next eight novels, assuming they all get funded? Hm.

      1. Just had a thought:

        Make it where, no matter what, everyone gets the e-book version of all novels that get funded — so everyone gets novel #2 electronically if you hit $8k, and everyone gets novel #3 electronically if you hit $15k. (Why? Because these have no printing costs — once you hit the amount you want for the books, you might as well give them to the backers.)

        Then, in the lower levels that provide a hard copy, give them the option to increase their pledge by $10 (or whatever) to get hard copies of additional books that get funded. For example, when you hit $8k, everyone who pledged at a hard copy level for 1 book now has an incentive to pledge another $10+ to get the second one. So, on top of everything else, it gives your funding a big boost every time you cross one of those critical thresholds.

        I haven’t done this myself, but a lot of people report great success with providing these sorts of upgrade incentives as the project goes on. It’s definitely something to keep in mind.

        1. Post

          Thanks for the extra thoughts, Gary. I see where you’re going there, but the costs don’t ramp down that well for the print books. To produce a hardcover costs a good chunk of change, and all that comes out of my bottom line. It would have to be at least another $30 each unless I get enough orders for a small print run. The omnibus becomes a great deal if all three books get funded.

          As for giving away the ebooks for free, they don’t cost extra to make, you’re right, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have value. I would, when I hit those levels, add in new levels so you could get books 1 & 2 for $10 and all three for $15, without the bells and whistles. I actually lose money on the hardcovers compared to the ebooks because of the printing costs, but I’m hoping that we overfund a bit and can cover the extra expenses from some of the ebook sales. I expect most of my sales will be at the $25 level, which costs me nothing per unit to deliver, and I’d like to encourage the lower pledgers to step up to that.

          1. Matt,

            Check CreateSpace.com for hardcover printing. You should be able to get printing costs down to $15 or less depending on length. (My 400-page 8.5×11 hardcovers for e20 are something like $13 w/ their POD service, and shipping isn’t too expensive.)

            Second, when I mentioned a hard copy, I didn’t mean just hardcover — don’t forget paperback. CreateSpace does those for something like $5 – $6 as POD. That’s what I was thinking of when I suggested $10 per additional hard copy. ($15 might be better for you, though.) Extra hardcover copies should be around $40 each, I’d think, given that the printing would be in the $15 range.

            Obviously, you can get significantly lower prices if you do an actual print run, but this should cover small prints quite well.

            As for giving away the 2nd and 3rd e-books, I see your point. At the very least, you should give them the option to buy them once you cross each threshold (an extra $5 or so).

          2. Post

            I haven’t been able to find a price list for hardcovers on CreateSpace, but I’ll poke them harder.

            I’d thought about paperbacks, but I want the limited editions here to be something special for early backers. Once I do a wider release, I’ll include paperbacks for sure.

          3. CreateSpace does do hardcovers, but for it’s only for direct orders (i.e. the author buying his own book) rather than POD, so it’s not listed on their default options.

            It’s $6.50 + $0.015 per B&W page (regardless of trim size, I believe). For a collector’s edition, you might use a fairly large page size (7×9?) that would allow you to fit a good-size novel in 300 pages or less, so that’s a printing cost of only $11 each. There is a $199 set-up fee for hardcover, though, so that does inflate the cost a bit if you have a very small print run. (I can’t imagine you’d be printing less than 100, and even then your cost would be only $13 per book.)

            This is one of those things where you have to email their customer support directly to get the line on hardcover printing and set it up.

            Hope this helps!

        2. Post
    1. Post

      That’s correct, Tony, and intentional. The costs for the book go up a lot as the extra pages get added — unless I get enough orders to go with a regular print run as opposed to print-on-demand.

      Ah, but you’re correct that maybe it should give you the extra ebooks from the $25 level. Doesn’t make much sense otherwise, right? Thanks!

  5. Hmm. The gulf between $5 & $25 is pretty high.

    A few months back, I wrote on my blog about why we as consumers buy things. While not explicitly about Kickstarter, there are I think some worthwhile stuff there. Particularly the last point I make, on that we buy things to reinforce the stories we tell about ourselves.

    The point of the second reward tier is to give a chance to tell the story of “I can do better than just the base level.” But if the gulf is high enough, it comes into conflict with “wow, that’s kinda steep.” And while $25 might not seem steep, it is compared to $5.

    And Kickstarter is a game about comparisons. You have similar, large gulfs in your midrange level. I’m curious what advice others would have for those rewards.

    – Ryan

    1. Post

      Good points, Ryan. The first gulf is intentional to cover the extra effort for the personalization of the ebooks at the $25 level and the possibility that it’ll be for $15 worth of regular ebooks anyhow.

      In that sense, the $100 level is a bargain over the $50 level, as it nets you all three books, plus the ebooks, assuming we hit those funding levels. See my response to Josh for some of the price reasoning. I’m trying to strike a bit of a balance between Tobias Buckell’s project and the Delta Green novel project.

      I considered not putting in the $5 level at all, but a) I want people to have the option to chip in a little to show support and get the first ebook a little early in return, and b) I didn’t want to charge a lot more for an ebook that would sell for about $5 within weeks after that. So it’s there for that but meant to be not nearly as sexy as the other options.

      Thanks for the feedback!

  6. Most kickstarts I’ve seen are done for a single project over a shorter period of time (i.e. a single book). Is you kickstart going to run continuously all year? If so, can you upgrade your pledge? If someone pledges $25 in Dec with their xmass loot and then pledges another $25 in April when they get their tax return, do they get two copies of the $25 pledge rewards or the $50 reward?

    1. Post

      Thanks for the comments, Mike! It seems I didn’t make it clear, but I hope to run four different Kickstarters for the project. This one’s just for the first trilogy, and it’ll only last about 30 days. I’ll set up the next Kickstarter project three months later and run that for 30 days too. Rinse and repeat.

      The reason is I’ll need $60k for the whole series, and that seems like too much to shoot for. For one, Kickstarters can’t last more than 60 days now, so I’d be asking people to take a lot on faith.

      Second, depending on how you look at it, the Delta Green novel I mentioned earlier is the most funded novel on Kickstarter to date, and it netted just over $27k. Hoping to double that — even for a lot of novels instead of one — seems like too much to hope for. I’d be thrilled just to get to $15k with this first trilogy.

      Does that make sense?

      The other option is to ditch all this and try to raise at least $60k for all the novels at once. Or maybe I could add a level that gets you all the books, but that could run me into trouble unless this first Kickstarter exceeds all reasonable expectations — or if later ones fail. I wouldn’t want to promise something that couldn’t be delivered.

      1. (((The other option is to ditch all this and try to raise at least $60k for all the novels at once. )))

        Eeeegad, no. Okay, you need $60K for all 12 novels – but you don’t have to raise the entire $60K via Kickstarter. Presumably you’ll also be selling the ebooks on Amazon and B&N after all the Kickstarter patrons get their copies, right? If those additional sales contribute a substantial amount toward the next threshold, it would serve both you and your patrons to count that income toward unlocking the next book.

        1. Post

          I agree. It’ll depend on how the first one works out, of course.

          And yes. Within weeks of the Kickstarter patrons getting their copies, these books will be published more broadly, at least as ebooks and POD.

      2. I like your idea of running four different kickstarts better than one big one. You run the risk of loosing peoples attention if they have to wait a year to get their rewards or to see a bill show up. If you do run the four, having more options in the lower to middle range would be better as you are more likely to get repeat investors rather than people who would put up one sum at the beginning of the project and then be tapped out.

  7. If someone wants just the ebooks how would they do that?
    How would they get only the print copies?
    How would they get a print and ebook of each book?
    Is this covering the first 3 books and then you’ll do another kickstarter for each of the next 3 sets of three books?

    1. Post

      Good questions:

      1) The easiest way to get all the ebooks is to grab the $25 level. I might, as we reach funding goals, add in new levels so you could get the ebooks 1 & 2 for $10 and all three for $15.

      2) For the print copies, you’re best to upgrade to the $100 level once the second book gets funded. It’s not cheaper for me to produce separate print books but there’s a bit of savings if I pack all three under one cover.

      3) The best way would be to get the $100 level for all three books in print and ebook format.

      4) You have that absolutely correct.

  8. Hey, main thing was that I admit to being confused as well as to what you were raising and how many times. At first I thought you would be doing 12 Kickstarters based on this write up for each book. Then I thought you were trying to unlock each book as with every 5K to make for a 60K. And then I read in the comments finally that you were doing a hybrid.

    1. Post

      Thanks, Toby! I’ll make sure to make that clearer. I think it is a bit clearer on the Kickstarter page itself, but I just copy and pasted much of the material over here, and it doesn’t translate as well out of the Kickstarter layout.

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