a saga of ye gods and little stick figures

I know some of you read The Order of the Stick, one of the oldest and best D&D parodies on the web. But whether you do or not, I have to direct you, with suitable awe, at the saga of its Kickstarter project.

Creator Rich Burlew set out to raise $57,750 to get one of the collections, War and XPs, back into print. He blew through that goal in less than twenty-four hours. As I write this post, he has raised $868,072 — and that number will certainly have gone up by the time I hit “post.”

You can follow the tale via the project updates. Scroll down to the bottom to find the first one, and then do the same for the more recent ones. It is, I think, an amazing testament both to what Kickstarter can do, and how to do a Kickstarter project well. Burlew has done an excellent job of adapting to the overwhelming success of his fundraiser; not only did he rapidly set new goals (reprinting other out-of-print books, increasing print runs, covering the increased expenses for all the rewards packages), he found a lot of clever ways to reward people for their support. And throughout, he’s been highly transparent about the entire process, so that nobody is going to walk away thinking he’s put their money to a use they didn’t expect. (If anybody is displeased with what he’s done so far, they’re still free to cancel their support: nothing is final until the fundraiser ends.)

It’s a marvel in a number of respects. And if you have any interest in this kind of crowdsourcing model, his experience is worth studying.

0 Responses to “a saga of ye gods and little stick figures”

  1. celestineangel

    That’s amazing.

    (Though… I have to stop to wish something like Project Unbreakable would gather this much attention and support in so little a time.)

    • Marie Brennan

      That’s definitely one of the issues with anything like Kickstarter: some projects get way more love than they need, and others don’t get enough. But I don’t think it would be right for Burlew to declare that he was going to take the excess and donate it to other projects; his backers would be justified in saying, I want to decide where my money goes, not give it to you to hand out according to your own priorities. So I think his strategy for handling the excess has been a good one.

      • celestineangel

        Oh, I wasn’t saying he should donate it to other projects. Not at all. Just wishing other projects would get the same love from backers.

        • Marie Brennan

          Yeah, sorry, I didn’t mean to imply that I thought you were saying that. Just that when you look at the sheer imbalance, it’s easy to get ticked at Burlew for “keeping” all that money when it’s so much more than he needed. I think his decision to put it toward reprinting other books and increasing print runs was a good one, and I doubt anybody begrudges him earmarking a larger chunk to cover the insanely higher-than-expected shipping costs and so on. In the end, he’s still probably going to end up with some of it in his own pocket — but in these circumstances, I think that makes sense.

    • arielstarshadow

      It’s also important to remember how many years Burlew has been working to build his audience and fans. “Newer” folks doing a Kickstarter don’t have that added weight behind them, unfortunately.

  2. stevie_carroll

    Kickstarter fascinates me, especially having seen the hugely over-expectations response to the Candlemark and Gleam pre-launch project for Matchbox Girls and only hope I get a fraction of that for my own book in a couple of months time.

    There may be a panel on such issues at EasterCon, and I’ll report back from there if at all possible.

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