So it was Monday the 14th, the last day of our experimental IndieGoGo fundraiser.
Things were going better than we’d expected. We were already at $125,000 on Monday morning. And because of generous geeks donating and spreading the word, we’d been raising about $5,000 dollars hour all day.
Around 5:00 PM at the temple, Maria refreshed the page and said, “$170,000!”
We’d just finished up a meeting, so the whole team was there. She looked at us. “I think we’re going to beat $200,000,” she said. Her voice was nervous, excited, but pretty sure of herself. Confident.
I felt obliged to be the voice of reason. Everyone was really excited in the office because we were having an amazing day. But I didn’t want them to set their expectations so high they’d be disappointed. That would be a huge shame, especially as the fundraiser was already an incredible success.
“Things tend to slow down in the evening,” I said. “People are eating dinner and watching TV. They aren’t checking their social media as much.”
I juggled numbers in my head and tested my gut. My team is good, but I’ve been doing this for twice as long as any of them. “I’m confident we’ll hit 180,” I said. “But I’d be surprised if we hit 190. I’d be honestly startled and amazed if we hit 200.”
Looking around, I could tell I’d let the wind out of their sails a bit. I felt like kind of a dick. It sucks being the voice of reason sometimes.
“Don’t get me wrong,” I said. “Y’all have been awesome. This whole thing was an experiment. If we’d only hit $50,000, it would have been a huge success. We blew it out of the water.”
Maria looked at me. It wouldn’t be fair to say that she gave me a rebellious look. It wasn’t really even a stubborn look. Her expression was… pugnacious. “When we hit 200K,” she said, gesturing dramatically. “You’re going to buy me a chocolate malt!”
Her enthusiasm was infectious. Maria radiates optimism. It’s part of the reason I love her.
“I will,” I said, smiling. “If we hit $200,000. I will buy everyone chocolate malts.”
There was a cheer in the office. Everyone loves it when you stand up to the boss.
Amanda posted it to twitter almost immediately.
— Worldbuilders (@Worldbuilders_) July 14, 2014
I came home and made a few more posts on twitter and facebook. Then I tried to catch up on some e-mail, hampered slightly by the fact that I was refreshing the IndieGoGo page about every four minutes.
Much to my amazement, our momentum didn’t slow. The total climbed and climbed.
By the end of the fundraiser, we’d raised $205,000.
Have I said thank you yet?
Thank you. You have startled and amazed me with your awesome.
Thank you. You have reaffirmed my belief that people are inherently good.
* * *
Today, because Maria was right, I took the Worldbuilders team to get chocolate malts.
(Cutie isn’t part of the team, so he didn’t get any.)
If you can’t tell, the mood was giddy with exhaustion and good endorphins. The team really pulled together for this fundraiser. They deserved their tasty beverages.
(Even the monkey. Especially the monkey.)
In most important ways, this was their fundraiser, not mine. They planned it. Wrote up the product descriptions. They figured out IndieGoGo and promotions and production and fulfillment.
I mention this because it’s behind the scenes, so you would never see it. Events like this resemble an iceberg, you glimpse the the top and think, “Wow, that’s cool.” You support the cause, order something, and receive a package.
And while the top of the iceberg is pretty cool (heh) there’s a lot going on underneath the water that keeps it all afloat.
This time, for the first time, the *vast* majority of that didn’t have anything to do with me. Not only was I not doing it myself. I wasn’t even looking over their shoulders and giving advice.
I couldn’t this time, as I’ve been neck deep in revisions.
There were times I’d come into the office, wild eyed and sleep deprived. Irritable and absolutely burned out because I’d spent the last 30 hours going over copy edits. We’d sit down to a meeting and I’d say something like, “We need to make sure we contact X about the [thing].”
“We already did that,” they would say.
“Okay,” I said. “We also need to be careful [some other thing] doesn’t happen.”
“Taken care of,” they’d say.
“And we need to make sure blah blah blah.”
“That’s a good idea,” they’d say.
“Who’s going to be in charge of that?” I’d ask.
“We did it last week,” they’d say.
I can’t tell you guys how amazing this is. How important it is.
I love Worldbuilders. It’s my baby. But over the last five years it’s devoured a significant portion of my life.
It’s eaten so much of my life that sometimes there’s not enough life left to go around. Sometimes I’ve been too busy and too stressed to be a good dad. It’s impinged on my writing schedule. I’ve lost touch with friends. I gave up tabletop games for the most part. Hell, I haven’t played a computer game or watched a movie in the theaters in I don’t know how long. Since… the last superman movie? Yeah. I guess that makes it more than a year.
The truth is, I’ve let go of these things willingly. Worldbuilders is important. I’m proud of it. It changes lives and quantifiably improves the world. I could never give it up.
But for the last couple years I’ve been dreaming a dream. I’ve been dreaming of having Worldbuilders, a writing career, and a life.
Now it’s starting to look like that might happen. Because of all you lovely people out there and because of the Worldbuilders Team.
So. Milkshakes all around. Everyone loves it when the boss is wrong. Sometimes the Boss loves it too.
* * *
We didn’t do a lot of stretch goals with this fundraiser, mostly because the timeframe was so tight.
But we did do a few.
- Fundraiser blooper reel.
I have to say the fundraiser video we put together was my favorite video we’ve ever done. Even if it did feature me being constantly upstaged by a monkey puppet.
Ah… who am I kidding? It’s my favorite *because* it features me being upstaged by a monkey puppet.
As if the regular fundraiser video wasn’t great enough, we put together an outtakes reel which features much, much more of me and the monkey puppet.
Before you watch it, I need you to understand that before filming the video, I’d spent four days locked away with the manuscript of Slow Regard of Silent Things, making final edits and generally working myself down to a bloody nub. I went to bed around 10:00 AM, then woke up four hours later to go shoot the video. I was simply speaking, a shambling wreck.
That’s my only excuse.
- More blogs.
During our Reddit AMA I tricked Amanda into committing to help me get the rest of the photo contest blogs done:
So we’re making a push to get those done too.
- Freebies in your orders.
Because we hit our stretch goal of $110k, we’re throwing freebies into random orders.
Originally we were going to do this for 1 in 100 orders. But since the fundraiser was such a *huge* success, we’ve decided to do twice as many as that. We’ll be throwing in Magnets, notes from the team, games, coins, and other coolness. There will probably even be a extra few fancy things, just to make it interesting.
- Frequently A’ed Q’s.
Don’t be a perv, you perv.
There have been a lot of questions coming in since the fundraiser ended. “Where can I get the FIRST Princess & Mr. Whiffle book?” “When will my stuff be arriving?” “Why is everyone on the Worldbuilders team so good-smelling?”
The Worldbuidlers Team beat me to answering those questions. There’s an IndieGoGo FAQ up over on the Worldbuilders website, as well as little blog of their own.
- The Name of the World.
This is something I’ve known for a while, but I’ve been keeping it under my hat. Making sure I really liked it. Making certain I was sure of it. Names are important things, or so I hear.
But I can’t think of a better reason for letting it out of the bag than the delightful conclusion of this fundraiser.
The world is called Temerant.
Say it with me: Temerant.
P.S. I forgot. We’re going to be sending out fancy gold foil stickers with the books and some of the other rewards. (Maybe all the rewards.)
What do you think the stickers should say? “Geeks doing good?” “Summer 2014 – First into the breach!” “I made the world a better place and all I got was this sticker (and some swag)”?
Suggestions welcome below…