By James Edward Raggi IV
Lamentations of the Flame Princess is running a crowdfunding campaign where you Pay What You Want for a full color hardcover physical book called No Salvation For Witches.
The version for people with attention spans:
I'm James Edward Raggi IV, and I trust gamers.
It's crazy, I know. You go to message boards, or to Facebook, Google+, or website comments, and all you see is the rage and disappointment and arguing and all the stupid things that have been associated with gamers. I'm convinced that the people that instigate those arguments are rather irrelevant to the hobby as a whole, and do not represent more than the slightest percentage of gamers as a whole.
Because I've learned I can I trust gamers. And since you're probably a gamer if you're reading this, I trust you too. And I trust you enough to put my rent on the line.
I run a small publishing outfit called Lamentations of the Flame Princess, releasing tabletop RPG material out of Helsinki, Finland. One of our upcoming releases is No Salvation for Witches, a horror adventure by Rafael Chandler. You might know Chandler from his previous tabletop releases Pandemonio, ViewScream, Slaughtergrid, and more (or even his work as a writer of video games for Ubisoft and Sony, among others).
Plenty of people have experimented with Pay What You Want pricing for electronic products. Books, music, whatever. But some time back I saw this Amanda Palmer video on YouTube, and it changed my professional life. Because of it, I've been experimenting with Pay What You Want pricing for my physical releases at convention appearances in Finland, German, Sweden, and England. It has been an incredible success, earning at times double the profits of my previous year's trips.
I now take it a step further: I risk one of LotFP's big releases for the year with a Pay What You Want crowdfunding campaign to see if we can't get just a little more attention for the project and just maybe sell a load more books in a shorter period of time than we would have through the normal release model.
It is an experiment in trust. There are so many ways that this can go wrong. The 5000€ goal there is to cover printing and expected IndieGoGo processing fees; thousands of dollars have already been spent on artwork, layout, etc. that is not accounted for in that campaign goal. Rafael and I would like to be paid as well; we're on a profit-sharing deal where he gets 50% of profits, but we have to make a profit before he sees his first dime for all the work he's done.
But I'm not worried. I wouldn't have done this if I was. I fully trust that people will be interested in the book, and that they will decide to pay a fair price for it so that everyone gets a cool book and we get all the bills paid, and some profit besides.
(Have I mentioned that you get the PDF of the book the day after the campaign ends, and it goes to press less than a week later?)
But none of this works if the book at the center of the campaign isn't a big deal. And it's a very big deal.
Imagine you were contacted by some incredible supernatural power. You can have the power to shape the world exactly as you want it. Wipe out injustice. Make sure the deserving are rewarded. Fix everything that's wrong with the world.
Sounds awesome, right?
Well… what if it isn't you that was contacted by that power? What if it was someone else? Someone with different ideas about what's wrong in the world, someone with different ideas about who is deserving or not.
Sounds a lot less awesome, right?
Now what if this supernatural power is leaking, warping and deforming innocents in the area, mind and body.
What if local factions are taking advantage of the chaos to push their own agendas and settle old grudges?
Everything is going straight to hell… and the player characters can influence what sort of hell this is, if they can.
And as mentioned earlier, this is all by the pen of Rafael Chandler. Go download his Teratic Tome book right now. You don't have to pay to download it (although you'll want to after reading it). See how he takes a no-holds-barred approach to his horror. Then go download LotFP's Better Than Any Man (again, you don't have to pay for it) and see how LotFP presents adventures.
That's the sort of hell we're unleashing, all illustrated by Ian MacLean and Jason Rainville.
So then, this is all a great opportunity to get yourself a killer book at a price you're comfortable with. This is an opportunity to show just how cool gamers can be when trust is placed in them. This is a chance to show all the other publishers out there that they won't lose money by placing this sort of trust in their customers.
Basically, this is a chance for everyone to be awesome.