Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Status Quo and Upcoming Chapters

Man, you haven't received a proper update from me for several months! I'm really sorry about that and I definitely owe you an explanation. The short version is, that the production of the Wormworld Saga currently is paused until the end of the year and before writing an update I wanted to gain some perspective on what happened and figure out how and when the project will continue. I have answers to these questions now and it's time to share them with you.

I've never told you much about the financial aspects of the Wormworld Saga. From the outside, financing the project must look like a pretty straightforward thing. I mean, everytime I've shared anything remotely related to money it normally incorporated a successful kickstarter campaign or a new potential revenue stream opening up. You've never heard about gaps in the cashflow or times when pure luck helped to continue the production. In other words: you've heard about the ups but never about the downs of this rollercoaster ride. If under the bottom line there was progress I figured that I just wouldn't need to bother you. Well, there's no way to give you a statisfying update now without shedding at least some light behind that curtain.

What happened

So, Chapter 5 was released in March. If you followed the production updates closely you've noticed that this was three months later than originally planned. Chapter 4 had been released in August 2012 and the reason for not starting the production of Chapter 5 right away were the launch preparations for the Wormworld Shop and the accompanying kickstarter campaign.
A proper shop had been on my wishlist for a long time and I figured that setting it up would be a good investment into the future of the project and that its launch would ultimately outweight the risk of delaying Chapter 5. However, chapter releases are my main source of income right at the moment. I receive payments from the publishing partners whenever a chapter is finished. Also sales in the app go up, as well as in the shop, due to increased traffic on the website. So it was a gamble - a new shop for a three months delay of the upcoming chapter.

When Chapter 5 was finally released at the end of March this year I had to realize that the money that remained in the budget would not have carried me through the whole production of Chapter 6. I had to think of yet another card to play. I researched that with a relatively small investment of time and money it was possible to offer the special content from the app directly on the website. My assumption was, that this feature had the potential to be embraced by the fans. A way to access the special features of the app without a tablet had often been requested. I spent four weeks and a couple of hundred dollars for a subscription software license to set up 'The Attic' and hoped that the initial signups would bridge the gap until the next chapter release.

This time I had gambled too high. The initial number of subscriptions stayed way below what I had hoped for. There was no substancial profit gained and the whole process had delayed the next chapter release for another four weeks. There remained a small chance though to get additional funds as the negotiations with the French publisher had advanced pretty far. However, for the time being I had no idea what they would pay and when.

I started the production of Chapter 6 and hoped for the cavalry to arrive in time but in late June I came to the point where I had to pull the plug and start to make some money through freelance work. I was pretty frustrated by the whole situation. The first time in two years I had to stop the full-time work on my project.

What's next

The good thing about low points like these is that from there things can only get better. In the meantime I have visited the Franco-Belgian comic publisher Dupuis in their Paris office. We had a great time forging plans for the French edition of the book and also the French digital version of the Wormworld Saga. Expect more info about that soon. Most importantly, we signed the long awaited contract and I was finally able to see what it will add to my production budget. Together with the German edition and my own digital revenue sources, over 60% of the production costs for another TWO chapters are secured. That's definitely enough to start with and I'm pretty confident that, once on the road, there will be ways to complete the budget. Chapter 6 and 7 are now scheduled for 2014 and are going to fill the third book.
So, the plan is now to produce the next two chapters in one big push. I will begin production as soon as possible which, due to my current freelance contract, will not be before January. In the meantime I'm going to spend some of my free time to finish the preliminary version of Chapter 6. I want to be ready to start right into the illustration work when the time comes. Needless to say that in my head I've constantly been working on the upcoming chapter and my feeling is that it will actually benefit from the additional time that I'm able to finetune it. I'm extremely looking forward to Chapter 6 as it will broaden the scope of the Wormworld and give the story a whole new twist. I can guarantee you that I'm doing everything I can to publish it as soon as possible. And now that we're all on the same page again there also will be updates more frequently.
In the last months I've received some emails from people asking if everything was ok. I honestly want to apologize for making people worry. Not communicating at all just wasn't a good idea. I had to figure out what this disruption meant for the project and I somehow stupidly thought that noone would bother if I kept silent for some time. I've often asked you for patience concerning my project but of course you can only be patient if you know what you are waiting for. I've learned this lesson now.

Thank you for your support!