Wednesday, December 27, 2017

2017 Review, Plan, and V5 early release

On Christmas night when the snow was turning blue outside, I finished the last SKIRMISH illustration- Miri, crouching with a pistol in glittering Starfall drifts.

Then I did something I've been craving for a long time:

I finished the lineart on page 43 of Volume 5.   Next up- page 44.

It feels fitting that our final SKIRMISH game art was a Wayward Astronomer character.   The illustrated novel and the battle game are what kept me from focusing exclusively on Volume 5.

Investing my time in those Dreamkeepers assets was a calculated, but real, risk.

Amidst the endless fire-hose of internet content and cheap updates, most readerships would falter and wander towards the nearest set of jingling keys.

But Vivid readers are no ordinary readers- believe it.

You decide for yourselves what's good, where the potential is, and what you want to build.

In fact, during our Year of Risk, Dreamkeepers readership grew stronger.   Book sales boomed online and at conventions, Patreon grew like never before, and e-mails from enthused new readers continue to fly in.

I think veterans and new recruits alike can see what we're building towards- and it's exciting.

This year we broke new ground on multiple fronts:

  • Wayward Astronomer fulfillment completed to backers- and the first standalone Dreamkeepers novel came to be, with 5-star Amazon ratings.   (Great work Geo!)

  • Plush Whip was our first mass-produced toy product, and we completed delivery to backers.

  • Dreamkeepers SKIRMISH, a brand new original game battle system, was developed with EPF and crowdfunded for production- triggering a glittering avalanche of new art.

  • Vivid helped boost the Kickstarter for UberQuest Volume 2, and hardcovers hit the market at Midwest Furfest, history's largest furry convention.

  • I publicly pointed out the strange dual-market reality in comics- a burgeoning crowdfunding scene of new talent, alongside the tanking Diamond monopoly death zone, where even the ultimate insider Marvel has been forced to begin mass-cancellation of their series.  (See:  Marvel Cancellation Bloodbath on Bleeding Cool)

  • Vivid adopted and crowdfunded FIREBRAT- which surprised even me by it's out-of-nowhere success.

Every gamble scored.   Now my hands are free to double down on Volume 5 production- and it's all thanks to our backers.

That's why, for the first time in history, we're going to change up our book release system. 

Chapter 13 of Volume 5 will be released early online to all our Patreon and MakerSupport backers.

The surge in support from you guys this year has been astonishing- thank you!   We couldn't have continued with our work, and dared launch such an audacious growth strategy, without you.  It's due to your support that we've been able to maintain weekly Prelude updates while nailing these projects, and it's thanks to your support that we'll now be unleashed on Volume 5 production.   So it only stands to reason that you, our backers, should get a special thanks in the form of early access to the first chapter of the story.

Every backer at the $1 level or higher will have access to the Volume 5 updates when they release- likely sometime this spring. 

I have 8 more pages to draw in Chapter 13, then I can switch gears and start shading the pages for you.

Meanwhile, I'll be managing the manufacture and fulfillment of SKIRMISH, Liz is coloring Firebrat pages and sculpting-

And we have more in store for 2018.

First off, FACTION WARS.  We're launching a light, fun public and free Dreamkeepers roleplay game.  I'm serving as the GM for one test game.   Then I'll post videos about how it works, step out, and let you guys manage and play to your heart's content while I continue scribbling Volume 5.

Next up- I'm planning an Online Convention for sometime this spring.   If you've ever wanted signed books or other Dreamkeepers merchandise, but can't make it to our rare convention appearances, then this is for you. 

We have a stash of awesome stuff that I don't sell online, because I don't want to constantly be interrupted with mailing chores.   But if I can consolidate all the mailing into one week, that works- and plus we can host some online panels in the form of streams and such.

The online convention will likely line up with the next Vivid Publishing book campaign- we have a verbal agreement with rising star Boneitis to publish False Start.

So strap in- Vivid Publishing is going to flex again.

And, with the success of this year, I can declare with great accuracy our official slogan:

Dreamkeepers:  The Undisputed Gateway Furry Saga.

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