Bakto's Terrifying Cuisine: An Update and Miscellany

Posted by Jared Sinclair on

It's been a little while since Bakto's went up for preorder. Sales have honestly been a bit slower coming than I expected, but that's fine. We're close enough to the goal that I decided earlier this year to go ahead and move to print. I'm in talks with the printer (a new company who I'm very excited to work with), and I can assure you that this book is going to be a significantly higher quality production than The Isle was. Of course, we have prioritized industry-leading writing, graphic design, and templating from the very beginning—so I'm pleased as punch to be able to improve our print quality so thoroughly here with our very second book.

Bakto's cover

Preorder Timeline


I'm trying something a little different this time, compared to previously, as we approach the end of the preorder (which is still going, by the way). I'm going to leave the preorder running right up until the moment the books arrive at my warehouse, at which point I'll just convert it to "In Stock." At that point, orders will no longer include the preorder bonus zine, but any up to that point will. Which is just to say: there won't be a period of time between the end of the preorder and the beginning of retail sales where you can't order the book. However, I will not be giving any warning as to when that change over will happen. There are all kinds of logistical reasons for that, but chiefly I just don't want to. If you want the color-coordinated zine of The Vanilla Game, I recommend you get the preorder now and not later.


A Bit of Retrospective


I want to talk about this preorder experiment we've run for this book and the previous one, but before I do, I want to be very clear: everything has worked out fine. I have some concerns about the sustainability of the program as I've implemented it, but I don't think it's useless or bankrupt—it just needs some more thought and some tweaking.


I'll be honest, I'm a little disappointed that the Bakto's preorder has gone as slowly as it has. I expected it to do better and faster numbers than The Isle did, because there are so many things going for it compared to that previous preorder:


  1. It's a new and expanded version of a known and beloved adventure from a respected author.
  2. It's the second preorder we've run, so customer confidence should be higher than the first time around. These kinds of bespoke, one-site preorders can seem a bit sketchy if you're not a long-time customer of the place already. Having a visible track record helps a lot.
  3. My marketing avenues are better and wider now than they were. I have more people on the newsletter, and the pamphlet version of Bakto's has its own set of email addresses attached. We were comparatively stepping into the void when we launched The Isle preorder.
  4. It's a less persnickety book than The Isle. It has interior art, and a color interior. It's cute and fun, and has a strong hook that's easy to understand at a glance. The Isle is purposefully none of that.


These things, I hoped, would give Bakto's a leg up on The Isle in the preorder phase, but that hasn't really proved to be the case. The Bakto's preorder, as I mentioned, has been slower and smaller, and that makes me a little less sunny about the prospects of running future preorders. The takeaway for me, as a project manager and publisher, is I either need to work out some significant changes to the structure of the preorders to bolster them moving forward, or find an alternate avenue of fundraising. Both are on the table, and neither is apocalyptic. It's just my job. It's just the work.




Speaking of Alternate Avenues of Fundraising


I can hear you from here. "Why don't you just do a Kickstarter?" And in all honesty, I should. If I were a smart businessperson, I would throw the next book up on Kickstarter without a second thought, and the next book, and the one after that. But I'm not going to—I will never use Kickstarter.


I'm not interested in unpacking all the reasons I won't use Kickstarter here, but suffice to say I think it's a net-negative force in our little industry, so I'm looking around specifically for ways to fund a book that aren't Kickstarter. From the very beginning of Spear Witch, my goal has been to provide and improve the infrastructure available to the very smallest creators. That includes the store itself as an outlet for sales and marketing, but also distribution and warehousing, and indeed my work figuring out how to make pathways into growth and autonomy. That last one is the scariest, because it's where I put my own meager bank account on the line to see what works and what doesn't. In the case of the preorders experiment, I'm lucky that it has worked as well as it has, even if they haven't been the runaway success story I'd have liked. I haven't lost any money, and in fact everyone involved with The Isle has made a decent portion of a living out of it, and will continue to do so for as long as the book continues to sell. Bakto's is shaping up to do substantially the same. Nonetheless, I don't think it's a setup I can (yet) recommend to someone else. I'm still looking for a better answer, and I'm confident one day I'll find it.


Appendix: The Isle Reprint


I'm also taking this opportunity to reprint The Isle ahead of it selling out, which is a truly incredible achievement (if I do say so myself). With that book, we set out to make the most opinionated, pig-headed object we could. It is stubbornly, off-puttingly itself. We knew we were making the best RPG book of 2022, but none of us had any clue how or if people would respond. Lo and behold! We got plenty of response, and most of it was exceedingly positive! I still remember talking with Luke and Micah a few months after we shipped, and saying "I was kind of hoping a few people would hate it, at least." Que sera. With any luck, the new print will arrive just before the first one sells out. The book is substantially identical, but with better binding and a few typos fixed up.


A Thanks


I hope you can understand the depth of my gratitude when I say, thank you all for supporting Spear Witch these past few years. It means so much to me personally and professionally, and there's no way I could do this ill-advised thing, or keep this wide-eyed optimism in the face of seemingly inescapable cynicism and capitalist fatalism. As long as you keep loving good books, I believe there's a way through. And I'm determined to find it.

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