Got a fax from John about 10 pm last night. Welcome back, John!
I think one of the "systems" things we need to work on -- and I hope Eric B. (who has volunteered to help us with the "systems" side of Kickstarter) is reading this -- is the surveys situation. I think we've gotten into a "feedback loop" where people are slow getting their surveys in because they figure "Well, they aren't going to actually DO anything for a while, so plenty of time". Which leads to, "Well, can't really do anything until all of the surveys are in, so plenty of time".
The one time that CEREBUS got seriously off-schedule -- about two years into The Gerhard Years -- was a similar thing. Gerhard slowed down doing the backgrounds and I went, "Well, I'm still four or five pages ahead. I can afford to kick back a bit." The more I slowed down the more Gerhard slowed down and pretty soon we were off-schedule. Lesson learned: try to pick up a few days leeway a month. Don't measure progress by where Gerhard is. Run your own race.
I'd appreciate comments from Kickstarter veterans as to what the protocol(s) should be. Whatever we do we're looking for the "Goldilocks" spot between not wanting to BUG anyone unduly, but making it apparent that we don't want the minority of people getting in the way of the majority of people.
Is that a safe assumption, that the...vast?...majority of people would really like it if we could shorten the window considerably? I'm aware that a lot of Kickstarters never deliver anything and that delivery windows measured in months, if not years, are not unheard of. (look! a dangling participle for Jeff S.! Happy Early Birthday, Jeff!) Most of the posted comments tend to be, "Really, I'm fine waiting." But I never know if that's honestly the way people think or if you're all just bucking to become...like, Honorary Canadians, eh?
The core problem is the numbering. If you don't get your survey in -- especially if you order Bonus Prints -- there's a danger of not getting a numbered print.
I want to avoid penalizing people so, what would be the response (do you think) if we set a cut-off for the surveys of (you call it: two weeks? three weeks?) and if you don't get yours in by then, we can't guarantee your number BUT we can offer an alternative like "You'll get (x#) of Bonus Prints personalized to you"? And then the inventory would reflect that. This is the number of FIRST RELEASE prints that were signed and numbered. This was the number of FIRST RELEASE prints that were personalized.
My printing isn't GREAT, but it's as plausible as my cheque-writing these days. You can figure out what it says without a translator.
What I'm looking for is a "systems" date for John that's carved-in-stone. So, on that date he "goes forward" no matter how many surveys have come in without thinking that he's putting a DING in our customer service cred.