The Cost of Cthulhu

CthulhuBigRecently, a Calls For Cthulhu viewer asked, “When does episode 12 come out?”

I’d say that half of the comments left on C4C episodes are “When does the next episode come out?” which is flattering, but it makes me feel bad. In this case, I just responded, “That’s just a question of time and money. Unfortunately, I’m short on both. I may try another kickstarter for the next one.”

Believe it or not, that was me promising more than I really can at the moment. All the same, the very next comment was “@BrandG I don’t mean to be rude, but why do you need money for the episode? Don’t you still have the puppet, and know the voice-actors well enough to have them be willing to act for free?”

First off, I’ve got to say that I am always cheered to see how much fervor the show garners. The fact that people love a YouTube show that has only got 11 episodes, six years after it started, is really impressive.

And please understand, I’m not reluctant to work on this because I don’t like the show. That’s not the case at all, and it’s not what we’re talking about in that comment.

The comment basically asks, “Why do you need money?” What’s implied is “You have everything you need, camera, computer, and puppet. What costs could be involved?”

That’s an understandable position, and rather than try to put all this in a YouTube comment, I wanted to answer it here, where I can answer it fully.

I lose money on every C4C episode. It takes two days to write the episode, a day to record it (just my vocals), one week to edit the audio (interspersing it with other voices, and cleaning up the “um”s and silences), two days to record the video, two weeks to edit the video, for a grand total of 26 days, or approximately one month.

I’m a professional writer, with people who are waiting on me to write sequels to stories they liked. They are just as fervent and dedicated as the C4C fans, but the main difference is that they don’t take my stories for free. People pay me for my books, which makes my writing an investment with far better returns than the show.

If you had two hobbies, and one of them could help you make your car payments, which would you choose?

The fact is that, because I’m not working on a money-making project when I do C4C, by extension, I’m losing money every month that’s spent making free videos.

Now, the argument could be made that C4C could act as promotion for my writing, and that its viewers will come for Cthulhu, but stay for the stories. However, evidence does not support that view. Very few people visit the C4C website, even fewer view my personal site, and I have seen no evidence that viewers make the leap to readers. When a new episode comes out, there is no jump in sales. People didn’t even buy enough of the Cthulhu merch to validate the expense of running the store.

But honestly, that’s not the real reason I’m asking for money to make the show. It’s the reason why I haven’t done the show as often as I used to. And yes, if I got paid as much to do the show as I did to write, then I would love to do the show instead. But that’s not why I ask for money.

I ask for money because I think it’s worth it. I know how much work goes into it, I know how hard it is to roll a one-joke skit into multiple episodes, without letting it sour. I remember coming up with new angles like Xenu as Ed McMahon, or the Rapid Fire Round. I know that I won’t put an episode out there without believing that it’s the best work I could do. And I know it’s worth being paid for.

To quote Amanda Palmer, “i believe in the future of cheap art, creative enterprise, and an honorable public who will put their money where there mouth is, or rather, their spare change where their heart is.”

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