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Why we do what we do...

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Someone tweeted to me today:
"myself & 5 friends would have already bought season 3 by now. instead we'll suffer through the season 15min at a time. Question: Do you think we'll buy it at the end of this year?"
My response: "Nope. And that's fine if you don't. You can't buy a TV season before it airs, that's just how it works."

So why is that? Why would we take this route? Simple. Growth.

There are plenty of business models out there that publish works that you have to pay first to listen to or read. Many of those models, especially independent ventures, fail. Doesn't matter if it's good, it fails because no one knows about it. That is, unless you have the financial backing to push mega-advertising for content.

If we created this show as a pay only, it would not have as many fans as it does today. I can state that as a fact. People come here because it's free. Friends, family, whoever you want to tell can listen in and it won't cost them a dime. Could that early revenue been used for advertising? Yes. Enough to outweigh the impact from word of mouth? No, at least I don't think so. In a small business sense: monetize too soon, and growth will suffer.

But, guess what? It's working. We have seen exponential growth since our start. It started out small and has grown steadily since. New advertisers are seeing opportunities for exposure in the 1/2 million a month and growing downloads.

Ok, so that's why it's free, but why is it broken up into pieces like this? Two main reasons. 1: Production.Producing a 15-25 minute episode a week is feasible with a forty hour a week job on top of it. At least it's feasible for me, and I work like a horse (hence the WP logo). It still requires a lot of time and money to finish an episode, but it's much more feasible if it's more spread out.

Chapter 24 was incredibly hard to produce because it was so long, instead of focusing intently on smaller segments. Spreading them out a little also allows me as a writer to continue to write as the seasons progress. And when I say write, I mean the dialogue and the events as they are heard not the overarching outlines of the story. It's much more dynamic that way, and again not overwhelming. I can't imagine having to write all the chapters at once during the off-season. I'd get burnt out FAST and the writing would get rushed. As it is, I wish I had more time to spend on the writing, but the wheels keep on turning.

2nd reason: The interaction and the serial. After this LONG conversation via twitter with this gentleman, he brought up Lost. He thinks that Lost would have had the same number of viewers if they released it all in one chunk. I entirely disagree with that. The space in-between allows you to think about what happened, to talk about it and experience it with other people. That interaction is GOLD for people to get involved with the series. People who have been here week after week in the series get to really think and use their imagination about where the story might go.

That being said, there are some down sides. Mainly, those who listen to everything on demand, catch up, and then whine at us because there's NO MORE even though we stick to a very rigid BUT DOABLE production schedule. We haven't missed a scheduled day yet, and I don't plan to. The only time we were ever off was because of server issues, and that was because of too many listeners downloading at once. We've since upgraded the servers, but you get the point. The other down side is that all the theories and ideas of old fans get lost in the shuffle because they already caught up to a point that the theory was about.

So that's a little of what we do and why. Doing this since 2009 has given me much thicker skin to give the proverbial finger to someone who complains, but at the same time I want to use this blog as a way of letting YOU(the loyal and faithful listener who doesn't give us bad reviews because we're not fulfilling yourfree-content-greedy nature) know exactly how I feel on the topic and my perspective.
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  1. yarri's Avatar
    Do you need someone to smack a few folks for being dumb? I'd do it! I really would. What you speak of in this post is logical and reasonable. I mean freaking heck YOU have to have a life outside of the podcast, as does cast and crew! grrrrr After almost a year I've gotten used to the way the story is run, in fact I love it like this. I think it builds suspense. It makes the new chapter all the more savory for the wait. My most favorite boss in nursing said to me once. "Sarah, common sense is uncommon." How right he was.
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  2. Litmaster's Avatar
    You can watch a movie and the story is begun and finished in a couple of hours.
    You can read a novel--even a trilogy-- and you're done within a few days.

    But this story has occupied a good amount of my mental time since last summer, and others for much longer than that. There is something about having a fix on the installment plan that really keeps the story stirred up fresh inside of you, keeps you thinking about the characters and situation, and even causes some of us (like me) to go back and listen to the whole thing several more times to bring things up to speed. I can honestly say that I've never had that kind of sustained, committed relationship with any other story, in any format.
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  3. nikvoodoo's Avatar
    I said this on facebook, and I'll say it here too: We your fan base who are provided this high quality production for free have a laundry list of demands. Give us longer episodes, and please show us pictures of your bloody fingers as proof you are truly trying hard enough. etc etc etc

    I dunno. Maybe it makes me a bad fan, but I find that the time between episodes helpful to me to take it all in and process it. The longer break between seasons allowed me to go back and listen all the way through again from start to finish about 6 times....and while there are episodes that are shorter than what? its not like this has a time slot it has to fill on TV. Episodes are like Gandalf: They are not long, or short. They are exactly the length they need to be.
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  4. GodofInsanity's Avatar
    Maybe I am wierd. Your format works for me. Sure one shot would be cool but this is just like a television show for me. I have it set to record, gobble it up, and wait for the next week. I have listened since somewhere mid season 1. This last summer I took everything done on a road trip and now have my mom and brother hooked. Somewhere on I80 in Nebraska I downloaded the long finale and watched as they were completely consumed by it. Now my brother listens weekly. And he asked about the format. And I explained it to him as well as the extra week between chapters. After I asked if that made him not want to listen. Smiling he said, "Hell No! Makes me want it even more." Yeah Format works if you can hook my short attenetion span brother like that.
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  5. Mikeyd2tall's Avatar
    im gonna be short and sweet. Unlike this show! which makes it so great. (see what i did there?)
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  6. ComradeNarf's Avatar
    Anticipation is a powerful thing, and it makes me look forward to each Monday. As a semi-rational human being, I'd like to think I understand why the show is done the way it is, and why we're lucky to have it at all. It takes a lot of sacrifice on behalf of everyone involved, so I'd prefer to keep my mouth quiet and wait for the next episode. (And buy the remastered season as soon as its released so I can listen again. I'm needy like that.)

    It'd feel like cheating to have all of the answers right now. I think a lot of us can remember just how excited we were for the Season 2 finale episode. We wouldn't have that if the show was out all at once. Plus in the time that I wait for the next episode, I can discuss the current goings-on with my cohorts. It's sad that the gul-durn entitled young-uns of today can't be patient. (This is where I relay the story of eagerly downloading the Duke Nukem 3D demo over a 9600 baud connection)

    You're totally correct Kc, the 7 million download mark is proof that the current format works - and works well. I'm excited to see how the reclassification of the podcast on iTunes turns out as well!
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  7. abayarts's Avatar
    It's funny you mention LOST here because that's one of the reasons I love this story so much. I'm a huge fan of LOST and one of the few that actually liked the ending. What makes LOST so great is the same reason that makes WE'RE ALIVE so awesome and it's how the story is told. I totally agree on having a episode per a week instead of having everything brought to us as a whole. It leaves us discussing it and theorizing for days. It's fun interacting with fans and just talking about the chapter. Honestly, this show fills in that LOST fix I been looking for when it ended 2 years ago. When this series end I'll be buying all the season and show people a great story of survival that's well told with great production value.
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  8. kafu288's Avatar
    You bring up an excellent point with Lost. I remember when Lost first started airing I was in Grade 8 and everyone watched that show and it didn't matter if you were a loner like me (new school) or one of the cool kids, everyone was watching it and discussing just what/how the fuck polar bears ended up on a tropical island. That's the only reason I made it to about half way through the second season before giving up on that show.

    The format works. I mean, I'm not a patient person and I generally hate horror and I have a ridiculously short attention span and you managed to hook me. Also, that logo is fucking awesome.
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  9. clem131's Avatar
    Thanks for the clear explanation. Two things popped in my mind:
    - if a feasible opportunity arises, would you make writing and producing fiction your main job?
    - the comparison with Lost is a common one, I have done it myself in the past. Putting together what you say about advertising, word of mouth etc, and Lost, I think WA could be boosted to space through an ARG. I love participating in those, the last one I took part in was the epic one for the release of Portal 2. Then again, this, of course, requires more time, more planning and more sweat from your part so I guess isn't feasible during the season, nor it's feasible in between seasons, Lost style, because I'm guessing you need the rest very much. Still, it's a suggestion. Thanks again.

    edit: forgot to mention: ARGs can be set up practically for free, that's another reason I brought it up.
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    Updated Feb 13th, 2012 at 03:47 AM by clem131
  10. Kc's Avatar
    "- if a feasible opportunity arises, would you make writing and producing fiction your main job?"

    Yes, I would. I'd love to do that. BUT, it's not financially feasible. Part of the show is paid because I work at my full time job, so it's a tricky situation.

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  11. not_infected's Avatar

    1. You're awesome. This audio drama made me love zombies for the first time, because I can concentrate on the story without getting dismayed by the gore.
    2. You're producing a serial. This is the nature of the format. Thank god I do not have to mob the ports and wait for the next installment to arrive via a ship from England. (Although for many years I did mob my local comic book store for my books.)
    3. It's weird to be able to talk directly to the creator of something that is in progress.
    4. You work a full-time job.
    5. And for the haters: I bought seasons 1 & 2. And I'll buy 3. AFTER LISTENING TO IT!

    Have a great day!
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  12. clem131's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Kc
    "- if a feasible opportunity arises, would you make writing and producing fiction your main job?"

    Yes, I would. I'd love to do that. BUT, it's not financially feasible. Part of the show is paid because I work at my full time job, so it's a tricky situation.

    Alternate Reality Game. Basically, set up a set of riddles and a few websites, youtube videos, and maybe real objects in real locations for a sort of viral treasure hunt game where clues unlock documents/videos/images and other relevant stuff to solve some kind of mistery. If set properly, i.e. catering to, for example, the Left 4 Dead 2 community, this thing spread by themselves. A few examples:
    but as I said I'm afraid it requires a lot of work. Plus, I guess the only alternate reality you could set here and now, since the zombie apocalypse obviously hasn't happened, would be some kind of prequel to the events in WA.

    About the rest, well, I'm spamming friends and family with links to your show so that ultimately you can buy Switzerland and do this full time.
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  13. GingerNacre's Avatar
    I'm newer to the podcast and admit Im about to "hit the wall" as the vets tell me. However, I make no real complaints about the podcast schedules of other podcasts I follow. Sure, if you love something you binge. Binging means you WANT IT ALL AND WANT IT RIGHT NOW. But anyone with sense (I stress this point) and a sense of humor will only complain with some snarky wit and wallow in the exquisite pain of waiting weekly to see what happened to the characters you favor and those you want eaten by a behemoth zombie because YOU'RE HOOKED and you know it. We all throw 2yo fits occassionally, but lets get real. Those people who want it for free and want it at will should just wait until each season is done and binge junkie style. Its a option. Try it. ;-)
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    Updated Apr 25th, 2012 at 03:58 AM by GingerNacre (mispelling)