Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Kickstarter: A Postmortem

Kickstarter encourages transparency and open communication between the creators and the backers of the projects... since I put the wraps on the KS this morning (it is now 100% in the books), I thought I'd share how the numbers break down and let you see how it all works out. If you were like I was - 'holy crow! I made 4 grand!' - you might want to wait until you see how the numbers actually play out... remember that I started with an amount after the Kickstarter and PayPal fees:

Running Balance
March 22
Starting Kickstarter Deposit

March 22
Cover Art Deposit
- 394.00
May 3
- 115.00
May 3
- 163.95
May 8
Custom Ink t-shirts
- 245.40
May 17
Createspace 5 copies + expanded distribution
May 27
Fulfilled Orders for all copies of Volume 1: Tour of Duty
June 24
Cover Art Final Payment
June 28
Padded Mailers
July 12
Character Pad Printing
July 16
Post Office: Shipping Backer Rewards
July 22
Post Office: Shipping Backer Rewards
Aug 10
Expanded Distribution for RPG
Aug 10
Fulfilled Orders for all copies of RPG and Volume 2: Year of the Ant
Aug 11
Hardcovers via Lulu
Aug 13
Lunch Boxes
Aug 17
Hardcover Reprints
Aug 25
Reprints YoA Softcovers
Aug 27
Post Office: Shipping Hardover/Lunchbox/ Art Rewards
Aug 27
Final Hardcovers via Lulu

A few notes:

- All told, I ended up ‘making’ 11% of the Kickstarter’s total. I initially expected to make about 20% when I worked out a projected budget in March. Considering this was my first time around on KS, this wasn't too bad!
- International shipping was a killer. My costs for international shipping for several backers ended up going a bit beyond what I expected.
- Direct shipping books is the way to go! I assume that CreateSpace and Lulu have already crunched all of the numbers (or do it immediately) for each package by size/weight/destination for each carrier, and get the best price. I had the post office, and a postal worker who kept telling me she was giving me the ‘best possible’ rate on packages that I suspect there were better options for… I just couldn’t spend the time/energy comparing shipping on each piece through various carriers. I know that this ended up sucking up some of the money.
- The snafu with the printing was a big problem, but not as disastrous as it could have been thanks to the generosity of so many backers who elected for the pdf reprint only. This error, just in printing, cost 204.97, and shipping for some of the art cost another 27.82, for a total of 232.79.

If I had it to do all over again…
- I’d simply be more patient in shipping, planning ahead better. Everything went out on time, but I was anxious to get things to backers ASAP, especially early on. This means that some people at the upper ends received up to five different packages from me: the initial rewards (t-shirt, patches, tattoos, 2E copies, card sheets) followed by a softcover of comics volume 1, followed by the YoA/RPG softcover, followed by a reprint, followed by hardcovers and lunchboxes… if I had been more patient and planned ahead better, I could have tightened up shipping for everyone by at least one shipping rotation, saving at least $250.
- I’d triple-check my proofs! The misprint of the Year of the Ant (and the hardcovers that had it inside) was the only big problem in this whole thing. 
- I'd package flat things with different mailers and/or hard backing to protect the trading cards better; some people reported that the cards got banged up in shipping.

- The Kickstarter was a true kickstarter in every sense of the concept. I was able to get my complete comics back in print, launch a webcomic and begin to promote it, revise my rpg and put print and digital copies of an entire catalog up for sale that I will be able to build upon for the next several years; the real benefit here is not the money I made on the KS itself, but the ways in which it allowed me to develop an infrastructure going forward.