Kickstarter Lessons 3: Shipping

You did it. Your Kickstarter campaign is successful and your product is finished. You won! But now, you have to get your product into your customer’s hands. Good luck.

As I said earlier, a Kickstarter campaign is a business transaction. You are the business and the backers are your customers. When the product is complete and you’ve collected all your pledged money, you need to give your customers their product. (Yes, “their”. It becomes theirs when they give you money just like a game becomes yours when you buy it at a store.) What comes next depends on what you promised.

Outlive Outdead was offered both as a PDF and a physical book, softcover and hardcover. Shipping the PDF wasn’t difficult–it’s just a PDF document, after all. But we did run into a snag. The PDF was too big to send by email. We went with a company called You Send It, who hosted our files and sent download links to whatever email addresses we supplied. They even give you an option to have that link expire after one download, protecting your product from being over-downloaded. It does come with a monthly fee, however, which is something we did not budget for. (It wasn’t a big cost, but still, it wasn’t in our plans.) This worked really well and we highly recommend You Send It.

Next came shipping the physical copies. We printed Outlive Outdead through Lulu and loved it. Again, we highly recommend Lulu. Not only was the setup process quick and painless, we could ship directly from their printers to our customers, saving us the cost of shipping to us and then out again! Lulu has printing facilities in France and Australia, so shipping to European and Australian customers was quite reasonable. I would estimate each book cost about $3 – $4 to ship with Lulu regardless of destination. (Oh, and the shipping was fast. We’re talking out the door within days of placing the order.)

However, we also offered copies with a signed message inside from yours truly. These we had to ship from Lulu to my house, then repackage and ship to the customer. I’m in the USA and shipping within the USA came to around $3 a piece. Shipping from the States to Europe or Australia, however, is ridiculous: $13 – $16 a piece! We also had to spend extra on padded shipping envelopes since all of the ones we had to ship ourselves included a vial of “infected zombie blood”. I spent around $30 on these envelopes.

This information is necessary to determine your reward levels, as there’s nothing wrong with passing the shipping cost to the customer. (Heck, I’d say it’s standard, maybe even required.) If you live in the USA and plan on shipping books, plan on $3 for domestic shipping and $14 for international. Don’t forget that you might have to pay twice; once for shipping the product to you and a second time to get the product to your customer.

Of course, all of this assumes you’re working on a lightweight book. (Outlive Outdead is 145pp and weighs 1lb. 1oz. for softcover, 1lb. 6oz. for hardcover.) And don’t forget all those trinkets your promised as rewards. Think about how you will ship them before you offer them.

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