Wednesday, 29 August 2012

What I Learned And Should Have Remembered About Kickstarter, Part 2

I am the Warden!!

With the demo copy arrived and a list of minor corrections/revisions noted and costs for production written in stone, I was finally able to make a complete tally of all costs involved for the production of Killshot's initial release. Remember when I talked about lessons learned from my Kickstarter experience? Now it all comes into play.

As promised, all relevant costs involved in this Kickstarter project will be posted and I'm hoping to provide a bit more information to match. Not just for the sake of updating my backers, but to pay it forward in a way. Learning as much as you can from as many people as you can before setting out on a first project is huge and my intention is to share my experience with others looking to do the same. It's also by sheer coincidence that I was invited to an impromptu podcast interview specifically to talk about this topic and the timing to post these numbers is too perfect to pass up.

Here we go.

Original Goal: $800 US
Actual Amount Raised: $1516 US
Final Amount Received: $1380.37 (US) (after Kickstarter/Amazon Payments percentages)
Total Backers: 36

Before going any further, it's important to point out how I was able to raise money through Kickstarter as a Canadian citizen. I had a friend in the US - Brandon Neff, a long time friend and playtester extraordinaire going as far back as my Emerald Press days - who was willing to collect the funds in his US bank account and transfer the rest to me via Paypal. Seeing as his wife, Cherie, would handle production of the Executive Trackers, I paid them in advance and had the remainder transfered to Canada.

Therefore, my account had a deposit of $1090.94 CDN.


Artwork - $904.00
Editing - $250.00
Executive Tracker Production - $250.00
Domain Name ( - $10.60

Total Production Costs - $1414.60


Director's Cut (11 for backers, 3 for the Development Team, 1 for myself)
Print Production - $156.30
Total Shipping - $120.59
This is a hardcover, 180 page B&W interior POD printed through Lightning Source and OneBookShelf. Five of these books will be shipped directly to me for personal distribution.

Assassin's Journal (16 for backers)
Print Production - $55.36
Total Shipping - $107.23
This is a softcover, 80 page B&W interior POD printed through Lightning Source and OneBookShelf.

Total Printing Costs - $439.48


That's around $500 too short from the original deposit (which is more complex due to conversion rates, but I'm not that concerned about the exact difference right now). To date, Killshot sales have brought in $215.60. The exact total I have to cover in my remaining expenses (printing) is $275.73.

What Went Wrong?

My final draft was twice as large as my original concept and proposed/calculated product. Boom! That's the biggest issue. There are still a few surprises I had not anticipated and standard things one can never truly expect to the penny, but printing copies twice as big as your initial adjustment is what pushed the difference over limit.

Aside from the additional pages, ink, and other factors involved with a larger book, it also affects shipping because of weight. Particularly in international shipping. All of these are differences in single digits, but add up when you're creating 30 books.

All things considering, it's not that bad. Putting the Director's Cut out a month early in PDF helped cushion the blow a bit and lowered it to something I can handle. It's also an amount I'm confident can be reached within a year's time and it's only taken me a month to reach $200 in sales already. Factoring in the natural slow-down after an initial launch, I'm expecting to break even on Killshot by next spring. This could change based on the impact of current and upcoming Killshot Files issues (including the quick-start guide released yesterday). And once the POD files have been delivered to the backers, they'll become available to the public and that should hopefully boost sales even further. With a little luck, I could make up that money by the end of the year.


The question becomes, after all this, was it worth the effort to use Kickstarter to produce my first game? Fuck yeah. Not just because I have a game available to the public with all original content - including artwork - with printed copies available on demand, it's more than I could have accomplish with my fiances these days. And when I hold my copy in my hand, there's no question I'd do it all again.

See you for Killshot: Reloaded