[People who shipped their games] What am I missing here?

edited August 2011 in Story Games
So, for my current project, I've got it down as a pdf-only deal. I've run into snags with physical books before, in years past, and they still bug the shit out of me.

People seem to really want actual, physical books, though, so I've been walking through to get a good process, seeing if I can build up the capacity to say to myself "This is totally a lock." I can add the perk to the IndieGoGo campaign, easily.

So here's where I'm at. What I want to know is: Am I missing something?

1. IndieGoGo gives me the list of people; I get locations, etc. This is one of my big "What do they give me, exactly?" bits; I don't know if they could just give me a shipping list.

2. As soon as the game hits 'zero edition' (closed tests done, plus a few playthroughs where I just watch with a clipboard), I send my files to the printer. The printer is local to me - they're the "espresso machine" at the university I attend, and I have used them to print small runs twice now; Cog Wars and Ruritania. The printer is a lock.

3. About two to five days later, I walk the box of books upstairs in the building where the printer is, accompanied by a clipboard. On said board is a shipping list, and a stack of record sheets to go along with.

4. I buy a big stack of shipping envelopes at the post office in that building (they have them, I've checked), buy a coffee, sit down at a table, and pack.

5. I walk back into that post office and ship them all, right then. I've already got the shipping costs - light international parcel shipping is $10 (I took in another book I've had printed at espresso and asked).

...............

This seems like a really tight plan, but I have to be missing something. What usually goes weird on kickstarters and the like? What are the edge cases, and such?

Comments

    • People buying multiple copies
    • People who move before you ship
    • The hazard of misprints reducing your saleable stock
  • you're relying on a single printer, and should that printer fail (however unlikely) you're whole process is jammed up from the start.
  • Packaging (shoving a book in an envelope unprotected may not be optimal)
    Label printing (you don't want to hand address anything)
    Customs
    Delivery failures
  • Time to add your signature to books, it doesn't cost much but makes people very happy.
  • Posted By: Jason MorningstarLabel printing (you don't want to hand address anything)
    Wait, why not?

    So far, everything else seems both sense-making and deal-able, but this one, while quite deal-able, I just don't get?
  • edited August 2011
    I guess you've never hand written 100 addresses on envelopes. That is a job for a machine.
  • Maybe find a local gamer who will help with packaging and shipping for a free copy of the game...
  • Posted By: Jason MorningstarI guess you've never hand written 100 addresses on envelopes.
    Yah - I used to send out kits for charity canvassing that way.

    ...And now, thinking back on it? I see your point.
  • >> Customs
    -- is not your problem. Make sure to post an message saying that the buyer should be aware of customs regulations etc. I've seen Canadians get screwed with big book purchases through UPS because of tariffs, but I don't think anything kicks in until the $25-30 mark IIRC. So likely if the print ver is $20-25 there will be no issues with most countries.

    >>Hand writing addresses on envelopes
    -- Never had a problem here either, but mainly because I only did 10-20 a day with some 30s. Pop in a DVD or turn on some serialized TV show while doing it helps pass the time. If you're aiming to hand-write 50+ a day yeah see if a friend/SO could help in exchange for tacos.

    As for me, I really dig what you're doing with Awen, but was concerned that you couldn't meet your goals because the highest donation-deliverable (and let's face it, People Want Stuff, that's why they're donating) is $10. Your go-live is $2000. That means that you have to have 200 people all kick in $20. If I were you, I'd try to come up with higher level buy-ins. It doesn't have to be anything particularly explosive, just /anything/.

    * The book idea is good.
    * Perhaps some additional content (a sample scenario? designers' notes? 2-3 more pages' worth of content that will be made available to those backers first before it gets broadcast publicly?) for a higher 5-10 dollar buy in? Perhaps all the above for even more. It doesn't have to be READY by go-live, remember.

    Anyway, I think you need more at the $20 level in order to make your goal. You're not tricking people by doing this, they will or will not decide to give more themselves. Frex, I bought a game from Kickstarter a few months back: I was intending to get the PDF only plus some little dinky bonus at around $20, but looking at the options, knowing more about the designer, and seeing the direction he was taking the material, I ended up kicking in for a bunch of extras making my donation at around $50-60 IIRC. I felt like giving that much! And the designer added options for rewards for the people who gave that much! So it worked out for everyone.

    -Andy
  • Posted By: AndyAs for me, I really dig what you're doing with Awen, but was concerned that you couldn't meet your goals because the highest donation-deliverable (and let's face it, People Want Stuff, that's why they're donating) is $10. Your go-live is $2000. That means that you have to have 200 people all kick in $20. If I were you, I'd try to come up with higher level buy-ins. It doesn't have to be anything particularly explosive, just /anything/.
    Yeh. Whether it's go-or-no, I'll be writing up a big list of "how I used this, and errors you should not repeat".

    So far:

    -When the lady and I have donated to kickstarters, etc? We used her credit card and screen name (lower interest rate). This makes me look as if I'm not really in on the model, which is both not true and unfortunate. Thing to avoid.

    -IndieGoGo was written assuming "money is kept, regardless". So there's no clear way to raise or lower your contribution amount - you have to pitch in again, and the person running the show has to tally up multiple-contributors. Which is doubleplus annoying. If I was in the $4000+ range, it'd be a problem in the potentially-crippling range for adding more perks; as it is, it's gonna require a note to contributors on the workaround.
    Posted By: Andy* The book idea is good.
    * Perhaps some additional content (a sample scenario? designers' notes? 2-3 more pages' worth of content that will be made available to those backers first before it gets broadcast publicly?) for a higher 5-10 dollar buy in? Perhaps all the above for even more. It doesn't have to be READY by go-live, remember.

    Anyway, I think you need more at the $20 level in order to make your goal. You're not tricking people by doing this, they will or will not decide to give more themselves. Frex, I bought a game from Kickstarter a few months back: I was intending to get the PDF only plus some little dinky bonus at around $20, but looking at the options, knowing more about the designer, and seeing the direction he was taking the material, I ended up kicking in for a bunch of extras making my donation at around $50-60 IIRC. I felt like giving that much! And the designer added options for rewards for the people who gave that much! So it worked out for everyone.
    This is fair. My main thing - the reason I'm thinking of just adding "book, or several, and stop there" is wanting to keep the core of the process as simple as possible. That way, with a little help from people here, I can figure what can go wrong, and have a rehearsed method for that. I think I already have a backup printer in case of failure there (they're doublechecking their price, and will call me back today), and the address thing says to me that I should write out the addresses while the book is still at the printer, so I can just pick up the books and stuff 'em.
  • 4.) Go to the post office beforehand, and buy all the envelopes beforehand.

    4a.) While there, also tell them, "Hey, I'm going to be sending out a bunch of international packages in a few days. Can you just give me a stack of those customs sticker slips?"

    4b.) Once the IndieGoGo is two days to closing, send out an email to all book-level backers saying, "Hello, please check the address you signed up with, to ensure it's the correct shipping address. The books ship in X days, and I want to make sure you all get your treasures."

    4c.) Have sticker paper on hand (I already do, because I'm a vandal and that stuff's awesome). Create a sheet in excel or indesign or whatever that prints off your address in Column 1, your address in Column 2, customer's address in Column 3, another customer's address in Column 4.

    4d.) When the IndieGoGo closes, or whatever time you decide to do this: Copy/Paste your customers' addresses into that sheet, and print it all out on sticker paper. Cut up, slap on envelopes.

    4e.) You'll still have to do those customs declaration stickers by hand, but that's fine - the reason you brought them all home is so that you could do them in blocks of 10-15. Do some, then play with LEGOS, then do some, then have coffee, then do some, then eat a sandwich.

    5.) Take it all to your post office, finished. As I'm Canadian, I sort them into: Canadian, American, Other International. This speeds up the process and makes postal workers happy. Since you are taking a huge stack of packages to a post office all at once, you want to do everything in your power to keep those postal workers happy.
  • *Copy. Paste.*

    Awesome.
  • edited August 2011
    Summarizing the changed thing....

    0. I add the book as a perk on my project, noting clearly just how tested, etc, I'm talking about (zero edition; tested, working, but not necessarily always-works-for-everyone). I keep in clear directions on "Making sure you get your book" - check your info to confirm address; if it changes, email me here, and so on. I put in 'multiple books' as a thing.

    1. Before the project closes, I send a reminder note on addresses, and on how to email me if it changes before sending.

    2. IndieGoGo gives me the list of people; I get locations, etc.

    3. I go and get envelopes and shipping labels, and build a box of envelopes, pre-labelled in advance (by whichever means). Bubble-wrap envelopes, to be specific, and a 'wrap sheet' for each book.
    --I also pick up customs slips at this point.

    4. About a month after project end, the game will hit 'zero edition' (closed tests done, plus a few playthroughs where I just watch with a clipboard), I send my files to the printer, get proof, then confirm. I make sure, before this stage, that I have a backup printer.
    --I order a fistful of extras, in case of misprints

    5. About two to five days later, I go to the printer with my envelope box. I pick up the books, buy a coffee, and stuff.

    6. I walk back into that post office and ship them all, having split them into neat stacks.

    7. I send a note to everyone going "books sent; if it's not there in ______, say so!"
  • I have no idea how IndieGoGo and Kickstarter work in this regard, but if you were to take money via Paypal, you could do all of the shipping (paying for it, printing addresses and customs forms) at once from their application. Alternately, outfits like endicia.com offer a similar service for people who do lots of shipping.

    But seriously, don't hand-write all of that mess. Just signing and packing everything will feel like a ton of work.
  • Posted By: Levi Kornelsen--I order a fistful of extras, in case of misprints
    A misprint is likely to impact your entire print run. Order a few extras for shrinkage and general damage if you anticipate that being an issue. Being able to accept the job directly may obviate this. Our printers often round up a little, so we'll receive 305 instead of 300 occasionally.
  • Posted By: Jason MorningstarA misprint is likely to impact your entire print run. Order a few extras for shrinkage and general damage if you anticipate that being an issue. Being able to accept the job directly may obviate this. Our printers often round up a little, so we'll receive 305 instead of 300 occasionally.
    We might mean different things, then - the only thing I'd call a misprint that I've seen from that printer was a cover creased in half, from the folder-bit of the print. So a couple extra covers that nicely, I think. And proofing covers most of the other flaws (cover is off-color, etc).

    And, yeah, when I use them for other stuff, I pick up the work in person, from the lady that operates the machinery itself. It's handy.
  • Other reasons you shouldn't be hand-doing envelopes:

    - Address labels look professional. Even if you print a picture of a monkey ass on each one. It could be a scanned-in hand drawn monkey ass, and it would still look more professional if you printed it on an address label. (And people feel better about giving their money to a "professional".)
    - Address labels are easy to read. Addresses are read primarily by computers. Use a simple font on an address label and you decrease the chances for a shipping mishap.
    - You should be keeping records. Contact information for previous customers is some of the best record information you can possibly have. You can use that to let people know about your next project. Or just send them Christmas cards.
  • edited August 2011
    After some chewing on this, I've added books to the perks on the project. I'm still listening for advice on this, mind you - where it comes to this thing, I don't think there's a "too much advice" mark.
  • At work, I just discovered the amazing invention that is bubble sleeves. Aside from being fun things to wear on your feet, they are perfect for shipping books in.
  • Are bubble sleeves different from the brown envelopes with bubble-insulation? Same thing?
  • Posted By: Levi KornelsenAfter some chewing on this, I've added books to the perks on the project. I'm still listening for advice on this, mind you - where it comes to this thing, I don't think there's a "too much advice" mark.
    Have you figured out how to handle upgrades from the earlier $5 and $10 pledges to the levels with books? As you noted above, IndieGoGo doesn't seem to handle that.
  • Posted By: Peter AronsonPosted By: Levi KornelsenAfter some chewing on this, I've added books to the perks on the project. I'm still listening for advice on this, mind you - where it comes to this thing, I don't think there's a "too much advice" mark.
    Have you figured out how to handle upgrades from the earlier $5 and $10 pledges to the levels with books? As you noted above, IndieGoGo doesn't seem to handle that.

    I've got a table for contributors set up (in my computer). I'll be adding everyone's contributions together if they're in more than once, and simply assuming that if you break the mark, you want the book (or books), since people won't be able to go "I claim this".

    This is noted on the page, along with "If you're at all worried, email me to double-check that I got it".

    Clumsy, yeah, but manageable.
  • Don't include anything other than books and documents in your package. The moment you include, say, a button, it becomes something other than books and gets stopped at Customs. Huge, huge problems.

    Mark your packages clearly as "Books" or "Documents". Do not mark them as "Games".

    Ensure you've calculated shipping to Australia and New Zealand. It can often be more expensive than shipping to Europe.

    Keep expectations low. If you think you'll ship in November, tell people "before the end of the year". There will be delays and you don't want to send excuses for every one.
  • Posted By: Levi KornelsenAre bubble sleeves different from the brown envelopes with bubble-insulation? Same thing?
    Nope, they're sleeves made of bubble wrap that you can stick inside other envelopes, allowing you to choose your own packaging.
  • Posted By: GrahamMark your packages clearly as "Books" or "Documents". Do not mark them as "Games".
    *Blink, Blink*

    This makes perfect sense upon a moment of thought, and never would have crossed my mind.

    Thanks, man.
  • edited August 2011
    An introduction to bulk mailing suggests that... well... you probably don't want to bother with getting a bulk rate.
  • I don't use sticky mailing labels for addresses. I try to keep the shipping/handling I charge really low, and so they're too expensive. I print addresses to regular copier paper, cut them out, and use a strip of clear packaging tape over them. You can do a mail merge to an Avery label template and then just print the labels to regular copier paper. If you're going to be in a library, I bet they have a paper cutter you could use to slice them all apart.

    Paul
  • this is a great thread!
  • Daniel Solis has posted video from his seminar with Wolfgang Baur, Greg Stolze and Gary M. Sarli at gencon about crowd sourcing and publishing. Might be helpful!
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