Costs of a kickstarter project (transparency)

Committed Hero

Explorer
As a customer, how much creative control would you want to have over the finished piece?

I would expect the ability to send a headshot, desired role (ie, fighter, wizard), possibly gear subject to author approval. Then for the art to appear in the class writeup. No larger than a third of a page, based on the PHB.

It just seems like campaigns for game books have the unique opportunity for an offer like that. Or the chance to submit a name to be used for an NPC or spell/magic item.
 

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Nikosandros

Golden Procrastinator
This thread is about informing anyone who might have an interest, which is probably creators, but also backers and anyone else in general. Based on comments I've received on the KS page, several backers were also very interested.
I was a backer for this project and I'm interested in this info, even if I will never publish anything since I lack the talent and the inclination.
 

Art Waring

halozix.com
I would expect the ability to send a headshot, desired role (ie, fighter, wizard), possibly gear subject to author approval. Then for the art to appear in the class writeup. No larger than a third of a page, based on the PHB.

It just seems like campaigns for game books have the unique opportunity for an offer like that. Or the chance to submit a name to be used for an NPC or spell/magic item.
Well I think its a good idea. And I think your expectations are fair. I think you might be onto something there, provided the tiers/ buy ins are reasonable for both the backer, the publisher, and the artist. I think it could be one possibility for more involvement in projects by backers, rather than just having their name included in tiny print in the backers credits.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
Another purpose of this is to kinda sorta address some misconceptions people tend to have about KS profits. We (in general) seem to assume that a million dollar kickstarter means the creator got rich. Not necessarily. Morrus's A5E made $800,000. I would caution anyone who assumes that means Morrus kept several hundred grand as profit for himself. IRRC, the first Bones kickstarter made $3.5 million, and that barely made any profit for the company at all after all said and done.

So folks might see I made $50,000 in this kickstarter, when I actually didn't make any*. Something to keep in mind for potential KS creators.

*From a business standpoint, this could be considered a failure. My goals were different with this so I consider it a success, but if I was in this for the profit, I would not consider TF a success.
 

RealAlHazred

Frumious Flumph
IRRC, the first Bones kickstarter made $3.5 million, and that barely made any profit for the company at all after all said and done.
To be completely fair, Reaper hit a massively higher target than expected, which IIRCmeant they could afford to bring production in-house, which meant moving the operation from Asia to Texas. After that, there wasn't much profit, sure. But they got to do three+ years of advancement in one adventure!
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
As a customer, I don't really care about transparency.

I think, as a customer, having some understanding of how much it all costs, and how much (or little) the publisher makes on it, is important.

The net take for the publisher on this project is only a couple of grand, and that's expecting sale of extra inventory at something like market price. And goodness knows when those sales will happen - and until they happen, the publisher is in the hole for on the order of $10K!
 

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
As someone who is planning a Kickstarter campaign in the near-ish future, I really appreciate this post and story.

My own product won't be nearly the scale of yours - 20-30 pages, black and white, I'll handle the art in addition to the writing - and since it's not for 5e it has basically no chance of being as successful backer-wise. But since the print cost will be much lower, my finding goal can be much lower as well, so I'm hoping to at least break even.

If you don't mind sharing, where did you advertise? You list your cost but not where you placed the ads. I largely lack any kind of online following, so I will need to be able to reach complete strangers; I think advertising will be a necessity for me.

Thank you!
 

RealAlHazred

Frumious Flumph
I think, as a customer, having some understanding of how much it all costs, and how much (or little) the publisher makes on it, is important.

The net take for the publisher on this project is only a couple of grand, and that's expecting sale of extra inventory at something like market price. And goodness knows when those sales will happen - and until they happen, the publisher is in the hole for on the order of $10K!
I get that, but I also get the other side. I, as a customer, don't want to feel like my choices are negatively impacting someone else. In the interest of full transparency on the other side of the coin, when I saw the Kickstarter in the OP, I was intrigued. My home campaign I've been planning for several years is heavily based on fairy tales and folklore, and I plan on offering my group(s) the option to play it in 5E, OSE, or Fantasy Hero, which are three systems I'm pretty adept in. The KS offers 5E and OSR versions -- of course I considered it.

However, I'm expecting my daughter in April. I'm in the US, and that's going to cost upwards of $10,000.

So, I regretfully put it aside, and watched in envy as the KS made its goal. I figured maybe in a few years I'll have enough money to feel comfortable picking it up, maybe, possibly.

Hearing about @Sacrosanct 's razor-thin margins, though... It gives me a feeling that I have let the OP down. I'm exactly the target market, and I didn't bite. I have a feeling of guilt.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
I get that, but I also get the other side. I, as a customer, don't want to feel like my choices are negatively impacting someone else. In the interest of full transparency on the other side of the coin, when I saw the Kickstarter in the OP, I was intrigued. My home campaign I've been planning for several years is heavily based on fairy tales and folklore, and I plan on offering my group(s) the option to play it in 5E, OSE, or Fantasy Hero, which are three systems I'm pretty adept in. The KS offers 5E and OSR versions -- of course I considered it.

However, I'm expecting my daughter in April. I'm in the US, and that's going to cost upwards of $10,000.

So, I regretfully put it aside, and watched in envy as the KS made its goal. I figured maybe in a few years I'll have enough money to feel comfortable picking it up, maybe, possibly.

Hearing about @Sacrosanct 's razor-thin margins, though... It gives me a feeling that I have let the OP down. I'm exactly the target market, and I didn't bite. I have a feeling of guilt.
You absolutely should not have guilt. None at all. You are not responsible for my choices, and quite frankly, I would not want any support from anyone if it took away from more important things.

Also, I went into this project knowing full well in advance that I'd break even if I was lucky. Profit was not my goal. Completing the largest project I've done was. So don't feel guilty at all. Heck, even if I were in it to make profit, you shouldn't feel guilty.
 


Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I get that, but I also get the other side. I, as a customer, don't want to feel like my choices are negatively impacting someone else.

Ah, I take it this way: In the US, we live alongside 300 million other people, on a planet with seven billion others. There's no way our choices don't impact others. I take that as a given, and that puts some onus on me to be responsible.

And the only way to be an ethical consumer is to be an informed consumer.

However, I'm expecting my daughter in April. I'm in the US, and that's going to cost upwards of $10,000.

Well, congrats! And heck, she's going to cost a darned sight more than that!

Hearing about @Sacrosanct 's razor-thin margins, though... It gives me a feeling that I have let the OP down. I'm exactly the target market, and I didn't bite. I have a feeling of guilt.

Having a kid to care for beats the business decisions of others hands down. You've got your priorities straight on that.

I take this on the other side of the scale. When I am flush, knowing the margins of thin is an incentive to be a customer - I did quite a bit of that at the start of the pandemic. I knew my job was secure, so I was a little more free with my disposable income to businesses that were going to be getting the short end of the stick.

When I don't know where the next mortgage payment is coming from, though, no amount of discussion of how thin the margins are is going to loosen my purse strings.
 

RealAlHazred

Frumious Flumph
Well, congrats! And heck, she's going to cost a darned sight more than that!
Well, sure, eventually. I meant >$10,000 just for the birth. My German relatives were shocked and appalled when I told them, and questioned me why anybody in the US actually has kids...
 

phuong

Explorer
I feel so sad you didn't take home more profit with all that effort but selling $60k worth of books is great.

If you don't mind sharing, where did you advertise? You list your cost but not where you placed the ads. I largely lack any kind of online following, so I will need to be able to reach complete strangers; I think advertising will be a necessity for me.
Better start all your social media now. I think youtube influencers is the best bang for the buck assuming their audience is the people you need. It is a shame that the promotions forum on enworld is now flooded by one person posting 50 threads per day. I used to watch it but not worth it anymore.
 

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
I feel so sad you didn't take home more profit with all that effort but selling $60k worth of books is great.


Better start all your social media now. I think youtube influencers is the best bang for the buck assuming their audience is the people you need. It is a shame that the promotions forum on enworld is now flooded by one person posting 50 threads per day. I used to watch it but not worth it anymore.
I never used the promotion forum here. It didn't really seem to be all that advantageous, since it's not going to catch many random eyes. But maybe I'm wrong.

Sounds like I might've been once.
 

MGibster

Legend
I think, as a customer, having some understanding of how much it all costs, and how much (or little) the publisher makes on it, is important.
Why? I don't typically have this information when making a purchase, and I suspect such knowlede would have a negligible impact on the majority of purchasing decisions I make. Don't get me wrong, I find this thread interesting just because it's neat to see how the sausage is made. But as a customer this information isn't of limited use.
 

Committed Hero

Explorer
I never used the promotion forum here. It didn't really seem to be all that advantageous, since it's not going to catch many random eyes. But maybe I'm wrong.

Sounds like I might've been once.

If I may be so bold, rpg.net has a promotion forum too. It's worth a post there, here, and possibly rpggeek. Not to mention the relevant groups at reddit, facebook, and discord. That's why creators should be done with writing by the time a Kickstarter campaign is ongoing - they should be marketing the f out of it.
 


Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
If I may be so bold, rpg.net has a promotion forum too. It's worth a post there, here, and possibly rpggeek. Not to mention the relevant groups at reddit, facebook, and discord. That's why creators should be done with writing by the time a Kickstarter campaign is ongoing - they should be marketing the f out of it.
We aren't launching the Kickstarter until after the product is 100% done. I've backed enough Kickstarters to understand both the frustrations of waiting for a product (along with the all-too-common delays), and how nice it is to just get the stuff fast. I'd like our first Kickstarter to have as positive a reaction as possible.

Gods willing the only wait will be for backers of the physical product, which will need to be printed (I'm using a local printer here where I live, which costs a bit more but is super reliable) and mailed.
 

aia_2

Custom title
It’s interesting to other publishers or potential publishers.

If it’s not interesting to you, there are thousands of other threads here which might be more to your tastes.
I remember this one... for the simple reason i kicked it off...
 

aia_2

Custom title
Of course. This whole thread is about informing other creators about the process. It's not to inform the backers of the particular book used as the example (as the term "transparency" might mistakenly imply.)

The logic goes as follows:

  • Creating a book and advertising it costs me $10,000.
  • Printing and shipping one book to one customer costs me $10.
  • I get 1,000 backers with a total funding of $20,000.
  • Printing and shipping a book for every backer will take $10,000 of the funds. The other $10,000 of the funds cover my initial investments to create the book. I'm now breaking even.

  • Now if I get another 500 backers who bring in another $10,000 of funding, my printing and shipping costs go up by another $5,000. The remaining $5,000 go straight into my pocket. (Assuming a world with no taxes and cut for KS.)
  • I can try luring in more backers by saying "If we reach $30,000 in funding, I throw in an extra that costs me $100 in initial investment cost and $1 per book printed and shipped. That means $10,100 in investment costs and $16,500 for printing and shipping. That's a total cost of $26,600 and I can pocket the remaining $3,700.
  • If instead of luring in 500 additional backers with the extras, I actually have the 1,000 original backers pledge $30 each on average, the cost for printing and shipping only increases to $11,000 for a total cost of $21,100 and I can pocket $8,900.
Thanks, your explanation is crisp! I had these economics still in mind, what i miss is that the critical point is referred to the fixed costs (arkworks, editing and so on...): you likely need to bear them before going to ks (in order to avoid delays and long waiting time). The variable costs (i.e. print) will simply stick to the number of sold units... this doesn't change compared to a POD process...
What i lean from you is a confirmation that KS doesn't help to raise money to finance a project, it is only a marketing platform to reach a good number of sales... and i am back to my question about the model of KS...
 

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