And so, my first Kickstarter adventure comes to a close.
I have received the information on the cost of shipping, and while that actually isn’t completely done (we still have a backer in Europe whom we seem unable to connect, even with a third package sent), the extra cost of that – I am praying – will be under $75, all told.
In the end, I consider the Centurion: Legionaries of Rome Kickstarter an incredible success. Not only did we fund, we hit the first stretch goal. We have delivered all backer rewards (save the one errant European package) and have even put a few copies into distribution, so you might see it at your local gaming store.
Here are a few things I learned:
Everything is going to cost more than what you expect. Even when you get a quote, expect it to increase as unforeseen circumstances arise. Shipping is the biggest danger. We received our funds in April and shipped in November and December. Shipping costs increased in that period, though not dramatically so.
You need to get the word out. The only way people are going to back your Kickstarter is if they know about your Kickstarter. You need to beat the drum pretty much constantly. If you are concerned that your constant harping about your Kickstarter will annoy those who follow you in social media, make sure your posts are leavened with other posts of similar subject matter as your Kickstarter. For Centurion, I made lots of posts pointing to Roman history articles, movies, and books. I even had a hashtag, MyCenturionMovie, in which I altered movie quotes to make them suitably Roman (like: “You fell victim to one of the classic blunders – the most famous of which is never get involved in a land war in Parthia” or “And you know what they call a gladius in Gaul?” “They don’t call it a gladius?” “No man, they got Gallic.”)
Be careful with your add-ons. Listen, I love little extras – like dice or pins – but every time you include another aspect of the Kickstarter over which you have little to no control, you are putting delivery at risk. I had dice and a helmet. It worked well, though dice increased the cost of shipping because of irregular package sizes. For my new Kickstater, I’m only offering extras that I control.
Engage with your backers and get them on side. You can amplify your efforts to get the word out if you ally with your backers. Get them excited about your project and they’ll help you bring eyes to your page. That’s what you need.
Don’t forget, your target number includes a lot of secondary and tertiary costs. Right off the bat, Kickstarter is going to be taking some money off the top for their cut and the fees for processing payments. Then there are the costs of delivering both the core product and any add-on rewards. Make sure that the cost of delivering rewards is no more than 25% of any given pledge level.
I don’t want to harp on time and money, but you have to understand that it is going to take more time and more money than you expect. If you set your target artificially low, the extra money will be coming out of your pocket. Promise to deliver too early and you’ll be explaining to your backers why the rewards are late.
I hope this helps. I’m putting these lessons to work in my new Kickstarter, Nefertiti Overdrive: Ancient Egytian Wuxia, so I’ll let you know how that works out.