International shipping -- is it as outrageous as it looks?
Last activity on  |  12 answers
Greetings Jill, Melody, John, and everyone else dealing with this issue.International shipping can certainly be a beast and I feel you on that.  There are a few ways to dance around it.#1) If you are pre-production, plan a size and shape and weight that ships cheaper.  Once you get past certain dimensions the shipping rates jump tremendously.  If it's a board game, ensure it fits in a medium flat rate box (there are 2 shapes), or small flat rate if that size.  And don't underestimate the value of a flat rate bubble mailer.  They fit way more than a small flat rate does and ships the same price.  -  First class, not flat-rate, is often your best bet.#2) (Best option) You can freight ship a fair stack of your product (book, or game, or else) directly into a foreign region, then ship from there.ie: Freight 3 cases of books directly from your printer (or self) to Germany.  This will cost you a couple hundred dollars ($100-500 depending on size and total weight), but once you divide price by the # of books in the cases it's only a couple bucks each, then you pay only the local in-region shipping per book, and charge the total to the backer.  - Imagine a foreign seller shipping a pallet here, then paying USPS rates... ah, that would only total about $9 per person that way.  -   This only works in bulk.  It won't work very well in small quantities, but UPS's shipping calculator will help you price it out.  Try it.#3) Understand this: Nothing is "free".  Subsidize the shipping price in your pledge amount.Got free shipping on Amazon or KS?  Somebody paid for that.  It's subsidized into the price.  It might feel free to the buyer, but somebody paid a cut to the shipper-man.  If you're paying $50 for something sizable on KS with "free shipping", they subsidized at least $X of shipping into that $50.  Can you do the same?  Increase the price of the book $5 and then charge only $15 shipping?#4) Eat it.  Charge less than the full amount and eat that percentage (ONLY if still profitable to do so).  Does +$5 make your pledge value seem wrong somehow?  Then #4 might be for you.  But know this: You budget this into the net project before you start, and then it's just part of the net goal.  This is basically #3, but a harsher-way of looking at it, when increasing Tier Price is to be avoided.(For #2 & #3 - the more you make and will sell will greatly affect your ability to do this.  The more you make, the lower you cost per unit is, so you can pass that savings on, and the more you make the more likely it will become for you to shippThese are the main ways.  Shipping is real, and it's never free.  You can A) Make it cheaper with great planning early, B) Freight ship directly into the region and ship from within it (a great service to provide for your EU customers who worry about VAT), and/or C) Hide the price of shipping by putting in the pledge amount, and calling shipping free, or D) Eat it (ideally budgeting this plan in in advance.Finally, yes, if you're doing shipping yourself to reduce costs to backers, use Stamps.comI have a ton of advice on Freight Shipping (aka Logistics) and Fulfillment (aka shipping stuff) on my blog, and as much on budgeting, and even a how-to for Stamps.com.  Take a look for detailed step-by-step advice for each.As always, heart this post if it was helpful to you.Best on your projects!John Wrot!-Community Adviser
John Wrot!


What service(s) do you recommend for printing a self-published book?
Last activity 2 days ago  |  21 answers
Print on demand has higher unit costs, lower financial risk, and doesn't require a lot of money up-front. If you end up needing more than 500 copies for rewards, consider getting quotes from some offset printers. I've used Worzalla http://www.worzalla.com/, but there are tons of options out there. The downside to offset is that there typically isn't an option to handle distribution, like there is with POD. You need a distributor to get books into Amazon, B&N, etc. If you get a distributor, be prepared for the big ugly secret of publishing... returns. You can sell 1000 copies and get a nice check and then a few months later 600 are returned and you could end up owing money back to your distributor PLUS returns fees. (Getting a distributor is hard. Particularly if you only have a single title scheduled.)Ingram and Createspace are the two big players in POD. It pays to look at the prices and terms and figure out which (or what combination) works best for you. Keep in mind that books through a POD printer/distributor are harder to get into brick and mortar bookstores. Most will only take them as special orders, particularly if you have them set as non-returnable. It does get you into the big online stores. Here, Amazon is critical. You'll make most of your sales here. Sadly, your per-unit profit is lowest with POD, but at least it's all profit and almost no risk.You should be releasing a print book with a digital edition. If you don't know how to make an ebook, find someone who does (same goes for the print book or cover). It's important to put your best foot forward with a book, so work with people who know what they are doing or the project will suffer for it. The last thing you want is to look amateur and you may not be the best judge of that.Once again, Amazon is the big player for ebooks, but other places may be big too (talk to people in your genre). There is no excuse not to put it everywhere. By the way, if you manage to get an offset title into bookstores that will drive ebook sales. I've done both and can speak from experience. Consider the bookstore a marketing opportunity for the ebook. Sometimes that can offset any smaller returns costs.And of course, none of this works without marketing... and that's an even bigger topic for discussion.
Neil Clarke


How did you estimate the amount it was going to cost to do your project? How close were you?
Last activity on  |  15 answers
We analysed it to *death* we accounted for every penny - we weighed each reward and looked up the US and international postage rates - we included the cost of a new laptop and estimated the amount of electricity we'd use.   We priced shipping boxes, the plastic bags the product went into, the stickers that sealed the bags down.  But it's still very hard because some costs are 'fixed' (that laptop) no matter whether you just make goal or whether you sell $10,000,000 worth - and others scale with the number of rewards you ship.  Some other things like leasing a workshop or employing someone to make rewards when it's too much for you to do it cause sudden 'jumps' in the income-versus-profit curve.  So we did the math for every $10,000 increment from our minimum goal up to 50 times what we thought we could *possibly* make and made sure that we'd be happy and safe from financial ruin at every single increment.You simply cannot over-analyze this stuff.As others have said, postage is a major pain.   Most projects offer free local shipping - which is fairly easy to estimate - but overseas is a nightmare.   Some places have it where the size of the box matters, others where it's the weight.   If (for example) you live in the USA and you estimate that 20% of your stuff will go to Europe and 20% to Australia and you find that you get a cult following in Japan - then you might get utterly screwed on postage....but if all your overseas sales are to Canada then you'll be overpricing your international shipping for those guys.   So make BIG allowances for that.Don't forget that you'll be paying taxes on your sales - either personal income tax or business tax or both.Depending on the nature and complexity of your rewards, expect perhaps around 5% of your shipments to go wrong in some way - you may have to re-ship items that the backer claims went missing (maybe they did, maybe they didn't - you'll never know).   Stuff may be faulty, you'll probably end up posting the wrong thing to some of your backers.Just analyze the heck out of it all.
Renee Launer
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