Publishing

Kickstarter Budgeting

One of the key questions when you set up a Kickstarter is your funding goal. Where do you set it so that you can accomplish what you need to accomplish and bring your product to market? How do you structure the reward levels so that they make sense?

I’m deeply indebted to Jamey Stegmaier’s excellent Kickstarter blog for his advice on establishing reward levels and budgets. While his blog focuses on board games, which do have some different issues than a role playing game book, the principles remain the same.

  1. Remember that you don’t get the entire amount you fund on Kickstarter. Between Kickstarter’s cut and the cut for various payment methods, you’re only going to get 90-92% of the total target, so it’s important to budget accordingly.
  2. Look at variable and fixed costs. In my case, the variable costs are the costs required to print softcover and hardcover books for those reward levels. The fixed costs are primarily the costs of commissioned art for the books. The idea was to set the reward levels such that if I hit the funding level, I’d have enough to pay for the artists. This involved a LOT of estimation and guesswork. What would the art cost? What proportion of backers would want physical books versus PDFs? Calculating all those variables was a real challenge.
  3. Plan to make a profit. OK, I, like many people in this industry, game for fun. I created the Children of the Apocalypse setting to run in my own games, and I’m doing a lot of the work for the Kickstarter myself. With that said, targeting at least a modest profit versus running the Kickstarter at a loss imposes some real discipline on spending. What can I afford at a reasonable target versus what I’d want in an ideal, no constraints setting? It also helps, of course, that I’m not paying myself an hourly rate for the work I do. But I am paying anyone who helps me (artists, mainly) fairly for the work they’re doing.
  4. Do your homework. Odds are there’s already been a Kickstarter campaign similar to yours, so go look at what they set up for reward levels, funding targets, and stretch goals. More importantly, don’t just look at the successes. Look at the projects that didn’t fund, too, and see if you can figure out why.

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