Crowdfunding Basics

Getting ready to fund your next title through a crowdfunding source such as Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, Crowdfundr, GameOn Tabletop, or Backerkit? We have lots of options to make it easier and more economical for you to deliver your digital and physical rewards to your supporters.

Everything is taken care of right on site. 

When you fulfill with us and complete your order, whether it's print or digital, our customer service team is with you every step of the way around the clock. Our team is efficient, quick to respond, and always available for any questions your customers might have.

One of the benefits of having stellar customer service is that people feel comfortable coming to us for help — which is exactly what we want and what customers want. Whether the customer is unsure of when the order was placed and needs to learn more about the location, or if there is an issue with the coupon you sent to your customer, our customer service team sets the bar on service and is always ready to make sure your rewards are fulfilled to every single backer.

Before Your Project

Before you launch your crowdfunding project, we suggest doing adequate research to make sure all aspects of your project will be covered so you can avoid any snags along the way.

Things to consider:

  • What formats will your title be offered in? Hardcover vs. soft, premium cardstock vs standard, etc.
  • What will be the estimated print cost for each copy?
  • Will you be asking backers to cover all costs up front, or some now and some later?
  • How much time will you need to fulfill your backer rewards?

Links to help you get started answering these questions:

If you have any questions as you work through your pre-launch research, contact us by submitting a request through our webform. We’ll be glad to help you out.

Setting Up Your Project

Please allow enough time for fulfillment on each of your reward tiers and your project timeline. We suggest a minimum of six weeks time to prepare for print fulfillment, but you may wish to allow for more, especially if this is your first time using our print programs. It can take a couple iterations of files and proofs to make sure everything is just right.

Even if the print process goes off without a hitch, you’ll still need time for your files to be approved and proof(s) to be ordered, shipped, and reviewed — all of which takes time! For an estimated timeline of the book printing process, visit our article: The Basics of Book Printing.

Graphics

If you’ll be promoting your project and fulfilling your rewards through DriveThru, we ask that you include clear wording and also add our "fulfilled by DriveThruRPG" graphic to your page (or the variation on that graphic that's most relevant to your content, such as DriveThruFiction or DriveThruCards). 

Feel free to use any of the images here.

Wording Is Key

Regarding print fulfillment, note that Kickstarter in particular does not allow "discounts, coupons, down payments, or vouchers/gift cards with cash equivalencies to be offered as rewards." For this reason, if you plan to have backers pay the print cost of their book or cards using a discount code from DriveThru, you must be sure to note on your campaign page that backers will receive a print book or deck of cards, not a voucher or coupon for a print book or deck of cards.

Note

To be clear, this concern applies only to fulfillment where customers pay for their own print copies of the book(s) and/or card(s) in question. See Backers Process Their Own Orders below.

Here is some boilerplate text you can use: 

  • "As thanks for your support, you'll receive a PDF copy of [your-title]";

or, if you prefer more detail,

  • "OPTIONAL DISCOUNTED PRINT-ON-DEMAND VERSION – For this campaign, you will have the option of using DriveThru’s Print-On-Demand (POD) service to purchase a physical, printed copy of the books and/or cards included in your list of rewards directly from their POD partners at discounted cost. When the POD versions are available to order (sometime after the books/cards have gone to print), you will receive links to purchase these versions of the books/cards from DriveThru." 

If you are using a service other than Kickstarter for crowdfunding, such as Crowdfundr or IndieGoGo, you are responsible for making sure that the use of our tools does not break any rules of that platform. 

Promoting Your Project

Now that your crowdfunding project is underway, it’s time to get the word out!

While onsite advertising is reserved for those titles actively available for sale in our marketplace, you can contact Partner Relations to have an email sent out to your DriveThruRPG (or DriveThruCards, DriveThruFiction, etc.) customers to alert them to your crowdfunding project.

The requirements for project promotion emails are as follows:

  • Promotional emails can only be sent to your existing customers (those who have ordered other titles of yours through DriveThru storefronts).
  • We ask that you include a "fulfilled by" graphic visibly on your crowdfunding campaign's front page.
  • You may have us send up to two emails via our customer email tool per crowdfunding campaign (usually one at the beginning and one at the end).
  • Only projects being fulfilled through DriveThru storefronts may be promoted via customer email.
  • We reserve the right to reject any email from being sent for any reason.

How to Schedule a Crowdfunding Email

  • At least two (2) business days before you want your email sent, email Partner Relations by submitting a request through our webform. To help us process these mailings, use the subject line: "Crowdfunding Mail — Your Publisher Name — Date To Send Email" (For example: "Crowdfunding Mail — Onyx Path Publishing — October 9th")
  • In the body of that email, include the subject line and the full body text of your email. If you have further instructions or questions, please keep them clear from the text you want sent to customers.
  • Attach 1-2 graphics to make your email stand out (144DPI max).

Want to promote in other ways? You are more than welcome to create a free download as a sample to use in conjunction with your campaign, and may include a link to your crowdfunding project in the purchase notes for that title for the duration of the campaign. 

Fulfilling Your Digital Rewards

Why use DriveThru to deliver your digital files to your backers?

  • It’s FREE!
  • We’re set up to handle thousands of backers.
  • Security. Every backer gets their own unique redemption code.
  • Backers appreciate it. Many backers already have accounts and digital libraries at DriveThru, and they appreciate having their new PDF added to their existing digital library.
  • Updates are easy. As your files go from alpha to beta to final, you can easily update the file and push new versions out to your backers.

If you have a large number of backers, our Complimentary Copy Tool features the ability to paste in a list of emails or upload a CSV file your backers into a Group and then send to that Group.

Where to Find It: Click Send Complimentary Copies under “Promotion” in your Publisher Hub.

Fulfilling Your Physical Rewards

Physical rewards require some planning and time to make sure that everything looks excellent before being shipped out to backers. As mentioned previously, we suggest a minimum of SIX WEEKS be allowed to prepare your print versions; you must allow time to upload and submit your file and then have it go through a pre-media check (books only), then have a proof copy shipped to you for review (books and cards).

Note

Even the most experienced partners occasionally see things in their early proof they would like to correct before having copies sent to backers, which requires the process to be started over again.

Shipping and Payment Options

If you will be printing your books or cards through DriveThru, you may choose to either cover the cost of printing and shipping as a part of your crowdfunding project, or pass a portion of the cost on to the customer. Partners may use DriveThru to distribute print titles in three different ways:

1. Backers Process Their Own Orders

During your crowdfunding, you specify in your project that backers are supporting you for a lower amount because they will need to later pay the base printing and shipping costs of the book or cards via DriveThru. (They effectively buy the books/cards — at cost — from us, plus pay their own shipping.)

When your book or cards are proofed and ready, you can use our old Complimentary Copy tool to send your backers a discount that allows them to purchase the print format of your title at the cost of printing. Each customer then inputs his or her own address and pays shipping charges during checkout. This means your backers pay the absolute base print cost plus our shipping charges (which are the actual rates, not inflated). You put the onus of having the correct shipping address on your customers and do not have to handle fulfillment beyond sending the comp copy link to your backers.

With this approach, please note that the customer could increase their quantity ordered in their Shopping Cart and buy multiple copies of your book or cards, all at cost. However, in practice, partners using this method have not seen this abused.

Note

Be sure to note in your campaign that customers will receive a print copy of the book(s)/card(s) in question, not a coupon or voucher for said books/cards. (See Wording Is Key)

2. You Process the Orders on DriveThru

If you’d rather embed the cost of printing and shipping in your crowdfunding campaign, you may ship out copies to your backers (again, at cost) as if you were purchasing them as proofs for yourself, but selecting that group of backers as the shipping recipients.

You can process the orders with a few simple clicks through our new Send Complimentary Copy tool. When you select this tool under "Promotion" on your Publisher Hub, you will be able to design the order, select one of your groups (you can edit, delete, and add your backer information into a CSV file for upload), and then send them off to your backers.

You will be charged for the print cost + shipping of each order into one final cost.

3. You Order in Bulk and Fulfill Shipments Yourself (or through a fulfillment service)

If you’d rather handle all of the shipping on your own, or if you have other rewards you need to combine in your shipments, you can easily order multiple copies of your title to be delivered to you, so that you can then repackage and ship them out to backers.

Considering a bulk order? One advantage to this method is that you may qualify for bulk discounts on books and high-volume discounts on cards if you have a large enough order. We do suggest weighing the savings of bulk discounts + shipping + re-shipping versus processing each order individually on DriveThru.

How to Determine Shipping for Several Countries

We’ve made it easier for you to get shipping estimates to most major destination countries for your crowdsourcing campaigns. You can now use the Send complimentary copy tool to upload the customer CSV file below to a “Group” and generate the current freight cost of shipping to your backers in each country. This CSV file contains the random residential addresses to the most popular locations of shipping print-on-demand rewards.

Our current implementation of this bulk ship cost estimator requires that you have a similar-sized book or card deck that is print-ready (i.e., one that has passed the printer's premedia checks) already present in your partner account before utilizing this process. (At some point, we plan to offer a dedicated tool that won’t require a print-ready book to function.)

  1. Download the CSV here: shippingcostcheck_ver9.csv
  2. Create a new Group here: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/pub_groups.php importing the CSV file to create the group.
  3. Once the CSV is uploaded into Groups, you can navigate back to the Titles tab of the Complimentary Copy tool: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/send_comp_titles.php
  4. Select the title(s) and format on which you’d like to estimate freight. 
  5. Select how many copies of each title, if applicable. Click Next
  6. Choose the new CSV group that you recently created under the Recipients tab. 
  7. Hit Next on the top right corner and wait for the system to calculate freight and for the payment page to load.
  8. You will now see the following page. You can toggle to show the shipping details on or off. By default, the details will be hidden. 
  9. On the right, you will see the estimated freight cost to that country. 
  10. If you do not plan on finishing, exit the tool and do not hit Review Order.

Notes on Freight Rates to Certain Countries

Canada

The freight rates for books (not cards) shipping into Canada can vary based on two factors.

The first factor is that there are roughly three groups of freight pricing within Canada based on region. These are provided as canada1, canada2, and canada3 in the example CSV file.

Canada1 includes Southern Ontario and Quebec.

Canada2 covers everywhere else in Canada except the more remote locations of Canada3, below.

Canada3 represents Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, and the Yukon.

The second factor is the carrier, which also then determines if Canadian customs are pre-paid or not. Books are printed in the US and shipped into Canada by two different carriers. Sending complimentary copies will automatically choose the less expensive carrier option.

The first carrier is regular post, handed off from USPS to Canada Post. This is usually the cheapest method for small, light book shipments to the Canada2 region and nearly all shipments to the Canada3 region. Recipients may be required to pay duty and duty-processing fees when receiving their shipments from Canada Post.

The second carrier option is Purolator (a Canadian parcel delivery company). This option is used for the majority of shipments into Canada. Under this option, part of the freight rate includes pre-payment of the 5% duty on imported books; however, this way, the books are cleared through customs so there is no duty or duty-processing fee due from the recipient at delivery.

To calculate this 5% duty and include it in the freight rate, our system uses the selling price you have set for your book(s) on site. This is why the freight prices you see estimated for Canada will often vary according to the total site price set for all books in your shipment.

Brazil

Book freight estimates to Brazil tend to be high because only premium, trackable shipping methods are possible. Less expensive, untracked shipments to Brazil suffered high rates of being lost in the Brazilian postal service, so we ship only via trackable methods to Brazil.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to fulfill my crowdfunding project via DriveThru in order to email my customers via my publisher tools and alert them to the project?

Yes. You must be fulfilling at least the digital portion of the project through DriveThru if you intend to notify your customers via DriveThru customer email.

Is crowdfunding fulfillment considered a violation of my exclusive contract?

No, but we do expect that titles fulfilled to backers through DriveThru by exclusive partners will thereafter be sold exclusively as normal.

Is there a charge to send out complimentary copies of digital files to my backers?

No, there is no charge for this service to you or your backers.

Graphics for Your Campaign

You may use any of the images below on your crowd-funding page as appropriate to how you will fulfill or print your product.

Books are printed in USA and the UK.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Cards are currently only printed in USA, so the first image below applies only to book shipping.

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