Shipping Costs Reduced
9 days ago
– Fri, Jul 14, 2017 at 01:09:38 AM
International Shipping Costs Reduced: Shipping costs have gone down for every country besides the US. Cheaper shipping costs should be reflected on your BackerKit account by the time you read this.
USA Shipping Unchanged: Shipping in the United States has remained the same, though I’ve expanded the number limit for add-on copies.
Still Time to Fix Issues: It will still be at least a month (probably more) before any charges are run through the BackerKit system. There is still plenty of time to make adjustments if something isn’t right (for instance, if I forgot your country on the shipping table). If you have questions, or if your shipping bill has not gone down by the time you read this, please let me know in the comments. I will ensure all prices reflect the new shipping rates as soon as possible.
Expanded Add-on Limit: Add-on shipping has been adjusted as well, in addition to expanding the number of available copies people can use to expand their order. I’m sorry for the original limitations. I failed to anticipate individual backers wanting more than one copy.
In General: I’m sorry for any confusion or unpleasantness my inexperience has caused. I have worked hard to better the shipping situation and will continue to do so.
More detailed explanations of the developments listed above can be found later in this update.
New Shipping Arrangement
I’m approaching this task in reverse order. I’ll deal with the present situation first before attempting to unpack the last few weeks.
Currently, the books are being printed by Asian Pacific International in Hong Kong. The original plan was to send the complete print run to the Indie Press Revolution warehouse in Gerlach, Nevada. From there, Jason Walters of IPR would fulfill Kickstarter backer orders. The majority of the remaining books would stay in the warehouse to be distributed through IPR. I would drive out to Nevada at the first opportunity and pick up a few boxes for contributor’s copies, review copies, and units for convention sales.
As of now, I’m contracting with KixTo in the UK. They’ve done fulfillment with Arc Dream, Chaosium, and Pelgrane Press before. I will now be splitting the print run into two pallets before it leaves Hong Kong. One will go to Gerlach, NV as originally planned; the other will go to the KixTo warehouses in the UK.
New shipping costs will be reflected on your BackerKit accounts already, but here’s a quick preview of the new prices:
- United Kingdom: $8.00
- Rest of Europe: $16.00-$20.00
- Australia/New Zealand: $26.00
- Brazil: $26.00
- Japan: $26.00
- China: $26.00
- Canada/Mexico: $26.00
How did we arrive at these numbers?
Exactly like the last time, prices are based directly off the quote I was given by the fulfillment service. You can look at the March 2017 rates Kixto quoted me for yourself: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1PgUm9CEwCRqUZW--OGJdrBm4gT4M2Glk8ag0mqRfALA/edit?usp=sharing
Prices are based off a book of the following dimensions:
- Books W/o Dice
- Weight: 5lbs 2oz
- Dimensions: · Length: 12.5 in · Height: 2 in · Width: 10 in
The prices in the spreadsheet are converted from GBP to USD (multiply by 1.3). $2.83 USD was added for the cost of the armored carton. Dice will be added to the same box. The labor, extra packaging, and VAT for the dice are being paid with the shipping fee charged with the original dice pledge levels. Prices were rounded up to the nearest dollar to account for taxes and possible raises in international fees that could occur while the book is being printed.
What does this new shipping arrangement mean?
- Shipping costs have been drastically reduced for all international backers.
- International backers can expect wildly differing arrival dates. Shipping freight at the cheapest possible rates means arrival can be unpredictable, even counter-intuitive (France might get books, then Germany gets books two months later after Japan, etc). What limited assurances on speed that were provided by USPS flat-rate boxes are now gone. If the country next door gets their books before you, there is nothing I can do to alter that situation.
- There will likely be more damage done to books in transit. This is not the fault of KixTo, IPR, or myself; it’s a fact of international freight. I am purchasing the best possible packaging I can afford while simultaneously reducing the shipping costs. Sufficiently damaged copies will be replaced at the cost of the publisher so long as damaged units are returned to Kixto and documentation (read: pictures) of the destroyed packaging is provided by the recipient.
- There will be no ability to track packages, as that would again raise shipping rates
The Previous Shipping Quote
The previous quote was based on a medium flat-rate USPS box containing a package of the above dimensions, plus the shipping, packaging, and handling fees quoted to me by IPR.
For those who don’t believe me, calculate the cost yourself. The book weighs in at 5lbs, 2oz without dice. Calculate price based on Shape and Size (option on the lower right hand corner): https://postcalc.usps.com
Too much work? I’ll fetch some previews…
Notice that the medium flat-rate box is the cheapest available option for a book of Red Markets’ dimensions. Media mail is not available outside the US. Envelope options are even more expensive than boxes and provide less protection in transit. An A4 book (81/2 x 11) will not fit into a small flat-rate box. Even if I had not written more than the planned pages, a book of the originally promised size would have only been pennies less.
Also note that these are not prices generated by IPR; they are prices demanded by the US government. Jason and IPR have nothing to do with the costs. Please stop calling and emailing hateful messages to him and his employees. If angry international backers piss off my distributor to the point where he drops my ass, this situation doesn’t improve for anybody. Considering the grief they’ve had to deal with over the past few weeks, the fact that IPR hasn’t dropped me yet must mean the warehouse is staffed by saints.
While my inexperience in international distribution and over-eagerness is certainly at fault regarding the initial launch of the BackerKit, I don’t bear responsibility for the US Postal Service. USPS doesn’t take my calls. I don’t control the government. I didn’t even vote for them. There is nothing I can do to effect policy change in the US Postal Service.
If prices were different the last time you backed a Kickstarter internationally, there are two possible explanations. The first is that USPS hiked prices in those short few months…which they did. Just as they plan to do again very soon: https://mailomg.com/2017/06/08/usps-international-mailers-face-radical-changes-in-2018-plus-more-rates-hikes/
The second explanation as to why the Red Markets shipping costs were high compared to a previous Kickstarter is simple: the person running that campaign was more knowledgeable than me. They had the experience necessary to secure an overseas fulfillment service early in the process.
I sincerely apologize for originally failing to do the same and for any distress I caused with the initial BackerKit quote.
For those that care to read them, I have explanations for my blunder. I hadn’t initially imagined the campaign could do more than a POD code until we hit our 48K stretch goal. In my rushed research for a solution, I thought I would be saving money for stretch goals by not forcing the majority of backer base to supplement international backers. As I pointed out above, international prices were cheaper when the project funded a year ago, and there was some math to support the idea.
But that’s no excuse for what happened a few weeks ago: the original plan was naïve and inexperienced of me. I apologize deeply for any anxiety I caused.
As a token of my sincerity, I am covering the entirety of the extra shipping costs for sending an additional pallet out of Hong Kong; those costs will not be passed on to backers. I’ll also be shipping the Chessex dice claimed by international backers overseas out of my teacher’s salary (money charged during the KS to get them to Nevada is not sufficient to get them overseas). If nothing goes wrong and there are no more unexpected costs, I’ll be personally supplementing the new shipping arrangement to the tune of a few thousand dollars.
Lastly, I will further delay paying myself for writing and editing Red Markets. By financing the newly reduced shipping costs with my own personal funds, we can hopefully protect the stretch goal budget and keep releases from being too long delayed.
Why No POD?
Aside from the fact that we announced on multiple occasions we were no longer considering Print-On-Demand before the Kickstarter finished? No one wants me to go back to POD.
Here is the print calculator from DTRPG, the service we originally planned on using: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/pub_pod_cost.php.
For those that trust me to enter the specifications for them, here’s what comes out the other side:
Those printing costs would have been paid by the backer in addition to shipping costs (as promised in the pledge levels when the Kickstarter was still POD). That means prices would have been very bad for paperback backers with the old shipping rates. The price would still be too high with the new shipping rates.
But let’s assume you reduced the color quality beneath what hardcover backers will be getting from the Hong Kong press.
It’s true that shipping would be cheaper for UK backers because DTRPG has a press located in country, but shipping costs from Lightning Source would be similar or higher than what we’re currently being quoted by KixTo. That shipping price would have to be paid in addition to the cost of printing the book, as was originally promised at every print level before the project evolved beyond POD. In short, prices would equal to or higher than what we currently have arranged for what is now a product with substandard color. The images were not designed for that color resolution.
Additionally, retooling the whole book to fit the print guidelines of a completely different printing press would take months and untold graphic design man-hours: money that would have to either come from my depleted savings account, the stretch goal budget, or backers themselves.
A Black-and-White book would be cheaper all around, but now paperback (primarily international) backers have a black-and-white book while everyone else has a hardcover glossy color. Finally, the problems of re-engineering the print specifications and color gradients of the whole book still persist.
We are not using POD. I paid an extra per-copy printing cost to produce the paperbacks from our Hong Kong press specifically to avoid such dips in quality. The interior pages are the exact same quality as the hardcover; only the binding and cover material are different.
The promise of the Kickstarter was print + shipping. Now the charge is for shipping alone. Print + shipping through POD doesn’t get cheaper until the product quality reduces drastically. If I broke a promise regarding POD, it was to provide a better quality product at a cheaper cost.
The new shipping prices are as low as shipping prices will drop. They will go no further. The prices are, as of this moment, non-negotiable. Attempts to contact me as if I have some further control over the situation aside from draining my own bank account (which I’ve already done…completely) will be ignored. Refusal to read the multiple resources and rationales provided to explain the price does nothing to change the actual price.
As I stated earlier, refunds or replacement copies will be provided to domestic and/or international backers that can sufficiently demonstrate irreparable damage that occurred during shipping. Please preserve all packing materials of damaged books, document the failed shipment with pictures, and return the damaged materials back to the fulfillment house. Message me on Kickstarter if the shipment fails and I’ll provide an address where pictures can be sent. In short, if the book didn’t get to you in working order, replacement books and refunds will be provided at the publisher’s expense.
I have also acknowledged my faults in the initial launch of the Backerkit. I was naïve and launched without fully anticipating backer needs or seeking better solutions. For that, I am deeply sorry. Money is no small matter, and the fact that the initial quote caused anxiety for anyone pains me. I hope my continued, demonstrable efforts to fix the problem are enough for the aggrieved to forgive me. Regardless, I promise to learn from this experience and do better in the future.
As for international backers asking me for a refund because they don’t wish to pay the international shipping prices at all: no.
If the refund demand is couched in unfounded accusations – such as claims that I have betrayed or scammed people – the answer is still “no.” In cases where the attacks have descended into slurs, curses, and other harassment, the answer is “hell no.”
I’ve made the costs as low as I possibly can. Every backer at the physical level was promised they would have to pay a shipping fee. Every international backer was promised that the cost would likely be quite high. I’m making good on my promises, and when my initial attempts were not sufficient to backers’ needs, I worked diligently to correct the situation. I continue to do so. The book is still shipping early, with more content and less cost than originally promised.
Failure to settle the bill in full will not result in reimbursement. The Kickstarter funds have been spent on talented artists, editors, and graphic designers. I couldn’t give the money back if I wanted to. And I don’t want to. We have used the money to make a beautiful RPG book. To do so was always the stated purpose of this Kickstarter, and it is being fulfilled.
For my faults in this process, I have apologized and paid for my mistakes. I have incurred great financial expense and mental anguish to satisfy the largely responsible, reasonable, and concerned international backer community. To this overwhelming majority, I would like to take this opportunity to offer my thanks for their patience.
But at the hands of a very vocal minority, I have been subjected to racist tirades, rude comments, and death threats on a daily basis since the launch of the BackerKit. I have been accused of every crime under the sun despite my constant attempts to remain in clear communication with backers. These have not been easy weeks. Sleepless nights have made a difficult solution to shipping problems even more difficult (hypothetical problems, I might add, as no cards have yet to be charged). Admittedly, my enthusiasm for this project has withered under a salty tide of digital bullshit.
This project must operate under the constraints of certain systems. I’ll continue to help reasonable people as much as I am allowed within the confines of these financial realities. But as of now, customer service for assholes has officially ended.
Further attempts to harass me or threaten my family will be reported and removed from every internet platform upon which I can exert any a modicum of control. While the physical violence promised in empty internet threats ignores the cowardice it takes to make such threats in the first place, I must also address the few “brave” international madmen promising to back up their tantrums with a plane ticket: you can expect to be met with the full force the law and the complete exercise of my constitutional rights.
The real concerns of civilized backers persuaded me that I needed to find a new shipping arrangement. The harassment campaign has persuaded me to start treating threats to my safety seriously. Nothing has persuaded me to start negotiating with comment-thread terrorists.
If you’re still angry and wounded about my little RPG after reading this, I suggest you get over it or get gone. You certainly won’t be getting your money back.
I apologize to the supportive and reasonable people that have had to read this ugliness. I’m aware that the majority of the Red Markets community is made up of great people, and I’m very grateful for their continued support. This will be my final statement on the issue.
Back to Business
Outstanding Surveys: To those that have delayed completing their BackerKit survey, I would suggest doing so now.
However, I acknowledge that any hesitance to finish the survey is my fault, so further delay is understandable. It will still be weeks before any credit cards are charged through BackerKit. I will make it clear in updates before cards are about to be run. I will also send reminders out before we reach the point of no return and surveys must be filled out.
Preorders: Also, if y’all don’t completely hate my ass yet, I would greatly appreciate anyone who would distribute the preorder link to their interested friends. After all, shipping did just get a lot cheaper: https://redmarkets.backerkit.com/hosted_preorders
For Those Reporting Errors: I’ve made a tracking sheet for typos in the PDF. I can’t promise we will be able to fix everything (there is a fee for altering proofs as we get closer to the printing process), but I’ll correct as much as I can afford. Those that have been collecting error reports can enter them on this table: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1FMANGc9-onkplyIC0nt4oShh_R1LRF8FaDcxf3N6ohk/edit?usp=sharing
Other Progress: I’m currently in the process of reviewing final proofs. When that’s done, I have two chapters to finish in the novel before it is ready for editing. Progress across the board has been slowed by the shipping crisis, but I’m hoping for a burst of productivity before the school year starts.
In Conclusion: If you have comments or questions, please read the update completely before hitting the keyboard. If something still needs my attention after that, I’ll be happy to address it.
Thank you for your patience and continued support of Red Markets.