Before we launched the campaign for Code 45 Issue 1, everything I read about running a Kickstarter project warned me that, as stressful and emotional as running your first campaign might be, it’s what happens after the 30 day funding period is up that is typically far more challenging to deal with.
The Internet is full of warnings about the Kickstarter fulfillment process, which is the period of time between the end of a campaign and actually getting your book in the hands of supporters. Some of these are written from the perspective of people running Kickstarters for board games, which require complicated manufacturing, ordering, and shipping logistics, while others are aimed at absolute beginners who may not have any business experience of their own.
Fortunately, our team at Code 45 is in neither of those situations. Angela is an experienced product designer and routinely works to fulfill client orders. Joe’s been drawing pages for almost two decades. On my side, I’ve been writing professionally for almost 15 years now, and before that I worked in a number of roles – particularly at my record label and production company – where I was forced rather quickly to learn how to be organized.
All this to say that the three of us were feeling confident that we’d be able to handle the Code 45 fulfillment stage without any issues. A big part of that was locking down our printer in advance, as well as locating a supplier for the logo pins well before the end of the campaign. We didn’t want to have any of that hanging over our head once everyone’s pledges had been collected – we wanted to be able to ship out as quickly as possible.
And then, there was a global pandemic. Suddenly, we had to double-check every plan we had made. Would our China-based pin supplier still be in business, or did we have to switch to a North American manufacturer? Were printers in the Toronto area continuing their operations? Could we still stay local with our sticker and art print suppliers?
It’s here that I quickly understood how the fulfillment phase could be overwhelming. If we hadn’t investigated our options at the outset of our campaign, having to start from scratch with this new, unforeseen pressure would have been incredibly stressful.
As it stands, we had nothing to worry about. The pins arrived early, the stickers and prints were done inside Canada’s borders (through Sticker Beaver and Vistaprint, respectively), and our book is at the printer as I write this update, with a proof expected to be hand-delivered by our broker to Angela within 24 hours. On top of that, almost every one of our supporters has responded to the survey we sent out asking for their address confirmation and other information we needed to move forward. We’ve so far had no pandemic impact on our logistical planning, and for that we are grateful.
There is one test still to come, however. Angela and Joe live in Toronto, while I live in Montreal. We had planned to get together in Toronto to pack all of the books and rewards together, and then mail them out, as a team, as I have the rewards, mailers, and backing boards sitting here at my home, while Angela and Joe will be storing the copies of Issue 1 once they are printed.
Current self-isolation requirements from the Ontario and Quebec governments have caused us to rethink our shipping strategy. At this point, we don’t expect any significant delays from the 6 weeks post-Kickstarter shipping window we described in our campaign originally, but this aspect of fulfillment may end up looking quite different than how we originally planned. We’ll keep everyone updated as we continue to move through this experience together.