Alert reader Gaurav shared with me a post-fulfillment project update from Evil Hat Productions that offered the level of transparency I love seeing from creators. I’m going to post the full breakdown below (an exact quote from the public update), then I’ll share a few thoughts after the break.

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Revenue:

 Kickstarter, after payment processor & KS cut: Just under $270k ($269,822.06 to be exact)
 Backerkitwhere we did our preorders and add-ons and so forth: ~$31k

Total starting revenue: ~$301k ($301,388.06)

Expenses:

 Marketing & Miscellany (mostly marketing): ~$27k
 Thirsty Sword Lesbians book development (text & art): ~$30k (art was over $21k of that; April’s writing gets compensated through royalties; remaining text costs were for editing, system development, contributor settings authors, sensitivity reading, indexing, etc)
 Advanced Lovers & Lesbians stretch goals development (text & art): ~$61k (art budget is ~$27k of that, ~$34k for the authors & editors)
 Manufacture of the physical books: 10,500 units cost ~$39k to print
 Download codes for the Roll20 module: ~$11k
 Freight:  ~$4k to get things from the printer to our US and UK points of distribution
 Shipping: $40k to get books to backers
 Project management, social media, customer service, graphic design, Roll20 character sheet and module development: $0, we do all those things in-house at Evil Hat and get our salaries covered by things like our cut of the profits.

Total expenses: just shy of ~$213k (some rounding in the above numbers) — a little over 70% of our starting revenue.

Remaining profit: A little over $88k to be divided between Evil Hat Production and Gay Spaceship Games!

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Jamey here! If you’re working on a tabletop RPG for Kickstarter (or just a tabletop game), are these proportional costs along the lines of what you can expect to pay? A few thoughts about that using the data for Thirsty Sword Lesbians:

“Marketing” is a big category–by definition, it encompasses every aspect of the product design and rollout–but I’m assuming here that it’s referring to advertising and outreach. If that’s the case, I think $27k is on the high end. You can promote a campaign using your enewsletter, some Facebook ads, a few paid previews, and maybe a banner on BoardGameGeek for less than $5k (and you can go even more shoestring than that if you’d like). But perhaps I’m missing something big–and effective–that Fred can share.
$48k for art (and, I’m assuming, graphic design) is a lot. I admire Evil Hat for going so deep on art, but I think it’s fairly rare for a project to spend that much on art. That’s even on the upper end for our games, which typically have at least 50 unique illustrations, often even in the 75-100 range. Graphic design is also a significant expense.
The one big expense that I can’t seem to find here is the author/designer royalties. Fred notes that “April’s writing gets compensated through royalties,” but those royalties should include the campaign itself. At Stonemaier, for example, a normal royalty is 7-8%, and that includes Kickstarter revenue. So in this case, April would have received around $21k in royalties from the Kickstarter.
$4k total for freight shipping to two different destinations is great these days. I’m guessing those were 20′ containers, so in the current market, you can expect to pay closer to $6-8k for a single 20′ shipping container.
It’s notable to mention that of the 10,500 units of Thirsty Sword Lesbians printed for $39k, only around half of those units–5300–went to backers (this is noted later on the update). So that leaves 5,200 units for Evil Hat to sell post-Kickstarter. They’ve already paid for those units, so essentially all revenue earned from those sales is pure profit, which changes their earnings ratio from 30% to more like 50%, which is great.

Overall, I think these types of breakdowns are really nice to share with backers and helpful for other creators to see–thank you to Fred for sharing this update publicly! Do you have any thoughts, questions, or observations from this data?

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