Update on Tamer print books and such for the next Kickstarter:
I want to give you guys an update on the status of the print books in regards to the next Kickstarter and how I’ve changed my process to make sure I get you guys the next books.
Let’s start at the beginning:
When I began doing these Kickstarters, my assistant and I were looking for a printer that could do small batches of the print books (small batch being under 2,000 units), ship them to me so I could sign them, and then I’d ship them to the logistics warehouse to ship out to readers. The idea was that the logistics warehouse would keep inventory on hand for internet orders on my website that would slowly get depleted, and new Kickstarter books that I would need to sign would get printed fresh, sent to me, and then sent to the warehouse to be boxed up and sent to you guys.
We ended up finding a great printer in America (hooray) who could do large batches of books and smaller batches in the 100’s. This ended up being ONE OF THE ONLY print companies in the world who could actually fulfill our small batch needs as well as our large batch needs, since 99.99% of all the other printers we talked to could either print us a few hundred books—or a few thousand, but couldn’t do both. We decided on using Quarter Master to the logistics warehouse, and then we began doing the print stuff back when Tamer 6 was finished. Within a month or so we had 6 big pallets of Tamer 1-6 all stocked in the warehouse (a pallet is like 1,500 books), and I had extra books to sign and send to you all, and we did the next few Indiegogo and Kickstarter campaigns with like zero problems and relatively quick printing/shipping times.
Then we had a trainwreck with Tamer 7.
According to the news and the printers, COVID/supply chain issues made it really hard to find paper, and then it was hard to find employees, and then it was hard to find truck drivers, etc… There were massive delays in the printing end of this thing. We also had a really bad mix up where my assistant needed to take two weeks off to deal with a family thing, the printers emailed him while he was away, and since he didn’t get back to them in time, we got pushed back a few months in the printing line… sigh…. Then the books were finally printed, I signed them, and then they got lost in transit getting shipped to the logistics warehouse. Double sigh… I obviously didn’t want this thing to take a year, so when I was looking at Tamer 8’s Kickstarter I identified the two breaking points:
1) Using that printing company meant I had all my eggs in one basket, and I couldn’t really pivot if they weren’t getting the work done, and
2) me sending the books to Quartermaster was another place where the process could break since the books were getting loading on a truck another time.
The interesting part about this challenge was that Quartermaster already had the earlier books in the series sitting on the shelf, so the obvious solution that would take care of all these problems is if I could just use whatever “large batch” printer I wanted (of which there are hundreds), send a large order of the latest book to Quartermaster, and then personally show up there to sign the books. This is actually what Robin Sullivan told me I should do many years ago when I talked to her about how she managed her husband Michael Sullivan’s stuff for his Kickstarters. At the time, I thought it was silly to go to the warehouse to sign all the books, but now I see this as just mitigating risk by making sure that less parties touch the books during the process of getting them to you.
We called up Quartermaster, told them our problem, and crossed our fingers that they would say it was okay. Turns out they have plenty of office space in their building, and they would be totally fine with me visiting for a day to sign my books so they could ship them.
Bonus is that they are in Orlando, which is a city I go to 3-4 times a year because my family is addicted to Disneyworld, so it all kind of works out.
So for Tamer 8, we are going to print a large bulk order of 2,000+ books once it’s finished. Since it’s a large order, we have a lot more printers to choose from, and most of these companies can get books printed and shipped within 6 weeks.
I’ll just fly out to Orlando when the shipment of books arrive at Quartermaster, and they’ll pull the book 8’s I need to sign and the book 1-7 I need to sign from existing inventory.
One of my editors lives close to Orlando, so I’ll beg him to drive out and help me move the books across the table to keep the signing stuff quick.
Once I’m done, I’ll hang out with the family at Disneyworld. If all goes according to plan, we should be able to get the printed books signed and shipped within the three-month promised window. Then I can do more Kickstarters and get more Tamers out in 2022.
The only alternative I see to doing this now is doing sticker bookplates. Even though most authors do this, and think I’m weird for actually signing the books, I don’t really like bookplates. I feel as if it cheapens the experience for you guys actually having signed books, since my signature is on the pages of the novel instead of a sticker you just push on there. So I’m doing everything I can to keep from ending up there.
I’m waiting for my artist to finish some stuff, and then we’ll start the Kickstarter. I’m hoping it’s by the end of the month.