Updated: Aug 19, 2021
My Kickstarter campaign for The Train Rolls On officially ended on November 5th, 2020, but it wasn't until this past weekend that my family and I finally got to start putting together the campaign reward packages. This article provides a behind-the-scenes look at what it took to plan, collaborate, package, and ship the reward packages to our many wonderful backers.
Believe it or not, the planning phase of fulfilling the campaign reward packages has been underway since before the campaign commenced last fall. However, things have really ramped-up over the last 4 months or so. Besides assisting Christina Wald and David Miles with finalizing the book's illustrations and design, I have largely spent the last 4 months preparing for "Fulfillment Day." This process included completing the following tasks:
Creating and sending backer surveys
Gathering backer shipping addresses and other reward fulfillment information
Organizing fulfillment and shipping information into spreadsheets
Designing various reward items, to include the custom activity and coloring books, sticker sheets, refrigerator magnets, animal fact cards, bookmarks, and thank you cards
Ordering the individual reward items and required shipping materials
Finalizing and uploading book files to multiple print-on-demand services
Ordering, reviewing, tweaking, and approving proof copies of the book
Hardcover Book Arrival
Earlier this month, on a quiet Saturday afternoon, I received a pleasant surprise from one very hardworking UPS driver: 12 boxes containing 300 hardcover copies of The Train Rolls On! After waiting this long, it hardly seemed real. The books were finally here!
The excitement quickly wore off when I decided to check each box of books for damage and/or printing errors and discovered defective books in one of the first boxes that I opened:
I was initially horrified, thinking "What am I going to do with 300 red books?" Thankfully, upon further inspection, only a handful of books were actually defective, and IngramSpark quickly resolved the issue and replaced the books for free. Phew! Thank you, IngramSpark!
Once the hardcover books had arrived, I quickly got to work finalizing preparations for Fulfillment Day. These preparations included the following:
Shooting and editing two video readings of the book and posting them to YouTube to fulfill the campaign's Stretch Goal #1
Creating an exclusive web page with bonus resources for crowdfunding backers
Autographing approximately 100 hardcover books
Writing personalized thank you notes
Creating and printing shipping labels
This past Saturday, my family and I convened in Omaha for what can only be described as a fun-filled reward packaging party! 😊 It took a small army (4-5 of us) approximately 6 hours (and nearly 3 pizzas) to organize, collaborate, and package 73 rewards, but we did it...and I am so grateful for all of their help! In fact, I'm not sure what I would've done without them! At this point, we still have to fulfill the paperback book and digital reward packages, but we are nearly 85% there!
Going into Saturday, I felt like I was as prepared and as organized as I could possibly be, but, somehow, the fulfillment process still seemed chaotic at times. We had reward items sprawled out on every counter, the kitchen table, and the floor. There were boxes, envelopes, bubble wrap, and books everywhere. It was crazy!
Between the 5 of us, we formed a sort of assembly line where the packages were filled, checked, weighed, and sealed. Shipping labels were applied, spreadsheets were updated, and the completed packages were stacked by the front door, where they awaited pick-up by USPS on Monday. It was quite the process just to get it done!
Afterward, we were all pretty exhausted, so we celebrated our big accomplishment with a nice family dinner at perhaps the most appropriate restaurant in town...Railcar. Get it? (I actually didn't plan to celebrate at a train-themed restaurant, but, after realizing it, the setting was too fitting to let it go unnoticed.) We had a wonderful meal and a great time, and Avery got to enjoy some well-deserved ice cream! What's more celebratory than that?
The Best Part
It has been less than 5 days since we shipped out the bulk of the crowdfunding rewards, but we have already received multiple pictures, videos, texts, and emails from family and friends who have received their reward packages. Seeing and hearing about kids' first experiences with the book makes me so proud and so happy! It's incredibly satisfying to know that others are finally getting to enjoy the book that we created. After all, that's a big reason why we started this journey in the first place!
In the end, none of it would be possible without Kickstarter. Without each of my 117 crowdfunding backers, I wouldn't have a book to share with the world. As a result, I am deeply grateful for their support and belief in me and this book! Organizing and running a successful crowdfunding campaign was no joke. It required a lot more time and effort than I anticipated, but it was an incredibly rewarding experience, and I learned a lot about myself and the strength of my support network! I am a very, very fortunate girl! It might be a while before I decide to run another crowdfunding campaign, but never say never...😁
For a more detailed preview of the book, check out my blog article entitled A Sneak Peek Inside The Train Rolls On here. For more information about my Kickstarter campaign, read my Kickstarter Recap article here.