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Crowdfunding Basics

Jeff Montgomery -

Crowdfunding Fulfillment With OneBookShelf

Getting ready to fund your next title through a crowdfunding source such as Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, Crowdfundr, or GameOn Tabletop? We have lots of options to make it easier and more economical for you to deliver your digital and physical rewards to your supporters.

Everything is taken care of right on site. 

When you fulfill with us and complete your order, whether it's print or digital, our customer service team is with you every step of the way around the clock. Our team is efficient, quick to respond, and always available for any questions your customers might have.

One of the benefits of having stellar customer service is that people feel comfortable coming to us for help — which is exactly what we want and what customers want. Whether the customer is unsure of when the order was placed and needs to learn more about the location, or if there is an issue with the coupon you sent to your customer, our Customer Service team sets the bar on service and is always ready to make sure your rewards are fulfilled to every single backer.

Before Your Project

Before you launch your crowdfunding project, we suggest doing adequate research to make sure that all aspects of your project will be covered and that you avoid any snags along the way.

Things to consider:

  • What formats will your title be offered in? Hardcover vs. soft, premium cardstock vs standard, etc.
  • What will be the estimated print cost for each copy?
  • Will you be asking backers to cover all costs up front, or some now and some later?
  • How much time will you need to fulfill your backer rewards?

OneBookShelf research links:

If you have any questions as you work through your pre-launch research, contact us at We’ll be glad to help you out.

Setting Up Your Project

Please allow enough time for fulfillment on each of your reward tiers and your project timeline. We suggest a minimum of six weeks time to prepare for print fulfillment, but you may wish to allow for more, especially if this is your first time using our print programs. It can take a couple iterations of files and proofs to make sure everything is just right.

Even if the print process goes off without a hitch, you’ll still need time for your files to be approved and proof(s) to be ordered, shipped, and reviewed — all of which takes time!


If you’ll be promoting your project and fulfilling your rewards through OneBookShelf, we ask that you include clear wording and also add our "fulfilled by DriveThruRPG" graphic to your page (or the variation on that graphic that's most relevant to your content, such as DriveThruFiction or DriveThruCards). 

You may use any of the images on this page.

Wording Is Key

Regarding print fulfillment, note that Kickstarter in particular does not allow "discounts, coupons, down payments, or vouchers/gift cards with cash equivalencies to be offered as rewards." For this reason, if you plan to have backers pay the print cost of their book or cards using a discount code from OneBookShelf, you must be sure to note on your campaign page that backers will receive a print book or deck of cards, not a voucher or coupon for a print book or deck of cards.

Note: To be clear, this concern applies only to fulfillment where customers pay for their own print copies of the book(s) and/or card(s) in question. (See "1. Backers Process Their Own Orders" under Shipping and Payment Options, below.) 

To that end, here is some boilerplate text you can use: 

  • "As thanks for your support, you'll receive a PDF copy of [your-title]";

or, if you prefer more detail,

  • "OPTIONAL DISCOUNTED PRINT-ON-DEMAND VERSION – For this campaign, you will have the option of using OneBookShelf’s Print-On-Demand (POD) service to purchase a physical, printed copy of the books and/or cards included in your list of rewards directly from their POD partners at discounted cost. When the POD versions are available to order (sometime after the books/cards have gone to print), you will receive links to purchase these versions of the books/cards from OneBookShelf." 

If you are using a service other than Kickstarter for crowdfunding, such as Crowdfundr or IndieGoGo, you are responsible for making sure that you use of our tools does not break any rules of that platform. 

Promoting Your Project

Now that your crowdfunding project is underway, it’s time to get the word out!

While on-site advertising is reserved for those titles actively available for sale in our marketplace, you can contact Publisher Services to have an email sent out to your OneBookShelf customers to alert them to your crowdfunding project.

(Note, "your OneBookShelf customers" refers to customers who are already on your mailing list because they've downloaded titles from you before. If you're a new publisher and this is your first crowdfunded campaign, then you'll need to supply your own mailing list to take advantage of this service.)

Here are the requirements for project promotion emails:

  • You may have us send up to two emails via OneBookShelf’s customer email tool during your campaign (usually one at the beginning and sometimes one at the end).
  • Crowdfunding promotion messages will be sent as soon as possible, but please allow ample time for them to be sent, with at least 2 business days' notice.
  • Only projects being fulfilled through OneBookShelf may be promoted via customer email.
  • OneBookShelf reserves the right to deny that any email be sent for any reason.

Want to promote in other ways? You are more than welcome to create a free download as a sample to use in conjunction with your campaign, and may include a link to your crowdfunding project in the purchase notes for that title for the duration of the campaign. 

Fulfilling Your Digital Rewards

Why use OneBookShelf to deliver your digital files to your backers?

  • It’s FREE!
  • We’re set up to handle thousands of backers.
  • Security. Every backer gets their own unique redemption code.
  • Backers appreciate it. Many backers already have accounts and digital libraries at DriveThruRPG / OneBookShelf, and they appreciate having their new PDF added to their existing digital library.
  • Updates are easy. As your files go from alpha to beta to final, you can easily update the file and push new versions out to your backers.

If you have a large number of backers, our Complimentary Copy Tool features the ability to paste in a list of emails or upload a CSV file your backers into a Group and then send to that Group.

Where to Find It: Click “Send Complimentary Copies” under “PROMOTION” on the publisher hub.

When sending Complimentary Copies to customers, whether they are digital or print on demand, there are a few key piece of information to remember when communicating with your customers. 

My customer didn't get their digital comp copy.

When a publisher sends a large comp copy mailing, not every customer will get an email from our server due to variances in spam filtering. When updating your customers on the sending of their digital rewards, you should be notifying them as soon as it has finished sending.

You can use the following boilerplate: 

We’ve sent out the digital reward through DriveThruRPG. You should have now received an email with instructions for claiming the reward. If the email does not arrive, please check your spam folder for it. 

If you still do not have the email, and you do have a DriveThruRPG account (under the email you provided us with your backer pledge), then you can go to this page:

You'll find the free download link in your notification inbox there.

If you don’t have the email and you do not have a DriveThruRPG account, then you contact us. We have a log of everyone’s unique download code.

Fulfilling Your Physical Rewards

Physical rewards require some planning and time to make sure that everything looks excellent before being shipped out to backers. As mentioned previously, we suggest a minimum of SIX WEEKS be allowed to prepare your print versions; you must allow time to upload and submit your file and then have it go through a pre-media check (books only), then have a proof copy shipped to you for review (books and cards).

REMEMBER: Even the most experienced publishers occasionally see things in their early proof they would like to correct before having copies sent to backers, which requires the process to be started over again.

Shipping and Payment Options

If you will be printing your books or cards through OneBookShelf, you may choose to either cover the cost of printing and shipping as a part of your crowdfunding project, or pass a portion of the cost on to the customer. Publishers have been using OneBookShelf in three different ways so far:

1. Backers Process Their Own Orders: During your crowdfunding, you specify in your project that backers are supporting you for a lower amount because they will need to later pay the base printing and shipping costs of the book or cards via OneBookShelf. (They effectively buy the books/cards — but at cost — from us, plus pay their own shipping.)

When your book or cards are proofed and ready, you can use the Complimentary Copy tool to send your backers a discount that allows them to purchase the print format of your title at the cost of printing. Each customer then inputs his or her own address and pays shipping charges during checkout. This means your backers pay the absolute base print cost plus our shipping charges (which are the actual rates, not inflated), but you put the onus of having the correct shipping address on your customers and do not have to handle fulfillment beyond sending the comp copy link to your backers.

With this approach, note that the customer could increase their quantity ordered in their Shopping Cart and buy multiple copies of your book or cards, all at cost. However, in practice, publishers using this method have not seen this practice abused.

Note: Be sure to note in your campaign that customers will receive a print copy of the book(s)/card(s) in question, not a coupon or voucher for said books/cards. (See "Wording Is Key" under Setting Up Your Project, above.)

2. You Process the Orders on OneBookShelf: If you’d rather embed the cost of printing and shipping in your crowdfunding campaign, you may ship out copies to your backers (again, at cost) as if you were purchasing them as proofs for yourself, but selecting that group of backers as the shipping recipients.

You can process the orders with a few simple clicks through the Send Complimentary Copy tool. When you select this tool under PROMOTION on your Publisher Hub, you will be able to design the order and then select one of your groups (you can edit, delete, and add your backer information into a CSV file for upload) and then send them off to your backers.

You will be charged for the print cost + shipping of each order into one final cost.

3. You Order in Bulk and Fulfill Shipments Yourself (or through a fulfillment service): If you’d rather handle all of the shipping on your own, or if you have other rewards you need to combine in your shipments, then you can easily order multiple copies of your title to be delivered to you, so that you can then repackage and ship them out to backers on your own.

Considering a bulk order? One advantage to this method is that you have the possibility to qualify for bulk discounts on books and high-volume discounts on cards if you have a large enough order. We do suggest weighing the savings of bulk discounts + shipping + re-shipping versus processing each order individually on OneBookShelf.

My customer received a damaged POD book.

If the customer receives a damaged book, we are happy to replace it. To do so, we will need the following information:

  1. The order number;
  2. The email address and the mailing address of the customer; 
  3. The damaged book's Batch ID number (found on the second-to-last page on the bottom left corner of the print copy); and
  4. Pictures of the damaged book(s).

The customer can contact Customer Service to issue a replacement copy.

My customer didn't receive their physical book/cards and their address is incorrect

OneBookShelf is not responsible for replacing print-on-demand books or cards if the customer's address is given incorrectly. Please make sure to double- (and triple!) check addresses with your backers, or you will be responsible for paying for replacements.

We will, however, replace books/cards that did not make it to the address entered, that are damaged, or  that are printed incorrectly. 

My customer didn't receive their physical book and their address is correct.

We ask that your customer waits at least 45 days from the time the order was placed (or 60 days oif the order was to be shipped to Australia) before contacting us. Our printer will not issue a replacement until 45 days (or 60 for Australia) have passed. Shipping and printing delays occur for a variety of reasons.

Once sufficient time has passed, we need the following information:

  1. The order number, and 
  2. The email and mailing addresses of the customer (to confirm we are sending it to the right place). 

My book has some errors, but I already sent out the print-on-demand (POD) comp copies. Can I upload a new version for them to receive instead?

No, POD orders begin processing the same day you submit them. The process is highly automated and there’s no cancelling orders once placed.

I put in the wrong address for a customer.

We are happy to try and change the address for the customer, but we have a small window of time to do so. Book orders are dispatched to our printer twice a day. If you contact us immediately, we will do our best to change the address, but there are no guarantees. 

How to Determine Shipping for Several Countries

We’ve made it easier for you to get shipping estimates to most major destination countries for your crowdsourcing campaigns. You can now use the “Send complimentary copy” tool to upload the customer CSV file below to a “Group” and then generate the current freight cost of shipping to your backers in each country. This CSV file contains the random residential addresses to the most popular locations of shipping print-on-demand rewards.

Our current implementation of this bulk ship cost estimator requires that you have a similar-sized book or card deck that is print-ready (i.e., one that has passed the printer's premedia checks) already present in your publisher account before utilizing this process. (At some point, we plan to offer a dedicated tool that won’t require a print-ready book to function.)

  1. Download the CSV here: shippingcostcheck_ver8.csv
  2. Create a new Group here: importing the CSV file to create the group.
  3. Once the CSV is uploaded into Groups, you can navigate back to the Titles tab of the Complimentary Copy tool:
  4. Select the title(s) and format on which you’d like to estimate freight. 
  5. Select how many copies of each title, if applicable. Click Next
  6. Choose the new CSV group that you recently created under the Recipients tab. 
  7. Hit Next on the top right corner and wait for the system to calculate freight and for the payment page to load.
  8. You will now see the following page. You can toggle to show the shipping details on or off. By default, the details will be hidden. 
  9. On the right, you will see the estimated freight cost to that country. 
  10. If you do not plan on finishing, exit the tool and do not hit Review Order.

Notes on Freight Rates to Certain Countries


The freight rates for books (not cards) shipping into Canada can vary based on two factors.

The first factor is that there are roughly three groups of freight pricing within Canada based on region. These are provided as canada1, canada2, and canada3 in the example CSV file.

Canada1 includes Southern Ontario and Quebec.

Canada2 covers everywhere else in Canada except the more remote locations of Canada3, below.

Canada3 represents Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, and the Yukon.

The second factor is the carrier, which also then determines if Canadian customs are pre-paid or not. Books are printed in the US and shipped into Canada by two different carriers. Sending complimentary copies will automatically choose the less expensive carrier option.

The first carrier is regular post, handed off from USPS to Canada Post. This is usually the cheapest method for small, light book shipments to the Canada2 region and nearly all shipments to the Canada3 region. Recipients may be required to pay duty and duty-processing fees when receiving their shipments from Canada Post.

The second carrier option is Purolator (a Canadian parcel delivery company). This option is used for the majority of shipments into Canada. Under this option, part of the freight rate includes pre-payment of the 5% duty on imported books; however, this way, the books are cleared through customs so there is no duty or duty-processing fee due from the recipient at delivery.

To calculate this 5% duty and include it in the freight rate, our system uses the selling price you have set for your book(s) on site. This is why the freight prices you see estimated for Canada will often vary according to the total site price set for all books in your shipment.


Book freight estimates to Brazil tend to be high because only premium, trackable shipping methods are possible. Less expensive, untracked shipments to Brazil suffered high rates of being lost in the Brazilian postal service, so we ship only via trackable methods to Brazil.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do I need to fulfill my crowdfunding project via OneBookShelf in order to email my customers via my publisher tools and alert them to the project?

A: Yes. You must be fulfilling at least the digital portion of the project through OneBookShelf if you intend to notify your customers via OneBookShelf customer email.

Q: Is crowdfunding fulfillment considered a violation of my exclusive contract?

A: No, but we do expect that titles fulfilled to backers through OneBookShelf by exclusive publishers will thereafter be sold exclusively as normal.

Q: Is there a charge to send out complimentary copies of digital files to my backers?

A: No, there is no charge for this service to you or your backers.


You may use any of the images below on your crowd-funding page as appropriate to how you will fulfill or print your product.

Books are printed in USA and the UK.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Cards are currently only printed in USA, so the first image below applies only to book shipping.











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