If first you don’t succeed….

If you’ve been following the SULLIVAN’S SLUGGERS controversy—catch up here and here—you know that writer Mark Andrew Smith has gotten a lot of criticism over his handling of the fulfillment of last year’s $97k Kickstarter for the story about a minor league baseball team going up against a monster invasion. Among the problems: stores got copies before paying customers, international customers still hadn’t gotten theirs, and artist James Stokoe has disavowed the book, prompting writer Smith to accuse him of ending his marriage via stress among other things.

Last month Smith started a second Kickstarter for SULLIVAN’S SLUGGERS, with the stated goal of raising money to pay for international shipping on the first kickstarter. The mechanism for this was simply selling MORE copies of SULLIVAN’S SLUGGERS, which goes against the general rules of Kickstarter. Amid outcry, the campaign was suspended a few days in.

But now Smith is back with an Indiegogo campaignto raise the international shipping money

The book grew in size/uprgrades to an omnibus edition and the costs of shipping (3.5 lbs) jumped up a lot with the extra weight.  International shipping prices from the USPS skyrocketed this year as well.  

I  didn't freight directly from China to the UK, EU, and AU which would have saved a lot of time and money and now I have to freight the books from California to these destinations.  All of these factors added up to a huge price jump.  

I need to raise more funds to get the book to international backers.  That's where you come in.

The campaign is asking for $16,000—just how many international copies did he sell anyway? Well, let’s do some spitballing. Admittedly, it is expensive to ship a 3.5 lb book overseas—perhaps as much as $40. So $16,000 would ship 400 books, and if you look at the original Kickstarter under “International edition” there are 387 orders—so that kinda checks out. Except that in the same price bracket are people who chose to get a print with their copy of the book, so we’ll never know just how many of those 387 are international and how many are orders for a print.

It’s clear that the new campaign is also geared towards selling more copies of the book: Smith’s Indiegogo includes the same level of retailer orders as the last Kickstarter—$500 gets you 24 copies of the book, $1000 gets you a 60-pack.

Meanwhile, some purchasers took to Twitter to complain:

According to his Twitter feed, White is from Newfoundland, so this would come under the dreaded international orders.

This whole matter doesn’t seem to be getting cleaned up any time soon. After Smith’s mishandling of the earlier campaign, at the very least he could be more transparent about how much money he needs to raise for international shipping. And those customers who paid for their books should get them, regardless.

More to come, we’re sure….


  1. Who cares? Let’s all just complain about a company POSSIBLY killing off a character. Never mind people actually getting ripped off.

  2. Like James White, I live in Canada, (but not in Newfoundland) and the cost to ship goods here from California is not nearly as expensive as to ship overseas. To FedEx a 3.5 lb parcel from here to Beverly Hills 90201 costs $21. To mail it is $26.
    To FedEx 3.5 lbs from here to London England is $138, postal mail is $23 (twenty three dollars)
    There is something vague and nontransparent about this latest money request. Surely he could bulk ship many books together, or negotiate a better ulk rate.
    Buyer beware of this situation, especially non US buyers. He is asking his patrons to subsidize his mistakes.

  3. OOH OOH OOH If I say Mark Andrew Smith’s name 3 times in this comment will he appear and accuse me of being part of the massive comics conspiracy to ruin his entire life?

  4. This is what poor planning and exectution will do. I feel for those who contributed in good faith for a copy and have yet to receive it. There’s a abundance of info about how to best calculate amounts/rewards for Kickstarter, so Smith has no excuse for all these snafus. The kickstarter money must first go to fulfillment, then what’s left over is up to him to use as he wants. It seems that he inverted that and now expects new readers to foot that bill. Sad.

  5. See, this was a mishandled campaign from the start, the guy did no research and basically fucked-up. So instead of a very small cult book well received by a bunch of people who know, with thepotential to bepicked up by a major publisher, it is now a ho-hum book that people can’t be bothered to read as it’s too much trouble to get ahold of.

  6. does Kickstarter offer any protections for backers who never receive what they pay for? I mean they do take your money, so they’d have to be involved somehow right?

  7. @Chris – they don’t. It is one of the many problems with kickstarter. There is 0 accountability once something funds. I’ve only ever backed 1 and 3 years later I’m still waiting for that artist to deliver even 1 issue of the supposed 3 issue series his campaign was supposed to fund creation of. After that experience I decided to stay away.

    Funny thing is that I almost got back in for Sullivan’s sluggers.

  8. I think before anyone gives this guy another dime, he should provide an accounting of exactly where every penny of that $97,000 went. If he legitimately spent all of the money on printing and rewards and came up short, I think people may give him the benefit of the doubt and kick in more. If he used it to pay other bills, well, that’s not anyone who wants their rewards’ problem, and he should have to find other ways to make up that shortcoming. And yeah, you can say his personal finances are nobody’s business, but as soon as he started taking people’s money, they became those people’s business, for sure. Especially since he apparently used their money to print extra copies to send to stores. Shouldn’t THAT profit be enough to cover this international shipping fiasco?

  9. So where exactly did that 97k go then?

    And regarding indiegogo- the projects there all have to be carried through whether funding goals are met or not. At the rate he’s going, this will just amount to digging even more of a hole for himself., though I’d already classify him as Olney status.

  10. Where did the 97k go? There really wouldn’t be much left over…

    25-30k go straight to paying taxes–this is considered income
    10k to amazon and kickstarter fees
    25-30k in printing (this was probably a better idea to not print a slipcased omnibus)

    Likely what’s left over accounts for shipping and packaging and any other extra the campaign offered. He probably paid his rent as well along the way.

  11. It’s a serious dearth of planning followed up by a serious lack of communication.

    Observing Kickstarter (and Indiegogo) over the years taught me you cannot plan for everything going into one of these projects, but you should always be open and communicate the real progress to you backers. In my experience, backers can be very understanding as long as they know the progress even as the initial deadlines fade in the rear view mirror.

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