Your incredible support resulted in ISOM #1 bringing in over 3.7 million dollars and moving over 60,000 copies of the book. Without you, we could not have seen such immense success as a brand-new independent publisher. However, many are under the impression that we get to pocket that $3.7 million and start buying Lamborghinis, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Here’s a breakdown of how the revenue from the first Rippaverse® campaign will be reinvested into future campaigns and maintain and expand the business moving forward.
As many of you may already know, through previous videos and livestreams, The Rippaverse is 100% private, and therefore we handle our own publishing and distribution. Instead of you, the customer, being the third set of hands that sees the books after a retailer and distributor, we sell directly to you. Every copy of Isom #1, and all subsequent books that will be released, is a book in the hands of our actual paying customers. And while, yes, we have and will continue to work with retailers, both brick-and-mortar and online, who are interested in carrying our books, these make up a fraction of our overall sales and are only roughly 2% of our sales for Isom #1.
Additionally, this company was started with no external investors; this means that all of the up-front costs for starting a business were handled in-house. These up-front costs include the lawyers for the company, website building and maintenance, contractors and employees, warehouse, custom boxes for shipping, and more. Not to mention the artist, colorist, and letterer for the first book, which was also paid for and completed up-front before we even launched the first campaign. These start-up costs amounted to over $200,000 – closer to $300,000 and, as transparency has and will continue to be crucial to our brand, let’s give you more of a look inside how that number was broken down, as well as additional operational costs, and spent across the various expenses.
As quality was something we wanted to emphasize, we chose to print strictly here in America instead of demonstrably cheaper overseas labor, such as in China. With us being a brand-new entity in this space, this also meant that we did not yet have the presence and business history to use as a bargaining chip when making deals with printers. This is no longer the case, and we now have a proven record of success with which we can now have more negotiating power at the table. When we chose to print an additional 50,000 copies of Isom #1 Cover C so that we could have enough backstock moving into the new year, that ran us almost $125,000.
Our new negotiating power also extends to the area of shipping. When we first started this company, as with the matter of printing, we had no presence and, therefore, no bargaining power with the various shipping companies. Now that that’s changed, we can have those conversations with the likes of FedEx, UPS, DHL, and so forth to get lower shipping rates for us, which ultimately means lower shipping costs for you, the customer. Contrary to what some Twitter experts might say, a company losing money on shipping is not unheard of, and, make no mistake, we, in truth, weren’t charging you enough for it. Media mail is not an option for comic books, and we were explicitly told this by USPS. Those custom-made, sturdy boxes that you all loved weren’t cheap, and the additional 62,000 boxes that we ordered to finish the first campaign cost us nearly $30,000.
The most significant expense for any company is its people – payroll, and The Rippaverse is certainly no exception to this rule. Our back-end, day-to-day, creative, and distribution teams currently have around 15 employees and contractors who are all paid competitively (and on time) within their field. In the last fiscal quarter alone, we spent over $350,000 on payroll expenses, which should put into perspective how much of our revenue needs to be reserved for said payroll, especially as we expand.
Your support for the first campaign blew away our expectations, so much so that we outgrew our initial warehouse immediately. That was a great problem to have, and to solve for that, we have begun construction on Warehouse 2.0, a brand-new 10,000-square-foot building that will also serve as Rippaverse® Headquarters. To prevent the space issues that we had initially, we also have baked into our space contract the ability to expand it out further if and when that need should arise. Those upgrades and construction are also running us an addition $180,000. In addition to moving and equipment fees, the rent for a building like ours in this area will easily run at least $15,000 per month.
As we are, first and foremost, a comic book company, we needed to get the ball rolling on future content. And so, just as quickly as we had wrapped up the first campaign, work began on the following projects. 2023 will be a massive year for The Rippaverse, and we currently have three projects in the works, the first of which will be Isom #2. These books are all over 90 pages, and several contractors must be paid before the books are completed. These people include writers, pencilers and inkers (who aren’t always the same person), colorists, letterers, and cover artists. Additionally, the better the talent, the higher the page rate, and between just the writing and art on one of these books, we’ve already spent over $60,000 on it – that’s not including editors and pre-press.
Merchandise costs also factored into our expenses, and we spent over $100,000 on the shirts and hats for the first campaign. The poster shipping tubes alone ran us over $10,000, and the most expensive per-unit items were the lenticular Dokumaan trading cards which ran us $30,000. And lastly, Uncle Sam will always want his cut of our profits.
We hope this provided greater insight into how things run at The Rippaverse and how the various operational costs and the costs of goods sold factor into our business. We pride ourselves on our transparency with our customers and know that we rely on your continued support. To remain autonomous, we must continue making intelligent business decisions with our expenses and reinvest our revenue into this company moving forward. This means we are beholden to providing you, the paying customers and fans, with the quality product you want. Thank you so much for your continued support, and we can’t wait to see you back for the next campaign.
– Andrew Rodriguez – Creative and Social Media Manager