The World of Warcraft Diary

Created by John Staats

If you missed Kickstarter's most-funded nonfiction book in history, you can order it here! The WoW Diary was written by the game's first level designer and covers the story behind making Vanilla WoW. With over 130 behind-the-scenes images and 336 full-color pages, it is the must-have book about game development.

Latest Updates from Our Project:

Every Gear has Teeth
3 months ago – Tue, Jun 11, 2019 at 01:56:03 AM

We are finally inside the Amazon machine. I've been busy with their customer service and parsing their Sellers Marketplace Interface. 

The short story: We are waiting for amazon to fully "receive" the inventory that arrived in May. When it becomes available, then I can upload the list of addresses for replacement Kickstarter rewards.

I can't upload a bulk order of replacement books until all my inventory is "received." This happens when the items in the Reserved column move to the Available column. Every day, a few more shift over. It's maddening slow exercise, like melting chocolate on a stove without burning it.
I can't upload a bulk order of replacement books until all my inventory is "received." This happens when the items in the Reserved column move to the Available column. Every day, a few more shift over. It's maddening slow exercise, like melting chocolate on a stove without burning it.

The long story:  I suspect one of the factors in delaying availability is because Kickstarter rewards aren't sold on Amazon, that I'm using a service called multi-channel fulfillment. Of course, none of Amazon's operators know for sure if this is true, they all say it's usually supposed to take 5 days (I've spent as many as 6 hours a day on the phone, trying figure this out). 

Amazon is so vast, there's just no simple way to understand how the seller marketplace works. Some of the functionality isn't apparent until you're actually using it, and only then do limitations and persnickety particulars surface. Several pages aren't even reachable through their normal UI! For instance, the only link to the webpage for uploading bulk orders is embedded in Amazon's help manual. Unreal, right? 

By fulfilling orders for my post-campaign store thewowdiary.com, Amazon automatically listed for sale The WoW Diary without my knowledge. My book appeared last week without any fanfare. Talk about a soft-launch, I didn't even know about it! De-listing it didn't work, it just appeared again.  

Oddly enough, I need to activate a Kindle seller account to sell the eBook or PDF. I'm waiting for them to approve of my new account before figuring out if I can sell a PDF on Amazon. For some reason they're fussy about PDFs. 

And wouldn't you just know it, Amazon will not deliver a bulk order of books to Canada. It's the darnedest thing. I don't even know if Canadians pay extra for import fees. If you see extra delivery charges (or unavailability) to the Amazon listing of The WoW Diary, please let me know in the comments below. I'll see what I can do to reduce the price by creating other Amazon accounts and shipping books to their overseas fulfillment centers.

Delivery Breakthroughs
4 months ago – Thu, May 09, 2019 at 03:09:02 AM

After another month of ups and downs I'm finally comfortable with my delivery dates. I'm fulfilling two shipments. 

Overseas Fulfillment

The first is replacing missing Kickstarter copies abroad and delivering presale orders (purchased between November through May). I could go into great detail about Amazon's crazy specificity, but I'm sick of thinking about all the hoops I've jumped through these past two months. My printer is currently putting my self-contained packages inside of larger cartons. In 10 business days everything will be packaged and labeled. 

From there, we need to weight each pallet before ordering a bill of lading! Once I have a bill of lading, a truck will pick up the shipment and delivery them to the nearest Amazon fulfillment center. I'm hoping this only takes a few days, I've zero experience with this. From there, Amazon claims it takes two weeks to propagate inventory overseas. THEN you'll get emails for tracking and enjoy Amazon's the normal delivery service. June is looking solid. 

 US Fulfillment

I'm cutting some corners with customers in the States. I unpacked book cartons and wrapped them individually in my living room. It took 5 days and 18 rolls of packing tape to prepare domestic deliveries. It wasn't exciting work, so I binged-watched the best seasons of Survivor on Hulu while I did so. 

My tiny dining room cannot contain the unpacked books.
My tiny dining room cannot contain the unpacked books.

"When will US deliveries happen?" you may ask.

The short answer: US deliveries should be arriving within two weeks. I'm delivering books tomorrow to a local mailing house. The trade-off in eschewing Amazon was losing tracking, but I figure it's worth it.

The long answer: You'd think arranging a pickup for a bulk order through the US postal service would be smooth sailing, at least compared to the persnickety rigors of Amazon. Unfortunately, post offices and UPS stores limit their labeling to batches of 20 items/day. Labels are important because there's a different cost per address. Since my only hurdle was labeling, I turned to the USPS online apps to do everything myself. I created a business profile and began processing a bulk order. All was well until their app rejected my csv file with the address data. I went into debug mode. I once had the distinction of having fixed more bugs than anyone in Blizzard's history (I doubt I still hold this record), so when I get my debug mode on, you better keep your hands and fingers clear. After many phone calls, the United States Postal Service admitted I discovered a fundamental hiccup with their website's import functionality for batch jobs! That's right, csv files were being rejected nation-wide and the US post office didn't know about it (or so they said) until I got their lead support personnel to reproduce the error on their end! It's hard to believe that I'm the guy who was tenacious enough to wade through their phone menus and support staff to actually find such a glaring breakdown in our national post. I wouldn't believe it, if I hadn't been on the calls myself. 

Since there was no fix on the horizon, I installed software on my PC that would let me print labels at home...only to discover that the software in question didn't process "bound printed matter" mail rates. After a few more calls to the USPS, someone suggested using a local mailing house that could label bulk orders. They are more expensive than the post office, but I couldn't stand anymore delays. I received a couple quotes today, and tonight I'm finally loading up my vehicle for a trip to the mailing house. I just gotta remember to life with my legs.

Ah, the literary life! 

Last month's drama entailed manufacturing these cardboard wraps. They've since been delivered to my apartment and "processed" in my living room. I hope I can haul them to the mailing house in only a couple trips. Three cheers for new tires!
Last month's drama entailed manufacturing these cardboard wraps. They've since been delivered to my apartment and "processed" in my living room. I hope I can haul them to the mailing house in only a couple trips. Three cheers for new tires!

Beware of the Letter M
5 months ago – Wed, Apr 10, 2019 at 07:14:04 PM

With about 100 people on my "missing packages list," I took a poll a few weeks ago. I emailed all 40 of my Polish backers to see what they thought about waiting longer or getting replacements. Surprisingly, the majority said to give their original packages a longer wait to reach their doorstep. So I waited. In the past month, I've had 3 Slovenian backers report of their deliveries (Poland and Slovenia had the most missing deliveries)...so there's a modicum of hope still for our friends in Western Europe. But still, it's been over three months and too many people haven't received their rewards. 

I decided to move forward and replace the "lost" packages anyway. To do so, I needed protective packaging for 100+ more books and so ordered a short print run of packages that will hopefully protect our wares from Amazon's toothsome fulfillment process. So I placed an order to my printer.

What I didn't know is that the "m" key mutes gmail conversations (who knew?!) and it prevented me from seeing further messages from my printer. They sent me a couple questions and I didn't see their emails. They waited and sent more emails, again unbeknownst to me. Weeks passed after I discovered their messages saying they weren't moving forward with my packaging order until I got back to them. 

This email debacle untangled only last week. I answered the printer's questions and now they can move forward. In about 7 business days I'll have new packages wrapped around our replacement rewards. Then I can order labels from Amazon to apply to the packages. Once the labels are applied, we can order a truck to deliver them to Amazon. From there it takes a few weeks for Amazon to send the packages to where they are supposed to be, which means the missing books will arrive in May.

Presale Deliveries 

I've been holding back deliveries of Amazon editions (out of respect to the 1% of Kickstarter with missing packages), but I can't hold off anymore. The reason why is I'm bombarded with confused presale customers who bought the book in December who are wondering where there purchases went. It's confusing things on my end (separating Kickstarter and presale fulfillment). So some Kickstarter backers might get their reward at the same time standard edition customers get theirs. It's the nature of international delivery. The good news from this decision is that everyone will receive emails from Amazon that allows them to track their shipment. 

That's the newest news!  

Things Learned
7 months ago – Fri, Mar 08, 2019 at 12:01:12 AM

You Guys Rock

When I'm juggling things (more on this below) it's easy to forget all the good vibes I'm getting from you guys. Yesterday it dawned on my that I never related in my updates how helpful, informative, and supporting my backers have been. You guys are truly terrific people and I'd like to thank you. Your emails are filled with encouragement and appreciation, and I've not yet reflected this in these updates. Even the presale customers (who are waiting for their books too) have been 100% understanding. 

The response to yesterday's update was more of the same, and the aggregate feedback paints the first picture of what's happening with the mystery behind international shipping...and I'd like to share that with you today. 

EU Shipping

EU Superbackers have told me that it's not unusual for Kickstarter rewards to take a few months to get from the USA to Eastern European and Scandinavia countries. Because we Kickstarter creators aren't using our own propriety fulfillment channel, we might be receiving a more vigorous customs inspection. That might just be a tinfoil hat theory, but it sounds plausible. Someone from Cracow confirmed he waited 4 months for a Kickstarter card game to arrive from America. His research showed the package spent 6 weeks inside the Polish local mail service before arriving at his address. 

Maybe I was naive to expect a 2-month delivery window. Some lucky ducks get their rewards early but many don't. The good news and the bad news is the same: while your packages aren't lost, they're just going to take a lot longer to be delivered. 

I've learned a lot since yesterday. You can still email me about your undelivered package, but it's probably not necessary. ;)

Preorders, Amazon, and You

One of the aforementioned balls I was juggling was communicating with presale customers. They are the post-Kickstarter purchasers who ordered their books through the Backerkit presale store at thewowdiary.com, and there's a growing (and understandable) confusion with my updates. Many think I'm asking them to email me about undelivered packages. I can't tell the difference between backers and presale customers until I lookup their account profile, so there's a growing amount of confusion that has me concerned. 

While we're waiting for worldwide shipments, I'd like to avoid future confusion by unifying everyone into one delivery channel, Amazon. It's faster and it's the only way I can provide tracking (yay!) for backers who'll need replacement books for whatever reason. 

  • I'll set-up my Amazon Seller Account to receive inventory and my printer will prepare the shipments.
  • My printer will engage a shipping company to delivery books to an Amazon fulfillment center.
  • Amazon will need to propagate the inventory to overseas fulfillment centers.

I don't know how long this will take but I think I'll get the ball rolling in a couple weeks. Having not sold on Amazon before, I'm not 100% sure this is a reasonable plan until I hear back from their customer support. I'm hoping I'll be able to 1) quickly replace missing or damaged Kickstarter rewards, 2) fulfill my presale orders, and 3) sell standard editions of The WoW Diary

If anyone has thoughts on the matter, I'm all ears! Post comments below or email me at john@whenitsready.com

Thanks!

Shipping Problems and Solutions
7 months ago – Thu, Mar 07, 2019 at 12:06:54 AM

Hi Gang. If you're already enjoying The WoW Diary, you can ignore this message. 

This update is only about delivering the original Kickstarter rewards. PRESALE orders haven't shipped yet. If you ordered after the Kickstarter please sit tight. I'll ship your books after Kickstarter backers are taken care of.   ;)

Ah, yes, shipping!  While some overseas customers complained about shipping prices, some warned me I wasn't charging enough! I now know why. 

I've finally received word back from my printer's rep how IMEX works, and she describes the process in unflattering terms. Basically, IMEX only delivers to each nation's mail system. The packages become part of "an ocean of other mail sacks..." so there's no possible way to trace their whereabouts. So why did I use IMEX in the first place?  The company that had originally agreed to distribute our overseas rewards stopped returning messages during the holidays. Since our packages were ready to ship, I fell back to IMEX, my printer's worldwide partner. My printer uses IMEX regularly, but never to so many individual addresses. 

The only other shipping options were to pay $60-72 for each overseas package which I obviously couldn't afford (and STILL didn't offer tracking) or use our good friends at Amazon. I passed on Amazon because other Kickstarter creators and ex-Amazon workers warned me that the company's rough treatment of packages would surely damage our inventory. At the time, it seemed Amazon was our worst option, but I'm beginning to suspect that was not the case.  

What to do. If your package hasn't arrived yet... 

It seems like some overseas Kickstarter packages were either lost or delayed. I'm especially concerned about packages to Poland because, so far, I've had no confirmation that any package has been delivered there. If you haven't received your Kickstarter reward, please send an email to john@whenitsready.com to give me an idea how many backers are without their rewards. If anyone received their package recently (this week, etc.), it would helpful if you could post a comment below that it has arrived. (If you haven't got the book yet, please use email.) 

Sending replacement packages is the right thing to do if the original reward was lost...but if these packages were only delayed that means backers will need to return it back (which is expensive). Replacing books that are only delayed could also deplete my replacement copies of the Kickstarter Edition, depending on how many packages are errant. Our other option is to wait longer (which isn't acceptable because it's been so long already). 

First I'm going to give backers a chance to email me. I need to know how many people are actually missing their Kickstarter rewards. If you've already emailed me, you don't need to do this, I've already got your name and order noted on my handy, yellow legal pad. If there are enough backers who're missing rewards, I'm likely going to use Amazon for replacements, as it's the only service that offers anything in terms of tracking. 

Thanks for being patient, guys!