Sponsorship Notes on “TLS Mastery”

Here’s the heap of TLS Mastery sponsorship gifts, awaiting my poor postman.

43 packages on my front porch

I get asked about how sponsorships work, so I’m going to record a few notes here.

37 print sponsors at $100 each, plus 55 ebook sponsors at $25 each? In traditional publishing, we would call that an “advance.”

Except that I have to pay to purchase and mail the rewards. When I first tried sponsorships back in 2016, I calculated I’d have to pay about $10 for shipping for each print sponsor. Surely most of my sponsors would be in the US, not overseas.

I was so. Very. Wrong.

Over half of my sponsors are outside the US. Average shipping is $19. The print sponsorship is profitable, but I spend just under 40% of the sponsorship on fulfillment. I’m pondering if I want to go to the trouble of adding shipping costs to print sponsorships. The most expensive places to ship are Australia (for obvious reasons) and Israel (for inexplicable reasons, it’s right next to Europe, what the heck). Plus, there are occasional predictable failures.

I could raise the price. Going over $100 feels like it would be excessive, though.

I could integrate a shipping API, get an estimated cost, and charge $90 plus shipping. I’m not sure how such APIs react to “get a quote now and fulfill six months later,” however. I suspect Woocommerce would throw a wobbler. One reason I do sponsorships is because they’re pretty easy. This makes sponsorships more fragile. Also, my readers were voted “Most Likely To Habitually Evade Geolocation And Not Even Think About It” four years running.

I could add a note to the checkout that says “If you’re from outside the US, I’d appreciate a few extra bucks for shipping.” But I’m already asking for money for no good reason.

So, for now, things stay the same. If Australia develops Mad Lucas Disease and starts sponsoring like fiends, that might well change.

About 10% of sponsorships require a second contact. I have to drop the sponsor a note saying “Hey, USPS says your address doesn’t exist and Google Earth shows it’s an empty field in Wyoming, can you confirm?” Most often the answer is “yes, I live in a giant empty field, use my PO Box instead.” Clearly, anyone who sponsors me is probably unusual in more than one way.

I occasionally get someone who sponsored a book twice and I didn’t catch it, so I have to find out how to satisfy them. It might be a refund, perhaps another book stuffed in the envelope, whatever.

Each book gets more sponsors than the one before. I attribute this to the sponsors mailing list.

If you’re thinking of doing this: set up a real shipping operation. Buy waterproof bubble mailers. Get a tape gun. Get an online postage account (I use Shippo). Set aside a bunch of time. When I hit 50 print sponsors, I’m hiring a neighbor kid to package stuff as I sign and investigating a mailing label printer.

Sponsorships on DNSSEC Mastery, 2nd Edition will probably open in June.

One Reply to “Sponsorship Notes on “TLS Mastery””

  1. “anyone who sponsors me is probably unusual in more than one way”

    I’ll take that as a compliment 🙂

    “Sponsorships on DNSSEC Mastery, 2nd Edition will probably open in June.”

    Count me in. Paper version.

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