The Kickstarter Thread

edited June 2013 in The Toolbox
This is for those who have done successful Kickstarter campaigns or who are considering a Kickstarter in the near future.

I've been advised by someone that I trust that I should start with a digital-only Kickstarter and add in a book as a stretch goal if I go well beyond my modest goal.

I'm reluctant to go this route, as much as it makes sense, because, well, I'd never pledge for a digital-only Kickstarter. I like having the book in my hands. Plus, what of all the people who pledge for the digital version (and merchandise, and becoming a character in the story) when the book gets added? Are they expected to change their pledges to the book category?

The problem here is that doing a digital-only Kickstarter would have a modest goal, while a book Kickstarter would be five figures. 

Another plus for digital is that we'd be able to do a chapter at a time, whereas the book would take over a year to finish.

Any thoughts?


  • What are the up front costs of a digital comic that it requires a Kickstarter to fund?
  • Ensuring the project gets released on schedule (in other words, paying the artist), and covering the various merchandise items such as t-shirts. 
  • edited June 2013
    What's the nature of the book? And of the project?

    With Orphans, I did a 110 page book (5 x 22 page chapters, which are largely self-contained). I raised $12,700, just more than my $12,500 goal. I chose to try for the full project because I wanted money to keep the artist on retainer for the duration of the series, and couldn't afford to do that out of pocket. I'll likely end up paying at least some of the tab out of pocket, anyway, but as we discussed on Twitter, I'm nowhere near as into the red as I would've been without Kickstarter.

    With Red Angel Dragnet, I kickstarted the 22-page first chapter of what will be a 4-chapter graphic novel. I raised $1300. In this case, Anna and I worked out a page rate that I *could* afford out of pocket, and she's still working through the second issue, but since she can only do 1-2 pages a week -- so the full 88 page GN might not be ready for 6 months or a year -- and I had a full issue's worth of pages, I thought, why not? I can fund printing with KS, and get a (more-or-less self contained) issue into the public eye.

    I guess my first question is whether you could crowdfunding this project in chunks, like Rachel Deering did with Anathema: Kickstarting a first chapter, and then launching a larger project to fund the balance of the story once the first is successful and word of mouth has spread. 

    In other words, could you do a Kickstarter for a first or zero issue of your book, and get that printed?

    Just spitballin' for now, but as I ramp toward a *third* Kickstarter in the fall, after all the rewards have been settled for the first two, I'll be thinking about this a lot. 

    Also, it's your project and some lend themselves to certain rewards more than others, but t-shirts have been a bit of a headache for me, keeping track of sizes, men's vs women' cuts, etc. Lesson learned, but you're better off with one-size-fits-all rewards*. 

    *Unless your t-shirt design is kickass (and not on a white shirt) then I'm all for it.
  • Doing a Kickstarter is part of my medium-term plans.  If things had gone according to expectations last year, with my collab with Dale Lazarov being released by him last Fall (which would get me some name recognition and credibility), I probably would've gone ahead with it by now. The objective in my case would be to raise money to hire more artists for my smut shorts (boosting name recognition among their fans and also the credibility of the project), so a print book wouldn't even be on the table. 

    Lacking any already-paying fanbase of my own, or any confidence in my promotional skills, I'd set the goal low – maybe $1000 – just to get something, and jump up and down a lot if it exceeded that.

    Rewards would be promises of free access for the duration of the project, pandering to closet exhibitionists by writing names and drawing likenesses into stories, and at the high end "free" commissioned originals.
  • The Kickstarter killer for print is the postage.  When you have Jimmy Palmiotti making the point repeatedly and loudly that international supporters are better off going digital only to avoid the necessary $30 shipping and handling for his latest Kickstarter and a few other people who ran apparently successful Kickstarter projects talking about going into debt because of shipping costs, we can see where digital can be seen as a life-saver.

    I think the tchotchkes-driven campaigns we've been seeing (prints! buttons! T-shirts!) are going to repeatedly run into these issues.  Campaigns relying on rewards that don't add additional costs to the core project are going to be the more desirable approach.  I think you can still have brass-ring rewards like limited edition prints or artwork with the attendant large bump in shipping without hurting the project, but the incremental rewards where you have to figure out who gets the book, a small print, a poster, two buttons, three trading cards, and a hand-knitted codpiece will undermine the financial support toward completing the project.

    Kickstarter is still such a new thing that we're seeing rapid and unpredictable developments almost every month.  A few weeks ago I was initially upset over the celebrity Kickstarter projects as I thought this would actually damage the field only to learn the Veronica Mars and Zack Braff projects brought thousands of people to Kickstarter for the first time and those newbies spent millions on other projects afterwards.

    It's so new we're still so deep in the phase of figuring out what not to do that thinking you know what you have to do is bordering on self-deception.

  • What Richard (and Palmiotti) said.

    For now I'm not going to support things with a book that has to be sent to me for $30. 

    Example: I'd very much like to have "bought" the new Tesuka book that is being Kickstarted now, but with the $30 postage, I'm waiting till it's sollicited (which is gonna happen) from Amazon or just wait till it comes to one of the comic stores here (which will happen too) and save that $30
  • Also? Hand-knitted codpieces need to be a thing!
  • o_O
    Put it away before you give Quest ideas!  
  • I hope that isn't wool.  I'm scratching just looking at it.
  • And I thought *I* was the only one here who did arts and crafts  :)

    But seriously, when designing a Kickstarter project, I would think that people would naturally factor in the cost perks and of shipping them to backers as part of the overall cost of the project.
    I think it is also a mistake to simply offer the book as a perk. The perks should be something that you would never be able to get any other way *except* via the Kickstarter, hence creating desirability for them and the need/want to donate to the project.
    For example, I donated to a Kickstarter project just because I really wanted the t-shirt. I knew that I would never get this t-shirt any other way, so I sent in the $25 and am now the proud owner of a Manos: The Hands of Fate remastered production team t-shirt. They succeeded in creating a desire for the perks and I believe their Kickstarter project also succeeded.

  • And thus, why I'll never do a Kickstarter: I just want to sell the book.
  • I'm hung up on the video. I don't know a thing about video software. I don't suppose some friendly soul out there can set a few panels and a voiceover to music?
  • Do you have an animation/film school near you?  Grad students can work for reasonable rates and would likely like the resume credit as well as something fresh for their demo reel. 

    It's an investment, but decent quality video, editing and sound can make a difference.

  • Richard's right. I think the video for ORPHANS, which I did by taping myself in front of a computer camera, probably cost me some pledges. For RED ANGEL DRAGNET, I ended up using a captioned slideshow of panels set to music, because I just don't trust the sound of my own voice.

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