#MakeComics: Kickstarters & Crowdfunding

Kickstarters & crowd funding have become a major part of independent comics. Big names like Greg Rucka, Jimmy Palmiotti and Gail Simone have run successful ones, and tons of comics based projects have been very successful and received the distribution needed using crowdsourced funds. For every win there is a loss, however, and for every well run Kickstarter campaign there are 2 that fail to either reach their goal or fail to fulfill it. Creators can take on quite a burden when launching a project, but for some projects crowdfunding is the perfect way to bring a concept from the idea stage to the printed and distributed stage. Below, you’ll find resources about Kickstarters, some lessons learned, and pieces of advice from creators who have gone through the process of a successfully funded campaign & the task of fulfillment.

Weblinks

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7 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started A Kickstarter
Written by Trevor Mueller
Link: http://thrillbent.com/blog/7-things-i-wish-i-knew-before-i-started-a-kickstarter/

Trevor Mueller, creator of the “Albert The Alien” campaign, discusses what he wish he knew prior to starting his campaign.

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My Approach To A Kickstarter Campaign
Written by Tyler James
Link: http://www.comixtribe.com/2012/07/09/my-approach-to-a-kickstarter-campaign/

Tyler James, publisher of ComixTribe, discusses his approach to the Oxymoron campaign of 2012. James has successfully completed multiple campaigns, and has some advice further in this article, as well.

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Crisis of Epic Proportion: What I’ve Learned About Kickstarter
Written by Kevin Joseph
Link: http://www.comicosity.com/crisis-of-epic-proportion-what-ive-learned-about-kickstarter/

Creator of Tart, Kevin Joseph, contributed this article to Comicosity in 2014 about the lessons he learned while running his first Kickstarter.

Creator Advice

We chatted with creators who have run successful Kickstarters/crowd funded campaigns about challenges that are associated with crowd funding. We asked them the following question:

What do you feel is the greatest challenge creators should be aware of when planning to run a Kickstarter campaign?

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Greg Rucka
Campaigns include Lady Sabre & The Pirates of the Ineffable Aether
Website: http://www.gregrucka.com/wp/

In our first Kickstarter, I feel we made two mistakes, and both were from inexperience. We failed to account for exactly how expensive the shipping would be, especially internationally (we took an enormous loss on international postage), and, much more critically, we failed to account for the actual labor involved — everything from packing the books to getting them to the post office. In a successful Kickstarter, you’ll have a lot of backers waiting on you, and you need to keep them informed, and you must, you absolutely must, be honest with them about everything in your campaign. They’ve invested in you, and that’s a gift of trust that must be repaid and honored.

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Jimmy Palmiotti
Campaigns include Abaddon, Weapon Of God, Forager, Sex & Violence
Website: http://paperfilms.com/

Understanding the huge amount of time and cost it takes to run the campaign and fulfillment portion and understanding that even one unhappy camper is a failure on some level. I will be honest, most people are not built for this and learn this all the hard way. Oh. And taxes. You gotta know it all.

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Tyler James
Campaigns include Oxymoron, The Standard
Website: http://www.comixtribe.com/

Kickstarter is a powerful tool and like all powerful tools, it can do damage… to careers, to reputations, to a creator’s health and financial well-being. So do your research, start small, under-promise, and over-deliver. Keep an ear out for ComixLaunch: Crowdfunding Your Comics and Graphic Novel Projects on Kickstarter…and Beyond! It’s a new podcast I’ll be launching next month.

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J. Torres
Campaigns include True Patriot Vol. 1 & 2
Website: https://twitter.com/jtorrescomics

I think timing is very important. When to launch, how long to run the campaign, when to plan delivery. Again, do your research. There are FAQs out there and guides and blogs written by people who’ve been there, know from experience, etc. make use of that stuff to time your campaign and do the overall planning.

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J.T. Yost
Campaigns include Digestate, Cringe
Website: http://www.birdcagebottombooks.com/index.htm

The shipping is always the killer. Make sure you figure out roughly how much it will cost for shipping each reward tier before posting them. Pay special attention to international shipping costs if you’re going to offer that. Always take advantage of tracking because inevitably some are going to go missing. Be prepared for a lot of mindless repetition. Stamps.com (or something similar) can be incredibly helpful when shipping out mass quantities.

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Joe Caramagna
Campaigns include Further Travels of Wyatt Earp
Website: https://twitter.com/joecaramagna

I’ve been meaning to do a blog post about my experience with Kickstarting a project, but one important thing to consider is shipping costs. It would be very smart to limit your rewards to items that can all fit in the same size package, an 8-1/2 x 11 envelope, for example (which means no posters and no t-shirts). You’ll save yourself a lot of hassle and shipping costs. And if at all possible, have rewards that are life experiences rather than items that have to be mailed. For Further Travels Of Wyatt Earp (on sale on NOW on Comixology and the Amazon Kindle Store!) someone pledged a lot of money to be drawn into the book as a bandit. I also gave an online lettering demo for a small group of people. Those were rewards that people were willing to donate large amounts of money to be a part of, and they cost me zero dollars to fulfill. That allowed me to devote more of the money to making the book rather than fulfilling rewards.

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Van Jensen
Campaigns include The Leg
Website: https://twitter.com/van_jensen

I feel like it’s a tie between how much work it takes and how little money you’re going to clear at the end. I had a pretty successful Kickstarter, but it was enough to pay for printing and all of the costs I’d already paid out of pocket (my book was finished before we launched). There was a little left over, which I gave to the artist, who really deserved it. So I basically broke even, before book sales and distribution. And it was a ton of work. So, so much work. I’m glad I did it, but I also won’t ever do it again.

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