“Failing to plan, is planning to fail” was the mantra which slowly burrowed its way through my subconscious with the horse power of a Eurotunnel excavator. I had been close to getting the final artwork in place to release BaadFood Issue 1 (which today, you can get a physical copy from Etsy http://etsy.me/2FfAbpO if you so please, or digitally through ComiXology http://bit.ly/2BH3G4r) and my first Kickstarter campaign was slowly coalescing from digital fragments spread across various devices, spreadsheets, textfiles, images, music and a video which outlined what it was that would be done.
Here captured, across multiple posts, lay varied musings from this completed project which readers may find helpful in running their own Comics based Kickstarter.
From past experience, discovery would be the hardest part of getting something into the hands of any readers. The piece of work which many people had poured time and energy into, was going to be fired into the mindscape of a public which simply wasn’t aware of its existence. It would be easy for it to get lost in a sea already populated by myriad other comics and bright distractions. A crowd sourcing campaign would be a good way of both growing an audience from nothing, whilst also securing the funding needed to close out the artwork and get physical copies printed. The Kickstarter project went well, and we were miraculously funded after the thirty days came to a close.
After submerging myself in a bath of liquid coolant to vent the heat built up by the work required, my synapses were alerted to the realisation that whilst my prototype Kickstarter was successful, there were lots of things that either could have been done better, or could have been avoided entirely. I’m quite certain that were I to run the project a second time I’d have left my ghost car behind as it tried to dig out the Kickstarter font to generate the initial Kickstarter pitch artwork.
To help me better run something next time, the strands running through my Kickstarter notes were pulled together to create something useful for the future. This piece then, and a few that follow, contain an array of points which were specifically useful in getting a Comic funded through Kickstarter. There are three sections overall, for items that should really be done before the Kickstarter begins, items to be done during the Kickstarter funding process, and a few things to do after finishing. The list isn’t exhaustive, these are the things that I wanted to concentrate on, and it is heavily front-loaded. There is a lot of preparation you can do if you want things to run smoothly.
Things to Do Before the Kickstarter Starts… Part 1
If you’re entirely new to Kickstarter, it could be a good idea to take a look at a few comic Kickstarters which have already been fully funded that you like. You should see if you can create a case study which breaks down how you think they might have been funded, where online (and in RL) they delivered their messaging to, and how people received their messaging. It can give you an outline of how you can run your first Kickstarter which will help you avoid some of the most common pitfalls. Here are a few of my favourites:
- The Etherington Brothers were running the Stranski Kickstarter around the same time as BaadFood was live. As well as generating some beautiful art, they were very cool with giving a Kickstarter newb some pointers :).
- Felipe Cagno’s “the Few and Cursed” was also up around the same time as BaadFood, and he ran a great campaign, answers his backers’ questions, and delivered some amazing content. A newer Kickstarter for the Chronicles of the Few and Cursed completed more recently.
- BaadFood Issue One’s letterer, Ken Reynolds, is running an experimental comic anthology Sliced Quarterly, and has a few successfully funded Kickstarters under his belt. They are a good example of how to run an Indie comic Kickstarter well, and the latest for Sliced Quarterly Volume 2 completed recently.
Create a high-level production timeline of what you need to do, by when to produce what you want to deliver as rewards. This includes when you want to produce items if you are fully funded, and how much time you’ll need for shipping rewards. Try and work out what parts of your reward production are dependent on others so you can order work correctly. You’ll need to have some idea of what art resources (artists/materials/printers/etc) you need, when you’ll need them, and you should add/multiply in a fudge factor for holidays/illness/time when you can’t work due to pipeline or production problems which you’ll invariably encounter. I’ve generally multiplied initial guesstimates by some factor to give a little wiggle room for slippage. If you’ve never done any of this before, and you don’t have a clue how long things will take, you can make a small part of your final art package as a prototype (a page of completed art for example, with full colours/lettering etc) and scale time costs to the final page count + covers.
You can use this to work out when to launch your Kickstarter, and when your backers should expect their rewards. If you can time it to end around a Comic Con, that can help you find a few more backers you might not otherwise have found. Avoid launching your Kickstarter on a weekend (and definitely not in the middle of the night in the timezone you want most backers to come from!) For this project, backers seemed to pledge during the day, and as much as possible you want the last few hours of a project to fall across a workday. Stonemaier Games have a great post on Kickstarter timing that you can look at which I found after completing our project!
Write a decent elevator pitch which explains what your project is. You’ll need to use it, or variations of it for the length of your project, so you should make sure that you’re happy with it and that it best explains what your project is about. This was ours:
BaadFood is an off-kilter sci-fi comic series which follows two music obsessed standard-Homo Sapien twenty-somethings stuck in a government run “back-to-work” scheme. They are trying to find their way against the backdrop of a planet where machine intelligences, altered-Homo Sapiens, and an ageing population have taken all the best jobs. A chance event causes them, despite their protestations, to become the poster boys for a group of Neu-Human extremists that want to forcibly genetically engineer all Homo Sapiens and to destroy the emancipated sentient machines (WarSuits) that they share the planet with.
You’ll be using it in your Kickstarter introduction, across advertising, in interviews and perhaps even at a Comic Con as you try and sell the output of your project, so ensure it makes sense to you and gives a succinct top-level view of what you’re producing. Our pitch was a decent enough explanation of the story we were trying to tell, but not really a good Kickstarter pitch, which needs to underline the value proposition of what you’re making, and engages the reader in some way rather than rattling off the core story parts. There are a few online resources which explain what a pitch is, and how to create one, which you might find useful:
- Make a video! You have a better chance of people backing your project if they have more information on what you’re making and how… and apparently you’re 85% more likely to be funded if you have a video. Kickstarter has a set of Campus posts which cover some of the best tips for making your project and video stand out. If you’ve never used a Non-Linear Video Editor before and need to create a video for yourself, I can recommend Blender which you can use for free, and which was used to create our Kickstarter video.
- …more tips to follow in future posts.
This is the first in a number of posts which cover Kickstarter tips and musings which arose off the back of the BaadFood Issue 1 Kickstarter, which you’ll be able to find here as they come online… Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.