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Late last year, we took a big leap and launched our first crowdfunding campaign via kickstarter. It was perhaps the most stressful experience I’ve had in the 2 years that Lucha Comics has existed, but it was definitely one of the most satisfying as well. From a slow start, to getting into Bleeding Cool, and (just barely) crossing the finish line, I figured I was long overdue in reflecting on what I believe was our largest accomplishment to date. For a publisher that was strictly digital to do an initial run of 350 copies of a full length graphic novel wasn’t easy, but thanks to some great people we made it. So, I would like to share the top 10 things that our campaign taught me.
1. Not all crowdfunding platforms are created equal.
One of the first things I encountered was trying to decide if I would choose Indiegogo or kickstarter. It took a lot of research, and really trying to find a platform that best matched what I wanted to accomplish. I also researched other comic book projects, read blogs from other successful crowdfunders, and looked at how many friends I had on each. In the end, kickstarter beat Rocket Hub and other sites handily, but narrowily came out on top over Indiegogo.
2. Flexible funding may not be as great as it sounds.
Now that I had a platform, I really had to consider how I would fund my project: flexible funding (keep whatever you raise) or go the all or nothing route. In the end, I decided that I wanted to fund an entire project, and that I wanted my supporters to know that I was fully committed. All or nothing it was, and yes I almost regretted it – but now I don’t think I would ever do a flexible campaign.
3. Calculating your goal should be a well thought out exercise.
You really need to be careful here since you can’t adjust your campaign once it is live. I cannot stress enough how much thought and planning should go into this. Do not rush this part, because a) you don’t want to set a goal so high that you can’t possibly hit it or b) you may be stuck trying to deliver on something that you can’t afford, even if you fund to 100% or even 125%! Let’s start with point a):
Be optimistic, but realistic. It is far better to set an attainable goal and blow it out of the water then set something massive and barely make it or fall short. It looks far better to fund a $2,500 to 100% than fund a $25,000 project to 75%. Do not set yourself up for failure: if you ever want to do another kickstarter, you want your supporters to see that you are building on success and offering something that you can deliver on. Now, let’s tackle point b).
Once you know what you need to do and what you can reasonably raise, do not just ballpark your budget. Do some research, look at similar projects, and understand what you are promising to deliver. Many crowdfunding campaigns have pissed off some loyal people because they were unable to deliver. Sure, some of these might have been pure scams, but for the most part I feel that these failures to deliver were a result of poor research and planning. Here are a few tips that worked for my comic book project, The Kursk by Sasha Janowicz:
- Have firm quotes for your book from at least reputable suppliers, and use the highest one as your goal
- Factor in 10% for crowdfunding and payment processing fees
- Have a contingency of at least 10%
- Factor in the costs (if any) of not receiving your funds for 30-45 days from project close
- And the one that almost got me: shipping
Shipping was a real killer here, because (unbeknownst to me) shipping costs are calculated towards your goal. Here is an example:
I set a goal of $3,000. My early bird reward was $10 + shipping. For this example we will assume someone ordering a reward in Canada at a rate of $5, so their total pledge would be $15. This means that their entire pledge (including the shipping fee) counts towards your goal. My project was broken down as follows:
$2,700 printing + contingency costs
$270 kickstarter fees
$250 Approximate shipping costs
Giving a total of $3,270. Since this was my first kickstarter, I wrongly assumed that shipping was extra and above and beyond the amount that I needed. Fortunately, my contingency covered my shipping costs, and in the future I will be sure to calculate this amount better.
I know this might sound confusing, or not a big deal, but for a small publisher that swore up and down to his partner that there was no way the kickstarter could possibly cost us anything out of pocket, it was a real concern. Basically, you need to guesstimate how many backers you will get, what your shipping costs will be, and add that to your goal. If this or any other point here still sounds confusing, please, please, please feel free to get in touch and I would be glad to elaborate.
4. Make the length of your campaign just right.
This was a bit tricky. Too short and you can fail; too long and people may lose interest and just not care. Personally, I like a 30 day campaign, regardless of the amount trying to be raised. If your goal seems huge, you likely don’t have a timing issue, you probably have a cost or you set a goal-so-massive-there-is-no-way-in-hell-that-you-are-going-to-hit-it-even-if-everyone-you-now-kicks-in-$10 issue.
5. You need some kind of video if this is your first campaign.
An image really isn’t enough. You need a cool video that not only describes your project, but also allows you to connect with the audience. It should be visual, but really get to the heart of why you are doing this and why you need help from backers. This also becomes something that is easy to share across social media. It doesn’t need to be Academy Award winning, but try and make something nice (even if you are terrible on camera like me as you can see below). Having a Mac (or a friend with one) certainly helps! Which leads me away from the technical points and towards the qualitative stuff that really made a difference…
6. People aren’t buying your book
Ok, so maybe a few are, but generally people weren’t buying my book, they were buying the chance to support me because they really believed in Lucha Comics. While this changed the marketing message, it really made the whole process more rewarding – someone actually cared about our brand.
7. Now isn’t the time to be shy.
I hate to feel like I am bugging anyone, but with a short time frame to raise funds, you really need to promote the hell out of yourself. This is not the time to be shy; reach out to all facebook friends and followers, twitter, followers, friends, family etc. I would say that 75% of my time went to outreach, which is far different from blind promotion. Ask people to share your campaign with others without asking them to feel obligated to contribute. It’s a win-win for everyone. By the time I was done my campaign, everyone knew that I was a comic book publisher, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
8. You need to get in touch with influencers.
Fortunately Lucha has a track record in the digital space, so I was able to reach out to people at ComiXology, and my friend Ian Yarrington of ComicBooked.com to let them know what was going on. Taking my own advice from my point above, I went even further and decided to E-Mail Rich Johnston at Bleeding Cool, and guess what? They agreed to carry our story. These little bits help to give you credibility, and it is a nice confidence booster when someone agrees to help promote you when there are so many great projects out there to talk about.
9. Kickstarters can draw in new fans.
People that had never read a comic book or graphic novel before decided to put down some money for The Kursk because they saw it on kickstarter. I was really amazed at the first time readers, and the kind of attention that kickstarter can get you. Overall it was great to see readers that were not only new to Lucha, but also to the comic book industry.
10. Your fans are awesome people and they want you to succeed.
As invested as I was in my project, the fans really made it special. I was overwhelmed by the support we received, and how they wanted to get involved. Your fans are great, so make sure that you treat them well post-project. If someone puts down a pledge for your book, remember that they really want to see it happen.
This is probably one of the longest blogs I have ever written, and it could have easily been twice as long. If this came off like me bragging at all then I apologize because that was never my intent; I just wanted to reflect on a great experience that was only made possible by some great people who decided to take a gamble and show their support for us. Hopefully, this article can help someone else to experience the same.
15th Century Japan – as Buddha said, human desire leads to nothing but suffering. Our story begins…
Article Keywords: Hungry Ghosts #1
This gripping “Reality-Based Fantasy” is best described as Lord of the Rings meets The Devil’s Advocate. It is where history, as well as the future of humanity, are examined under Islamic and Biblical light, in an effort to comprehend the nature of the Devil, his minions, and plans for the demise of Humanity.
What can we do to ensure that Humanity not only survives, but wins and thrives?
Marwan ElNashar brings his Action/Fantasy tale to Lucha Comics. Incredible artwork and an ageless story bring together a team of interfaith heroes that must put aside their differences because they are the only ones that can save our planet.
Volume 1: The Devil’s War
A Pharonic Queen that helped Moses during the Exodus, A Rabbi that aided Jesus, and a Roman commander that saves Mohamed, find a way to unite in the spiritual dimension of Jannahim. They must set aside their differences to prevent Satan from recruiting the Third Horsemen of the Apocalypse and edging ever closer to completing his army of darkness!
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in a concealed realm.”
When you’re lost with no way home, every step could be your last. This is a lesson our two mysterious protagonists learned quickly, as they make their way through unfamiliar and unforgiving territory.
Jory Abbott was inspired to tell this story through the artwork of Jeff Harvey as he felt that he was at a bit of a low point, a darker place. This led to an origin story that might be a bit darker than what most Comic Book readers are used to. Jory and Jeff have really poured themselves into this book, with characters that are a reflection of reality. There will always be things that go bump in the night. The genesis project created two people who could bump a little bit harder.
The story of Lucha Comics, and our kickstarter for The Kursk made it to bleeding cool! Check it out here…
I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, a den for everything comic book related, and of course that meant that I fell in love with everything comic book related. I remember watching Batman and X-Men cartoons on TV, sprinkled in between classics like GI Joe, Transformers, and Thundercats. As time has gone by our culture along with the quality and quantity of product has grown to extraordinary proportions, and I’m more than grateful to have a small part in all of this growth. I absolutely love indie creators and the passion they show for their product; it’s unmatched in any other industry and it pumps me up to see others so passionate about their comics. Often times indie creators are overlooked and under appreciated in the comic industry, so it’s my mission to shine a light on them and get their message out to the public.
I do reviews and opinion pieces for Comicbooked.com along with a team of really wonderful and really dedicated folks that share my love for everything comic related. We all have love for comics and comic creators like Lucha Comics and other indies. We love doing reviews and we love shining light on Kickstarter projects like The Kursk.
We believe in indie creators and we want more than anything for them to succeed so we attempt to shine a light on their projects for readers to consider and hopefully back. I encourage everyone to help and be a part of something great while assisting someone with their passion and making something they love come to life. There is no greater feeling than helping people and the best part is that in the end backers get great books to read, and know they were a part of the creation.
Show your support for Lucha Comics by backing The Kursk on kickstarter here.
You can view Ian’s kind words of support for The Kursk at http://www.comicbooked.com/kursk-kickstarter/
The Kursk: Collected Edition
The graphic novel adaptation of Sasha Janowicz’ award winning play is now available in its entirety! The K-141 Kursk, Oscar-II class nuclear-powered cruise missile submarine and pride of a rejuvenated Russian Navy, has sunk in the Barents Sea. A frantic rescue effort begins to rescue 118 Brave souls.
Originally published as 4 individual comics, The Kursk was praised for art by Andrea Montano and her fearless expression in this macabre political thriller. Each issue brought us closer to the events of August 12th, 2000 that would form a part of our shared history.
In 2010, the Australian theatre community nominated Sasha Janowicz’s play for the Helpmann Awards for Performing Arts. Sasha won the 2007 Bell Award for Best New Play, and three Matilda Awards – Best New Australian Play, Best Direction, and Best Independent Production.
Lucha Comics is proud to be able to bring this fantastic story to yet another powerful medium, and our team is thrilled that we can finally tell The Kursk in its entirety. Simply click below to purchase The Kursk graphic novel on your preferred platform:
Article Keywords: The Kursk graphic novel by Sasha Janowicz
*Be sure to pick up The Kursk #1 before reading this!*
The graphic novel adaptation of Sasha Janowicz’ award winning play concludes! The K-141 Kursk, Oscar-II class nuclear-powered cruise missile submarine and pride of a rejuvenated Russian Navy, has sunk in the Barents Sea. A frantic rescue effort has failed. 118 Brave souls give their lives to the sea. Now, all that is left is to bury the dead and mend the living.
The Kursk #1 was praised for art by Andrea Montano and her fearless expression in this macabre political thriller. The Kursk #2 brought us closer to the events that happened on August 12th, 2000. The Kursk #3 showed us the frantic effort to rescue Russia’s brave sailors. Now, all that is left is sorrow.
In 2010, Australia nominated Sasha Janowicz’s play for the Helpmann Awards for Performing Arts. Sasha won the 2007 Bell Award for Best New Play, and three Matilda Awards – Best New Australian Play, Best Direction, and Best Independent Production.
Lucha Comics is proud to be able to bring this fantastic story to yet another powerful medium, and our team is thrilled that we can finally tell The Kursk in its entirety. Simply click below to purchase The Kursk #4 on your preferred platform:
Article Keywords: The Kursk #4 by Sasha Janowicz