10 Things That Our Kickstarter Campaign Taught Me

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.

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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.

Lucha Comics Logo

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.

Are comic books going digital?

This is probably the question that I get asked the most, day in, day out. Not just by creators that want to publish with me, but by fellow comic book fans, and even outsiders who, while they have little interest in comic books, find their distribution (both physical and in print) to be interesting from a business perspective. So, are comic books going digital? Or aren’t they?

This isn’t an easy one to answer; like many, I grew up with print comic books. I love them. I love the smell, the feel, and the nostalgia that they invoke. A part of me even loves stressing when I see a crease or a flaw (yes, I am picky as hell when it comes to collecting comic books). I am sure that I could go on, and even if I dedicated my entire entry to my love of printed comic books, I probably still wouldn’t get it right. So, what’s the fuss with digital?

1. Imagine iTunes 11 years ago.
Our world is going digital. Music, movies, books, and eventually comic books. I can’t remember the last time I bought a CD (no matter how cool some of the lining notes are). Whenever I buy a movie, I look for those that come with an Ultraviolet copy. And as an avid reader, I hate carrying a pile of books, so now I buy most of them on Kobo. Why would I shift my buying habits so much? Imagine iTunes 11 years ago. No one really understood it – why would anyone pay for something that they could pirate? No one would have imagined Apple becoming the world’s most valuable tech company.

2. Collecting isn’t what it used to be.
Traditional collecting, especially with physical things, is about rarity. Enter collecting 2.0 – completion. Those in the digital age may not care about having a copy of The Walking Dead #1 that is CGC graded. Rather, they want to read the whole thing. Why watch the best episode of Breaking Bad when you can binge watch the whole thing on Netflix? The same principle applies here.

3. It’s cheap and easy.
You can view digital comic books on a PC, phone, or tablet, and if you want to read a bunch at once, you don’t need to carry around a longbox. Want to read 100 issues of Batman without having to fish through tons of polybags and boards, or worrying about damaging them? What about picking up something that is rate and expensive? And one of my favourites is picking up independent or digital only books that I simply would not find in my local comic book shop.

Think that digital comic books are just a fad? They are here to stay and I am positive that in a few years they will make up the majority of the marketshare, but – and this is a big one – it will take a long time for collectors to die off, and I feel that there will always be room for great stories in print.

Why I Had to Launch a Comic Book Publisher

I love comic books – they constantly amaze me, and take me to new and impossible worlds. Now I’d like to tell you about why I had to launch a comic book publisher. Yes, why. Sure it’s enough to love something, to turn it into an expensive hobby, and let it consume a lot of your free time. But it takes a special kind of crazy to look at juggernauts like Marvel and DC and think to yourself “how hard can it be?”. Well, here are just a few reasons (and I am sure that I can think of so many more).

1. Marvel and DC aren’t all that I want

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While I am more of a DC guy, I certainly enjoy a lot of Marvel stuff. I grew up with batman as my favourite, but have always enjoyed Punisher, Alpha Flight, and most recently Hawkeye. While the Big 2 put out some of the best comic books in the world, they sometimes aren’t enough to satisfy me as a reader. Imagine going to a movie theater, and only being able to watch Die Hard or its knockoffs. Things would get boring quick, wouldn’t they?

2. Image, BOOM! and others are awesome

The Walking Dead - Image Comics

Image Comics is awesome. I love The Walking Dead, (and did before it was so mainstream!), read many early Image Titles, and enjoy some of the quirky stuff that they put out. I really enjoy Mind the Gap, Chew, Morning Glories and more.

When it comes to BOOM!, Mark Waid’s brilliant Irredeemable is still one of my all-time favourites, and I was completely blown away by Suicide Risk. BOOM! just makes really good comics.

So, what does this have to do with me? These creative studios have proven that the industry has matured, wants more variety, and that ultimately the market will reward those with a quality product – even if it isn’t wrapped in capes and tights.

3. There are many great stories that deserve to be told

The Kursk - Lucha Comics - 30 Days of The Kursk

Digital comics have revolutionized the industry, and made it accessible to a great deal of talented people. 20 years ago, there are books that would have been impossible to read – no kickstarter, no iPads, and no real way to get into comic book shops without a massibe budget. Now, I can bring fellow comic book lovers hidden gems like The Kursk, or never before available in English graphic novels like Boom. I can reach out to those that miss Westerns, and War books, or have just had enough of The Avengers or Batman. All of this is due to the fact that digital has lowered costs and barriers to entry, and there are markets, like ComiXology, to discover new books. These all point to new, incredible reads that make comic books fun and new, all over again.

This is just a little bit of insight as to why I jumped into a fun, crazy and exciting industry. I am determined to make a real go of this, and turn Lucha Comics into a viable publisher that brings you awesome comic books that you won’t get anywhere else. Be sure to follow @LuchaComics, and if you know of a comic book that we should add to our catalog, get in touch!

30 Days of Invasion – Day 1

Day 1 of our September 2014 feature, 30 Days of Invasion. Each day, we will share a preview and cool fact about Jeffery Thompson’s Diaries of the Invasion! #Invasion

Alien Invasion Fact #1:
June 24, 1947, civilian pilot Kenneth Arnold reported seeing nine objects, glowing bright blue-white, flying in a “V” formation over Washington State’s Mount Rainier. He estimated their flight speed at 1700 mph!


30 Days of invasion - Day 1 Diaries of The Invasion #1 - Lucha Comics





 





Diaries of The Invasion #1 (Digital) Diaries of The Invasion #1 (Print Pre-Order)


    


Article Keywords: 30 Days of invasion, Diaries of the Invasion, Jeffery Thompson

To the Crew of the K-141 Kursk

14 years ago today, The Kursk Disaster hit the media outlets. In memory of 118 brave souls that were lost with their ship, I would like to share Sasha Janowicz’ afterword for The Kursk #1.

In August 2000 The News of The Kursk disaster exploded on the network channels around the world and I, like many, watched the events unfold in
silent horror in what became the first submarine incident in the history of all Navies, transmitted almost literally live on Television. Like many, I hoped for a successful
rescue of the sailors for those long eight days.

The news blamed the Russians for not asking for international help soon enough and thus jeopardizing the chances for the rescue; they commented on the ailing state of the
country and its fleet; they speculated about alleged attempts on behalf of the Russian Government and military authorities to cover up some mystery concerning the submarine and its mission, and about their inability to rescue the seamen and suggested that only the American and British Naval rescuers could do the job if called upon in time. Then, at the end, along with the world, I saw how Norwegian divers finally tore The Kursk’s escape hatch open with a powerful robotic arm which released a small air pocket from the already flooded submarine, taking away with it the last hope for survivors. I felt that something broke inside me.

Powerless fury – that is what Albina Konolova, the Liason Officer of the 7th Submarine Division (where The Kursk belonged), called that feeling.

I refused to believe some of the media reports, particularly those which alleged the delay of the rescue operation. I also wanted to learn the reason for the tragedy. For the next few years I collected information and talked to specialists in the field. In my studies, I found the rescue operation was record-breaking in many aspects: the submarine was found very quickly, the rescue submersibles were delivered and dived only around 14 hours after the submarine was discovered – the rescuers showed true heroism working against the bad weather above the Arctic Circle, risking like and limb around the clock for ten days trying to save their comrades, fighting until it was obvious that there were no chances and beyond. Nevertheless, the negative coverage continued to reappear in the Western Media.

I felt I needed to speak about it. the form of a stage play seemed, to me, the most appropriate. Quite a few books on the subject were published by journalists. The english language print, however, followed the ideological default: when speaking about Russia, speak negatively. The interesting, well-grounded materials appeared in Russia and were unavailable for the English speaking reader. Besides such books are released in limited numbers of copies and relatively few people get to read them. Making a film was out of the question, not only because of the lack of resources, but also because a film is a passive experience on the part of the viewer. Only a live theatrical experience, as opposed to a simple delivery of facts and images, seemed appropriate for sharing my knowledge and feelings with the audiences.

For those who lost their relatives on board The Kursk, this tragedy will never lose its relevance. But as the sinking of the boat becomes an increasingly distant historical event, the uneasy questions about what actually happened to the 118 men, or what could have been the consequences of it, are slipping out of the public focus.

It is not, however, in the headlines anymore; there are new stories of grief and distraction around.

The powerful images are shown on screens every day and become almost a part of the household furniture – something common. It takes the human experience away from the tragedy and turns it into statistics. Also common is the ever-renewing nature of the news broadcast, which bombards the viewer with new information every day, replacing the previous sensations. Today’s sensation is tomorrow’s stale gossip.

Those who control the media know this all too well and manage stories accordingly. The French government, for example, decided that the documents concerning the loss of one of their submarines in the distant 1970 would not be made public until 2078 – long after that entire generation is gone!

By then it will become just a piece of trivia. Thus the questions that are so painful and important in the present (like what gives the authorities of any country in the world the right to push humankind to the brink of a global catastrophe?) will become a mere anecdote of history in the future. Truth can be buried, forgotten, and reality changed so that the lessons of the past remain unlearnt. We have developed an alarmingly short historical memory as a civilization. This means we are sailing without a compass. We must become aware of the course before we get where we do not want to be.

In the words of the leading character from Vladimir Gubarev’s play Sarcophagus: “According to Socrates, all our troubles stem from ignorance.” [London: Penguin, 1987]. To avoid it we must question, because knowledge allows understanding, understanding invokes compassion, and compassion denies confrontation.

With this story, I want to share my grief of the loss of life and truth because I believe that by sharing grief we remind ourselves that we are human.

Sasha Janowicz, December 2008

Want to learn more about The Kursk? Get The Kursk #1 on your preferred platform:

    


30 Days of Orision – Day 30

This is the last day of our Orision feature, so check out Carlos Villas’ awesome cover and be sure to get your copy on Amazon or Google Play! And don’t forget, Orision #1 Director’s Cut is coming to comixology very soon!

30 Days of Orision - Day 30

Article Keywords: 30 Days of Orision – Day 30, #Orision

30 Days of Orision – Day 29

The penultimate day of our #Orision feature – be sure to pick up Orision #1, and #2 is coming very soon!
30 Days of Orision - Day 29

Article Keywords: 30 Days of Orision – Day 29, #Orision

30 Days of Orision – Day 28

Almost there … Day 28 of #Orision and some more survival horror comics by Bradley Golden and his awesome team:
30 Days of Orision - Day 28

Article Keywords: 30 Days of Orision – Day 28, #orision