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.

Guestblog: Ian Yarrington ComicBooked.com

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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.

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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 Kursk by Lucha Comics

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:

The Kursk by Lucha Comics on ComiXology

The Kursk #4

*Be sure to pick up The Kursk #1-3 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

The Kursk #3

*Be sure to pick up The Kursk #1 before reading this!*

The graphic novel adaptation of Sasha Janowicz’ award winning play continues! 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 continues. Can the Russian Navy save its K-141 Kursk?

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. Be sure to read the penultimate chapter of this story!

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 Award – 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. The tension mounts as the rescue begins. Simply click below to purchase The Kursk #3 on your preferred platform:

    


Article Keywords: The Kursk #3 by Sasha Janowicz

The Kursk #3 - Lucha Comics

The Kursk #2 – Lucha Comics

*Be sure to pick up The Kursk #1 before reading this!*

The graphic novel adaptation of Sasha Janowicz’ award winning play continues! 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.

The Kursk #1 was praised for art by Andrea Montano and her fearless expressionin this macabre political thirller.

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 Award – 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. The tension mounts as the rescue begins. Simply click below to purchase The Kursk #2 on your preferred platform:

    


Article Keywords: The Kursk #2 by Sasha Janowicz

The Kursk #2 Lucha Comics Cover - 500px

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 The Kursk – Day 30

And so we bring our feature for the #Kursk to an end. But that doesn’t mean that this excellent series is going away. I am thrilled to announce that issue #2 will be available shortly, and that the final two issues should be ready by the end of this year. Before, we get to the full resolution preview of Sasha Janowicz’ reflection on the Kursk Disaster, I am also pleased to announce that The Kursk #1 is now available in Spanish, with Chinese and Russian editions coming very soon! Stay tuned for more Kursk!

30 Days of The Kursk - Day 30
30 Days of The Kursk - Day 30

Article Keywords: 30 Days of The Kursk – Day 30, #kursk

30 Days of The Kursk – Day 29

Almost there! Here’s an interesting Russian Navy fact:
Before the #kursk disaster in 1995, a nuclear submarine had its electricity cut by an electricity company at a naval base due to unpaid bills. The submarine’s cooling system ceased to function and the reactor “came close to meltdown”

Also, since we are nearing the end, here are the remaining pages, and we have something special for Day 30!

30 Days of The Kursk - Day 29


30 Days of The Kursk - Day 29


30 Days of The Kursk - Day 29

Article Keywords: 30 Days of The Kursk – Day 29, #kursk