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If you don’t already know what Kickstarter is, you will soon because some creative project you know or love will be trying to get funded that way. Kickstarter is a so-called crowd funding company that allows the general public to invest in creative projects. Users pick projects to donate to by pledging funds that are almost always exchanged for items that the creator(s) will mail to the donor. The trick with Kickstarter is that no money changes hands unless the project reaches its funding goal by the deadline they had set. Additionally, projects have to be creative so there’s no money-for-nothing schemes or that sort of thing. Kickstarter uses Amazon payments so it costs the project about 8% total of the money between the two. But other than that and making sure a project meets their guidelines, Kickstarter exercises no oversight and they don’t take any ownership of the projects either.
Kickstarter is not new to the comics community however. The site has been used by several notable webcomics creators like Shaenon Garrity and Scott Christian Sava to fund collected print versions of their webcomics (such as Skin Horse and The Dreamland Chronicles respectively.) But over the last several months or so we’ve seen an evolution in webcomics projects brought to Kickstarter. If it looks like there’s a gold rush going on it’s because there is.
Earlier this year, Rich Burlew had his million-plus dollar Order of the Stick pledge drive and everything went bananas. Suddenly everyone took notice and the cry of “You should Kickstart that!” was heard throughout the comics industry. Even with a few notable projects not making their funding goals none of that fervor has died down. Instead creators have begun to hone their campaigns, armed with better data and a better idea of how to proceed.
It turns out that it works a lot better if a creator asks for pledges on a project that is already completed or nearly so. And after Fleen got through running an in-depth multi-post analysis, it’s been determined that the item in question should be in the lower level pledges as well. Demand for the product is another factor that helps bring about success where the better a creator is known, the better they tend to do, and the more they can ask for. However, a final lesson seem to be that setting a low goal is a large part of the path to success. Burlew especially got to his dizzying heights because there was pent up demand for his books but he also had constant updates and a long list of stretch goals with even more rewards for pledges that made people keep coming back for more.
So, the keys to Kickstarter success?
1) Be popular or be accessible and communicate via social media (but don’t overdo it and definitely don’t be overaggressive!).
2) Set a low threshold for success (it’s easier to fund $3,000 than $30,000) and keep your initial request close to your basic expenses like printing and shipping.
3) Have your product at or near its completion so that your donors are not going to have to wait until next Christmas to get their prize. You can get past this if you’re a creator with a following, or a track record, or both. But the more done, the better your chances of your project funding.
4) Lastly, make certain that the some version of the actual product is in the lower echelon of donation rewards (say you get the book or at very least the .pdf of it for under $50).
Meanwhile, here are some Kickstarter projects whose comics are on Comic Rocket and you can read them right now! This is the beginning of an ongoing list that should change and evolve as projects come and go. For now I’ll update this list as time allows and maybe one day if it’s popular enough it will be its own site feature on Comic Rocket.
Kickstart: Modest Medusa Season 2
This is the second MM book from Jake Richmond. It’s a hardcover book consisting of 145 full color pages of Modest Medusa along with a brand new 10-page story made just for the print volume. There are even two awesome-looking gatefolds! I myself couldn’t resist buying this one. You can read Modest Medusa On Comic Rocket. This one just funded on June 30th.
A 2012 Xeric Award winning comic by Laurianne Uy and Nathan Go. It’s an urban fantasy about a college girl who moves into a house haunted by five guys who she has to help resolve their unfinished business. The Kickstart is to cover print costs for the completed and laid out volume one (in a planned series of six.) You can read Polterguys on Comic Rocket.
Ends: July 11th
Kickstart: The Dylan Meconis Library 2012
This is a three book set that includes an Anniversary edition of her first graphic novel Bite Me, a first time print edition of her graphic novella Outfoxed and Danse Macbre 2.0 a collection of updated memento mori. You can read Outfoxed on Comic Rocket.
Ends: July 17th
Kickstart: Trial of the Clone: A Choosable Path Gamebook
This is a cool project by Zach Weiner of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal fame (which of course you can read on Comic Rocket.) It’s a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ style project with over 500 scenes. The best part is the proceeds go to two different good causes. Watch their video and see.
Ends: July 25th.
Kickstart: Walking on Broken Glass Issue 4 Print Run
Described as a supernatural office dramedy romance about murder, this comic deals with magic, witches, werewolves and more. This kickstarter is so that Artist Caytlin Vilbrandt and Writer Samantha Mathis can print the fourth issue of this series. You can read Walking on Broken Glass on Comic Rocket.
Ends: Aug 1st.
Kickstart: Nothing is Forgotten
Ryan Andrews wants to publish a print version of three of his interesting webcomic stories in a single volume. It will also include a two page short based on a Japanese song. You can read one of the stories, Sarah and the Seed, on Comic Rocket.
Ends: August 1st.
The Pratt’s have created a steampunk webcomic and want to print the first six chapters of their online serial along with bonus material. Pledges will be used to pay for printing and order fullfillment. You can read Shadowbinders on Comic Rocket.
Ends: August 10th
Kickstart: Penny Arcade Sells Out
Here’s one that’s sure to burst a few blood vessels for a dozen reasons. Penny Arcade wants to go ad-free for a year and they want their fans to pay for it. An interesting choice of how and where to seek funding but these guys are always at the center of fun times on the Internet. You can read Penny Arcade on Comic Rocket.
Ends: August 15th
Kickstart: Fame and Misfortune
A black and white sci-fi comic with a female lead by Kel McDonald. It will come out in both print and on the web at the same time. She’s been doing Sorcery 101 for seven years so you can pretty much bet she’s going to hit her milestones. Read Kel McDonald’s Sorcery 101 on Comic Rocket.
Ends: August 20th
Kickstart: The Bean vol 3: Broken Souls
The third print volume of the webcomic series by name, The Bean is the continuing adventure of a young dishwasher who must find out how to heal the broken sword of Ganadon. You can read The Bean on Comic Rocket.
Ends August 31st
One more thing: There is also a site called IndieGoGo that does the same sort of thing as Kickstarter. The chief difference is a project creator can choose to have donors pay anyway whereas with Kickstarter it only funds if a project reaches its goal. There are many webcomics projects using IndieGoGo and we’ll list those too as time goes on.
Absolutely True Tales of Lesbian Drama
Astrid Lydia Johannsen’s quirky webcomic about magic and multi-world relationships is an urban fantasy with an interesting alternate history. She’s trying to get the printed volume ready in time for APE 2012. The paperback volume will include 91 comics, commentary, art, sketches and more. You can read Absolutely True Tales of Lesbian Drama on Comic Rocket
Ends: August 1st.
NOTE TO CREATORS: If you have a Kickstarter to share and you have a comic on Comic Rocket please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “Kickstarter List” and I’ll include it!
Andy Grossberg is co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Comic Rocket. Previous to helping start the business he was a comics journalist, writer, letterer and sometime editor. He has been working in and around comics for over 18 years in one capacity or another.
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