It sounds pretty good to say that. My Kickstarter comic was funded in less than six hours and 200% funded in about 12. Jesus, I even made some profit from it. You know what, I will even say it was easy. It was. After three attempts…..
I had the idea for Victorian Bareknuckle League round about 3 years ago. It was a simple but effective concept, a Victorian version of Streetfighter with an Enter the Dragon type plot. I have been a huge comic fan since I was five years old and comics are what I know best, so it made sense to put it out in this format as opposed to a prose book or an animation. I wrote a script, sketched characters, refined the plot, refined it some more, hired an outstanding artist and a professional colourist. I had a great concept, it looked amazing, it was a fairly original concept compared to the myriad of superhero comics on Kickstarter, so how could it go wrong?
First of all, I set about mailing it to comic companies. Even the ones that say “we accept submissions and will reply even if it takes a year” did not reply. Maybe because I am based in central Europe it was just too much for them, who knows? After this, I decided to take the Kickstarter route. Now Kickstarter is great but as a first time creator, nobody knows who you are. You can count on about a quarter of your family and friends helping you out and buying a comic. Now my family and friends are quite substantial, but after I factored in paying an artist, a colourist, printing the books, adding Kickstarter fees and postage etc my total was pretty high and it became quite clear halfway into my project that I was not going to make the required amount. So I cancelled the project. After going back to the drawing board and working out the bare minimum I needed to get the comic done, I relaunched. But this time I still did not make it. The total was still high and despite having loads of promotion done for the first comic, I got even less backers. It seemed my project was doomed.
I left it for a while, wallowing in failure then kind of forgetting about the project. Then after a while I started to doodle and it was always pictures of my characters. I joined a few sites with webcomics on and noticed that despite not being the worlds greatest artist, my stuff was better than a lot of the stuff put out. These people were getting huge followings too. Not that their work was bad, just not my style. So I began to do some test stuff, drawing pages and suchforth. Then one day I just found myself drawing the first page of my comic and carrying on. I opened a wordpress site and created a schedule for uploading. When I was about halfway through my first issue, I realised that I could probably go back to Kickstarter as my overheads were now just printing and posting. And it happened. In 12 hours I was 200% funded. So here are my tips for anyone starting a Kickstarter comic….
- Spend some money on it and give stuff away for free!
So before my runaway success, I spent a lot of money on my project. Part of the reason it took so long was that I used a short amount of money every month to pay my artist to do a character design, then a page, then a cover etc. Despite the fact that I did it all myself in the end, by the third time around I had enough stuff to keep showing people cool content. I even got some fan art which was really good so I could put out a post of one character drawn by four different artists. On top of that I used some internet type stuff like facebook ads to build my group following, so I had also spent money on that.
My main change was that I switched to a webcomic format. Instead of my pitch being “You can only get this comic here by a creator you have never heard about with no track record of making comics….” it became “Every month two pages of this comic go online for free which you can read here (insert website). However if you want a physical comic and can’t wait nine more months for the end of issue one, buy this”. I started putting the stuff online about five months before, slowly building up the fanbase. I am quite confident that as more pages go up, more people will start to follow us and that will be even more people invested in the project.
- I only found two paid advertising methods that really work.
The first one is facebook ads. In terms of getting traffic to Kickstarter it did not do much but for getting people to my facebook group it is pretty good and low cost. The second was a website called my green inbox. They are not paying me to say this, it actually did work. Basically, when you are on facebook people tend to scan through posts and don’t really take them in. My green inbox allows you to send a message to the inbox of every person in your contact list. You do get a much better response. I got an immediate spike in sales from people I was friends with. I am not sure how or if this is still working after the GDPR laws but it is worth a try. Anything else, forget about. Avoid anyone who messages you about promoting your stuff for money (actually I did not even try these).
- Research your printing and format
For no reason other than I just started to draw it like that one day, my project ended up being a landscape orientation comic. That’s fine but I did not realise that landscape comics are harder to bind and cost more to print. Halfway through my project I reasearched stretch goals and after trailing through online printers trying to get decent quotes, I found www.awesomemerchandise.com. They actually print comics in small volumes but in specific sizes for a really cheap price. If I had known this before, I could probably have saved about 300 quid just by changing my size and format.
- Some people will love you, some will hate you
That’s life hey? So when starting, I had someone tell me it was a totally unoriginal idea and not worthy of time. My argument was that the Walking Dead is just a comic about Zombies but it’s huge. Surely my comic is more original than that? I also had one guy online saying how bad my characters were. But for those people, I had two others that took the concept and ran with it. One guy just started promoting my comic to websites and comic shops just because he loved the concept. One artist drew me a character sketch that was better than my own artwork! Just because he wanted to help me out. So basically, don’t get downhearted if it is not for some people. You can not please all the people all of the time.
- Be original.
Try to think of something at least a little bit original. Put a spin on it. My concept is not earth shatteringly brand new but if I looked up comics about Victorian boxers online I am fairly sure I would be one of only a hand full. One of the most interesting comic creators I have found on Kickstarter are inverse comics, who just tell the story of old wrestlers in graphic novels. Simple but original. Yet if I scan through now, I can see comic after comic of characters that are just hybrid clones of Spiderman/Captain America/Batman/Iron Man. Give people something else.