Lessons from my comic book Kickstarter campaign

My Kickstarter comic book campaign – through the eyes of a brand new indie comic book writer and creator.

I started writing The Brink series about two years before I decided to make it into a comic book. I’m not a professional comic book illustrator so had to find one and then there are the subsequent costs which could be anything from £80 per page. So, that’s a minimum of £2000 for a 24 page comic book (including the cover).

I was lucky enough to find an artist that liked my story and charged me a little less – albeit, he will be rewarded in the future! And that formed part of my decision to run a Kickstarter campaign. If successful, I could reward my artist. Anyway, I paid for The Brink issue #1: The Urban Cryptid (pt1) myself and then decided I should go ahead with the Kickstarter campaign.

However, I had to decide what I wanted to achieve from the campaign. All I really want is to be able to continue the comic book series. I read lots and lots of advice from comic creators but, in all honesty, that confused me, they all seemed to be saying that asking for money to fund issue #2 (a product that hadn’t been created yet) would be less likely to succeed than a campaign with an existing product and so asking for the money to print issue #1 was preferable because I had something to show potential backers. I did also note that they all spoke from a position of already having a following/fan base. But I was starting from scratch so had no following and no real idea of how to initiate and grow a following.

So, I decided to just go for it! I’d show people the finished product and go for the printing! I found a UK based comic book printing company who quoted me £579 to print. Excellent! Then I read about how to calculate your kickstarter goal and there was alot more to think about. If I just asked for £579 I would essentially be of pocket because I hadn’t taken into account the potential cost of postage, packaging (sleeves, backing Boards and envelopes), the extra money I’d like to pay my artist (and in my case other artists that did some work for free) and the Kickstarter fees, as well as fees for using services from Backerkit AND taxes! So, all considered it came to a grand total of £3000. OMG!

I went with it anyway. I spent about 3 months planning and developing the campaign while the comic book was being drawn. We even did a cool video which I’m proud of. But I had planned on starting the campaign in June, but that date slipped back and I ended up going for it in August, which is apparently an awful time to do it because there are alot of comic books already on Kickstarter at this time.

I also set the length of the campaign to about 25 days, another tip from the experts – don’t make the campaign too long around 20 days is best.

Then I set it free… And it reached 44% funding… Which equals unsuccessful…
Why? There are three main reasons.

  1. I did not have an established following/fan base (I’ll write another blog about how to grow a fan base because I’ve learnt so much about that since the campaign began and ended). Most comic book creators spend about a year growing a following before committing to a Kickstarter campaign. They say once you reach around 100 genuine fans, that’s about the right time to go for it on Kickstarter.
  2. It was the wrong time for my comic book. It’s bad enough beginning without a following, but I chose to start in August – the peak time for comic books on Kickstarter. It because very obvious to me that my campaign was lost in the pile of comic book campaigns. I evidence that with the fact I had 29 video views and 25 backers. So, I did not get enough exposure. I feel this is also very positive, that possibly 25 out of 29 people who found my campaign backed it.
  3. I didn’t plan the launch correctly. Getting featured on Kickstarter is not straight forward, however, if you do well within the first few days then you might get that really good exposure. Why didn’t I force all of my family and friends to back me in those initial days. For me, it was about being funded by people who genuinely have an interest so I didn’t go crazy on asking friends. But I should have!

I think I wrote the campaign details well (maybe too maybe too much detail) and the video was good. The only thing I’d probably do differently next time, is have less pledge tiers. But in my case, I wanted to reward the artists that helped me by offering their original work, so it’s a balance to consider.

Looking back, should I have waited until I had the following? No. I did it and I’m proud I did. No regrets there. I have learnt so much more than I would have because of the campaign and I have potentially picked up some long term fans along the way. It was worth it at this stage.

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Steven Sweeney BSc(Hons), MSc

'The Brink' comic creator, author, Web developer and musician with 5 albums.