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Kickstarter: the first 48 hours

So! Wow! Uh! We funded in 5 hours! So many emotions, and all of them positive! Have I been letting loose some peals of maniacal laughter? I won't say I haven't.

48 hours after I hit launch, we were at 166% of our goal with 80 backers and 25 days left. Things have slowed down considerably, which was what I expected on the ol' crowdfunding plateau, but I couldn't have hoped for a better start.

Coming into this, I was super nervous and not sure what to expect. So, as is my way, I decided to write a lil post about:

* How I prepped for my first Kickstarter campaign

* What happened in our first two days

* What I'm planning on for the next 25 days

* Some recommendations I have/things I'd do differently next time

If you want to check out the Kickstarter and grab a copy of Volume 1 of Andraste, you can do that here:

How I prepped

My Kickstarter is for an 88 page print collection of the first 3 issues of Andraste. I set the goal at $2,000 -- given my margins and the spread of pledges I expected, I figured that was enough to get everything printed and shipped after fees, make extra rewards, deal with cancelled pledges, and have room for error.

Here's where I was at when I hit the launch button:

  • Issues 1 and 2 were done-done. Issue 3's cover and variant cover were in progress, and Abel was on page 5 (of 33). We're on track to be done with #3 by the end of November.

  • I had samples of the sticker packs in hand, and had gotten a failed sample of a sword pin and a lovely sample of a sword refrigerator magnet on the way.

  • I had a confirmed partnership with Crafty Celts, a jewelry company that makes torcs and other very awesome pieces of historical jewelry, so I could offer those as pledge rewards!

  • I had a budget outlining my margins for every pledge level, and had researched shipping costs. (Please do this!)

  • I'd ordered paper samples and settled on a printer.

  • I booked ads on The Beat and A Place To Hang Your Cape.

  • I had an idea of my social media plan, but hadn't gotten assets/copy together beyond the first two days.

  • I had a rough plan for my first two stretch goals.

  • I'd emailed a whole slew of reviewers with Issue 2.

  • I had a PDF trade confirmed with Jason Cook, and a few more in flight; I'd also offered a PDF to the XOB and Transhuman: Rivka's story campaigns for their packs.

  • I posted about the campaign here, and to my email list.

  • I made a video. Don't want to talk about it! But it's there.

I submitted the project for review about a week before I planned to launch. I, a doofus, included the word raffle in the campaign a whole bunch of times because I planned to give away some commissions and goodies to backers over the course of the campaign. That's not a thing you're allowed to do on Kickstarter, though, which they very helpfully let me know. Once I fixed that and made plans to run giveaways on Instagram instead, they approved me quickly. A big thank you to Oriana at Kickstarter, who offered on Twitter to review folks' projects if they were launching soon -- I jumped on that, and she gave me great feedback!

What happened in my first two days

When I launched, I shared it here, on my mailing list, on Facebook with my friends and family and the comic groups I'm in, and I had 24 people following the campaign on Kickstarter (now up to 89!). The artists shared the link to their networks, too. I had a really nice review go up on The Pullbox, and an interview go up on Comics Bookcase!

Pledges started coming in within a few minutes. And then, dream of dreams, by 2 pm, we were done, and moving onto our first stretch goal. Why, I have asked myself, and also, how in the hell?

My reasoning:

What I don't have going for me

I'm a first-time comic writer; in a sense, one step below persona non grata, an unproven quantity, a nobody, a-- ahem. I am new to this, there are no Keanu Reeveses or Matt Kindtses with me (I CAN'T WAIT FOR BRZRKR THOUGH OH MAN), and as such I have to do more legwork to find an audience. Comic reviewers and readers have a lot of options, and it's up to me to tell them why they should join me for a gory jaunt through Iron Age Britain.

What I do have going for me

I have wonderful and supportive friends and family, and a small (and now, growing!) group of readers who enjoy the series and want to see more. I've also been telling everyone I know about this book for years now. I'm working with some pretty unbelievably talented artists, and so the book is both (IMHO) fun to read and gorgeous. I set a goal that was realistic, which also meant people's early contributions were impactful.

And I really really really love this thing. I love making this book, and I want to keep making it. People can feel that, I think.

The next 25 days

Now that we've met our campaign goal, I'm hoping to hit $6,000 and 200 backers by the end of the campaign, which feels possible! If we meet our next stretch goals, I'll be revealing some nice goodies for anyone who ordered a physical book. We've already reached the first stretch goal, which includes a PDF pack of other indie books, scripts for issues #1-3, and an Old Shuck sticker by Jessica Brannan.

I'm planning to post some multi-page previews of Issues 2 and 3 to the Kickstarter page, so keep an eye out for those! I'm also hoping to get a few more interviews and reviews from my outreach. We'll see!

Recommendations and hindsight

As I mentioned in the aforementioned interview with Zack Quaintance at Comics Bookcase (shameless plug), I felt simultaneously like I'd prepared too much and not enough. I think the biggest thing I regret is not pre-writing more of my social media posts and updates, but that'll be this weekend's project!

So, my recommendations, if you're trying this as a new-ish indie creator too:

  • Write a good Risks and Challenges section, even if it's mainly for yourself! It'll help you keep the stuff you need to watch out for top of mind.

  • If you're new, get as much of your book done as you can before you launch. I think being able to show off lots of Abel's and DC's and Unai's and Ariel's incredible artwork is carrying my campaign with new readers.

  • Offer original art and special opportunities to be involved in the book! People really love being immortalized in comics, and being able to do something like name a character or be an extra in a scene are great ways to do that.

  • If you can do a neat extra that ties in nicely with your book, like a torc, by all means, do it! It gives your rewards and page some nice variety, and lets you offer rewards at different price points.

  • Speaking of which, have a few different price points available in the single, double, and triple digits. And have some reward levels in your back pocket, in case you need them!

  • Price out ev-er-y-thing and make a budget for your time and your money. Shipping first and foremost. Don't successfully fund and then realize you've lost money on the whole thing. Figure out what feels like a realistic delivery date, and then add a month to it.

  • Email every website that reviews comics that you can find, and then follow up politely. You never know! Have a press release page and the issues/images you've got done in a folder all neat to send to them. Make their lives as easy as possible; they get approximately 6 billion emails a day. Don't take it personally if you don't hear back.

  • Find other folks making comics you love, and see if you can cross-promote! Speaking of which, you should check out Nandor Shaffer Fox's SEASONS and Shaun Paulet's XCT Infinity Issue #1 campaigns! They're great people and they make great comics. And I'm also super looking forward to J. L. Johnson Jr.'s Ennead: The Rule of Nine!

  • Tell your friends about your weird hobbies. They love you.

If you're Kickstarting your own comic, let me know! I'd love to check it out.


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