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.
* 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: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/honorvincent/andraste-volume-1-a-printed-collection-of-issues-1-3
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 time 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?
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! I'll be announcing some fun giveaways on our Instagram (@andrastecomic) over the next three weeks, and if we meet our 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 also 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 Bookchase (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 social media posts and more , because I have a day job, 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. Set a realistic delivery date, and then add at least two weeks 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.