I thought it might be of interest for some of you to read about my latest Kickstarter campaign recounting the day-by-day progress, including all my research, assumptions and assets.
- FACT: I had already completed the first issue of THE HARD CODE last year and was finally able to muster the funds needed for the second issue earlier this year. Artist Trevor Von Eeden finished the pencils for 19 pages in less than three weeks. Lui Antonio inked issue #2 and Macarena Cortes did coloring chores. All I needed now was money to print them.
- RESEARCH: I went on Kickstarter and searched for successfully funded comic book projects that I felt were of the same level of professional quality as my own with creators roughly at the same point in their careers. The average Kickstarter goals for them was around $3500. So I did the math and figured out how many prints I could afford after factoring in the rewards and shipping. Thus $3691.
- TIP: Overnightprints.com has THE LOWEST PRICES of any printer out there for saddle-stitched books. The only problem is that they only do 8.5 x 11 and 5.5 x 8.5. So I also bought a professional paper cutter from Amazon. (I accidentally ordered two so if anyone wants to buy the other one…)
- BUZZ: For weeks before the campaign, I would mention the upcoming KS on social media at least once a week. I posted something about THE HARD CODE on all the comic book groups that I thought were appropriate, especially the Trevor Von Eeden fan page. I also posted preview pages of issue 1 on SmackJeeves, Issuu.com as well as my own website.
- LAUNCH: While on vacation in Upstate New York, I read a couple of articles on Kickstarter tips, shot the video using my laptop’s webcam, edited it on iMovie and after sleeping on it, submitted the campaign to Kickstarter the next day. I learned from my first KS to offer rewards that were easily shipped. That meant flat items and PDFs. The t-shirts and framed prints from last time were a pain in the…
- ASSUMPTIONS: I thought that all the buzz build-up and the fact that I had almost two thousand Facebook friends, over one thousand industry people on my email list, almost four hundred twitter followers AND Trevor Von Eeden as my artist would guarantee a record breaking flurry of pledges at launch. It didn’t.
- LULL: Every Kickstarter vet knows about the “lull”. It happens in the middle of the campaign after the initial excitement of the launch and before the frantic final push. It’s maddening! MY lull didn’t happen in the middle, it happened at the start. By the end of the 10th day, I had a dismal $605. At this rate I would have reached my goal around Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, I only had 20 days left.
- PRIDE: At this point, I was desperate, knowing that if I didn’t do something to change the trajectory of the campaign, I’d be doomed. So I started the “begging.” Very cheerfully, I sent instant messages to everyone on my FB friends list whom I felt close enough to and who I thought might want to support me or buy a comic book from me. I made sure to make each plea a personal one.
- SURGE: Three days after I had started sending out personal messages requesting support, I went from $605 to $2631. I was now at 71% funded! I have mixed feelings about this, because I felt like I should be getting pledges from supporters and admirers of the work I had done rather than from people who were my friends and family. And I’m humbled that so many of them were more than happy to support me in this, but clearly, if I’m going to make this a career, I need more fan support. The good news is that out of 150 backers so far, only 90 of them were personal FB friends.
- CONTROVERSY: On Day 13, things would have slowed down if not for Mark Mazz and Trevor. A few weeks earlier, I had sent Trevor a few innocuous interview questions I thought I could include as a KS reward. What Trevor sent back to me was an outpouring of memories and emotion from a man who had seen it all after 40 years in the business. And some of it wasn’t very flattering to some folks at one of the big two. Not sure what to do with this interview, I sought advise from Mark Mazz, a good friend and the publisher of Comic Creator News. He said he knew Trevor and all the players involved and on Monday August 15, he ran it. Within 24 hours, the story had been picked up by The Beat, Bleeding Cool, TripWire Magazine, The Outhousers and possibly more. Three days later, we passed the $3K mark.
- SUCCESS: On day 20 of the campaign, we hit our target goal of $3691. And it was still climbing. Since then, I’ve been sending updates to the supporters and posting about the campaign on Facebook every 2-3 days about additional incentives and rewards if we reached our stretch goal. Average number of new backers per day: 6. And we passed our first stretch goal on day 24.
- FINAL STRETCH: Yesterday, I sent instant messages to all those whom I hadn’t contacted yet. I guess the lesson here is that unless you actually have a fan base, you’ll just have to accept that you may need to make personal pleas to friends and family.
- CLOSURE: With one day left in the campaign, I’m hoping we can hit our second stretch goal of $5691. This would pretty much pay for Issue #3 of The Hard Code. So please pledge or wish us luck or both!
If you would like to support Trevor and I and help us put out even more of THE HARD CODE, you can make your pledge by going to https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ramongil/the-hard-code