Kickstart From The Heart – The Local Edition

Bleeding Cool’s Kickstarter Correspondent, Shawn Demumbrum has lead three Kickstarter campaigns to launch comic books, two successfully funded and one that wasn’t.  Each week he will point out some of the unique Kickstarter projects that wouldn’t normally be published by the big comic book companies, but deserve your attention.  Shawn is the Manager of Comic Book Programming for the Phoenix ComiconHe is currently working on the fourth “Inspired by” book based upon the Songs of Nine Inch Nails.

I wanted to do something different for this segment of Kickstart from the Heart.  Recently, I’ve had a few of my fellow local creators start up their own Kickstarter projects.  All of the projects have been started with in the last few weeks to varying success.  Although I don’t like to be overly critical of people’s projects, I know them pretty well and have given them ample time to take my advice.  Hopefully, from my active deconstruction of their active Kickstarter campaigns, future campaigners can learn from this.

The first project is by writer and artist Alfred Trujillo called Project: Shadows.  Alfred and I originally talked about his Kickstarter project at Las Vegas Comicon last September.  I had given him some of my advice (well as much as you can in the middle of a convention floor).  A few days ago, he sent me a link to his preview project.  When you set up your Kickstarter project, you can send out a preview link to friends, collaborators and peers to get their opinion.  Once you launch your project, some aspects of the project can’t be changed, so utilizing the preview link to solicit feedback can be of great help.  Alfred has all the cornerstones of a well organized campaign.  He has a video that represents the project well.  I’m not a big fan of the movie trailer project videos, but I understand how they can serve multiple marketing purposes.  A Kickstarter video with a personal plea that just outlines the project can only be used in that venue.  He has a limited number of rewards with significant dollar amounts between them, which makes it easier for backers to make a quick decision about their pledge level. The only thing of concern is the shipping costs for International orders.  Shipping prices have gone up in the US recently which includes the cost to ship internationally.  This especially becomes a point of concern if you have stretch goals that increase the weight of the rewards or items that require more expensive packaging in order to ship safely.  I personally made that mistake with the first book, because I assumed that people would chip in the extra shipping.  Every book I shipped out of country cost $3 more than what they pledged to produce and ship.  Luckily, Kickstarter allows you to make it mandatory that International backers pay more for rewards as part of their pledge.  There is still an opportunity for campaigners to underestimate that cost though.  Alfred’s project description includes lots of preview art, a list of contributors and a video of him talking about the comic on Univision.  As of now, he hit his goal of $3000 in less than 24 hours with 29 days to go.  Kicktraq has him trending toward $40k, but I think it will probably end up in the $10k-$15k range based upon how Kicktraq trends go.

The second campaign I want to talk about is for Tribe Studios.  The campaign for Tribe Studios is not one campaign, but two campaigns.  They have a couple of goals they want to meet including funding a new comic book issue of Shadow, a trade paperback collecting issues of the Comic Bug and an artist alley table at a local convention.  I’m not sure why they’ve decided to split their fanbase and resources.  Running a Kickstarter requires a lot of energy to maintain and to continuously promote in order create and maintain a buzz.  Our first Kickstarter example Project: Shadows is running a 30 day project campaign, Tribe Studios has two projects running for 60 days each almost simultaneously.  Most successful Kickstarter campaigners recommend at most 45 days for a campaign.  The most momentum on your campaign happens in the first and last few days of your campaign.  Trying to maintain interest in your campaign over a long period of time is difficult.  In addition to having two separate campaigns, the campaigns also are categorized differently.

One campaign is listed under Publishing: Fiction.  The other listed is Comics further dividing their potential backers who are looking in Comics and can’t find both of their projects.  The idea of breaking the campaigns into two is further exasperated by the fact that the two mediocre campaigns would make one good campaign.  The campaign to fund a new issue and convention appearance has a really good project description, but no video.  The campaign for a trade paperback collection has a good video describing the publisher, book and project, but a really poor project description.  Unlike some projects described by an earlier Bleeding Cool article, I have faith that Tribe Studios will deliver the books in a timely manner having seen their previous work.  The single issue/convention appearance campaign has exceeded its meager goal of $800, while the trade paperback campaign has just gotten its first backer with a $5 pledge.  I really feel that if they had combined campaigns and placed them in the Comics category that they would have already hit their combined campaign of $1400.

The third campaign is for an artist from Tucson who is raising funds for a children’s book based upon her dragon art that I’m familiar from her comic book convention appearances.  Jessica Feinberg is raising funds for her hardcover book, Dragons in the Library.  Jessica is not new to Kickstarter.  She has run three previous campaigns with two of the three successfully funded.  I’m sure that her experience has helped her with this campaign.  She has done a lot of things right: short campaign length (only 17 days which is really short), a good project video, a detailed project description, and less than 10 reward levels with distinct differences in the reward amounts.  Children’s books are valued differently, so I admit some ignorance in the value of the reward.  A paperback copy of the 28 page book is available at the $18, while the hardcover is available at the $28 reward level.  For a short book, that seems a little expensive, but again I haven’t bought a children’s book in a long time, so it might not be that far off.  Normally, I think people who offer hardcover and paperback rewards as rewards are setting themselves up for failure, because of the costs of the doing possibly small print runs of each.  According to Jessica, her printer only charges her setup fees for the hardcover version, so I think she will do well.  She has currently raised $1885 on a goal of $550.

While I normally like to focus on projects I like rather than point out others’ shortcomings, I think that there can be a lot learned from these projects.  To be fair, even Tribe Studios project has had one successfully project, although they could be doing a lot better without the split campaigns.  We will be returning again in our next segment with our usual set of Kickstarter recommendations.

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