By Rick Geary
Five years ago, my first project on Kickstarter was “The Elwell Enigma,” the story of a real-life unsolved murder from the 1920s. My decision to try crowdfunding was simply one of curiosity and experimentation, and I felt that to do it right I should stick with the genre I’m known for, and for which I have a readymade fan base.
With the advice and guidance of my digital guru Mark Rosenbohm, we decided upon a monetary goal, set the various contribution levels and the rewards we would offer. Once the campaign was up and running, I was surprised as to how quickly we met our goal. In fact, my first Kickstarter experience succeeded beyond my wildest dreams, and I immediately wanted to try the process again.
My second book was a bit of the departure: an alphabet book about the various conspiracy theories surrounding Barack Obama. A risky project all around, and one that just barely met its goal in the 30-day period. And so, for my third book, I returned to familiar territory with the true story of the last days of Billy the Kid, a perfect fit for my new home in Lincoln County, New Mexico. This project was again a great success, so for my next book I tried another departure. “Murder at the Hollywood Hotel,” a fictional mystery set in the early days of Hollywood, is not a graphic novel but a storybook with one illustration per page, and was successfully funded.
Of course, after the initial euphoria of the funding period, and after the book is printed, comes the hard and sometimes tedious work of fulfilling the reward levels, packaging the material and sending it out to the various contributors across the nation and the world. After four projects, my garage is filled with boxes of books, which I sell in slow motion at comic cons and through my website.
So for anyone considering funding a project on Kickstarter or any similar site, I would offer a few simple pieces of advice:
1. Select a project that falls within your comfort zone (In my case, a genre that I am known for).
2. Set a modest goal (in my case, just enough money to print and ship the book).
3. When the project is ready, be timely and conscientious in packaging and sending out the rewards.
Always ready to build on past successes, I am now in the midst of my fifth Kickstarter campaign. I’m back again to familiar themes with “The Story of the Lincoln County War,” the first graphic novel to tell the true and complete story of the bloodiest episode in the early days of the New Mexico Territory. One in which the public was first introduced to the violent youth known as Billy the Kid.
Over the years, I have originated many projects that would never be taken up by mainstream publishers, and I have always felt that my ultimate destiny was to become my own publisher. Kickstarter has helped me to realize this, for it works according to a very old model, one used by Mark Twain and others in the 19th century, that of selling subscriptions pre-publication. I will continue taking advantage of this process as long as it works for me.