Everyone is kickstarting a comic book. Which is awesome!
I have successfully kickstarter funded three comic books and one trade paperback collection for my series ARCHIVE The WarHood Odyssey. How on earth did I do it? Well here are my three secrets to success!
The direct market for indie creators has always been a struggle. Previously if you had a small indie comic and you wanted to get it published you had to go to a small publisher and pitch your book idea, with samples of your art, hoping that they would think it’s financially sound enough to invest in production and distribution costs.
The problem with this model is that the publisher takes on the burden of up front production, then Diamond takes a portion for distribution, and the comic retailer also takes a portion for selling to the consumer.
For a completely unknown comic book creator this model does not work. You are competing with well established tent pole titles from big corporations. Production and distribution historically was so expensive, that you couldn’t pay a creative team.
So the only logical alternative was to attempt to freelance for a large publisher. In my experience this is very hard for a completely unknown creator. Publishers can pick from a huge pool of already established talent who have proven that they can produce quality work on time with an established fan base. There are stories of artists being snatched up at conventions and brought into work at a studio in California and then becoming rockstars in the field. Those stories used to be more common, I think that primarily publishers use submissions as a marketing tactic to motivate people to invest in the dream of being a professional. There are some hot new creators working now, some were chosen from conventions, some were chosen through talent hunts, but I think that most were chosen because of networking with other creators and editors.
kickstarter secret #1:
You don’t have to get chosen!
If you pitch to a publisher, or work as a freelancer you are relying on someone else to choose you. There are thousands of incredibly talented people pushing and shoving to get chosen for these few spots on a roster that churns through talent. Books are cancelled and creative teams are shuffled because publishers don’t want readers to get attached to the creators. In the nineties, the rise of the rock star artist meant that Todd Mcfarlane was more important than Spider-Man! So when Todd left, Spider-Man suffered. Publishers want to make sure that never happens again.
I completely understand publishers thinking that the character needs to be more important than the creator. The same thinking is applied to movies, they don’t want people to love Robert Downey Jr. They want you to love Iron Man. But that’s not how humans work. We think that Robert Downey JR is Iron Man. We connect the creator with the creation. Until a new creator brings something to life, we have a tough time separating. If you shuffle in a new Spider-Man actor every three years, it’s a challenge to re-establish a connection with the creation.
How do we as creators get a cold audience to warm up to the idea that we might be their Robert Downey JR or Todd Mcfarlane?
kickstarter secret #2:
Know • Like • Trust
You have to bring the party to kickstarter. So you have to throw a party.
Do they know you? Do they like you? Do they trust you? Step number one, get people to know you. This has never been easier. In the nineties Wizard magazine, the guide to comics, would print head shots of the hot artists of the month. I had never seen what a comic book creator looked like before. Suddenly, this tiny little head shot in the back of the magazine showed me that humans brought these amazing creations to life. I could find other books by these tiny little portraits and follow these creators to whatever product they were working on. Now with social media we can reach thousands of friends/followers in a matter of moments. Build your online following, and start interacting and providing content.
Step number two, get people to like you. This can be a little harder. Look at people that you like and emulate how they act on social media. See how other people are speaking to their audiences and find what works for you. Not everyone is going to like you, and that’s good. Don’t waste your time trying to speak to people that aren’t interested. We are naturally attracted to people that are happy and having fun. It’s not rocket science. Everyone wants to be around happy, fun, genuine people.
Step number three, earn their trust. Do what you say, be honest, be genuine. It’s so hard to gain trust, and so easy to lose it. As creators we can be dreamers and the reality of creating and producing something is often not given the planning and attention that it deserves. Don’t over promise and under deliver. It’s easy to say that you can produce a 300 page omnibus of original content, inked, lettered, colored, printed and shipped to Australia. See, I just wrote it, took me two seconds to write that I could create that. Very easy to say it, but the reality is that it’s very hard to actually do that. So if I say you can do that (which I can) it’s important to actually do it. Be open and honest. I can do a 300 page omnibus of original content, inked, lettered, colored, printed and shipped to Australia. Honestly it’s gonna take me a while and it’s not gonna be cheap.
kickstarter secret #3:
Make awesome stuff!
How would I go about creating a 300 page omnibus of original content, inked, lettered, colored, printed and shipped to Australia? Make it awesome. Make it so awesome that people will pay me to do it because of how awesome it’s going to be. Why do you love the things you love? Why are Todd Mcfarlane, or Jk Rowling or Robert Downey JR so famous? They make awesome stuff. And they all have the three Ts…
Tenacity: They’ve failed and picked themselves up. They shake off the dust and step up to the plate. You learn a lot from making mistakes. If they had quit we wouldn’t be enjoying all the awesome stuff they’re doing now.
Timing: They were in the right place at the right time. Call it luck, call it fate, call it planning. They were there. There’s power in showing up.
Talent: They were ready. Years of practice meant they had the ability to do the job. When they were needed to produce, they make awesome stuff. The more stuff they made, the better it got.
So there you have it! Those are my kickstarter secrets! Click the links below to see all these secrets in action!