Friday, March 15, 2013

Serious Saturday, Part 2: Self-Publishing with Kickstarter

(Image:  Freelancers by Reilly Brown)
We've often heard that "it takes money to make money."  This bit of capitalistic mantra isn't limited your 401K, but also applies to creative pursuits as well.  In the past, artists sought out patrons to finance their work.  Today, such patrons can be found on-line through various crowdfunding sites, which can help self-published comics--well--get published.
One such site, or at least the one I've heard of the most is Kickstarter.  It was through this site that Chris Furniss financed his comic The 31 Days of Zero Suit Samus.
Here are some of his thoughts on developing a successful Kickstarter Campaign:
First, make a video to pique the interest of potential backers, but keep it under four minutes.
Include exclusive awards for backers that won't be available for normal purchase and make uniquely-named backer award levels.  The most popular award level appears to be $35 donations.
Keep your goals modest and don't stretch them.  (In the military, this is called "mission creep" for ever-expanding goals).
There are Kickstarter Talking Sites that can help with any questions and/or issues you might have.
What can you do to ensure your project is successful?
Follow these basic tenets--
--Be prepared.
--Be thorough.
--Be transparent.
--Be timely.
--Be respectful.
"The 5 Bs" in detail:
Be Prepared
First ask, what is your goal?
Then develop a business proposal.
Be Thorough
Take lots of notes (do your research)
Price-out your backer rewards.
Overestimate the backer reward fulfillment (the "fudge factor," because there's always unexpected expenses).
Present as much information as possible in order to sell your idea. 
That is--Be Enticing (make that "The 6 Bs")--
--Utilize spellcheck.  Inattention to a detail such as proper spelling can turn off potential backers.
--Make a video, as mentioned above.
--Make something someone wants to buy.  Or as they say in marketing--find a need.  What to people need, or want?
--Be friendly and thank everyone who mentions your project.
(Note:  Many projects fail because they're not enticing enough).
Be Transparent
It's okay to make money off your project. 
Update only when you have something meaningful to say.  Don't be a spammer.
Be Timely
It's okay to be late.  Just be honest and explain why your project is running behind schedule.
Be Respectful
Listen to feedback.
Some other issues to keep in mind:
Make use of free resources.
Outsource as much as possible--don't do everything yourself.
In regards to printing--
--Ask for recommendations and get at least 3 estimates.
--Use local resources, which will be easier for you to monitor and interact with.
--Thoroughly examine all prints and proofs.
--Pack in some surprises (like buttons, or stickers) for your customers.
Survey Tips
How do your backers like your finished product?  According to Chris, the customer survey is the weakest aspect of Kickstarter.  Send folks a friendly reminder to provide some feedback.
Follow-up Notes
Provide friendly customer service.  Don't hassle anyone claiming their product was damaged, or misplaced.  Accept all returns and ship out new items as necessary.
Merchandise (the surprises and awards mentioned above) can be developed, or obtained through companies like Fangamer.

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