The hidden art of Kickstarter with Kazu Kibuishi and Jake Parker
As some of you may know, I am planing on putting my graphic novelette Polaris on Kickstarter in about two or three weeks. I need about 1000 dollars to get it to print and Kickstarter is an awesome platform to get the money and to reach some new readers for my comics.
To expand my knowledge of the art of Kickstarting I attended a wonderful one-hour talk by two successful campaigners: Kazu Kibuishi and Jake Parker. Both guys have funded the publishing of their books and went well beyond their initial targets. Jake Parker's (The Antler Boy and Other Stories on Kickstarter) raised $85,532 after seeking only $6,000 and Kazu Kibuishi's Daisy Kutter Reprint Project was nearly as successful (Daisy Kutter Reprint Project).
The talk was very informative. It covered the creation of the campaign, marketing, fulfillment, pledge strategy, stretch goals, budget planing and relationship with the backers.
Here are some points I took away from the talk:
- Choose a shorter campaign period - 30 days is plenty if you work hard promoting your campaign. A longer campaign will not necessarily bring more money.
- When pricing the pledges, consider all the costs. Kazu:"What you think it will cost - double it." Plan for shipping costs for within the US, Canada and worldwide - go to your post office and make a price list on all of your shipping options. Shipping to Australia is the most expensive. Plan for packaging costs - boxes can cost you up to 5 dollars each or more. Amazon and Kickstarter together will take 10 percent bite out of your funds. Think about adding a special pledge for international backers and price it accordingly. If your more expensive pledges promise two or even more copies of your book - don't forget to recalculate your shipping cost for extra weight. To fulfill thousands of orders may take weeks or even month of your life - be ready for it. Jake's solution was having lots of kids and making them help.
- First level of the pledges must be the product itself and then build up from there. Making cheaper pledges first may cost you more money or time: like postcards that you have to spend money to print.
- Limit the pledges with the time consuming commitments to the manageable number. If you promised an original sketch to each of your backers and you got hundreds of sketches to do, say goodbye to your weekends.
- You can use all the backers of your current campaign as a base for your next one. But you must keep them happy if you wish to "use'em" again.
- The money you will get is your income. It means you will have to pay taxes on this money. Keep all the receipts.
- Kickstarter or Amazon doesn't care if you do what you have promised to do. Your reputation is on the line here, but nothing else.
- Back other projects on Kickstarter. People likely to give to you if they see you give to others.
- Try to make it so that when your backer gets the box from you and opens it, it exceeds his or her expectations. If you can, give more.
- Charge for signed copy. To sign even 1,000 copies, it is a hard work.
- Stretch Goals - What is that? Here's what it is: when you reach your goal and you are getting more then expected, you may afford to make some upgrades to your product, like adding more pages to your book or making your 10-minutes short film into epic 10 hours film saga. In this case you may inform your backers, that you are "Stretching your goal" in case of reaching some sum of money. At this point many backers will upgrade their pledges, because they are getting more for their money.
- Backer can raise his pledge, but he also can cancel it. If you do everything right, then hopefully the latter will not happen much.
- Keep your backers updated with fun and inclusive updates. Updates are the messages you send to your backers during and after the campaign. You may include photos of the steps you're taking: you in the printing house with your book in "the oven", you in the editing room of your film, you in the bathroom... no, strike that. Backers who feel included are happy and may forgive you for any delays that may be.
- It will take you two week to get the money from Amazon.
- At first backers will be the ones you bring with you (your fan base, Facebook, twitter followers, family and friends). But then the people of Kickstarter will start to get on the action. More then fifty percent of the backers for Jake were Kickstarters who found his project on the Kickstarter website. Jake: "There are people who are on the site, looking for projects to fund"
- Use the middle section (description part under the video) to expand more on your offers: use pictures to illustrate what backer gets for each pledge level.
This list have no particular order. I am just transcribing my notes from the talk.
The information I am using in this article was not verified, so use it at your own risk. Good luck with your projects. Remember: we need your voice to be heard - you might say something important, and we'd hate to miss it.
And don't forget to support my Kickstarter campaign for Polaris the comic book. Here is the Facebook page. Like it, so you can keep in touch: Polaris on Facebook
Special thanks to the talented Kazu Kibuishi and Jake Parker and the third fella whose name I didn't catch (please forgive me - you were not less important).