Comic Fans Need Patience: Thoughts on Lengthy Kickstarters & Incomplete First Issues

I’ve been pondering the question of how long comic readers should be asked to wait when it comes to independent work.

What started this off was Lea Hernandez’s Kickstarter for The Garlicks, which ends tomorrow. Since it’s only about a third of the way towards the goal of $40,000, it looks like it isn’t going to make it.

(Update: Be sure to read Lea’s comments below, where she explains more about her effort. And Alex, who’s also run a long-term Kickstarter, has a good list of why some projects don’t succeed in the comments.)

I’m part of the reason why. While I love her work and will buy her next book, I didn’t contribute, because the project is set up to support her while she creates it. That means she’s promising rewards to deliver a year from now (May 2013), and that’s too far away for me to commit to.

I am more comfortable funding a project where the work already exists, one where the creator needs print costs. This doesn’t apply to Lea’s case, but one of the reasons why is that, if rewards deliver within a couple of months, I’m protected if something happens and I don’t get what’s promised. Within 3-6 months, I have the ability to do a credit card chargeback in the worst case, if the provider flakes out. On a more personal level, it’s more rewarding to get a book or other rewards within a couple of months, as though it was similar to a preorder. Otherwise, it feels like throwing money into the wind.

Of course, if you have the resources to be charitable and make donations, supporting favorite artists without concern for what you get in return, then this isn’t a worry for you. But at that point, Kickstarter reminds me of a popularity contest.

I would advise those planning Kickstarters to note that something in the range of $4-8,000 is more likely to be achieved than asking for multiple tens of thousands of dollars. Sure, there are plenty of success stories, but they’ve been run by people with huge followings and a long-term track record of delivering products of known quality. Also, anthologies, which have a much bigger crew of contributors working to get the word out. A Kickstarter is, on many levels, a measurement of trust, and if you don’t have enough dedicated followers and a solid, substantial track record of doing what you say you will, you may not succeed.

Along similar lines, I got another email recently from a guy who seemed nice and funny who funded the first issue of his comic series through Kickstarter but wouldn’t be able to do another until he sold enough digital and print copies to cover costs. The problem was that the first issue, while intriguing in its setup, didn’t provide anything close to a complete story. Readers are asked to have faith that they’ll eventually see another issue, which may or may not finish the story.

There’s a problem of momentum here. It’s hard enough, with so many options and so much competition out there, to get a customer’s attention once. Expecting them to come back at some future undetermined time is foolhardy. I know the economics are tough for young creators, but I don’t understand why anyone would release just part of a story for their first issue these days. Put out a complete work, so readers get a good idea of what you’re capable of.


44 Responses to “Comic Fans Need Patience: Thoughts on Lengthy Kickstarters & Incomplete First Issues”

  1. Jesse Says:

    Wholeheartedly agree — one thing that consistently worries me about most publishing-related Kickstarter projects is that there’s no business plan in place. Most of the successful gadget Kickstarter campaigns have a manufacturer lined up, a distributor, some initial retail relationships, a functioning website that can take orders, etc. You really are just kickstarting the business they’ve built.

    The same has to be done for a publishing project — who’s the audience, how will the project sustain itself once it’s started, etc.? I don’t think it’s best to “kickstart” your living expenses while you create something. That’s more like an arts grant. Crowd-sourced arts grants would be a cool idea, though.

  2. Bradley W. Schenck Says:

    “On a more personal level, it’s more rewarding to get a book or other rewards within a couple of months, as though it was similar to a preorder. Otherwise, it feels like throwing money into the wind.”

    ===============

    I can’t argue there; I think the purest form of a Kickstarter project is essentially a pre-order. I wish it were different, and sometimes it can be, but that’s the Kickstarter “contract” in a nutshell.

    Oddly, my last project there was pretty much exactly that, and I got a surprising amount of criticism for not having loads of bells and whistles and other rewards. Those other rewards would have ballooned the amount of money I needed by such a large margin that the project couldn’t possibly succeed. There’s been an evolution over there of a kind of community and what they expect a project to be. It’s interesting to watch.

    ===============

    “I would advise those planning Kickstarters to note that something in the range of $4-8,000 is more likely to be achieved than asking for multiple tens of thousands of dollars. Sure, there are plenty of success stories, but they’ve been run by people with huge followings and a long-term track record of delivering products of known quality.”

    ===============

    It’s also worth remembering that those huge successes started with (relatively) modest goals and grew beyond those when the projects got a lot of attention. At some point things like the Order of the Stick drive enter a feedback loop: the more insane the amount they raise, the more media coverage they get, and so they raise even more funds, on and on to the end.

    One thing that doesn’t get mentioned much is that a Kickstarter promotion is also a form of marketing. You draw in new audience through the Kickstarter site, for one thing, and you also have an event (a dramatic event, even) which it’s easier to promote than your existing, ongoing projects. For that reason your project can get a lot of coverage on the Web that brings you new readers, and maybe buyers, whether or not the fundraiser succeeds.

  3. James Schee Says:

    When I look at some of the goals being asked and even being met, the 80k or more. Some who are established talent who could easily get their stuff published. I shake my head as I wonder with dwindling sales across the bored what it’d be like if people spent this money on actual comics out there. (I still see more comics I’d love to read than I can afford)

    Still more power to them and those who have the money to support it. I may think it odd that it’s even smaller # of people paying even more money for books, but eh if they want to do it it’s their thing.

  4. Johanna Says:

    Bradley, you touch on something I’ve been wondering about, whether if you want, say, 20K, it’s better to ask for 10K and then work for increasing the take once it’s successful or ask for the whole 20K, which seems much riskier to the audience, perhaps. That is, I wonder if there’s a significant customer segment that won’t pledge unless they know that the effort will be successful.

  5. Bradley W. Schenck Says:

    I’m sure that could work for some projects, where there wasn’t any problem with scale. In my recent case my printer had a minimum order to get my books at the price I needed, so I couldn’t have “succeeded” with anything less than that.

    It might have been possible to plan the whole fundraiser based on a *higher* per-book price at a lower quantity, I guess. The price per book would have looked unreasonably high… but it could still have worked (and made me more money, for that matter, if I still hit the higher target and got the better price in the end).

  6. Burl Says:

    I’m torn – I understand the need for an artist to earn a living wage while creating a project, but relying on Kickstarter to support someone’s entire family for a year sounds like a bad idea.

  7. Clint Hollingsworth Says:

    I put in as much for Lea’s KS as I could possibly afford, and a bit more, but I had an awful feeling that at the high level she was shooting for, that the prospect of success was going to be very difficult. I would sure like to see this happen though…

  8. Lea Hernandez Says:

    I wish this article had appeared a bit sooner, because there are points brought up that would’ve been excellent to address at the Kickstarter page for THE GARLICKS.

    But allow me to try here.

    While the books won’t be shipped until May 2013, all non-book incentives will be shipped by August-September. The date I felt best to give was the date the LAST incentive, the book itself, would be shipped.
    I considered adding that info to each reward level copy, but I felt I was inching into tl;dr as it was.

    It does say in the “story” on THE GARLICKS’ front page that “I’ll be serializing THE GARLICKS, three color pages a week, over the next year as a webcomic at http://thegarlicks.net.”
    I’m not disappearing down a hole for a year, hopefully to emerge with backer’s trust intact.

    As for supporting me for a year: well, yes. I’m not asking for backing for JUST that. The amount covers production AND printing AND fees AND taxes AND the cost of incentives AND postage.
    There’s a breakdown of where the money goes on the front page. A later update details where my money I earn monthly (in the form of a page rate, not a lump sum) will be spent. It’s a modest and responsible budget that ensures THE GARLICKS doesn’t go off-track because I’ve under-funded and have to stop working on it to take other work or a job in case of an emergency.

    Also on the front page, I mention that the money is to be put in a protected account that is ONLY drawn on when tasks are finished or bills must be paid. I worked this out with a respected financial adviser, Liz Schiller (former president of Friends of Lulu), to ensure that money would be spent ONLY when it was time.

    Take a look at tech Kickstarters (which have already spend money outside of Kickstarter on development)or other comics Kickstarters and tell me how many break it down that well. Only one, that I’ve seen.
    (Also, I see Kickstarters promising delivery by dates impossible to achieve, given their timeline for development and manufacturing, plus the time it takes to get the funding from KS/Amazon to bank, which is 2-3 weeks after the campaign ends.)

    $40,000 IS a large amount, but given my plan, the costs of executing it, and my desire to execute it smoothly and as a good experience for my backers, it was the only responsible and intelligent amount to shoot for.

    Thanks for the space, Johanna, and for raising some good questions.

  9. Alex de Campi Says:

    As someone who both pledged for Lea’s kickstarter and who ran a lengthy kickstarter of my own, I have opinions. I can understand Johanna’s reluctance to take a year-long risk on a project, but for many of us there is NO other way to get a book made.

    It’s all very well to say, oh, just go and do the art first, but when a writer is trying to fund an ambitious graphic novel that is JUST. NOT. POSSIBLE. Believe me. My original artist, getting even 22 pages of sample art out of him was like pulling teeth. And the only reason I was able to attract the artists to replace him was because I had money on the table to pay them. As well disposed as they individually might have been to me or to the script, I do not think I could have convinced a single one to do it for free, on spec.

    I tried to ameliorate the quite valid worries of people such as Johanna with my kickstarter by offering a money-back guarantee, and also serialising the chapters as they were finished. Thanks to a lot of artist drama, I don’t have the first serialised chunk done yet, but overall our print date is still on schedule.

    Some creators are in a position that their spouse has a job and so the family is provided for financially and in terms of healthcare… and some do not. I can greatly understand Lea’s desire to be able to work at this book as her “job”, rather than having to come home from a job, take care of the kids and mmmaybe getting half a page drawn after all of them are asleep, if she isn’t too exhausted. There used to be a publishing industry who would have taken care of that for her by giving her an advance, but now there is only Kickstarter.

  10. Charles Ranier Says:

    I’m of the same mind as Burl. I was watching the KS and the updates and debating it until she broke it down to how it was going to pay her rent and food and all that and paying herself $125 a page. There’s other fundraising websites that do that.

    Also Kickstarter specifically says in its guidelines that projects are not to raise money to “fund my life.” Admittedly she’d be creating a comic during it, but gee, I’d like to raise 40k to take a year off the day job and create too, and I just don’t see people lining up to do that (even if I had name recognition like she does).

    A lower dollar goal to cover actual post production on a book that just needs a lift up to get to press would have coasted to victory. The way this was set up, I’m disappointed but not very surprised.

  11. Andy Says:

    Very interesting post and I agree with your points. I was much more willing to Kickstart worthy-sounding projects when I started using the site a year ago. 20+ projects later, I am learning to be more careful in my approach.

    Part of the problem, though, is that there will always be a risk involved in backing a project. I backed one project for the pdf of a comic and the creator later decided to focus on the physical book and get the pdf out later. Nothing I can do about that but fume.

    Going forward, I am trying to balance support for creators I think deserve it along with my desire to not put money into a project that may never see fruition or which will be produced a long ways down the road.

    Anything creators can do to ensure that the KS is complete on time, in a short timeframe, and as promised will go a long way toward getting me to support their continuing projects and the projects of other creators.

  12. Kisai Says:

    I wrote a longer post, but I’ll get to the point why I didn’t commit more.

    – Goal was too high, this set the expectation that it was unlikely to be met, particularly when other comics asked for modest amounts between 7500 and 10000 for print runs of their existing comic that was already available online for free.
    – Shipping. I’ll only commit an amount up to a reward tier that doesn’t invole shipping. This isn’t eBay. Unfortunately I feel that, as someone who does not live inside the US, I can’t justify paying more for shipping than the face value of the item being shipped.

    For reference compare established webcomics: Shortpacked v4 (9,404 ask was 8000) Multiplex v1(13,194 ask was 7,500), and Twokinds(197,512 ask was 25,000) kickstarters where the comic is already online.

    Then compare comics with no existing online presence: Womanthology (109,301 ask 25,000 print-only), Poorcraft (13,606, ask 6000, print/pdf) and “Tomorrow Jones” (4,025 ask 3600, no print run, PDF only),

    Anyway the point is that none of these kickstarters aimed for more than what it would cost to print. If anything the comic community just learned the price of entry.

  13. Bradley W. Schenck Says:

    I’m not sure that in any case the answer is “you’re doing it wrong”. Every Kickstarter project presents something that somebody would really like to make happen and the backers can agree, and back it, or disagree, and not back it, and that’s pretty much the whole deal.
    It’s a big question with a long answer that isn’t complete until the project’s sell by date arrives.
    Like I said above, it’s interesting to watch a kind of community evolve over there and to see how their expectations evolve.

  14. Jeremy Whitley Says:

    To be honest, I find Kickstarter to be a bit vexing. The prevailing reasons why I do not contribute to many projects are

    1)Inundation – There are too many! Even if I cut it down to the ones I would buy if they were in stores, I would still be in over my head

    2)Indignation – I’ll be the first to admit that being successful at comics is hard. My book won awards and is nominated for more and I still have a full time job. I would love to help fund everyone’s dream projects, but I’m still working on funding my own. Up until recently everything I put out was self published and self funded. Granted, part of the reason that is possible is that I have an amazing artist who is willing to commit to splitting profit and sharing the dream with me. We did it though, we made it work even when it required digging in our own pockets. Now I have a publisher.

    Here’s my thing, I don’t want to stop anybody from helping anyone else and I’m always happy to help people by sharing the connections and tricks I’ve learned. However, there’s a clear scale when it comes to publishing in which asking generally requires giving. I own my property and therefore I do not get a page rate but I keep my rights. If I expected regular pay, I would expect to give up some rights to my investors. Kickstarter investors are not investors, they donors, giving you a hand up. If your project is wildly successful they still get prize X that they were initially promised.
    I’m all for making donations that match the costs of printing. What you get is likely to reflect what was given. However, when we get into cost of living and so on, it gets messier. Maybe I’m a bit of a sadist, but stay up late nights and work during my breaks and lunches in hopes of making my comic successful and asking someone to take all the risk for me with only marginal reward just seems too easy to me. But of course, that’s just me.

  15. Rose Says:

    I didn’t contribute to the kickstarter, because when I saw the $40,000 goal, I could tell it wasn’t going to reach it, and I didn’t want to get invested in one that I knew would. (Though if it did get up to like 80% of it’s goal, I might have kicked in a few bucks).

    Furthermore seeing the breakdown she did, I think it is to much to ask of fans to fund your lifestyle. Especially in the last stages where what she was asking was every stated backer to ask four separate people to all kick in $25 dollars. It reminded me of when those high-pressure sales people ask you for contact information of your friends and family to give them the same pitch they just gave you. I’m not sure what I’m saying in that analogy exactly, but the comparison came to mind.

  16. David Oakes Says:

    “Kickstarter investors are not investors, they [are] donors”.

    At first I had some snark. Then I had some serious comments on the difference between banks and grants. But really, it comes down to this. If you are offering an artifact of commensurate value, that’s fine. People can buy it or not. But if you want people to invest in your dream, in your life, you owe them more than Comps. It is as unethical – as immoral – as telling some Dentist in Detroit that if he invests in your film, he too will be part of Hollywood. Or telling two teenagers that you will publish their work, if they will just sign some papers. It may be legal – you can’t stop adults from spending their money however they choose – but it’s just not right.

  17. Ange Says:

    I think my last comment wasn’t approved. I’ll try again. If my last is approved please ignore this one.

    Very cute looking comic, but As reasonable as the breakdown maybe asking for a years income makes me more uncomfortable.

    This ks had against it no product to show versus other ks that have art done and need money to print a book.

    Checked out the creator’s twitter. She sounded angry, frustrated, and unreceptive to me. Maybe she’s normally sweet, but it was off putting and intimidating. when asking for money from strangers you have to watch your words. It’s like being in the service industry. I’ve been there. Even on bad days you have to smile. I dont believe anyone is trying to be mean or gloat “you’re doing it wrong”.

  18. Jason Green Says:

    Rose: “I didn’t contribute to the kickstarter, because when I saw the $40,000 goal, I could tell it wasn’t going to reach it, and I didn’t want to get invested in one that I knew would. (Though if it did get up to like 80% of it’s goal, I might have kicked in a few bucks).”

    I really can’t wrap my head around the logic of this sentence. The whole point of the Kickstarter setup is that you aren’t actually out any money if it doesn’t reach its goal, so why would it make any difference whether you kicked in when it was at 80% or at 8%?

    As someone who dabbles in self-publishing comics myself, I’ve been following the growth and change of the Kickstarter funding method with great interest. Oddly, as someone with a very good day job, I’m more scared of dealing with the tax consequences of the whole thing than anything else, and am just kind of happy to stick with tiny print-on-demand print runs than deal with the hassle of pushing hard for a Kickstarter campaign for a month only to find out I “did it wrong.”

  19. Bill Williams Says:

    A high-profile comic book creator recently called Kickstarter a bubble. That site cuts out the middleman and gives contact between artist and fan, providing personal interaction and support. I’m not sure I see the bubble.

    But with the explosion of content and footrace of creators, I can see a sneaky freelancer scrape together a few grand and head to the beach for a while.

    For now, the sad stories are about unfunded projects. What happens to that site when artists fail to deliver product?

  20. Alex de Campi Says:

    From my (admittedly one time) experience on Kickstarter, what most people SEEM to really want is to pre order a tangible object with some scarcity value, and feel good while doing so. Where I have seen Kickstarters fail are as follows:

    * too ambitious fundraise number. Which is tough. If you need amount X to finish a book, should you try to raise 25% of X and hope you get overfunded? What happens if you only raise 25% of X and have to deliver a finished book to backers? I think people have to structure the production of their book so that they can make something tangible on $5k or $10k, a mini edition or something. I must admit we were scared sh*tless trying to raise $28k for Ashes. I wouldn’t do that again.

    * No physical copy. The gentleman above wishing for a PDF copy is rara avis in Kickstarterland. People want a thing. (I find they also want an electronic version that they will actually read whereas the thing sits on their coffee table).

    * Asking for funding six issues but only offering Issue 1 as a reward. This is where that nice looking comic Great Pacific feel down, I feel. If you’re asking someone to pay for the creation of an entire run, offer that entire run as a low-tier reward.

    * Book too expensive. Above $40, people get resistant to buying a copy of your book. I remember someone not offering a print copy of their 22 page Issue 1 until you got around the $50 reward level. Book too expensive! Alex say no!

    I think this whole milieu is still evolving, and we’re all learning as we do it and our friends do it and we hear from you about what you do and do not want. So posts like this, and your responses, are actually super valuable.

    I intend to go back to Kickstarter in the autumn to fund the rest of my webcomic Valentine, but I am not doing so until Ashes (previous project) has been mostly fulfilled, so people know they can trust me to deliver.

    Although the Valentine kicsktarter will be to fund art for new episodes of the comic, our rewards will be copies of the print Volume 1 of the comic (pages) and also already-printed, existing copies of my other work. So fulfilment will be much faster, and we will only be looking to raise about $5k (enough for art for 2 episodes plus creating a spiffy new website and online version of existing episodes).

    If we overfund, fab, as the story actually has 14 episodes to go. If not, we still have the new site and 2 more eps and I will have revenues from the print edition (coming out from Image) to plow back into more art. As always I am taking nothing for the script.

    But, you know, please remember that artists have to eat and pay rent like normal people, and that art especially (FAR more than writing) is very time consuming and meticulous, and very hard to do in and around a full time job commitment and family/kids. I can script when my toddler is asleep. I couldn’t draw (not that I can draw anyway). I know some of you are resistant to the “fund my life” thing, but I really feel very strongly that artists need to be paid, so they can complete art on a timely manner and not want to kill themselves.

  21. David Oakes Says:

    Writers need to get paid, too. I heard Michael Chabon at a talk where he said that a MFA Program that doesn’t pay you to take a year off to just write isn’t worth the trouble.

    The idea of “crowd sourced art grants” is a good one. But treating KS like a grant isn’t going to work. And treating like it should be is only going to generate ill will. (We would all like a year off to work on our dreams. But I can’t fund a school or a sandwich shop on KS.)

    Anybody know what grants are available?

  22. Johanna Says:

    Wow, that’s a terrific analysis. Thanks, Alex. The “book too expensive” particularly I’ve seen as well.

    While I agree with your last paragraph, I wonder if the poor economy plays a part in some people’s attitudes. Something along the lines of “I had to take a job I didn’t want and I don’t get paid to do what I want to do all day, so why should I fund them doing that?” It’s not high-minded, but it might be understandable that there’s a certain resentment involved in that perception.

  23. Alex de Campi Says:

    Johanna, I’ve been meaning to get together a roundtable of comics people who have done Kickstarters to discuss what works and what doesn’t… I think it would be valuable for others. But frankly I’d like to get a bit further on in my own fulfilment cycle for Ashes first. I’ve pledged about 10 (? maybe more) comics Kickstarters and considered pledging about five more… as well as one Rockethub pledge drive (for Michel Fiffe’s excellent ZEGAS books).

    There is no right answer. I can certainly understand the attitude you describe, and I think you’re right — the poor economy has a lot to do with it. We all try to find the best solution for our situation, we move forwards with hope, and perhaps we are able to make a book and perhaps we are not.

  24. AGH Says:

    After a year on Kickstarter, here are my thoughts:

    1) You have to send me something inside six months. I am not waiting 12-18 months for anything. Kickstarter may initially have been “I have an idea” but is now “I am 90% finished”.

    Every area of commerce works this way. You put in money and then try to sell it. You write a novel then try to publish, you build a doohickey then try to sell it. Comics are no different.

    2) Have the story be complete. I am not going to fund issue #1 of anything. I will be paying a premium and have to continue to do so for future issues. Complete graphic novels do better.

    3) People like stretch goals. I don’t care personally but be prepared to offer bookmarks or postcards or random original art as your project gains steam.

    4) Updates Update Updates. Make sure you are engaging with your backers…there is nothing worse than feeling like you backed a project on day 1 and have heard nothing after day 15.

    5) Make shipping reasonable. How many times, as a Canadian, do I see “free shipping in US” and “add $10 for Canada”…cost out the shipping and move up to the next even number…so many projects ignore the international audience by charging ship costs that are far in excess of what it would actually cost.

    6) Be creative with your tiers. Graphic novel? Sell the pages, the cover, new sketches, the dedication of the book…comic people need to start thinking like businesspeople…if somebody will pay $500 to let you dedicate the book to them…take their money!

    7) Don’t make me sell your project. If you are yelling at me to retweet your project, you’re doing it wrong. It is not my job to bring in fresh backers for you. It is certainly ok to say “if you know anybody who might be interested, send them the link”…it is quite another to say “TWEET THIS EXACT SENTENCE”.

    8) Research successful projects and see what you can learn. Seriously, just look at the top ten funded comics projects and see how many updates, what stretch goals they offered, how did they respond to comments, etc..etc… and then look at the people who failed and see what the differences are.

    9) Set your goal at a level that makes sense. Very few of the top twenty comics projects funded had a goal in excess of $10,000. That should tell you something. If you can’t make the economics of a project work on a budget that size, it probably isn’t going to get funded. That just is the way it goes.

  25. Point-counterpoint: What is Kickstarter for, anyway? | Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources – Covering Comic Book News and Entertainment Says:

    [...] Draper Carlson has a thoughtful post about the appropriate use of Kickstarter, and uses Lea Hernandez’s Kickstarter for The Garlicks as an example of a campaign she’s not [...]

  26. Burl Says:

    I checked out Hernandez’s Twitter page last night to see how her KS was faring before I caved in and donated some money, and when I checked in she was in the middle of talking about how messageboard commenters (I suppose she means us – people who have expressed what I think are legitimate concerns about her campaign) need to be smited while simultaneously begging for donors to contribute more money.

    I truly feel for Hernandez and her tough situation, but a person can’t come to the internet and ask for crowd-sourced employment and then loudly complain when people express legitimate issues with their business plan when it seems like their backs are turned – that’s not how the internet works.

    That’s not to say Hernandez doesn’t have the right to defend herself, but…I don’t know. It’s complicated.

  27. Johanna Says:

    There was also a discussion at Robot6 about the Garlicks, so I prefer to think she means that messageboard instead of the great people here. :)

  28. Jesse Says:

    Just thought I’d add that I was by no means suggesting that artists shouldn’t be paid something approximating a living wage for all the work they do (as a writer myself, that would be a terrible position to take!).

    It’s just that Kickstarter specifically is meant to kickstart going concerns, a little boost so entrepreneurs can start a sustainable business. I think AGH’s feelings clarify that point — even if the goals of Kickstarter projects can be flexible, users mainly see it as a pre-order site, not a donation hub.

    Publishing is obviously different from tech projects, but business plans can still be in place. For instance, I might Kickstart a new magazine, with the funds covering all the production and creative costs of my first issue, but then the money that comes in from sales on that first issue will ostensibly fund the continuation. For a book it may be that you Kickstart one edition, which gets you started, and now you can turn that sales revenue into later editions and other books as you build your career.

    How to parse all this with earning a living wage? I think the short answer is that you can’t. The life of an artist is one of constantly hustling new projects. A filmmaker friend of mine spent most of last year shoring up financing for something that fell through, so now he’s freelance editing (his version of grunt work) to pay the rent until the next thing materializes. I personally prefer a steady job, and the tradeoff is that I produce a new major creative thing every 6 years instead of every 6 months. But if you go the “only earn money from art” route, Kickstarter can be a viable way to fund some of the dozen or so projects you have going at any given time.

  29. Jesse Says:

    Oh, and these thoughts have nothing to do with Lea’s Kickstarter, by the way! All just response to Johanna’s post.

    I pledged $25 to Garlicks because that’s a fine price to pay for an autographed copy of a book I think I’ll like, delivered to my door postage paid. We can quibble over whether or not the page rate piece is a good thing to include in a business plan, but there is a business plan and I’m still getting a book for a fair price (if the campaign succeeds).

  30. Seth Godin: Why Kickstarter projects fail or succeed The Daily Cartoonist Says:

    [...] Johanna Draper Carlson has more thoughts on how to run a successful Kickstarter campaign regarding how much you ask for, timing in delivering the product, etc. I am more comfortable [...]

  31. Rose Says:

    Jason Green: I was speaking more of getting emotionally invested in a project that I was so sure was not going to make it.

    For the most though, I use my Kickstarter page to mainly fund print editions of webcomics I like. Though, most of these involve me finding the kickstarter, checking out the comic and then donating for my own physical copy. But that’s the thing, I was seeing the product online already, and saying “I like this enough to want to own a physical copy of this content.”

  32. Ralf Haring Says:

    It’s interesting that people see Kickstarter as a preorder site for finished products. The extremely high profile projects (not just comics) that have gotten a lot of media coverage are frequently of the “pay us while we make the thing” model. Order of the Stick wasn’t, but that seems to be more of the exception to me. The few I’ve participated in, I didn’t blink twice thinking that that was a perfectly reasonable thing to ask of a patron. My expectation with KS is that I am funding the development of a thing, not merely the production.

    The $500 dedication style ideas are important. I’ve been very surprised at the creativity in goal tiers … and then doubly surprised that people actually shell out large amounts of money for them.

  33. Gail Simone Says:

    All I know is that preview art for THE GaRLICKS looked freaking fantastic.

    Hope this works out, Lea. The book looks lovely.

  34. Eric Orchard Says:

    I feel like some people are talking about a different Kickstarter campaign than I witnessed. Lea was always receptive to my questions on Twitter, I never felt she was over posting about it. This is a project I am genuinely excited about and I just wanted to hear more about it.

    This is an amazing book that should happen

    I’m heart broken it didn’t reach it’s goal.

  35. Dax Says:

    I pledged $70 to Lea’s project and hoped it would happen.

    I started following her twitter in the last couple days, but she subsequently ‘blocked’ me and I thought that was rather odd.

  36. Ange Says:

    Sooo many typos in my last post, sorry!

    Burl, My gf was watching her twitter after I told her about this, and she showed me the tweet.

    “Oh Saint @KurtBusiek, stay my wrathful hand when the commenters do pigpile & declare me wanton & beg for smiting. 10:48 PM – 20 Jun 12″

    That it?

    Dax maybe your twitter has no avatar or no tweets, so she thought it was a bot account?

    In a comics channel, this came up. Some of the comments sound cruel, but it shows others had the same thoughts brought up here.

    * dude, if i was an aspiring creator i’d be afraid to say anything remotely negative
    * I counted over 50 tweets one day about the ks. The average seems like 25 to 30 a day tho. O’delicious delicious spam.

  37. Dax Says:

    Maybe that’s it. Yeah, it doesn’t (have an avatar, and I don’t tweet, I just read – but I follow a bunch more than I think your typical bot would…). I’ll not take offense.

  38. Lea Hernandez Says:

    Dax, I apologize. I prune my followers list to keep out spambots, and your account was blocked. I’ll be more than happy to unblock if you tell me your handle.

  39. Dax Says:

    Hi, Lea – thanks. It’s my name (DaxPagan).

  40. Jack Houston & the Necronauts - a stop motion, retro science fiction adventure game | Webomator Blog Says:

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    [...] A month ago we had one creator opposing this latter idea and saying “Maybe I’m a bit of a sadist, but [I had to] stay up late nights and work during my breaks and lunches in hopes of making my comic successful and [by contrast] asking someone to take all the risk for me with only marginal reward just seems too easy to me.” And the complaint persists, apparently, as just today we heard someone else opine that “These days I only get miffed at Kickstarters when it’s someone asking for people to pay for them to quit their jobs.” [...]

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