What the hell is kickstarter anyway?
If you are like me, you are having trouble keeping up with every stinkin’ new thing that pops up on the internet…and frankly are tired of learning the new crap.
Kickstarter though, is important and if you give a rats ass about books like Arsenic Lullaby, OR are getting fed up with the way the big two tramples, chews up and reboots it’s characters and titles just to squeeze a few dollars out of you.
Kickstarter breaks down, like this- A person plans a project, puts all the info about it on a Kickstarter page…sets the level of dough needed to get the project done…and then, if enough people kick in, he makes the thing, the movie, the cd, the invention…whatever it is, and everyone who pledged gets one.
For the comic book industry it is just a tad different, and here is where it takes some explaining. It becomes a cross between the pledge drive I described above and an online store. On a kickstarter page you can basically kick in as much or as little dough as you feel like. Since comic book publishers can offer many different items, as opposed to a guy who has invented a left handed ice scrapper, the publishers set different stuff you can get with each level of dough you kick in. I am going to give you examples from MY CURRENT ( AS IN NOW…GO THERE) page…as not only a shameless plug, but because it’s just a good example. You pledge 5.00 you get a mini comic. You pledge 10.00, you get the TPB. You pledge 15.00 you get the alternative cover. Pledge 25.00 you get a t-shirt. Then there are levels that include several things. This bring us to the obnoxious part, Kickstarter doesn’t have a “shopping cart” option because it was set up for people trying to make left handed ice scrappers and build better mousetraps…not much need for inventions to have a shopping cart option. SO, what most publishers do is try to make every conceivable package and set them at different “levels” i.e. a t-shirt, a copy of the book and a poster is one level, and a t-shirt and book are another level, and a poster and a t-short are another level…OR ( in my case) instead of having 348 options, just telling people – if you want two shirts then just pledge the cost of two shirts and tell us when the survey comes out.
The “survey” is actually an email full of questions like “what shirt size would you like”, “would you like just an autograph or shall I make it out to a specific person i.e “to my best friend Todd”, and my personal favorite “what is your address?”. That’s right, believe it or not, Kickstarter does not send your address automatically…which has cause problems for nearly every single kickstarter page…if you learn nothing else here…please understand that people who set up kickstarter programs will NOT get your address unless you send it to them…and actually have NO WAY of getting it except from you. Bizarre right? Like , what other online platform that takes your money doesn’t automatically take your address?!
Anyways…another point of confusion is the “goal”. People unfamiliar with Kickstarter often think once you reach your goal the thing ends. This is not so. A kickstarter drive ends on a specific date, if you reach your goal early then your task is to keep getting pledges and giving reasons for trying to reach them. Thus, the invention of the “stretch goal”. A “stretch goal” is simply another dollar amount to try to hit beyond the original goal. A stretch goal is usually paired with some bonus merchandise or upgrade of some sort for all the people who are kicking in. Again, using my page as an example, The original goal was 7000.00, once we reached that we set up stretch goals…”if we hit 8000 everyone gets an Arsenic Lullaby trading card”. If we reach 9000.00 everyone gets A.L. collectable drink coasters, If we reach 1300.00 all the alternative covers get upgraded to hardcover.” That sort of thing. So you see, it’s pretty damn cool for everyone. Books that would never see the light of day if they had to rely on the discerning eye of a large publisher get printed, and fans get books straight from the makers, and often get a lot of extra stuff.
It’s important. It’s important because it puts ALL the power in the hands of the comic book readers. All of it. These kickstarters don’t just fund the books when they over achieve, it gives the publishers a nice warchest to pay for advertising, or for tables at conventions they couldn’t otherwise afford, and gives them cash to have at the ready if disaster happens or opportunities pop up. Understand this, please, that kickstarter drives for book you like, or are just curious about…are make or break for those titles. Every single dollar is important, because when you are not one of the big two publishers…having cash at the ready is crucial. As an independent publisher for over a decade the hardest thing for me to get people to understand is that I need them to all order at once. They get used to seeing me at conventions, or get used to me being online and accessible and figure they will just get it when they see me or at their convenience…which is reasonable, but crippling. The printing bill is not an installment plan, it must be paid all at once, airline tickets, and tables at conventions must be paid ahead of time. Indy publishers need the bulk of the orders at once ( I am repeating myself for a reason). Look at the two pics below if black ink is readers ordering the book..what we need is something like the picture on the left. When readers just feeling they can pick up the new issue the next time I am at their local convention, what we get is something like the picture on the right.
In order to grow, or even stay in business, you need the bulk of the orders all at once. Which makes all the quirks about kickstarter worth it, because everyone one understands that as soon as it starts…the clock begins running out.
That about covers it. Here is the link to my current kickstarter. If you like dark humor, and really strange stories ( I mean really dark and really strange) go there and chip in. We have already met the initial goal so getting on board now means all the bonus extras I talked about. However, if dark, weird stuff really isn’t your bag…you should still take a look because it is a fairly standard set up and will give you a better idea of what the hell everyone is posting about when you see “back this kickstarter” pop up on your computer screen.
for a blog with answers to questions specific to the Arsenic Lullaby Kickstarter go here
AND…for a free pdf of the most recent issue of Arsenic Lullaby so you know what we mean by “dark” and “strange” go here
Eisner Award Nominee
Harvey Award Nominee
Comicdom Award Nominee