Alex Ogle is one of our favorite artists, comic book makers, and illustrators, and he recently financed an art book through Kickstarter. We were lucky enough to catch up with him and chat about his success.
First things first, why do a Kickstarter for a print-on-demand comic book project?
Depending on your success level, print-on-demand can be a great resource. Comics are traditionally printed in the largest numbers possible to lower the cost of each book. With my first successful Kickstarter, I had 214 backers and my lowest level to include books was $18. That is many times higher than the current comic book cover price. This helps cover costs on a quick-turnaround, small run that can be shipped out immediately to your backers. Traditional printing minimums are often around 500 copies and take much longer to get the books in-hand.
The nice thing about on-demand is I can get extremely small runs like 50 copies before my next convention within days, not weeks. I feel like now is a great time to be making indie comics this way.
How did you determine your reward levels?
You should always take into account shipping the books to yourself, printing costs, packaging, and shipping to your backers. This can give you a real cost-of-production per book. But the best way to start is to write out your levels with what feels right to you as a consumer and what would appeal to you. Then, run the numbers and make sure you are covered on all your levels. The most important thing is to make an interesting and fun product.
How much overall planning and number crunching did you do?
I go over the numbers until I feel comfortable. I think it is important to make sure there is enough profit (above cost) to cover the unexpected. If you are prepared, then your project has the greatest chance to be an amazing experience.
Getting backers is key, of course, to success. The big question is: How do you get them?
Do something interesting and tell everyone! I made postcard-sized announcements and gave them out at several comic conventions. I posted on message boards about my art and included info about the campaign. I shared images on social media and even tried some paid social media ads. (I’ve never had much return on any paid ads, so it’s probably not the way to go from my experience.)
You’ve done four Kickstarter campaigns, and three were successful—which is a pretty good success rate since the overall Kickstarter success rate is reported to be about 40%. What did you learn from that first one that didn’t get fully funded?
One thing you should know about Kickstarter is that you can’t delete the campaign if it fails. My first campaign was about getting back into creating comics. I made a simple campaign about that only. The problem is I didn’t focus at all on the produced product of the campaign. It’s pretty much a perfect example of what not to do.
It seems like you’ve used practically the whole MagCloud arsenal. How many formats have you used, and which is your favorite?
So far, I’ve used Standard, Digest, Tabloid, and Poster. My favorite is Tabloid. I love showing off the 11×17 version of “The Changing Tales” at conventions. It really looks like something special in that scale.
Did you use our Group Ship option for any of your backer levels? (This is the ability to send out books to multiple addresses through a single order)
In the past, I have preferred to hand-sign all the books which have held me back from using the service. Possibly in the future, I’ll give an option for an unsigned, directly-shipped version.
Any parting tips for others looking to Kickstart their projects?
Be entertaining and you will do well!