UPDATE: 5.18.16: During the course of this campaign, our wonderful backers unlocked six different stretch goals! So now the book will include interviews with amazing Kickstarter creators Amy Chu, Drew Westphal, Hope Nicholson, Jimmy Palmiotti, and C. Spike Trotman. I'll also be able to record and release those interviews as audio podcasts. And I'll record an audiobook of the entire Kickstarter Secrets ebook for backers! Thank you so much to everyone who backed or spread the word! And as always, for more about the project, visit Kickstarter-Secrets.com!
Welcome to Kickstarter Secrets, a digital book of practical crowdfunding tips from Greg Pak (hey, that's me!), the writer of the record-breaking Kickstarter publishing projects Code Monkey Save World, The Princess Who Saved Herself, and ABC Disgusting.
Code Monkey Save World, a graphic novel based on the songs of internet superstar musician Jonathan Coulton, became Kickstarter's highest grossing original comics project of all time in 2013. Jonathan and I followed that up with The Princess Who Saved Herself, a picture book based on the classic Coulton song, which became Kickstarter's fourth most funded children's book of all time. My third Kickstarter was ABC Disgusting, an alphabet book about gross stuff illustrated by the great Takeshi Miyazawa, which shipped to backers in December.
Over the years, dozens of people have asked me for advice about running Kickstarters. I've learned a lot, done a lot things right, and made a lot of mistakes. So in hopes of helping by sharing, I'm distilling those experiences into Kickstarter Secrets, which will cover every step in the crowdfunding process with detailed references to each of my campaigns. Whether you're an established pro or a first time creator, this is the realistic, practical book for you if you're thinking about crowdfunding. Topics will include:
• Is My Project Right for Kickstarter -- and for Me? A big part of crowdfunding success depends on developing a project that makes sense at this point in your career. Everyone's in a rush. (I am, too!) But are you ready for the creative and organizational challenges of your project? We'll break down actual book projects of different sizes to give concrete estimates of the work and the number of backers required for a project with a $2000 goal (Kickstarter Secrets, for example) versus a project with a $24,000 goal (like ABC Disgusting). And we'll talk about what running a Kickstarter and actually making your project will take and discuss ways to scale your dream project for a realistic Kickstarter.
• Smart Budgeting. We'll go through the different stages of budgeting -- from the earliest ballparks to to more detailed pre-launch estimates to the constantly updated projections you might make during the campaign -- and share tons of tips that can help you avoid unpleasant surprises. Did you know USPS postage rates usually increase every January? And yes, I'll share a list of trusted printers and other vendors.
Full disclosure: for privacy's sake, I can't share the exact rates paid to my artistic collaborators. But I'll provide realistic demo rates and show how they work in budgets of different levels. Also: Kickstarter Secrets won't include specific tax or legal advice, other than to recommend you hire a good accountant and lawyer. Those are jobs for the pros.
• Planning Rewards. I've seen Kickstarters for great projects fail in part because the rewards didn't make sense to backers. I've seen other projects turn into nightmares for creators because special rewards turned out to be far more time consuming to produce than expected. We'll go over the Reward-for-Every-Level strategy, reveal actual costs (in money AND time) of different rewards, and get specific about smart ways to provide attractive premiums without drowning yourself in weeks of extraneous work.
• Making Kickstarter Pages, Videos, and Images That Work. What do I say? How much do I show? What should go in that video? What makes for a great primary image? ALL THE ANSWERS (and some of my own mistakes) WILL BE REVEALED!
• Spreading the Word and Building Your Audience. I'll detail all my strategies for spreading the word through social media, press, and personal networks. I'll also look at the big picture -- analyzing how to build an audience long before you launch your first crowdfunding project and what each Kickstarter campaign can do to build your reputation and audience for future projects.
• Preparing for the Launch and What to Expect When You Hit the Green Button. I'll get specific with strategies for making the most of your launch day. For example, I've launched all of my projects on Monday mornings. Find out why!
• Running the Campaign - Updates, Communication, Troubleshooting, and Stretch Goals. How much time does it actually take to run a campaign? What should you do each day and what kinds of tools help make it easier? What do you do if you're halfway through your campaign but only a quarter funded? Or the other extreme: how do you scale up without losing your mind or your shirt if your Kickstarter far exceeds its target?
• Finishing the Project. Big projects often run a little late. But some Kickstarters drag on for years, which can turn into a nightmare for everyone involved. To give you the best shot of putting together a schedule that makes sense, we'll look at the actual process of making the books for each of my Kickstarters, comparing our estimated delivery dates with the actual schedules so you can steal our good practices and avoid our mistakes.
• Fulfillment and Shipping. Many campaigns that look successful on paper end up in the red or painfully late because of shipping problems. We'll look at concrete numbers of what it costs and the time it takes to ship rewards on your own and explore the pros and cons of using a fulfillment house.
We'll also look at how to handle the logistics of collecting addresses, taking orders post-campaign, and organizing shipping lists -- and detail what services like Backerkit bring to the table.
For a taste of the deeply practical tips you'll get in the book, check out this Kickstarter Primer I posted earlier this year: http://gregpak.com/greg-paks-kickstarter-primer. We'll review some of this same material in Kickstarter Secrets -- but go much more in depth with concrete details and examples.
...if we hit that initial $2000 goal, we have some amazing stretch goals lined up that would expand the book to include interviews with some incredible creators who have done remarkable things with Kickstarter that I can't wait to learn more about. Stay tuned!
Please feel free to check out the rewards on the right, some of which include beautiful physical copies of the Code Monkey, Princess, and ABC Disgusting books, all with art by the amazing creative team of Takeshi Miyazawa, colorist Jessica Kholinne, and letterer Simon Bowland. In case you'd like to see more of those books before backing, here are some preview pages:
Also please note that the October delivery date refers to the digital Kickstarter Secrets book. The physical CMSW, PWSH and ABCD rewards should all ship much sooner than that -- probably within a month of the end of the campaign.
Thank you for your consideration and all the best!
ABOUT THE CREATOR
Greg Pak is a writer best known for comics like Planet Hulk, World War Hulk, Storm, Batman/Superman and Action Comics. In 2013, Pak and singer-songwriter Jonathan Coulton launched a crowdfunding campaign for Code Monkey Save World, a graphic novel based on Coulton's characters and songs. CMSW ended up becoming Kickstarter's highest grossing original comics project of all time. In 2015, the team followed up with a Kickstarter for The Princess Who Saved Herself, a children's picture book based on the classic Coulton song. PWSH became Kickstarter's fourth most funded children's book of all time. Pak and artist Takeshi Miyazawa then ran a successful Kickstarter for ABC Disgusting, an alphabet book about disgusting things. Pak is currently writing The Totally Awesome Hulk for Marvel Comics and Kingsway West for Dark Horse Comics.
Risks and challenges
Pak is a comics veteran with years of experience making tough deadlines. He's already run three Kickstarters, which have given him the experience necessary to complete this project on time. Of course, unavoidable personal mishaps, acts of God, global disruption, or dumb mistakes could throw us off schedule, and we will keep Kickstarter backers updated if we do encounter any delays.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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