SDCC Panel Notes: Fund My Comic

I found this SDCC panel very informative, and interesting. It was all about how to get your comics project funded on Kickstarter, and I’m sure that many of the strategies discussed would also work on other crowd-funding sites. So, I thought I’d share some of my mental notes of what I learned. Enjoy!
Official panel description from the SDCC website:
Want to get in on the self-publishing revolution and looking for advice on making your new comic a smash success? From crowdfunding your own comic on Kickstarter to self-publishing with comiXology Submit, this panel is for you! John D. Roberts (comiXology co-founder and director of comiXology Submit), Jimmy Palmiotti (superstar creator and multiple-Kickstarter success story), Jamal Igle(creator of the exciting Kickstarted GVN comic Molly Danger), Kel McDonald(creator of the webcomic Sorcery 101 and the successfully Kickstarted Cautionary Fables and Fairytales), and moderator J. K. Parkin (Comic Book Resources) contribute to this nose-to-tail discussion that will show you the tricks of the trade to successfully create, fund, and promote your own comic!
Kickstarter tips:
 
  • Don’t bother promoting/announcing your Kickstarter campaign until you start it, because people have a short memory span, and they’re impulsive, so wait until you can actually say “go HERE and PLEDGE” etc. They said that it’s good to share the “secret link” to the project page to friends, press, etc a few days before, but that’s it. 
  • Right before your KS campaign ends add a little graphic/link to where people can order your book directly from you in the main “story/description” section right under where you see the video on the KS page, because you can’t edit that after the campaign ends. They said you could have a lot of people who discover your KS page after it’s over and be interested in getting a book, so you want to make it easy for them to order one.
  • You must have a video, but they said that it’s totally fine to not be on camera, just so you make the video look good with dynamic images,sound quality, and of course you need to describe the project clearly Jamal Igle suggested that you could just keep filming yourself(if you want be on cam), or recording yourself over a period of time, then later you should have enough to edit down to something good, instead of stressing about getting the perfect “take”.
  • SHIPPING, SHIPPING, SHIPPING! They all agreed that this element of the KS process is by far the most difficult, time-consuming, costly, and potentially disastrous(yes, they brought up Sullivan’s Sluggers) They stressed to do extensive research for all of the countries/regions you might be shipping to, and understand that rates can, and often do increase. Also, remember to factor in shipping supplies(tape, envelopes, bubble-wrap, etc.)
  • Storing the books needs to be planned out, because if you’re wildly successful you might need to rent out a storage unit while you process orders, or if you know someone with extra space somewhere, then try to  figure out some sort of deal with them ahead of time.
  • ComiXology had a representative at the panel, because they have a good relationship with KS. If you signup to ComiXology Submit(and get approved) then they will offer free “digital download” codes to your Kickstarter customers.
  • Expect to lose about 3-4% of your raised KS money to people flaking out, returns, and just unforeseen problems in general.
  • Remember that KS, and Amazon takes their cut of the pie, so factor that in ahead of time.
  • Research successful vs. unsuccessful KS campaigns to figure out your strategy ahead of time.
  • “vanity pledges” are very popular, so offer to put a person’s likeness in your book, or on the cover, and people will pay big bucks for that opportunity to be “immortalized” Guest C.Spike Trotman said that she had 3 people pledging over 200 bucks each to be on the cover of her book. Jamal Igle actually incorporated a Hall of Fame with people’s names on it in the comic, which was somehow part of the story, so you can get really creative with this stuff.
  • Make sure to add people to your mailing list if they pledge, so they can hear about future projects. Of course it was mentioned that you can also just make a new “update” for your existing KS page. That would also be sent to everyone who pledged.
  • Think outside the box of just the comics community when promoting your KS campaign. So, if you’re doing something like horror related, then maybe some horror film lover sites, or if you have something that would appeal to moms/parents then go to some parenting/mom blogs,etc.
  • Jimmy Palmiotti suggested keeping any prints slightly smaller in size than your actual book, so that way you can just tuck the print into the book, and save on shipping later.
  • Obviously you need to put yourself out there and promote your book whenever/wherever you can, they said, but a lot of this can also be accomplished online, as long as you are plugged into all of the social media platforms like Facebook, twitter, tumblr, redditt, etc. etc.
Printing services that were suggested:
 
Jimmy Palmiotti likes this printing company, because of their high quality, customer service, and just the fact that they print in the U.S. so you get your books fast. Plus, they will give you a discount if you let them advertise in your book( I know you’ve done that…) The downside is that they’re more expensive.
 
Jamal Igle likes this printing company because of affordability + quality, but they print in China, so it takes 2-3 months to get your books.
 
That’s all I can remember. It was an entertaining, and informative panel.