by Clay Adams
His first comics Kickstarter campaign failed to fund without raising a dime, so he took his next project to Indiegogo.
But when that book didn't reach its funding goal, Indiegogo’s “you-keep-what-you-raise” model left him on the hook with backers—and in a deep hole financially.
James went back to Kickstarter and was temporarily buoyed when that campaign squeaked past the goal line, but the project fell apart in the fulfillment stage after a series of artists failed to deliver.
With two jobs, a wife and two children, making comics in his spare time no longer seemed worth the expense or hassle.
And then he got an email that changed everything.
Despite the hard knocks, James was still attending cons, selling copies of THE POE MURDERS—the book he’d semi-funded on Indiegogo—when a chance encounter at New York Comic Con got him on a fellow creator’s email list.
That’s when everything turned around.
“To be honest, it was Tyler James’ ComixLaunch that gave me the motivation to try this again.
“I got an email from Tyler, and it was something about running Kickstarters. So, I read through, and emailed him, and then sat through a couple of his sessions before finally signing up for the ComixLaunch Course.
“I was honestly thinking of stopping doing comics altogether because of how expensive they were to make… But going through the course, and taking it step by step over the course of months, it really got me to a place where I was confident in launching another campaign.”
Expanding his network gave him a confidence boost and the knowledge he needed to succeed.
But another decision he made was just as important.
One key difference was that this time, he vowed to have the book—called ANTI-CHRIST—completely finished first.
It was a big leap, because it meant funding the book himself upfront, without any guarantee of getting the money back.
Not only did having skin in the game forced James to work harder, it also gave him one very important advantage.
“I post images from the book on Facebook, I have a page that people can go to for updates, I share the link to the campaign prior to launch so people can see the rewards ahead of time. I [post] the campaign video for people to take a look at as well.
“And everything I share on my Facebook page, I also share with my email list. I try and send out a bi-weekly email, though sometimes it doesn’t happen that way. I always make sure to send something out every month, though. This will include updates and sometimes other random stuff I’m thinking about. But as I get closer to campaigns, it becomes previews of those.”
This strategy of sharing visuals and rewards ahead of time created a demand for the book before he launched—and it paid off handsomely.
ANTI-CHRIST raised more than $4,000 on the strength of 160 backers—almost exactly what the ComixLaunch Course calculators predicted.
But James didn’t stop there.
After successfully fulfilling rewards for ANTI-CHRIST, he quickly launched again, this time for a single issue floppy called UNDER A BLOOD RED MOON.
Because he had built an audience of satisfied customers, he was able to go back to the same well for his new campaign.
“I created a free preview of the [new book] which went out first to backers of my previous Kickstarter, and then to my email list.
“I will also post an update on my previous campaign to announce the new one and hopefully get some repeat customers who have liked what I’ve done previously.”
He also tied the campaign into Kickstarter’s “Make 100” initiative, where creators make a limited run of a certain reward. Using this tag on the platform gave him a visibility boost.
UNDER A BLOOD RED MOON launched strong, fully funding in only 2 1/2 hours.
And then life got in the way.
For a variety of reasons, James wasn’t able to devote the time he wanted to this campaign.
“Well, the easy thing would be to say, I work a full-time job, a part-time job, I have a wife and two young children, and most of the work I get to do is between the hours of 11pm and 6am, and I have to devote at least some of that time to sleeping.”
But because he’d laid a solid foundation for himself, the campaign didn’t need the constant attention he’d put into his earlier efforts.
The fast start snowballed.
“We went above what we were projected to accomplish for this campaign, mainly because many backers picked higher tier rewards.”
James knew that having a low buy-in is important, but so is having premium options.
So how did he go about crafting them?
James realized that if he didn’t value his work, no one else would, either.
“It’s about giving value to what the backers are getting. I had reservations about charging $20 for my floppy comic at first, but then I realized that I am offering so much more than just the floppy comic—making it worth the $20 the backer is pledging.
“And getting to those higher levels, I simply built upon the previous level. Each level has a new reward in it, plus the backer gets everything from the previous levels. So, if they want that one thing, they are going to get that thing, along with everything else offered before it. I think it worked out better because it gives less choices for any potential backers to make.”
It would be easy for James to look back and wonder what might have happened if he’d been able to devote more time to it, or if he’d been able to secure good media coverage.
But it’s hard to argue with the results.
UNDER A BLOOD RED MOON funded at nearly 1000%.
James has already launched his next project—THE EDGAR ALLAN POE CHRONICLES—which is live through April 25, 2018.
With a higher goal than he tried before, it completely funded in the first 48 hours and was quickly named a “Project We Love” by Kickstarter.
Where did he get the inspiration for his hit anthology reimagining Poe’s tales?
“THE POE MURDERS that I ran on Indiegogo…. [Even thought it failed to reach its goal,] this book is my best seller at conventions. After five years, I still sell out of this one at almost every show I do.”
So, even that early failure has transformed into a success.
Now, James plans to keep plowing forward, with an eye on turning this into a full-time business.
“That’s my goal, but I think it’s going to be a couple more year’s work before I can get there.”
Keep going, James.
The 1st Issue of ANTI-CHRIST
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