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How Mike Connell (Over)Funded The First Issue of His Comic Book on Kickstarter

#creator spotlight Dec 05, 2023
 
by Clay Adams

Mike Connell was stumped.

He knew his campaign for FERAL #1: THE BEAST WITHIN would be very different from his previous Kickstarter. For one, this would be the first in a series, not a standalone book. 

Second—and more importantly—it was for a single issue floppy rather than a full trade. 

Mike knew he needed to price it so the numbers made sense, but every time he crunched them, he came out closer in price to the trade than felt comfortable. 

Worried about how his returning backers would feel about it, Mike wondered…

“How much should I REALLY charge for my single issue comic?”

 


 

In this edition of the ComixLaunch Spotlight, you'll learn:

  • how to serialize your comic book on Kickstarter
  • how to build buzz ahead of your launch…and one surprising place to do it
  • Plus: how to price your single issue comic book on Kickstarter 

 


 

How to Serialize Your Comic Book on Kickstarter

The decision to serialize a comic on Kickstarter wasn’t made lightly by Mike or his creative partner, artist Kevin Manklow. 

“The goal is to have another book we can add to our table at conventions each year. Well, convention, really. We’re in Toronto, so we try to hit Fan Expo every year here. If we can Kickstart a new book every year in time for that, I think we’ll be happy, and we should be able to keep fans/backers interested.”

When they ran their first campaign, they had blue-sky ideas about multiple campaigns per year, hoping to get all six books in the series out in 2-3 years.

While that may happen, they ultimately decided to be more deliberate in their planning and to not promise more than they were sure they deliver.

To that end, they explained to their audience that one book per year was the goal. 

“If we CAN do it faster, great, but in the meantime, one Kickstarter per year is what we can handle.The longer lead time and space between campaigns does provide opportunity as well… we can possibly ramp up production and get another one out as a bonus, or we can develop supplementary material, or we can participate in anthology opportunities with the one-book-per-year schedule.” 

With a solid plan in place, it was time to get his existing audience excited about the new launch.

 

How to Build Buzz Ahead of Your Kickstarter Launch…and One Surprising Place to Do it

Mike spread the word about the new campaign far and wide. 

“We activated a lot of organic content on Instagram, Twitter (now X), Facebook, and dabbled a bit with TikTok. We ran some paid campaigns across most platforms, but our efforts were a little lacklustre. A lot of 'Coming soon!' and 'Remember us?' that didn’t end up generating a ton of results.” 

But one social network delivered better results than the others… and for Mike, it was a surprising one.

“A silver lining was LinkedIn… I ran significantly more organic content around the campaign on that platform than I did previously. Before, I thought of it as a more 'professional' platform, with an audience that wasn’t necessarily interested in my side hustle, but it turns out there are a number of people in my network (and network-adjacent) who love to hear about creative endeavours. The 'I have to do more than my day job to stay sane and motivated' and 'I'm not just a [insert profession here]' messaging seemed to resonate.”

Also faring better were his efforts to build buzz via his newsletter.

“As we got closer to the campaign, I amped up the frequency, and two weeks prior, we started a 'notify me on launch' effort, which generated some good interest. But overall I think our 'build up momentum' strategy wasn’t as thought out as well as it should have been.”

In hindsight, Mike would more directly engage previous backers and ask for their feedback in terms of tier options, extras… and of course, that one little issue that kept niggling at him.

Pricing.

How to Price Your Single Issue Comic Book on Kickstarter

Mike was surprised to discover that pricing his tiers and coming up with an overall budget seemed harder on the single-issue than it was for the bigger book. 

In fact, almost everything about this project was more difficult than their last.  

“While the single issue was smaller, there was actually way more illustration and coloring involved. The first book (120+ pages) had a 12-page, colored intro, and the rest was sepia-tone, single images with lots of copy (the catalogue/bestiary portion), so while it was bigger, it was actually easier to put together.

“This second book, while only 32-ish pages, has way more dialogue, more sequential storytelling, color, etc.”

As a result, the single issue took longer to put together, and when they decided to hire a colorist to speed up the process, they knew that would affect their budget. 

Also, because this was the first issue, they opted for a larger print run to ensure they had the back stock to fulfill catchup tiers as their series progressed.

“Ultimately, the budget ended up being around the same for this campaign as our first (much larger book), and our tier pricing became difficult. How much for a 32-page, full-color book? We’re in Canada with a number of US backers, so a $25CAD book, plus shipping, became $40CAD. That’s a lot to ask for a single-issue floppy.” 

Still, Mike knew that the Kickstarter market tolerates higher prices than the average comic shop. And it didn’t make sense for them to try and compete on price. 

After grappling with it, they decided that $25 CAD made the most sense given their ask and their expected backer count. 

Now it was time to put everything to the test. 

How to Attract New Backers to Your Kickstarter Campaign

Coming off of what they saw as the big success of their first campaign ($5K CAD goal, $18K CAD raised), Mike and his partner were confident their backers would return for the new offering. 

The reality was a bit different. 

“We had a good level of new backers, but that was, unfortunately, balanced by many former backers not supporting (lots of friends and family who felt they had done their part?).”

Once they realized they were courting a new audience to go along with a new series, Mike and Kevin got to work finding as many new backers as they could.

Not everything they tried worked.

“Paid campaigns to encourage new subs to my newsletter, as well as other promo material, helped, but I wasn’t as structured and strategic with my tactics. If I could do it over, I'd start earlier, driving potential backers into what marketers call a funnel. 

"Top of the funnel content (broad, almost spray-and-pray type targeting and material, like “people who like Kickstarter,” or “comic books” and “graphic novels,” and/or “werewolves,” etc.) to attract a high volume of people to my various channels, that, in turn, push them to the middle of the funnel, ideally getting them to subscribe to my newsletter or some kind of call-to-action that makes it easier to convert them into actual backers when the time is right.”

As Mike mentioned before, authentic, organic content on platforms like LinkedIn turned out to be considerably more effective that he anticipated. 

“Traffic from LinkedIn was much higher for this last campaign than our first, and I think that was because the posts weren't positioned as 'back my campaign,' but as 'I’m excited to share what I do outside of work, maybe you’d like to take a look?'”

In the end, posts like that worked.

Mike raised more than 60% over his goal. 

The Secrets to Kickstarter Success

Mike attributes his success to a few factors. One is the book's high concept.

("Werewolves during the fur tradeseemed to pique interest any time they mentioned it.) 

But because comics is a visual medium, Mike knew he'd have an easy sell. 

“Kevin’s art is a key factor. It’s not only eye-catching, but really approachable and consistent. He’s constantly experimenting with different techniques, but is able to maintain a consistent theme throughout.”

Beyond that, he credits having a network of creators he can lean on for support.

“ComixLaunch Mastermind has been pivotal, along with the ComixLaunch courses. That’s not a plug, but a fact. Your idea and the finished product can be amazing, but knowing how to build an effective Kickstarter page and campaign is what brings the product to life.

"And The ComixLaunch community is integral to getting attention outside of my friends-and-family network (although, I guess many of them could be considered part of that 'friends' category now!).”

What’s Next?

Mike is hard at work on finalizing the book, then it will be on to printing, fulfillment…and book two!

And beyond that? 

“We want to go to more conventions. After our first campaign, we sold quite a few copies of that book at Fan Expo Toronto and managed to connect with backers and create new connections. Adding a regular ‘convention circuit’ strategy in addition to our steadfast Fan Expo attendance will hopefully build/maintain awareness, push us to create more quickly/efficiently, and also amplify that sales channel.”

Sounds like a solid plan, Mike. 

 


 

Connect with Mike:  

Website:

madquillcomics.com

Substack:

 madquill.substack.com

Social Media:

Instagram: @themuna

Twitter: @themuna

Follow Mike on Kickstarter:

CLICK HERE

 


 

Would You Like to Learn the Strategies Mike and Other Talented Creators are Using to Take Your Launches to the Next Level?

Then attend an upcoming FREE online ComixLaunch Workshop and learn the keys to making your next launch your best launch ever!

Click Here to REGISTER for the Next Available ComixLaunch Workshop! 

 

 

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