Kickstarter 101: Goals, Stretch Goals, and Rewards

Today I’ll be getting into the Kickstarter process a little bit, as I’ve been studying and learning a lot about how the Kickstarter platform works and I thought it might be interesting to share some of that with everyone.

Before I do, let me set things up with a quick project update: the book is done (mostly — more on this in the Stretch Goals area below), and I am about to begin the process of formatting it for publication. My hope is that by the beginning of next week I’ll be ready to contact the printer I have chosen and get the all rolling for the initial print run. I am hoping to start that print run as soon as my Kickstarter campaign ends, which should be around July 3. By getting all of the printing details worked out in advance, my hope is that when July 5 rolls around, I can just press the button and order the copies — which means between now and then, getting a proof copy to make sure the printing is how I want it.

I also need to finish work on my Kickstarter campaign. Now, Kickstarter campaigns can be as simple as a paragraph and a couple reward tiers, but I believe your Kickstarter campaign is a reflection of you as a creator. If the campaign page doesn’t feel professional, chances are the comic won’t either. So I am taking great pains to make this campaign as polished as possible.

That means things like making a video, designing promotional graphics, and mocking up prototypes of the rewards.

In some cases, I have actual physical copies of the rewards already in hand, like these custom Funko Pops that I painted by hand:

Painting these things is hard!

In other cases, I may not have the actual rewards in hand before the launch, meaning I need to make it look as close to the finished product as possible. For instance, one reward (which I will be revealing at a later time) will include things like stickers and buttons — I had hoped to have these designed, ordered, and in hand before launch so I could photograph the finished product, but given shipping turnaround times, that seems unlikely. Instead, I will hopefully get the physical product in hand during the launch, so I can share it as a project update. In the meantime, though, I need to have a mock-up to show backers what they will be getting.

Before I can do any of that, though, I have to first figure out the basics: what my goals are, and how I am going to reach them.

The Goal: $500

Many Kickstarter campaigns are raising money to pay for the creative team. One thing I have going for me is that I did all the work myself, so I don’t need to raise $3,000 to pay the artist. And since I have decided to print in black and white, I didn’t need to pay $2,500 for a colorist. Or pay a letterer, or whatever else. All this cost me was months of my time (plus some surprisingly robust startup costs you don’t think about like hosting this website, or buying a tablet, etc.).

As a result, I can publish with a modest goal, which is why I’m asking $500 for my initial goal. There’s not really any profit built into that, but after crunching the numbers, I think it’s enough for me to print an initial small run, and ship whatever books are ordered to backers.

That is really a bare bones goal, though. There are some other things I’d like to do, which is where Stretch Goals come into play.

Stretch Goal: Squeeks Lives!

One of the things I’d really like to do is have a backup story starring everyone’s favorite crime fighting monkey Squeeks.

In the original Boy Comics run, Squeeks initially accompanied Chuck when Chuck enrolled at Curtiss Tech in #107. But after a couple issues, he vanished without any explanation. It makes sense though; my explanation is simply that the school simply doesn’t allow pet monkeys in the dorm.

I do miss Squeeks, though, and it got me thinking about what he might be doing back in New York City while Chuck is away at college.

With that in mind, I have decided to set my Stretch Goal at $800, and the reward for hitting that level is that I will add a new 4-page Squeeks backup story to the comic showing just what kind of shenanigans Squeeks is getting into on his own. This is the one part of the book that isn’t done yet, but I am hoping to get it squared away soon in case we hit the stretch goal!

…you’ll have to read it to find out.

The idea behind Stretch Goals is that it gives backers extra incentive to keep contributing to the project even after the initial goal is met. In this case, if we hit $800, the book will swell from 32 pages (plus covers) to 36 pages, so every backer will be getting more story for their money.

Beyond paying for the higher printing cost associated with having a longer book, the extra money will allow me to print more copies, so I will have some in hand to sell at conventions or through this website.

I haven’t yet decided on higher stretch goals. I’m not sure any are necessary or possible, but I might set one for $1,500 just as a pie-in-the-sky goal. So if there’s something you’d like to see for a stretch goal, drop me a line and let me know!

Rewards (part 1)

The same also goes for rewards. What do readers actually want out of this experience beyond the comic itself? Since this is my first issue, and I’m creating a reader community, I don’t know yet! So I’m sort of stabbing in the dark trying to come up with interesting rewards.

I think reaching higher stretch goals will be difficult in part because it requires either a very large fan base (which I do not yet have) or high tier rewards that bring in a large amount of money per backer.

I do have a couple higher end rewards, but I have to limit the number available, because they both involve hand made art.

One is the Funko Pops, which I have already shown you. Though my paint job is far from great, it’s done with love — and a ton of time. Getting those little details right is really hard, so painting these is quite time consuming. These also have a higher cost to produce than other rewards, both for the initial cost of the blank pop itself, but also because shipping these will require boxes, and a much higher package shipping rate than comics or other flat rewards.

The other premium reward will be sketch covers, where I will hand draw a unique cover on a blank variant. I will work with the backer to come up with an idea for the cover they like. Making these is likely to take even longer than painting the Funko Pops, so as a result, I will have to limit the number of both rewards. Otherwise, fulfillment will be delayed as I try to make all this stuff. And it will also prevent me from spending that time working on the next issue.

I do have one mid-level reward that will be available on a mass basis, and which I am probably more excited about than any of the other rewards — but that announcement will have to wait until next time.

Thanks for reading! And remember, The Crimebusters Kickstarter goes live on July 11!