Tag Archive for crowdfunding

The Zombie Hunters Book Two

The Zombie Hunters Kickstarter ProjectMy favorite web comic, “The Zombie Hunters,” has a Kickstarter project to fund the production of the second print book. Kickstarter has become a popular way for web comic artists to publish their content into a print book and offering fans little extras for their support. I selected the Books One and Book Two combo for $55 USD, as I didn’t get Book One when it first came out several years ago.

After exceeding the minimum funding goal of $16,000 with a week to spare, Jenny, the artist, explains how she and her husband, Greg, are putting the book together. All the web comic pages are printed out and placed into a binder to find various errors, especially the balloon dialog font with an inconsistent capital “l” that requires attention. Two passes have used three toner cartridges to print out the pages. A third pass will go to the copy editor to find more errors. Meanwhile, she will touch up the artwork before placing them into the InDesign file that will go to the printer.

This is a similar process I’m going through to assemble my speculative short story collection for publication as a full-length ebook next year.

I bought a new Brother HL-5470DW printer that was on sale during the Labor Day weekend to replace my seven-year-old Brother HL-5250DN printer with less than 1,500 pages left on the drum. With the cost of a replacement drum being more than a new printer, buying a new printer with updated features (i.e., faster printing, more memory and AirPrint to print directly from the iPad) during a holiday sale was a no brainer. I’m printing on the old printer until the drum fails so I can dump it into the recycling bin.

I’ve printed, stapled or butterfly clipped, and hole punched each story before placing into a binder. I’ll be reviewing, removing/adding and revising 40 stories in the next six months. The hardest part will be deciding what order to arrange the stories in, as flash stories, short stories and a novella each takes up one-third of the collection. Assembling a collection is no easy task, which I’ve done several times for contests in the past.

There will be no Kickstarter project to turn my first short story collection into a printed book. A successful Kickstarter project requires an established fan base to achieve the minimum funding goal. Web comic artists who spent years building up their archives and fan base can sometimes exceed their minimum funding goals by unbelievable multiples. Based on my web traffic and ebook sales numbers, I don’t have much of a fan base. I’ll be implementing many changes over the next year to turn that around.

The Megatokyo Visual Novel Game

Most webcomic artists use Kickstarter to sell pre-orders for a printed collection of their work. Not Fred Gallagher of Megatokyo. His non-Japanese manga webcomic about two American fanboys stuck in Tokyo is already available in six print volumes. He turned to Kickstarter to fund the creation of the Megatokyo visual novel game for the PC, Mac and Linux, using the open source visual novel game engine, Ren’Py.

From an interview with GameZone, Gallagher states:

The Megatokyo Visual Novel Game is a game based on my long-running webcomic Megatokyo. A Visual Novel is a form of interactive fiction with static graphics, background music, sound effects and a story with multiple paths and numerous possible endings. You play these games by clicking to advance the dialogue and graphics and making choices that cumulatively determine your story path. The game will be in three parts – the first part cover the content in the first three volumes of Megatokyo books, the second part covers the content in volumes 4, 5 and 6, while part 3 will be entirely new content with all the good, the bad, the neutral, the really bad and the awesome endings for the various story paths.

The response from fans was phenomenal. With a funding goal of $20,000 USD and stretch goals to $75,000 USD, nearly 5,000 fans gave under $300,000 USD in pledges. (I’ve pledged at the $35 USD level to receive all the digital downloads when they become available.) The visual novel will happen over the next 18 months, with part one due in February 2014.

According to Publishers Weekly, this kind of success isn’t unusual:

There are many more examples of successful comics projects on Kickstarter. Indeed this year comics projects on Kickstarter have a success rate of 48% (general publishing has a 32% success rate) and have raised more than $19 million funding 2805 projects so far this year.

The official website for the Megatokyo visual novel can be found here.

As a child I loved reading the classic “Choose Your Own Adventure” books, which is technically possible to do with ebooks. Creating an interactive visual novel is something that intrigues me. I have the writing and programming skills to make that happen. Alas, I’m not an artist. If I ever got serious about learning how to do black-and-white ink drawings, I might do a visual novel someday.

Plan B For The Plan B Magazine

While sending out some older short stories as reprints to face a cruel world of rejections in the slush piles, I sent “The Uninvited Spook” to the Plan B Magazine that Duotrope listed as a fledging market (i.e., less than six months). The premise for this new online magazine is to publish a mystery short story each week, pay semi-pro rates of one-cent per word and publish an anthology ebook every quarter. My spook-spying-on-spooks short story got accepted for publication—with a catch.

The semi-pro rates are dependent on the crowdfunding campaign at Indiegogo to raise $3,500 USD, which has less than 10% of the minimum amount raised and 11 days before the campaign ends. Unless contributors start pouring out of the woodwork in a hurry, there will be no funding for the semi-pro rates and all the accepted short stories will revert back to the writers.

Why anyone would need $3,500 USD to start an online magazine? A domain name and web hosting for a year doesn’t cost much these days. The amount was too small for the editor to live on. That number didn’t make sense until I re-read the writer guidelines on the payment structure, where the maximum payout is $50 USD for a 5,000-word short story each week. The funding goal represents a year or more of payments for short stories, depending on the word count of each short story.

Indiegogo is similar to Kickstarter that you can set up a project with a minimum-funding goal and offer various incentive levels for contributors. Indiegogo offers two interesting choices if the minimum-funding goal isn’t met: return the money or keep the money. Depending on your project, this offers some flexibility. Plan B Magazine will return the money if the minimum-funding goal isn’t met.

I’m thinking about putting together a full-length collection of my speculative short stories as a print book. if I put together a print-on-demand (POD) book, I could take pre-orders on Indiegogo and keep the money to order the books without worrying if I set the minimum-funding goal too high. The difference between a successful and unsuccessful campaign is on whether or not you have an audience.

The alternative for Plan B Magazine—let’s call it Plan B—is to provide writers the option to have their short stories published online for FREE to help build up the new magazine so that it could semi-pro rates someday.

Although I would rather see the money (one-cent per word is better than my usual 1/4-cent per word), I’m more interested in seeing this new market establishing itself. Since “The Uninvited Spook” was first published in a print-only magazine in 2008, and published as a short story ebook in 2010, I don’t mind it being reprinted for FREE to help expand my reading audience and grow a new market at the same time.

UPDATED 02/23/2013: The editor announced that the funding campaign at Indiegogo has failed and she is switching to Plan B to pay out of her own pocket. Twelve short stories—including my own reprint, “The Uninvited Spook”—will be published bi-weekly for six months, collected into an anthology ebook for sale, and all the writers will get paid their one-cent per word rate. We will see if this online mystery magazine can fund itself after six months.

Should Kickstarter Fund Your Next Writing Project? (Part 2)

This is the second part of a two-part blog post. Read Part 1 – The Wrong Way.

THE RIGHT WAY

Should Kickstarter Fund Your Next Writing Project? (Part 2)

 

The second project is from the artist/writer team of All New Issues web comic who wants $4,000 USD to publish a print book.

This Kickstarter is to raise enough money to pay for a print run of a 140 page perfect bound book, collecting the first 200 strips of All New Issues. The funds we raise would cover the cost of the print job, Kickstarter and Amazon fees, and help cover the cost of any extra shipping for the incentives. Any additional funds that we receive will be used to help pay for travel costs for conventions this summer.

This is a tightly focused and more realistic project with all the ingredients for success available from the start.

  1. If you check out the archive page, the source material is ready for book form.
  2. An established audience wants to see a web comic book in either PDF and/or print format.
  3. The $4,000 USD price figure is typical for a printed web comic book.
  4. Additional funds beyond the minimum goal will go towards traveling on the summer convention circuit to meet fans and sell signed books.
  5. A short video introducing the project sponsors, the web comic and the goals for the project also helps.

 

The initial $4,000 USD minimum goal got met within the first week. The project sponsors upped the incentives for reaching the new $5,000 USD and $5,500 USD funding goals. With less than a few days to go before the project gets funded, the $6,000 USD level is within easy reach. The project sponsors will have a busy summer traveling the convention circuit as they reach out to fans and sell more books.

Updated 04/21/2012 — The All New Issues Kickstarter project completed their funding goal at $8,111 USD, doubling the initial amount they were seeking. The completed book will be available in early May 2012.

IS KICKSTARTER RIGHT FOR YOU?

If you have a realistic plan, a proven track record and an established audience, Kickstarter might be a useful tool for funding your project.

If not, don’t bother. Raising money is an important aspect of the creative business. If you’re not willing to treat this as a business with a hard-nosed attitude towards defining your goals, you have no business asking people to fund your project. Don’t waste everyone’s time by throwing your project out there and hoping for the best.

With my content producing business model (i.e., blog postings and short ebooks), I really don’t have a need for Kickstarter. I’m still in the audience building stage. If I have written and self-edited a novel trilogy within the next few years, but don’t have the funds to pay for the professional editing, cover art and ebook formatting, I might give Kickstarter a try.

Should Kickstarter Fund Your Next Writing Project? (Part 1)

I came across two tweets last week about artists using Kickstarter to fund their projects. If you’re not familiar with Kickstarter, it’s a social media website for hosting creative projects, setting a minimum funding goal, and offering various incentive levels for people to make pledges. If the pledges meet or exceed the funding goal within 30 days, all the pledge backers will have their credit/debit card charged to fund the project. If not, the project isn’t funded. This is a very clever mechanism for funding creative projects. The tweets illustrated the wrong way and the right way for setting up a Kickstarter project.

Kickstarter Logo

THE WRONG WAY

 

Should Kickstarter Fund Your Next Writing Project? (Part 1)

An unpublished writer wants to self-publish his unwritten epic fantasy novel for $20,000 USD.

[…] I will be working to create an epic fantasy. There will be warriors, wizards, possibly a damsel maybe a dragon or two, fights, and of course, mead. I’m planning to self-publish, which means that there will be many additional costs. Printing of the books (as I intend to have a limited print run), marketing, editors, more editors, the list goes on and on. That’s where Kickstarter and you come in. Your pledges will be used to fund all the minutiae involved in self publishing, like the purchase of ISBNs, having the formats converted to work with all the different readers, and other assorted minor costs. Also, these pledges will go to the larger costs as well, like the cost of editors and marketing. In all, these pledges take this self publishing dream from something that might be fun, but not truly profitable, to something that might make enough money on this first book  to allow me to move to writing as a full time job, once this book is published, instead of something I do when I have the time.

The rational for this project seems absurd. Give money for an unwritten novel from an unpublished writer without an outline and/or synopsis in hand? No, thank you.

Perhaps I’m biased from my experience as a short story writer. I had 200 rejection slips before my first short story got accepted for publication, another 100 rejection slips before my second short story got accepted, started publishing regularly in the genre anthologies not long thereafter, and recently started publishing my own essay and short story ebooks. That’s six years of hard work to develop my talent, learn the business and be somewhat successful. I’m still a few years away from quitting my tech support job to write full-time.

What made this unpublished writer so special that he could solicit money to write full-time without proving he’s capable of doing so?

Kickstarter allows you to send private messages to the project owner to ask questions. The lengthy reply that I got back to my question was that the bulk of the money would go towards editing and marketing as these are the two areas for why novels often failed to break out.

Having written a sprawling 700-page rough draft for my first novel (a postponed but not yet abandoned horror/urban fantasy/OMG-WTF-BBQ story), editing is a daunting and relentless task. This is why most epic fantasy writers sometimes go for years between publishing books. You shouldn’t bother with professional editing until your manuscript had gone through two or three drafts and spit polished to the best of your ability.

You shouldn’t worry about marketing until you built up your author platform via website and social media to establish yourself—the writer—before an audience. No brand, no audience. No audience, no pledges. At the time of this writing, the project had no pledges to get funded with. If you’re careful in laying down the ground work before your publishing your novel, the marketing should take care of itself.

An epic fantasy novel ebook with professional editing, cover art and ebook formatting can be done for $2,000 USD.  I would recommend that the project owner write his novel—and build up his brand in the meantime—before coming back to Kickstarter with a focused plan to turn his novel into an ebook. If done right, the pledges will come in. And even at $2,000 USD, success will still be a long shot.

UPDATE 04/13/2012: The project owner cancelled the project on the same day that this blog post appeared, which, presumably, was purely coincidental. A wise choice given that the project failed to attract any pledges after two weeks.

The Right Way  (Part 2)

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