So you have a comic that you’ve decided you want to go the indie publishing route with, but you don’t want to shoulder all of the cost yourself. My friend, let me introduce you to crowdfunding. Yes, you’ve probably already heard of it, but have you considered all the possibilities? (Today I’ll be talking about comics, but you can crowdfund pretty much anything from a CD to a movie to a play to potato salad—yeah, the Internet’s a weird place.) So crowdfunding: You can set up your project on a site like Kickstarter or Indiegogo along with an explanatory video (optional, but recommended) and people, total strangers even, can back your project for tiered perks (e.g. they contribute a dollar, you write them a thank you note; they contribute ten, you send them a personalized sketch). There’s a giving time limit, and if your Kickstarter doesn’t make your target dollar amount, you don’t get to keep it (Indiegogo has a “Flexible Funding” option that does allow you to keep it). But you also have the option to make MORE than your goal amount.
Crowdfunding is, I think, a pretty awesome way to fund your artistic endeavors. The blog The Outhouse has a great interview with Valerie D’Orazio and Bobby Timony about their Kickstarter-funded comic The Horror Lovers. The interview touches on two important aspects of Kickstarter (and crowdfunding in general). D’Orazio says, “That’s what makes Kickstarter so cool: it is a built-in marketing research gauge. … I think the Kickstarter model will end up being used by by many comic publishers big and small. Maybe not all of them will use Kickstarter, per se, but utilize some form of crowdsourced funding for their projects.”
Testing The Market
I don’t know about you, but I love indies because they take a chance on weird, crazy, sensational books. But, in most cases, it’s hard to tell if the gamble will pay off until after it’s published and you see the response to it. When you crowdfund a book, you get to find out if people like it ahead of time. Is there an audience out there for Valor, a comics anthology of reimagined fairy tales that “pay homage to the strength, resourcefulness, and cunning of female heroines?” Most emphatically yes. (It’s like someone’s been reading my Christmas list.) Or how about when the author and self-publisher of the comedy/fantasy/adventure comic The Order of the Stick (featuring stick people) wanted to fund a reprint of his out-of-print books? His ambitious goal was $57,750. He raised over $1.2 million, making it the most highly funded Kickstarter comic to date. Yeah, I’d say he has a bit of an audience.
Not Just for Self-Published Authors
So this is already happening. The Canadian publisher Cloudscape Comics successfully funded Waterlogged: Tales from the Seventh Sea on Indiegogo last year (spoilers, I reviewed it in our Fall Issue, and it is to die for). And they’ve funded their next fabulous sounding anthology, Mega Fauna, the same way. New Paradigm Studios raised more than double their project goal for their Eisner nominated Watson and Holmes: Volume 1 last year, which our executive editor chatted with them about. They recently finished another successful Kickstarter for Volume 2, which I’m already excited about. But it’s not just individual projects. The indie comics publisher Antarctic Press ran a successful Indiegogo campaign last summer to help them continue to stay in business. And Top Cow just announced the launch of a new imprint, Top Cow Discover, “which will crowdfund projects for newcomers to the medium,” according to Comic Book Resources.
While you could certainly crowdfund any type of book, there’s something about the highly visual aspect of comics and graphic novels that seems to mesh well with what is ultimately a very visual campaign. Now for those of you like me with no artistic talent, but a love for comics, let’s go fund some campaigns!
Allyce Amidon is the associate editor at Foreword Reviews, where she blogs about comics and graphic novels. You can follow her on Twitter @allyce_amidon.