Kickstarter: A Bad Webcomics Wiki Primer
|Original article author: | Shan
(Plarblman and Long Tom approved article for direct entry - Coming Soon!)
What is Kickstarter?
Well, not exactly hot on the heels of the Patreon: A Bad Webcomics Wiki Primer as it's almost 9 months later, here is the logical companion piece for Kickstarter as webcomics have been known to do both on occasion. Welcome to what's been known as crowdfunding among other things.
As stated along these lines in the prior article in this series, one way of looking at things is that Patreon is like an ongoing magazine subscription with a regular periodic fee (typically charged monthly) while Kickstarter is a one-off payment. Quite often, it could be seen as a pre-order as the funds raised are then used to make the item as opposed to the more traditional way of trying to gauge demand and then making the number of items you estimate you're going to sell but not going too far above or below that. We'll come back to all that in a moment as it's a very important point.
People running a Kickstarter will state a target goal they want to raise over a time period (typically but not restricted to) of 30 days and usually a series of tiers at different prices and different items to go with them. A typical example where webcomics are concerned could include a digital copy at a lower level, a soft-cover plus the digital file at a higher one and a hardcover plus the digital file at a higher one again.
Kickstarter typically charges 5% in fees for hosting the campaign and a general rule of thumb is that about another 5% are for transaction fees. So, it's a reasonable estimate to go with the person running the campaign getting about 90% of the amount reported raised after payment defaults (don't forget the possibility of people pledging but not paying, it's been known to happen!).
Indiegogo is probably the best known of the alternatives to Kickstarter and one key difference is that opposed to Kickstarter which is all or nothing funding (raise your target or get nothing), Indiegogo campaigns can be all or nothing or flexible. The latter means they can raise a fraction of the total amount aimed at the campaign's close (but not hit the stated target) but you will still get charged. Be cautious as there's obvious potential problems here. So, be vigilant and check the rules of your particular crowdfunding platform and what specifically you've signed up for.
Kickstarter in terms of webcomics
(Oh look, here's me in mid-2018 finally coming back to try and complete this.)
Trying to keep things simple, a webcomics creator can estimate costs for production, printing, and distribution of what was just an online webcomic into print form. One way of seeing what's currently available is here and by modifying the filters, you can also see finished projects and the like.
Kickstarter basics for the consumer
This is actually quite straightforward for the best part. Select the option (aka tier/item/'reward') that you want and make sure your credit or debit card is valid at the time the Kickstarter campaign closes American Eastern Standard Time as soon after that, you will be charged. This is at the end of the campaign, not at the time of pledging. Before the campaign, pledges can be modified (moved up and down in value or even cancelled).
For example, the latest Kickstarter I am signed up to hit a total threshold, T-Shirts became available for purchase if $20 was added to the existing pledge. Another thing to note is that there's a survey at the end of the Kickstarter and this particular campaign was using the survey as a means to notify them about increased pledges for this additional reward. So, the takeaway lesson there is to watch out for announcements.
On top of email alerts from the creator, there is a line of headings/links around the middle of the campaign page that reads from left to right "Campaign/FAQ/Updates/Comments/Community". Clicking on updates will also keep you up to date with latest developments in the campaign, all located in the one place.
At the time of writing this, Kickstarter does not support Paypal. Useful information on all of this here.
Protect yourself on Kickstarter
At the most basic level, it seems pretty obvious. Google (and even Bing if you must) is your friend. Look for previous Kickstarter pages from the same creator and see how they went and that people are satisfied with their participation and what they received. Generally looking for other non-Kickstarter pages can also give you an idea of how creators have been generally, especially with things that involve handing over money with the expectation of goods in return. Some of the more notorious campaigns have Reddit discussions that you can find here.
Though not a webcomic Kickstarter itself, here's something on the infamous Goblins card game Kickstarter here, not to be confused with the animated Goblins Kickstarter as also discussed here. More on that whole saga further down, it deserves its own subheading.
Even though I believe there's no connection between the people running them, you could think of Kicktraq as being the Kickstarter equivalent of Graphtreon (for Patreon). Lots of fun to be had with multiple graphs of Kickstarter campaigns including ongoing progress towards total campaign goals, daily totals in bar graph form, trends of money raised, projections of final totals and more. There's also links to news items about various ongoing campaigns. Plenty of fun for people who like data and statistics.
Usually, Kickstarters tend to work out generally and that also applies for webcomics. That isn't always the case, though.
Might as well start with was probably the most infamous case where it fell short of expectations.
From the creator themselves as an update on the actual Kickstarter campaign page.
I can't stress enough how important it is to do as much investigating as you can into a campaign prior to committing money to any Kickstarter project. Think there's reasons for concern here? This isn't the half of it.
There's enough to say about this one to justify its own article. It now has one (The Cloud Factory). Short version is that it was an ambitious project that was pitching a concept for a yet to exist webcomic that among other things the money was going to be used for, the end result was a webcomic with only 8 pages and other rewards that often took years to get to the people who paid for them - if ever.
The two most recent comments on the campaign page.
Updates on recent comments.
Same person from May 15
The current last two comments from the same person.
I think this was 2018?
Some people have been less sanguine about the situation.
2016 or 2017
These are from 2016 (or 2017?) (NB: Kickstarter doesn't put the year, I have to recheck this estimate based on the comments in total). This campaign was in 2013
8 pages. Count them.
I personally never really got into Goblins and I don't really have much to do with the mega-thread on our forums for this webcomic (easily the longest one out of all of them). My point is, I don't really have an opinion one way or another on anything to do with this one.
However, I do know this webcomic had a Kickstarter for card game which which ended badly (page loads blank now, so needed to go to archive.org, that background is not good for the text). Then there was a Kickstarter for an animated pilot that was never coming close to what seemed like an awful lot for an animated one-off of such a short length (even with the costs per second generally) but then somehow did much better on Indiegogo, which weirdly didn't use the flexible funding option. How it did so much better and surged at the end were both topics at great length on our forum.
Like I said, I'm quite removed from this particular topic and the people involved but even so, maybe don't give money to anything associated with this particular enterprise unless you're really sure?