Thursday, 24 September 2015

Kickstarting a Single Book (With a Series in Mind)

Issue 4 of The Hero Code is about to begin the coloring stage of production.

Which means that we're a step closer to finishing the first arc of the series, and a step closer to a planned Kickstarter for the collected edition.

This is the first collection of what I'm hoping to be several more, which raises an interesting issue - whatever I end up making the book into now (in terms of design, size, cover, cost) will hopefully be a design that works for a series of books.

So, although on paper I am looking to produce a single book, I am actually establishing the look of the series.

Two thoughts have come up with regards to this process.

Ken Epstein of Nix Comics raised an interesting point, and one which got me thinking - with stretch goals (I know, I'm getting way ahead of myself here) books can sometimes change - becoming bigger, become hard covers - from what was originally pitched as part of the campaign. This might work for a stand alone book, but for something which is going to establish a look, it could prove problematic.

The other point is an ongoing series of posts by Justin Jordan about the price points of books, and what people are willing to pay for a book - often dictated by the physical attributes of the book itself, sometimes over content.

The Hero Code: Menace of the Mannequin (volume one of the series) will be around 140pp, full color. I have two ideas as to what size I would like the book to be - standard comic book size (6.625x10.25) or a smaller 6x9 size.

Using the standard page and cover weights on these two sizes (12pt cover and 70lb gloss interior pages), and looking at a print run of 500 books, the two print costs for these two print runs would be as follows:

Standard: $4066.03 (around $8.13 a book)
6x9: $2396.35 (around $4.80 a book)

Quite a difference, as you can see. However the price point for these two books is quite different - one could comfortable charge $15-$20 for the stand size book, but would probably be looking at $10-$12 for the smaller size.

I tend to use a model of giving a slight discount or "free shipping" on reward points for Kickstarter rewards. So taking the higher price points of the two books, and using just the physical books to make the goal on a Kickstarter covering just printing costs, you would need to get around 204 backers for the bigger book, 200 for the smaller book.

So that leaves around 300 copies for future sale - seeing a return of around $3561 on the larger books and $2160 (neither of which will cover reprint costs on a future run if the book does sell out - the costs for 1k print runs isn't much more than 500, and offers greater opportunities for return and reinvestment, and 2k print runs seem to be the really sweet spot.)

There isn't much difference between the two numbers of backers needed to make the project happen, even though the costs are very different.

Now, looking at the same books but with hardcovers;

Standard: $4942.28
6x9: $3261.39

You could probably charge more for hardcover versions of both books, although would the rise in cover costs be enough to justice the increase in costs to produce?

Having a stretch goal to make the book a hardcover would work for sure, but then would I be reliant on having to meet the stretch goals on future Kickstarters to make the book uniform, or have future Kickstarters be at a higher goal amount to keep the books the same?

It should be noted here that stretch goals don't always mean that the book itself will change dramatically. It could be something as simple as including a collector card, a mini-print, a book mark, a button, etc - something I did with my own Black Wraith Kickstarter.

With the Black Wraith Kickstarter I was very conservative, went for a low amount, kept the rewards very simple, made it very clear. It worked well, raising more than three times the goal amount (however, see box to the right to see where I stand in terms of breaking even on that project). I would like to be less conservative with The Hero Code Kickstarter, and see if I can actually make the goal amount, but still keep the reward tiers as simple as possible.

Which makes me nervous, for sure.

The two campaigns I have so far run on Kickstarter, both have been successful. Both have had just over 100 backers.

In order to do a full Hero Code Kickstarter (that is to raise the printing, shipping, KS costs, etc) I would be looking at needing more like 300 backers.

All things to ponder on in the future - however, for now, I open the floor and ask if people have a preference to the size of the first and future volumes of The Hero Code - standard or 6x9 - leave a comment...

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