In this session, Daniel Brodie of the comedy comic Morgan’s Organs shares lessons learned jumping head first into the world of comics and crowdfunding. You’ll hear about Daniel’s process of developing Morgan’s Organs from an idea in his head to a book that found a fan base and support on Kickstarter.
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Featured Resource – FreshBooks
Session Table Setting
My guest today is a Toronto, Canada writer, Creator and writer of Morgan’s Organs comic book series It’s like Inside Out but for grown-ups!
About a year ago…
February 1, 2016Project launched
March 3, 2016 – Successfully raised CA$ 5,631 with 176 backers
Welcome to ComixLaunch, Daniel Brodie
Guiding Discussion Questions
1) Origin Story for Morgan’s Organs… the idea didn’t start as a comic, correct?
Initially conceived the idea of Morgan’s Organs on a backpacking trip in August 2013 as a television series
found the motivation/inspiration to try writing the pilot script of this series in February 2014
a few months later, I found a screenwriter networking site called www.talentville.com which is where the concept really grew and my writing developed
concept went through many reiterations over a period of 1-2 years, and my script went from scoring in the low 40s on the site to the mid-70s (putting my script into the top 10 on the site)
the founder of the site tried to help me find success in Hollywood, even connecting me with producers, but they felt the concept was too mature and the writing wasn’t strong enough yet
realizing that it was unlikely I would find success as an amateur writer in such a powerful and well-connecting industry that is Hollywood, I decided to PIVOT
2) How did Morgan’s Organs become a comic book series?
“Pivot” is a word that has really stuck with me as I changed my vision from writing a television show to a comic book series. I’d enjoy explaining further why this word is important to me if you are interested to discuss it on the podcast
with no previous experience in comic books, working with an artist, comic book production or crowdfunding, I got to work doing plenty of research, there were ups and downs, mistakes and lessons. I initially worked with one art production agency, but the partnership was not what I had hoped for, so I cancelled the agreement. It might have felt like a waste of money, but really it was a learning experience to help me understand what I am really looking for in an artist.
I found my current artist on a website for freelancers. He was the only person I contacted. After seeing just one of his sketches of my main character, Bran the brain, I knew he was the artist for this project
3) What did you do to Preparing for Kickstarter launch?
Robert and I came to an agreement, and I commissioned him to complete 4 preview pages of Book 1 plus the cover art for the Kickstarter campaign, with the understanding that the success of the campaign would dictate whether the project continued.
While Robert worked on art, I spent much of my time researching the keys to a successful Kickstarter campaign, determing my rewards, creating my Kickstarter campaign page, setting up my budget, and more planning tasks.
One of my regrets looking back is that I didn’t start marketing my project sooner. The problem is that I was a bit ashamed/nervous/doubtful of my project because of its overly mature content. I had thoughts like “is this something I really want to attach my name to? Will people even like it? Find it funny?” And more. I had decided to wait until the preview pages were complete before I really began marketing activities, or even telling my friends and family about what I do in my spare time.
The preview pages were complete in December 2015 and I set a plan to launch in February 2016, giving me a month-and-half to promote. I set-up social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, and Imgur. I began posting the work across these channels. I set-up a landing page where people could join a launch email list. All of these activities helped me create an initial fan base of about 90 emails (not an amazing number, but I felt it was enough to achieve my goal).
Another key activity I did pre-launch was press outreach. I created a press release that I distributed to over 40 journalists and comic/crowdfunding websites. This helped me get attention from over 10 media soures before and during the campaign, including Bleeding Cool, Comics Alliance and more. Some sites simply reposted my press release, some did an email Q&A interview with me, and some I did a live interview over Skype.
I also ran Facebook ads which helped increase my Facebook fans by about 30-40 pre-launch (cost was about $0.50 per new follower).
4) What was the Kickstarter launch like?
I chose February 1, 2016 as the day to launch my campaign. It was important to me that I didn’t waver on this date as I had been communicating it to my audience. After I hit launch, I sent a launch email to my email list, and posted across social media channels.
One important thing I learned during the campaign is that it is okay to rely on friends and family for support. Even though my personal network was only about 20% of my total fans, they had contributed almost 50% of campaign funds raised. It was important that I secured a few close friends/family willing to contribute very early in the campaign to help build hype. This helped me hit 40% of campaign goal within 24 hours, and 90% of my goal within the first week.
Probably the most important things that I did during my campaign was personal outreach. I made sure to send a personal message to every single person who backed my campaign. I also made sure to send personalized messages to all potential backers who engaged with me via other channels like social media or Reddit. As well, I chose certain Kickstarter campaigns running during mine that I supported with no strings attached, while also reaching out to these people to share ideas and tell them about my campaign.
I was amazed how many people from my writing site, Talentville, also pitched in to the campaign. These were people who were already fans of my writing for Morgan’s Organs, who had read prior versions of my script. This just goes to show why it is important to always be networking. I highly recommend all writers, whether for screenplays or comics, to join community websites like Reddit (i.e., r/comicbookcollabs) or Talentville and build a professioanl network.
5) Let’s talk about Post Kickstarter campaign
Results of Kickstarter: $5.5K raised (140% of goal) by 175 backers
Set up an account on BackerKit which helped me raise another $150-200 dollars from already backers. This site also helped me streamline my survey and fulfilment process. Highly recommend this service to others.
Did extensive work looking for the right printer. Tough to find a good quote in Canada, and with the volatility of the dollar at the time, it was expensive to print in the US. I decided to print in China, which was a risky move because I would have to print more than double what I was fulfilling in my campaign. However, the price per unit dropped significantly. I created a partnership with my selected Chinese printer, even getting a discounted rate in exchange for including their contact details on the inside cover of my book.
Knowing that I would be over-printing, I decided to also invest in an Artist Alley booth at Toronto’s Fan Expo in September. This was one of the best decisions I made. I more than doubled my email list from initial. Between my current Kickstarter fans and the new ones I gained at Fan Expo, my list is now about 400 highly engaged fans. I am well positioned for success in my next Kickstarter. I’d be happy to talk more about this experience in the podcast as I think its a great thing for people to consider post-Kickstarter campaign. I made over $1,000 over a 4-day event, selling over 150 books. The key to the success was personal selling. I wasn’t just sitting, waiting for people to come to my booth. I was talking to people as they walked by and really trying to drive interest.
One thing I did to save costs for backers in my first campaign, which helped make my campaign more appealing, was actually driving over the Canada/U.S. border to ship packages to U.S. backers. This allowed me to charge minimal amount to U.S. backers during the campaign. While it’s not a strategy that can work for everyone, I think the main takeaway here is that KS creators should always consider how they can go above-and-beyond to drive down costs and deliver more value to backers.
6) What’s Next Next steps
Book 2 script is now complete and the preview pages are in art production (likely are complete by the time of the podcast). We are completing 5 preview pages and cover art for the Kickstarter campaign page.
Planning to launch the next Kickstrater to fund the completion of Book 2 in early January.
Looking how I can deliver greater value in my next KS campaign from what I did before. I reached out to one of my favorite artists who draws for Image Comics and they are actually contributing a print poster to my campaign. As well, I am bringing on a new artist to draw the book sleeve for Book 2.
Again I will be engaging media before and during launch, and will continue to post across social media.
1) How would you finish the sentence, “Kickstarter is _______”
A testing ground.
2) Let’s the pretend the powers that be at Kickstarter are listening (which you know they are)… if you could change one thing about the Kickstarter platform, what would it be?
Have add-ons with each specific rewards tier.
3) What’s your secret weapon? (Meaning a tool, resource, app, etc. that you couldn’t make comics without?)
4) Fulfillment is one area that trips up many creators. Do you have a fulfillment tip for our audience?
Look for shortcuts and money savers, and printing in China
5) Can you recommend one comic or book (not done by you) more people need to check out?
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ComixLaunch Featured Resource: FreshBooks
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It’s time for today’s ComixLauncher.
A ComixLauncher is a short, actionable activity you can do immediately after listening to the show. They’re all activities I’ve done myself, and will get you one step closer to a successful ComixLaunch. They’ll transform this Podcast from a passive, lean back activity centered around Tyler James, into an active, lean-forward activity centered around YOU and your projects.
Ask yourself “Do I have the right people around me to get constructive feedback from?” If not, make this a priority.
Invite to share results @ comixlaunch.com/voicemail or in an email [email protected]
“The superheroes you have in your mind (idols, icons, titans, billionaires, etc.) are nearly all walking flaws who’ve maximized 1 or 2 strengths. Humans are imperfect creatures. You don’t “succeed” because you have no weaknesses; you succeed because you find your unique strengths and focus on developing habits around them. Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about… Everyone struggles. Take solace in that.” – Tim Ferriss
Thanks for Listening.
We’re going to go even deeper into both mindset, strategies and tactics for making KS work for you.
Thank you so much for listening, and for letting me walk with you, as you taken another step forward toward your next successful ComixLaunch.
Wrap Up Questions
1) One final piece of advice
2) What has you most excited?
3) What’s the best way for listeners to connect?
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