Kickstarter advice from someone who has done it exactly two times

A comic book creator found me on Kickstarter, presumably by doing homework and seeing what books had been successful recently, I don’t know. They asked for some advice and I ended up writing quite a bit, it was helpful for me to set my own thoughts down and I hope helpful to others. If you might do crowdfunding someday, read on. If crowdfunding isn’t for you, you are excused from class today!

NOTE: This is a post I wrote in 2019 after my first Kickstarter; I never posted it, I’m not sure why. Since writing this I’ve done a second successful Kickstarter campaign, but the lessons I wrote after my first remain valid.

Hi Colin,

Congrats on the success of your comic book. My name is X and I am working on my first comic book and will be posting it on Kickstarter in the coming months.

I thought I’d reach out to your for some advice on how you were able to get so much exposure for your books! Such as if you posted your story anywhere else before Kickstarter; what kind of promotion you may have done for it, etc. If you don’t mind. 🙂

I understand you must be extremely busy but any advice would be greatly appreciated.





Hi X, 

Thanks for reaching out. Running a Kickstarter is a huge project and it can seem like there is an endless amount to do. But I think I did learn a couple things that are good to focus on with my first go around. 

1) I don’t think of it so much as getting exposure as having your own audience you bring to Kickstarter. The basic concept is that Kickstarter is a force multiplier but you need to bring some audience to get things started. If you are able to get half your goal funded by people you know you have a very good chance that strangers on Kickstarter will fund rest. So I focused on building up my audience of friends, family, coworkers, and people I knew from online comics making communities. I ran an e-mail list for these people, sending them an occasional newsletter for months before my launch. As I got closer to my launch date I made sure that my e-mail list was well prepped on what Kickstarter is and how the launch would work. Then I focused on my “Core 100,” my closest followers. I reached out to most of them directly in the week or two before my launch and asked them to back me early on. Finally, when I did launch I texted many of my Core 100 to let them know it was time to back. This got us a big start over the first few hours; when you have a big start, Kickstarter notices and you rise up the site’s lists, then strangers begin to notice you and the audience stats to multiply. So the best way you can ensure Kickstarter success is to leverage everyone close to you and get them excited to back you early on. 

2) Also, I had some specific reward levels aimed at certain people, some cameos in the book that I knew would be appealing and I priced them pretty well. All the cameos sold out very quickly, this by itself got us a long way towards our goal. 

3) I didn’t do a lot of outreach, really. I don’t tweet, or youtube, I didn’t IG, I did post on FB. I did run some Facebook ads but I’m not sure they helped me much. I think the best use of limited time is reaching out personally to your close supporters and luckily that is free. 

4) Nail your project image, it is the most important part of your campaign. It should be a clear simple image without text and make sure it is formatted for required dimensions; if you don’t have existing art that works well in that rectangle, make new art for it. Be aware there will be a “play” symbol in the middle of the picture so don’t let that obscure important art. 

5) Make sure your page is clean, professional, and easy to read without typos or mistakes. This doesn’t mean it needs lots of fancy graphics but it should be your best stuff, laid out clearly, so people know they can trust you to make a book.

Hope that helps and let me know when you launch!


PS I noticed you haven’t backed any [Kickstarter] projects. You should. Your chances of funding your own projects go up when you fund others. I suggest backing at least ten projects, so people know you are supportive of the KS community. Plus you’ll learn from the projects you back, whether they are good or bad. People may not want to back you if it seems you’re just showing up without contributing. Think of it as a community, not an ATM. Find some cool stuff and give ’em a few bucks, it will be well worth it.

I’ll add one more nugget of advice, one week after writing this to X. When you approach a complete stranger asking them for advice, and they write you 300 words of well punctuated gold, you might want to, I don’t know, answer back and say THANK YOU. C’mon X!

Colin is an emergency physician in Boston, Massachusetts. The seeds of his comics project were sown when he took a sabbatical from the ER for creative writing. His creative non-fiction has been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.