Kinds Of Blue Interview
a) How did you come across Pozible?
I was investigating crowd funding platforms. I knew about Kickstarter through Twitter—more specifically, through Neil Gaiman(who is one of my favourite writers of all time) because he got behind a Kickstarter project by Christopher Salmon (to turn one of Gaiman’s short stories into an animated film) and was asking people to support the campaign. Unfortunately, however, you can’t start a Kickstarter campaign unless you’re in the US. So I started looking at other options, like IndieGoGo. However, I preferred the Kickstarter model—which is that no one is charged any money until the funding goal is reached. IndieGoGo doesn’t operate that way. Then my friend Bec (who is heavily involved with Kinds of Blue) sent me the link to Pozible. I checked it out and discovered that it suited our needs perfectly. I also liked that Pozible is Australian and uniquely suited to the Australian context.
b) How has Pozible helped your project? How has it helped you beyond funding?
Being able to use Pozible to crowd fund has just been fantastic! I love that it makes integration with email and social media very, very easy, and that it does thing like provide code for widgets that I can use on our website. I found the articles on how to run a campaign very useful. I was also extremely grateful for the way the staff at Pozible offered assistance and promoted us—both through social media and also on the front page of the Pozible site.
c) Did you use any other activities to fund your project? What were/are they?
We didn’t do anything else to raise finances. We pretty much decided that if the support wasn’t there for Kinds of Blue through crowd funding, then it wasn’t worth it proceeding with the print side of the project.
d) Now that you have been successful with your crowd funding component, what are the next steps for your project?
At the moment, we’re working on proofreading and fixing up the layout of the book so that it’s ready for printing. Once that’s done, we’ll book in the print job, double check the proof and get the stock delivered. Then it’s a matter of organising and promoting the launch (which will be in Sydney sometime during the latter half of this year), amending our website so that it’s set up to take orders, and promoting and selling the remaining copies of the book that haven’t been snapped up already by supporters. We plan to book Artist’s Alley tables at Supanova Pop Expo in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney next year, which will hopefully give us access to a greater audience.
e) Where can we see the finish product?
You can read the full contents of Kinds of Blue on our website, but the print edition won’t be out for another couple of months.
f) If you could give any advice to other creative practitioners out there in relation to crowd funding, what would it be?
- Be realistic about how much to raise and what you will put the funds towards. Do a budget and crunch the numbers. (For us, we figured out that we only had to pre-sell around 200 copies of the book for printing it to be viable.)
- Know your target audience and how to reach them.
- Make use of all the networks you have—friends, family, related interest groups. Follow Pozible’s advice on crowd funding; it’s very good! (One thing that worked really well for us was their advice about asking people to promote and support you personally; most people we approached were more than happy to do that. We even got a retweet and a blog mention by comics’ legend Scott McCloud, who will be coming to Sydney in August for the GRAPHIC festival.)
- Make sure you have a couple of extra people who can help you with the campaign while it’s running—to write thank you messages, answer questions, promote it alongside of you, and so on. A large part of the success of our campaign has to do with my co-conspirators, Bec and Guan, who really helped carry the whole thing through—particularly in the first few days after we launched.
- We didn’t do this, but have some sort of marketing plan that spans the duration of the campaign. I’ve heard that most funds are raised at the beginning and at the end, so put things in place to keep the momentum going, or to inspire a big push perhaps towards the middle and/or towards the end so that people who haven’t quite decided whether or not to contribute are reminded and motivated to do so.
- Figure out what to do if you do reach your goal!
About your project
a) What inspired you to do your project?
I love comics, and have wanted to create them for some time. I follow a number of comics professionals on Twitter, and they would sometimes tweet advice about making them—the most important piece of advice being “Just go out and make comics!” That encouragement wasn’t enough, however; it really took something that Kieron Gillen (writer of Phonogram, S.W.O.R.D., Thor and Uncanny X-Men) wrote on his blog to inspire me to action—namely, that five pages was pretty much the maximum that you could ask an artist to do for you for free. The pieces fell into place: suddenly I had the idea of creating an anthology of five-page comics. I wrote a bunch of scripts and asked all these artists I knew to work with me on them.
I chose the theme of depression to unite the anthology because depression is something that both my husband and I have struggled with a lot. I felt I had a great deal of material that I could use and write truthfully about. Another plus is that depression is a broad topic that encompasses a number of different facets—hence the pieces on depression and music, depression and food, depression and work, carers, and so on. The theme also suited my co-conspirators Bec and Guan as they have also tangoed with the black dog at different times in their lives.
b) What would be the best possible outcome from your project that you could think of?
At the beginning of the campaign, I just hoped that we would be able to pre-sell 200 copies of the book. I thought that we would be lucky to raise 25 per cent of our goal in the first couple of days, and that we would need to do a big push in the middle and towards the end of the campaign. The fact that we managed to raise the full amount in just under three days is just staggering, and is far more than I could have hoped for!
c) Your book touches on a sensitive subject: depression. Why do you think there is a need for such a subject to be discussed?
Melancholia is still one of those areas that isn’t generally understood. Things are further complicated by the fact that people with depression may not be able to communicate what the darkness is like for them. When you live with it every day, it seems normal and even inconceivable that there are people out there who have no experience with the black dog. And yet there are many who don’t quite get it. Even if they do, they’re not sure what they can do or how they can help. Kinds of Blue attempts to communicate and talk about these things to a general audience.
d) What made you decide to use such a unique format for your project?
As I said earlier, I’ve always loved comics. But I’ve only started reading them seriously over the past eight years or so. Being exposed to works such as Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, Craig Thompson’s Blankets, Brian K Vaughan’s Y: The Last Man, Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics, Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s Phonogram, and so on made me glimpse the possibilities of what you could do with that medium. As the professionals keep saying over and over, comics aren’t just about superheroes; they’re for telling stories, expressing ideas and persuading people of a particular point of view. For me, comics are the synergy of two things I love most of all: words and art. That combination, when done right, is just magic.
e) How did you go about finding people to help you with the project?
My friends Bec and Guan are also writers. One thing we’ve tried to do semi-regularly over the last couple of years is meet up in a cafe on Tuesday afternoons for 2-3 hours to work on stuff. As you’d expect, some days would be more productive than others. When I had the idea for the anthology, they were the first people I shared it with, and they liked it so much, they decided to come on board. Bec, who has a background in graphic design, even offered to lay out the whole thing for us!
I’m also friends with a lot of different people who are artists—many of whom I met through church, the Fellowship of Evangelism in the Visual Arts (FEVA) (which I used to be involved with) and Comix 35 (a Christian organisation devoted to comics that ran a workshop on comics-making in Sydney six years ago). I knew that a few of them were interested in making comics, so then it was just a matter of getting in touch with them, pitching what I had in mind, persuading them to come on board and then collaborating with them.
f) What would you like to say to those who supported your project?
We are so grateful to everyone who supported us, promoted us and contributed a pledge towards the campaign. We’ve been absolutely blown away by the response to Kinds of Blue and the personal messages that we have received from various people who have read it. So thank you to all our supporters, and a massive thank you to Pozible for making the seeming impossible possible!
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