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Wave's Adventures with Kickstarter And Book Printing!

by Wave

Apr 5, 2013 1:26 PM

Wave’s Adventures with Kickstarter and Book Printing

Hewwo humans!  Warning, this is a long, text heavy post that I might put into a tutorial someday, haha.

A while back when I was near completion of my manga series, ERA-Convergence, I had a thought… I should print the book!   The whole thing!   That’s what most of us kind of aim for in the end after we finish a comic, right? 

So I checked out all the popular comic printing websites, Kablaam, Comixpress, Lulu, etc… I decided to go with Kablaam because of the lower price and all the awesome things I’ve heard with them.  Comixpress I had worked with before—but KaBlaam came out with a cheaper price.  Still, I was kind of ‘Ohmigosh!’ by the large 4 digit number that I saw before me.  But wait--!  Instead of just reducing my print count or giving up entirely, I looked to…


If you don’t know what Kickstarter is, it’s a website devoted to funding projects.   I think it’s really great for getting special, custom made things, or be hands first into the greatest new tech that might end up taking over the world (You can be sure I’ll be backing the first Gundam). What YOU do is: declare your GOAL and the amount you need funded.  In this case, mine was, “A printed version of my webcomic!”  And hope that people will help you fund that goal!   People will pledge a certain amount of money, and it’s up to YOU to reward them for each interval of pledging. 

But the problem was… I didn’t know how to calculate my goal.  Luckily, with just a little bit of research, I discovered some important info that would help me figure it all out: 

  • I’ve been on Kickstarter quite a few times, so I’m familiar with most of the important aspects of the site.   If you want to do a Kickstarter, do the same!  Look around and see what everyone has to offer. Look at the successful and unsuccessful projects. Also read through the Kickstarter School ( It helps a ton.
  • I thought about what rewards I could do.  I’ve attended artist alley in comic conventions so I already have experience with making prints, keychains, etc.  So I just priced things the way I would in AA.  If you’re new at this, again, try looking at other projects to see what rewards they have for their projects.
  • Kickstarter takes 5% of the goal.  Amazon, which is where all the funding is routed through, takes anywhere between 3-5%.  So your goal should be +10% of what you need. 
  • If you’re shipping, PUT THOSE COSTS into your goal too!!  This is very important.    You don’t want to end up reaching your goal of, let’s say, $1000 and then realize that you need to spend $500 on shipping that you didn’t take into consideration.  Research your items, how much they weigh, and how much it will cost to ship to different parts of the world!!   I ended up charging a bit too little for shipping, and therefore had to pay a lot more than I expected.  Don’t make the same mistake. 
  • I thought about only, and I mean ONLY the amount I needed.  Nothing extra, no profit.  I really just wanted the amount needed and that was it.    If I do earn extra then… hey, that’s great!   But if not, then at least I’d be able to get what I wanted done!    There are a lot of Kickstarter projects that ask for ridiculous amounts of money that never get funded, (I.E., $500,000 for one issue of a comic) and half the time I’m pretty sure they’re in it because they just expect Kickstarter to be the money answers to all their problems.  Don’t do that. Be honest.

With all those things in mind, I decided to start the project.  The great thing about Kickstarter is that you can start typing out parts of the project and setting it up and save it as many times as you want before you actually send it to them for approval (Which, btw, takes anywhere between 3-7 days.  So if you want your project to be live by the beginning of the month, SUBMIT it a WEEK before.  You get another button to say: “Make project live!”).    

Of course, managing a big project like this doesn’t go super smooth.  There were a few things I popped up that I didn’t know…

  • They keep suggesting that you make a video.  While I think it’s really great, and I was almost about to devote a whole week into doing it, I decided not to in the end because I already linked my comic into the kickstarter page.  I think a video would actually help a lot more, but it can also detract from the project if you don’t make a good one, you know?
  • The international shipping forces everyone to pay the specific amount for the international shipping, but that also ends up adding into your goal cost.  @_@ So I was paying more for shipping than I intended to…
  • When my project went live, I don’t think I slept at all O____O

    I was just watching the graphs and numbers every single day being all nervous O___O;;;;;; Sometimes hitting refresh (even though you don’t need to because it actually updates live) just to hope someone would want to back my poor project O______O;;;  It doesn't help that the graphs are aesthetically pleasing to look at too. :O
  • Once your project goes live, and people have already pledged to rewards, YOU CANNOT CHANGE your reward.  So just make a new reward tier if someone gives you a new suggestion!  People can switch to that one instead if they want to.

Then there were all the amazing things that I didn’t know!  Everything in Kickstarter is so ridiculously organized.   They give you information on

  • Who backed the project and where they came from
  • How many of your backers came from kickstater
  • Is your backer paying international or domestic shipping
  • How many backers which came from which destination
  • Updates after updates, emails after emails over every little thing that happens.
  • Reminders to give your backers updates!

Somehow I was able to reach my goal in just two days!  I was so happy, and with the extra money I made I was glad that it covered my shipping costs… but I was running into problems:

  • I didn’t put a limit on the number of commissions I was going to do, because to be honest, I didn’t think people wanted commissions for me or wanted to pay that much money @_@;;;; So don’t make that mistake, limit your commission work if you don’t have the time for it!
  • I had no idea what to do for Stretch goals. If you don’t know what this is, these are “Overfunding goals” that people set in case they go like, 200% over their goal, they’ll have enough money to offer more to everyone for their Kickstarter.   For instance, Videogames will offer additional in-game items for everyone who helped back their project if they hit 300% of their goal.  Think about that ahead of time! 
  • The number of backers that I was getting was running over the amount of books I was going to print!  Kickstarter helps you keep a good track record of who pledges what, but you should keep records for yourself too.
  • I ended up messaging a lot of people who went under nicknames on the site to ask them what their real name was for the credits in the book, but what I didn’t know is that after your project gets funded, you get all the real name and information about the person, as well as their emails.   Although a lot of people still wanted to be credited under their nickname, so sometimes it’s good to ask, anyway!

Luckily all those problems were solved pretty easily!  I relaxed a little once my goal was met, but then something I didn’t know could happen, happened…

Yes… people can cancel their pledges!  So, freaking out, I thought that everyone would decide to change their minds about backing my project, and thus the lack of sleep continued.

Don’t be upset when people do this though. Some people just might have a small enough budget where they just decide to change their minds.  Maybe they have a videogame they’re interested in more, or maybe their bank account went kaput.  Or maybe they just had a family friend that needs money more, etc.  Don’t worry and just keep looking forward! 

Anyway, with the extra funds, I also wanted to do something else... 

Looking toward a different method of printing

Kablaam offered a lot of really great options… but I wanted to pump up the quality of the book!   (Note this is all for softcover books, I don’t have experience in printing hardcovers)   So I looked toward an alternative method of printing.  I have experience working at Marvel so I knew some of the printers that we used, and my friend had also printed her graphic novel at the same place; Transcontinental Printing.  (

Immediately, if you go and visit TransCon’s website, you’ll notice that the user interface is much more… well, NOT user friendly for Comics compared to Kablaam and Comixpress. Kablaam and Comixpress are definitely geared toward helping a comic book artist not have to deal with all the headaches of printing.  So if you really really really don’t want to bother with all the craziness that you’ll be reading in the next few paragraphs, stick with Kablaam and Comixpress!  But if you want to learn about the ins and outs of how a comic book is put together, read on!

In order to get to their order form, you have to go to: “Request a quote” [ ]  And hey! There’s an option for comic books. 

The first options that you’ll see is the way you want your comic to be bound. 

  • Perfect bound is how you see most 30 page comic books to be.  Softcover books and novels are generally bound in this style.  Pick this if you’re going to print an entire volume!
  • Case Bound is basically hardcover binding.
  • SaddleStitched is basically what most 30 page comic books are bound like. They’re just stapled down the middle.    Pick this if you’re printing single issues/chapters.

Then the next thing they’ll ask you for is TRIM SIZE.  This is basically the size of the book that you want your comic to be printed in.  BUT, this is NOT the size of the book that you’ll be sending your files at.

I.E:  If your trim size is 5”x7” (which is the so called ‘standard’ manga size), your book will come at that size. But your files will be sent in as 5.25” x 7.25” files.

Why the extra space?  For Bleed, of course. 

If you’ve ever printed anything, you might’ve heard the term “Bleed”.  It’s basically extra art that you’ll have in your pages that will get trimmed off.  

“Wait what? Why would I draw all that extra stuff then only to have it be trimmed off!?”

Because… you don’t want your art to come out like this:

By having bleed, art that’s pressed up against the borders will make things look more natural.  You can also resize it and hope that your art will fall right up against the lines that it gets cut off by, but I wouldn’t risk itHave at least a little bit of bleed.  Though, you know… to most consumers, people don’t really look out for that stuff.  I mean, I don’t think there’s a lot of people out there that will flip through a comic book and look at a page and go like: “Ohmigawd that person didn’t take into account the bleed of the page, I’m not going to buy this comic that I usually buy once a month”. :P 

Bleed generally goes around .125” around the image that you work with.  So when you set up your documents or resize your books for print, take that into consideration.

Although, while we’re talking about setting up files, you should also take into consideration the space needed between the spine of your comic book and your book itself.  Y’know, when you open a large book, sometimes the text that’s too close to the spine might end up being concealed by the binding.   I would give each page a quarter inch (or even a little more) away from the middle of the spine.  This means, when you set up a book, you should set up a book map for your book too, to figure out which page goes on which side. 

Sample of the bookmap I used for my comic:

The next thing I want to talk about is paper.  If you really want to print stuff, and make sure it’s the best of all quality, understand the different types of paper, and the paper’s weight. 

Obviously the heavier the paper is, the thicker it is too.  But be reasonable about this!  You don’t really want people to flip over like a giant thick piece of paper for each page like a children’s picture book, do you?  And you don’t want the size of your book to be like 2 inches thick when there are only 50 pages. 

So printing will be separated by different types of paper for the cover and for the interior pages.  For the cover pages, you’ll want to use COVER STOCK paper.  Cover stock is basically a thicker piece of paper that you can find in things like, Comic Book Covers (Yep), Brochures, Heavy Posters.  Most of the time you’ll hear that paper is like 80#, or 100#.  # being the shorthand of “Pounds”, of course.  But for most printers, Cover Stock paper will actually be expressed in “Points”.   You can read a more detailed description of the most common variations here: (

Kablaam and Comixpress both offer 80# cover stock, which is basically what you can see on most Western Comic Book Tradedress covers, which is good and all…  But I wanted to go higher!   I asked for 14pt gloss cover stock (Which equals out to be around 140#) at Transcon, and the price was all the same!

As for the paper in the interiors, you want to pick TEXT paper.  This is lightweight paper that you can see in most books.  Printing in black and white will definitely be much cheaper and you have many more options.  I wouldn’t use gloss for black and white because it’d just be… strange and overly expensive.  For full color, I chose to use the default option that TransCon gave me: “Flo Gloss 160M txt”.  A little bit of Googling, and I found out that it’s equal to about 80# Text paper, and Flo Gloss just meant it was a cost-effective paper gloss.  The result was so worth it.

Another thing to note was that, unlike Kablaam and Comixpress where I just put in an order like I was buying something from a store, TransCon had me in e-mail conversation after e-mail conversation, asking me and keeping me up to date with the pricing, sales, and delivery.   I had to give them a specific date as to when I would send them my files through an FTP server, and also I had to give a day to set up a Credit report with me.  (Basically they wanted my Credit Card on file).   Also, because they’re more of a commercial printing company, they ended up charging me extra for delivering to a residential address. 

But I received my books in 8 days of sending them my file.  EIGHT days!  For Kablaam and Comixpress, the turnaround is usually 23-30 days!   And when I got them… I was crying happy waterfall robot tears. ;___;

The print quality was so amazing.   

Anyway, even after all my books were printed… ohmigosh, the amount of work that I had to do for kickstarter was still insane.  I was cutting paper for weeks, I still have to do a ton of commissions, package everything, make keychains, buttons, bookmarks, and I’ve taken around 15 trips to the post office and I’m still not done sending things out.   I would suggest asking friends for help or having some robot minions to assist you with the Kickstarter stuffs, because it isn’t just “Hey, you got all that money, you’re done!”.  

But luckily after I calculated all the crazy time it would’ve taken to get everyone his or her rewards, I added an extra month just to be safe.  And that’s helped, a LOT.   So definitely give yourself another month or two when you set your reward delivery. This way you have room for error and you won’t go insane doing everything at once. 

Anyway, I hope that helped and it was fun reading and all that good stuff. ☺  Let’s flood the comic book market with more creator owned comics!