Last week, POMEpress’s newest project Going Steady was successfully funded on Kickstarter! Our third big comics anthology and fourth Kickstarter campaign, Going Steady features comics about solid, loving relationships and is our most ambitious project yet. We’re so excited to share that Going Steady was funded at $12,823 by 447 backers — earning over $2,000 above our funding goal. Now that we’ve had a little bit of time to reflect, here are some lessons we learned while bringing this project to life.
1. Don’t launch a Kickstarter campaign right as a global pandemic upends life as we know it
When we first started working on Going Steady in mid-2019, like so many others, we wouldn’t have guessed that the entire world would be in quarantine by spring.
We’re so grateful to the folks behind comics events like TCAF, CAKE, and so many more for making tough calls to keep everyone safe by postponing or cancelling. On the other hand, we’re just as concerned as so many other comics creators about the months ahead. That is why we are so, so thankful to everyone who supported this project and helped us not only meet our funding goal, but to hit our first stretch goal. This helps us get closer to breaking even on Going Steady sooner, but most importantly, it helped us increase our contributors’ page rate by 10%.
We also deeply appreciate that Kickstarter reached out to contributors impacted by COVID-19 to offer an extension. Going Steady’s campaign was extended by one full week, which made all the difference in hitting this stretch goal.
2. Promotional contests and raffles are complicated
We thought that doing a social media contest would be a great way to drum up enthusiasm for Going Steady as we moved into the Kickstarter’s home stretch. While it definitely helped, be sure to read up on the rules before launching a contest. Not only will your crowdfunding platform likely have specific do’s and don’ts, but there are also local laws around giveaways which can vary from one place to another. Also, keep in mind that various social media comment and retweet pickers don’t necessarily work together all that easily!
3. Getting too many great submissions is rough
Going Steady received 114 submissions and deciding which ones would make it into the final book was an unexpectedly grueling process because they were all so, so good. By the end of our hours-long deliberation, each of the POME Editorial Crones wound up crying (or at least tearing up) about our inability to finance a massive, 500-page romance tome that could house all our favorites.
To be clear: we know that it always sucks a lot more to get a rejection email than to send one. But let us also be clear in saying that there were maybe a handful of pitches we weren’t interested in taking and most of those were spam.
Another thing we noticed is that our POMEpress brand seems to be stronger than ever! Never in our lives did we dream that we’d get nearly double-digit pitches for comics about gentle wives performing an exorcism on a heterosexual ghost in their beautiful wooded cabin, but here we are, and we’re happier for having reached this point as a publisher.
4. You don’t need a lot of tiers to ensure your Kickstarter campaign succeeds
In previous POMEpress Kickstarter campaigns, we included extra tiers like charms, enamel pins, and even homemade wire-wrapped pendants. In those previous projects, we had cool ideas and really wanted to make them happen.
For Going Steady, we wanted to keep things as simple as possible and it worked out just as well! We added a couple of tiers upon request, but for the most part, we focused on physical and digital copies of Going Steady. Our big takeaway is that extras are fun, but they’re not a dealbreaker, either.
5. There are pros and cons to running longer stories
In our previous anthologies, we kept the pagecount for each submission a little shorter — our first big book, Group Chat, capped stories out at 15 pages. We wanted to build in a little more space for the stories in Going Steady, extending them to 21-page maximums. We also wound up moving forward with stories that all tended to be between 15-21 pages. This gave each creator a little more space to tell their story, but because we had to take on fewer stories overall, it also helped each editor give more attention to each one.
On the other hand, longer stories come with other logistical considerations — when there’s more story to review, there’s just more content that needs to be consistent from page to page. Plus, as we mentioned above, budgeting for longer stories meant that we had to limit the total number we moved forward with. .
We’re so happy we built out more space for the lovely and heartfelt stories within Going Steady, though. We’re proud of how each one turned out, and we think you’re going to fall in love with them, too.
6. Friends are essential (in general, in life)
We always say this after a big project, but we’ve been so lucky in finding amazing contributors who are all talented, thoughtful, and so, so kind. At the same time, not to be too sappy, but we’ve been lucky to find each other, too.
POMEmag / POMEpress is entirely run by four people who care about making comics that touch your heart in one way or another. Most of our work is dedicated to bringing you a little bit of extra joy, or human connection, or catharsis — we have big feelings and we make comics about big feelings. These big feelings are what brought us together as friends and as collaborators.
The past few weeks, months, and honestly, years (let’s be real) have been tough as hell!!! But we’re so lucky to have each others’ backs, and that we can still goof off together and vent through the hard times. Like everything we do, Going Steady has been a labor of love, but working on it is something that has kept us connected with each other and so many other wonderful people despite all the other things that are stressing us out these days.
Every time we work on a new big project, we learn a lot about how to make things easier on ourselves next time. This time, most of what we learned revolved around weathering the big stuff we couldn’t change, and trying our best not to let the small stuff get us down.
We say this a lot, but we can’t wait for you to read Going Steady. We’re proud to share this lovely little light with you, and we hope it brings each of you as much joy while reading it as it brought us while working to make it happen.
The POME Crones