Kickstarter Spotlight: Q&A with creators of Terralympus - Volume 1 and 2
Here at Kapow! we always try to support the Australian comic scene, this week we will be highlighting the Kickstarter Terralypmpus graphic novel.
So what is it all about?
"Mia is one of the best engineers on Terralympus and there's never been a problem that she can't fix. After discovering a conspiracy aboard the space station, Mia stows away on an expedition spacecraft. Can the expedition crew be trusted or has Mia found herself in an even worse situation? "
I had the opportunity to have a chat with both creators Stephen Kok & Shaun Keenan to tell us more about what they're doing with their Kickstarter campaign.
What can you tell us about Terralympus Volume 2
The remnants of Humanity now live aboard the space station, Terralympus. I made sure to make a lot of technology discussions based on real world science. For examples, the descriptions of events, incidents, high availability etc. are all IT monitoring terms which fits very well in a closed loop system. The protagonist (Mia) isn’t a high ranking commander or a soldier but an engineer on the space station. I think it’s a unique perspective to show!
Volume 2 expands on the universe, introducing the reader and Mia to what lies outside station. As each volume develops, it’s moving from a small enclosed space of Terralympus to the across the universe. (No spoilers!)
You both have a quite a different background for the types of books you've worked on in the past, how did the two of you start working together?
Stephen and I had collaborated on a short story for my series the Xtreme Champion Tournament and during that process I was talking to Stephen about the costs involved with creating and the idea I had for a second series. It was during that conversation that Stephen floated the idea of collaborating on a series and while doing that sharing all the costs involved with creating. I had some plot points and ideas for Terralympus and Stephen took those ideas and plot points and made the series what it is today. I think we both have enjoyed working on the series because as you mentioned our other books are very different to Terralympus.
I remember when Shaun brought the idea of Terralympus to me. I love science fiction but have not written in that genre before. For me, it was an easy decision to develop this series. It has been an absolute pleasure working with Shaun, it’s been fun to bounce ideas (not just Terralympus) around and also to see his other projects!
Will we see you both working together again on another project?
Stephen has pitched me a couple of ideas, one which we are hoping to get off the ground, but you will defiantly see us work together on something in the future. Stephen has already done another short story in the XCT universe that we haven’t released yet, but I’m sure you will see a lot more from the two of us.
Unfortunately it’s a time constraint more than anything else! I’m hoping to get Terralympus in a stage where it’s approximately a year between each volume. Saying that, I would not hesitate to start another collaboration with Shaun if I am able to give it the time to do it justice.
Shaun you're usually writing the comics whats it like taking on the role of editor?
With the last Xtreme Champion Tournament book I took a step back and let Ben Rosenthal take the reins of the story, based on major plot points I wanted to see. Having several series on the go now I believe my strength lies in the editor/publisher role. Working, travelling to conventions, a new home and family I’m more pressed for time than I used to be, stepping more into the editor/publisher role allows me to be involved but also let’s me share the load. I still enjoy writing but I’m a firm believer that if you surround yourself with good people that compliment your strengths then all you need to do is focus on what your good at. Still having a say in the story, universe and the direction of the series is great and an important factor in keeping me interested in each series.
SK whats it like working with an editor after previously editing your own work?
It’s a different dynamic to a standard editor. I have used other editors on my works but with Shaun it feels more like a collaboration. There’s a different investment into the character and story from a structural point of view.
The first book was a success on Kickstarter, are you doing anything different the 2nd time round?
I believe having two separate fanbases really helps this series. Stephen already has a large amount of backers and readers for his other series and then I have my own readership and fans as well. Although we have a little crossover I believe joining those two fanbases has helped. Kickstarter has also been great with us using custom links and Google Analytics to track where backers and pledges are coming from. I hadn’t used this before but I believe Stephen had. We also have a spreadsheet of groups and places we market to so we both aren’t hitting the same place on the same day or spamming groups or peoples feeds. Having an even amount of promotion on multiple platforms I believe has also helped.
Well said Shaun. I think you covered most of the points. In this game you are not just a creative, you are also a marketer, accountant, data scientist and more! Everything that you’ve learnt from my campaign, you can apply to the next.
What do you think makes Kickstarter such a great platform to showcase a book?
I think Kickstarter is a great platform to showcase and raise funds for my projects as it is a internationally recognised crowdfunding platform, after doing several launches (the latest Terralympus on is my tenth) you are able to build a good base of fans and supports, Comics and graphic novels have a rather high success rate on Kickstarter (about 54% get funded), Kickstarter is very flexible with a large amount of tools at your disposal and the fees and charges are reasonable compared to some other crowdfunding sites. I also like to do instore or convention launches after the Kickstarter launch to further broaden my readership.
Crowdfunding allows you to do 2 big things. It allows you bypass the gatekeepers and it appeal directly to the fans. Even publishers (Dynamite Entertainment) and big name creators (Todd McFarlane) are using crowdfunding as a platform. I love the interaction who people who support my endeavours. The funniest one I have received was from a fan who told me “If you have ever hurt (character), I won’t ever be speaking to you!”.
What are your top 5 tips for a successful Kickstarter ?
Have some sort of email list/fan base prior to launch
Understand all your costs before setting a goal (include fees and charges and stretch goals in this figure)
Setup Google Analytics
Know your audience
Just launch (even if you don’t hit your target you will learn something and can always launch again)
Stephen: I don’t have any more to add here but I would stress on the email list. Kickstarter is a platform but if won’t provide you with an audience. That is something that you have to build and develop yourself.
What projects have you got lined up for the future?
You heard it here first but my publishing company will be launching XCT: Fractured Worlds on the 13th of May this year, an art book by Brad Van Geest in July/Aug and our new series Talos of Sparta will be launching in Sep/Oct. We also have a secret project in the works that we hope we will be able to announce soon.
I’m trying to be a little more regular with my series. For example, 5 Seconds Volume 2 & 3 were launched about a year apart. I’m working on it but would like to get Word Smith Volume 3 by the end of the year (Volume 2 was finished November 2019) and Volume 3 of Terralympus by May 2020. A regular schedule will have a definite appeal so fans will know exactly when to expect the next instalment!
I know the secret project that Shaun is talking about and if the stars align properly, I’ll be so excited to share the good news about it.
To Support their Kickstarter check out the link below: