Self-publishing a book? Consider crowdfunding your project

Chris Denmead

This author found success in self-publishing his book via a crowdfunding campaign—and believes it can work for you, too.

by Chris Denmead

Shortly after my graphic novel Vlada: A Dracula Tale came out, I was in a comic book store and someone asked me how to go about publishing a book. I honestly didn’t have a good answer for him because it seems as though it’s different for everyone. There is no right or wrong answer these days. Some authors wish to secure an agent and be represented, but others find it easier to self-publish. There are many different avenues to do that, but when it comes to comics, I recommend crowdfunding.

There have been numerous successful comic book, graphic novel, art book, and novel crowdfunders. For example, Brian Pulido, Lady Death, and Keanu Reeves are among the top most successful comics funded on Kickstarter. Even big studios like Image and Dynamite use crowdfunding for large omnibus graphic novels these days.

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I’m often asked about publishing through Kickstarter. I say it’s one of the biggest horrors ever, because as a “nobody” author, it was really scary to pursue a Kickstarter campaign back in 2020 for Vlada. Running a Kickstarter campaign is very stressful no matter what the project: comic book, movie, video game, or other doodad. Trying to get published can be its own horror story, and Kickstarter is no exception.

In the publishing world you have to find your own way in a very crowded market, and this market blew up with the creation of Amazon KDP and sites like it. When I first tried to get into publishing, there were many “get rich quick” books that asked for money, promising to help in ways that didn’t always seem legit.

When it comes to comics, I recommend crowdfunding.

In 2020, a partner and I did a Kickstarter campaign for Vlada, and it underwent several concept changes along the way to make it look good. We originally wanted to do a comic book but decided to make it a graphic novella, like Bernie Wrightson’s Frankenstein. In the 1970s, Bernie drew fifty-five illustrations for Mary Shelly’s novel. These beautiful gothic illustrations, which had taken him years to draw, were unlike anything anyone had seen before, and were a huge hit. We decided to go about our project the same way.

If you decide to crowdfund, a dedicated team involved with your project can be a big help. Just make sure your whole team is pushing the project at launch so you can hit your goal that day with as much widespread social media coverage as you can. Artist Ken Hunt put together a group of cover artists that would be perfect for the project, and we all pushed it at the same time when it launched. It can be a very hard road to travel when publishing a comic book for the first time. My first comic book was paid for entirely out of my own pocket, but we also had an ad run in the comic book that helped pay for printing copies. If you know any local small-business owners, consider asking them to invest in your comic book.

As you can see, there are many paths you can take to achieve your dream project. What worked for someone else may or may not work for you, but you can always learn from what they did and improve upon it.

Chris Denmead lives in Framingham, Massachusetts, and hosts Dr. Chris Radio of Horror, a midnight horror–themed radio show, in Worcester. The show has been broadcasting on 91.3 FM from the WCUW building since October 2007, and it airs Sunday nights at 10 p.m. With artist Ken Hunt, Chris recently published a graphic novella called Vlada: A Dracula Tale, along with the audiobook and tie-in prequel comic book. He gender swaps the cast of Dracula. Chris has one son and a black cat, and when he is not writing books on the most unusual filmmakers in New England, he is watching Godzilla movies with his son or playing video games.

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