The Fresh Romance Kickstarter campaign is in its final hours but it’s already made nows. Not only is it well over 150% funded, but editor/publisher Janelle Asselin’s plan to bring back romance comics in a contemporary guise with Rosy Books has definitely struck a nerve.
As the last few hours count down, we caught up with Asselin for a quick check in on how the campaign got going and how she prepared for such a time consuming but ultimately successful task. And as a bonus, here’s a look at the story from Sarah Vaughn (ALEX + ADA) and Sarah Winifred Searle (SMUT PEDDLER) about a couple headed to the altar for all the wrong reasons.
You can still support the Fresh Romance digital anthology in the link above and The Beat endorses this action!
THE BEAT: Obviously this has been a very successful Kickstarter. But they are known for being a lot of work. How did you prepare for crowdfunding?
ASSELIN: I’ve backed quite a few Kickstarters over the years, so I’d already spent some time noting what worked and what didn’t work. I knew what I liked as a backer and a lot of that went into the decisions I made for my own Kickstarter campaign. The biggest thing, though, was that I spent a lot of time before we launched setting up the actual business and getting people not just on board as creators but actually working on their comics. I didn’t want to leave backers waiting around for months after we ended, wondering if they’d ever see their rewards. I did a lot of calculations to figure out the bare minimum I needed to get started, and went over not just the goal number but all the pricing numbers over and over again.
THE BEAT: Did you seek the advice or support of any Kickstarter veteran?
ASSELIN: I did email a bit with Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan of Oh Joy Sex Toy about their campaign. They had that great post they did about the numbers behind their Kickstarter that was really helpful and my lawyer put me in touch with them to talk a little more about specifics. I’d also done some interviews over the years with folks like Spike Trotman and Kel McDonald about their crowdfunding stuff, before I was even really sure I wanted to do it myself! Some of the KS campaigns I’ve backed over the years have been run by friends, like Jeremy Haun, so I’d heard some of the behind-the-scenes commentary on that. And also, a bunch of the creators I have on board have been a part of other KS campaigns, as has my publicist.
THE BEAT: Is there anything you would have done differently?
ASSELIN: I definitely would’ve given myself more lead-in time. I also probably would’ve hired some pros to do my video, because the stress of trying to do it myself was not worth it in the long run. I eventually got help from a friend who is a video pro but the whole process was pretty unnecessarily stressful. And I would’ve offered individual international shipping costs for some countries, like Canada. I’ve had some complaints about my international shipping costs, but as I’ve said honestly to folks, if they can find me cheaper options, I’d love to see them, but most of the international shipping I looked at ran at least as much as I’m charging, if not more. I know a lot of campaigns get into trouble where the shipping costs have to come out of pocket or end up being so astronomical they can’t afford them, and I did NOT want to be in that place. Still, I would adjust some of the individual country pricing so that it wasn’t just one flat international rate.
THE BEAT: The success of the campaign has allowed you to increase payments to creators and put out even more stories. How far do you have Rosy Press planned?
ASSELIN: I have pitches that could take us well beyond the first year – and we’ll open up to submissions soon, so I anticipate planning even further into the future. As I’ve tried to reinforce throughout the campaign, our initial funding goal was just the start – I never intended to just put out three issues and then call it a day. This is an ongoing monthly and as long as it is financially feasible, I’ll keep putting it out.
THE BEAT: And of course the inevitable question: now that you’ve done a Kickstarter for one title, would you consider doing this again?
ASSELIN: Possibly? It’s really stressful and it’s a ton of work, but it is also super exciting and validating. It’s a great way to test the waters on a project because you can get preorders and also gauge interest, and there’s a lot of value in that. I’m not sure how many people would’ve believed that a magazine like Fresh Romance with a Regency romance, a queer high school romance, and a paranormal romance would’ve gotten as much support as it has, but it’s been amazing. If there’s another project that I feel needs that extra push, it would likely be worth it.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.