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I’m intrigued by iVerse’s announcement of a comics-specific crowd-funding platform, ComicsAccelerator. Comics have done well over at Kickstarter (some comics have, I should say — the most popular categories over there are still not comics).

ComicsAccelerator promises to limit its “take” on your project to $2,500. That sounds like a lot, but it’s a lot less than Kickstarter took from, say, Rich Burlew, whose project ended up pulling in $1,254,120 — Kickstarter took 5% of that, or $62,706. That’s a hefty fee for a company offering the particular services Kickstarter offers. Any company taking a flat percentage over the entire haul for a simple service (like taking pledges and running credit cards) stands to be way overpaid if you are amazingly successful. Most of us aren’t amazingly successful at anything we do, so it doesn’t matter a lot, most of the time. When it does matter, though, it matters painfully.

My theory is that iVerse is able to do this because, unlike Kickstarter, crowd-funding itself is not how they’re really planning on making their money. In addition to helping your raise funds, iVerse are also the producer of the final product. With Kickstarter, you raise your money for, say, printing your comic book or graphic novel, then you go pay a printer (who is not Kickstarter) to print your comic book or graphic novel.

ComicsAccelerator seems to be less about getting resources in place to produce something (iVerse already has those, in spades) and more about applying the logic of pre-orders to the traditional publishing submissions process:

  • People submit their comics, just like they would to a traditional publisher.
  • Instead of evaluating them solely from an editorial perspective, iVerse puts them into the ComicsAccelerator process.
  • Anything that gets enough pre-orders gets listed for sale by iVerse, who then make money as the publisher/distributor/seller/whatever you want to call it.

In short, iVerse seems to be simply crowd-sourcing the editorial process for its own nascent publishing business, setting up what turns out to be a fairly traditional publisher/author relationship with successful projects. Kickstarter doesn’t publish the things it funds. The artists are free to take their money and go play with whomever they want. That’s a big difference.

I see other advantages and disadvantages to using Kickstarter versus ComicsAccelerator.

Advantage iVerse: iVerse has a mature tablet and mobile comics distribution business, and your work will be presented alongside some of the biggest companies and brands in the field. Comics fans will know about it. That’s huge.

Advantage Kickstarter: Kickstarter has a wider reach. The “real” money on the web is not in attracting self-identified “comics fans” but in reaching out to the kind of media consumers who think of comics as “just another fun thing to get from the Internet.” It wasn’t “comics fans” — the people who go to the comic book store every Wednesday — who made Rich Burlew’s project succeed, though I’m sure there were plenty of comics fans in the mix. It was “comics fans” plus “everybody else.” Kickstarter has a big leg up currently on “everybody else.” That guy who went to Kickstarter to fund his girlfriend’s cousin’s documentary film project could end up clicking around and finding your project, too. It’s been known to happen!

Advantage Kickstarter: ComicsAccelerator doesn’t appear to support anything other than pre-orders for digital comic books. Digital is important (I of all people know this), but it’s still not the beginning, middle, and end of comics, and likely never will be. Where’s the t-shirts, the mugs, the pins and buttons — and, most importantly, the print books? They’re on Kickstarter, is where.

What do you think about all of this? Are any of you planning to use ComicsAccelerator? I’d love to hear from you.