Kickstarter Fatigue & Alienation

Juxtaposer001This blog post started as a comment to Lucie Le Blanc’s Google Plus thread about why she’s backing away from Kickstarter. I totally get why she feels that way. Some Kickstarters don’t fulfill at all, or charge so much that some backers feel ripped off.

I say that just as my Walk The Fire Kickstarter is about to fulfill! Six months late. Oh, and all the physical rewards won’t ship until almost 8 months late. You know what, though? It’s still been a glorious success I’m proud to share with the backers. Here’s why…

Writers are bad business folk like so many have said. Even after careful planning. Beyond that, the learning curve for hiring and managing collaborators, and all the other moving parts involved making a quality book is pretty huge. Especially for indies who don’t have years of experience.

I’m still glad I did it, still very proud of the resulting anthology, and happy people in Kickstarter had my back. I’ve kept them in the loop about the problems (taking the blame for myself as a good editor should). For the most part, I’ve had their support and patience.

That said, I’ve seen some authors asking for more than they should, and there’s been a justified backlash from prospective backers.

I’m glad I did this Kickstarter, but I honestly prefer the Patron model, where people support artists in an ongoing way, not just to receive a finished product. It worked for hundreds of years of art, it’s not a scam to get paid for writing, but a solid model of exchanging valued writing for valued ducats.

It’s what I do in my patreon campaign at http://www.patreon.com/servingworlds

Still, Kickstarter allowed me to create something with serious professionals, and pay everyone involved pro rates, where patronage is about smaller amounts from many people. I myself received only a few hundred dollars when we beat the Kickstarter goal, which I believe is as it should be, as I stand to profit from the final result.

Asking someone to pay me to write is not what Kickstarting is perceived to be about. And I flat out I think it’s wrong to ask for money BEFORE writing a word.

Having said that, my ask for ‘Walk The Fire 2′ was over $9000 and, to repeat, was only a few hundred dollars in there after all bills were paid, to cover my time fulfilling the work to pay all the contributors and backers. That is what it cost.

Let’s not confuse a big dollar amount with necessarily greedy creators. On the other hand, I could have asked for a few thousand more and that would have been skimmed off the top. Which to me is wrong, and what gives these big projects a bad name.

All this is to say, I understand the fatigue and alienation. Creators can still use Kickstarter to great result, and satisfy their backers. Just be honest about what’s involved, lay all the numbers out, and communicate communicate, communicate.

Remember backers, Kickstarter, crowdfunding is just like the real world. Mistakes happen, errors need to be fixed, and sometimes creators have to eat a little crow.

The best advice for crowdfunders is the same as in the real world: Caveat Emptor.

Buyer beware.