I have been aware of Kickstarter for a few years, ever since crime writer extraordinare and self- publisher Seth Harwood used it to fund some of his efforts. Kickstarter made the front page of the Los Angeles Times yesterday when, in ten hours, 30,000 fans of the cult television series Veronica Mars pledged $2 million to finance an independent film based on the teen drama. The funding currently exceeds $3 million, and there are still 15 days left in the campaign.
That’s a lot of money.
Kickstarter takes the concept of crowdsourcing that applies it to fundraising, and adds the element of online to it (it should be noted that much of recent crowdsourcing trends are online). The Kickstarter site allows each project a blog-like page to describe their project, daily updates, and an outline of the various funding options. Look at the Veronica Mars site and you see that there are options for donating up to $10,000, which entitles you to a speaking role in the movie (Pssst—it’s already taken, as are most of the upper-echelon funding opportunities).
When Seth Hardwood did his Kickstarter campaign, his target was $4,000. He got more than $6,000. Harwood’s incentive was an offer of everything from warm fuzzy feelings to signed copies of his novels. Other writers have used Kickstarter with even more success. Most of the efforts are to raise money for self-publishing projects, but I imagine there have been campaigns involving traditional publishing, too.
In addition to listing your project on the Kickstarter site, it is up to each creator to promote their campaign. Not surprisingly, most of the promotion happens online (and argument for developing that fan base). Harwood, who podcasts a lot of his writings and has a podcast show, shamelessly shilled his campaign before and after each podcast.
According to the Kickstarter website, everyone that creates a campaign is legally obligated to complete it or return the funds raised. As far as I know there is no Kickstarter police force, so if a funder wants to enforce this, that would likely involve an attorney and the accompanying hassles. The Kickstarter site emphasizes that artists (Kickstarter is used by more than writers) using this method are concerned about their reputation to follow through with promises. Something along the lines of, “Punk out on Kickstarter and you will never work in this town again.”
There is also a lot of “buyer beware” type of verbiage. The more successful campaigns are by artists who have some sort of track record—ebooks, published short stories, etc. Harwood relied on the fan following her had developed primarily from his podcasting ventures.
See ya’ later.
WhatIfYouCouldNotFail.com by Tim Sunderland is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Photo courtesy Tom Bell