Kickstarter is Cool (and Probably Not for Me)

I am not infrequently asked whether or not I’ll be running a Kickstarter campaign for some of the things that I want to do creatively, given that so many of my friends have done them and seem to have been reasonably successful at them, and because I think that in a general sense Kickstarters (and their various cognates via Indiegogo and other such funding sites) have been a very cool thing for a lot of creative folks. In many ways it would seem I’d be a prime candidate to do a Kickstarter.

I don’t see one in my near future, however, save possibly one in which I have a cameo role at best, and for which I have no responsibility for planning or disbursement (for example, as I did with Paul & Storm, in which I chipped in a couple of extras if certain funding levels were met). The reasons for this have very little to do with the politics of self-funding — and there are politics of self-funding, which I find hugely irritating and enervating and kind of boring –and have mostly to do with my own circumstances and personal make-up. In no particular order, they are thus:

1. I’m already under contract for projects for the next couple of years. Which is to say, I’m busy and will continue to be so for a while, thank God.

2. The things I want to do that are not under contract I’m likely to get contracts (or similar business agreements) for. At this moment in time I am a reasonably safe bet for publishers, so many of them are willing to give me money for things, on terms I find largely congenial. This works for me, because:

3. I would prefer not to have to do everything. And most Kickstarters are a commitment to have to do everything. Some people want to have control over every step of the process, or at the very least are willing to put in the work. Good for them. I’m of the “I’d do all of it if I had no other choice, but if I have other choices I’d rather do that” school of thinking. Related to this:

4. Kickstarters are an immense commitment of time and energy, before, during and after. The initial planning, the advertising and marketing of the Kickstarter, the stretch goals and the planning for them, the fulfillment of said stretch goals in addition to the original products, so on and so forth. Jesus, I look at what some of my friends who do Kickstarters oblige themselves to in order to get their funding and I get tired and want to cry. Also:

5. I am aware of all the things I don’t know about planning/budgeting/creating/marketing a finished product, and also aware that means there are all sorts of pitfalls that I won’t see until I flail down them. Again, some people have a taste for adventure and a willingness to put in the time and effort to learn all this stuff. Good for them. I’d much rather let other people who already have experience do that for me. And you may say here, well, you could hire those people! To which I say, well, yes. That’s exactly what I do when I partner with a publisher. 

All of which is to say:

6. By and large the advantages of doing a Kickstarter, for me, do not outweigh the disadvantages. The advantages are: People give you money! On your own terms! The disadvantages are: Then you have to fulfill your promises! On the terms you set! Which may turn out not to be to your actual advantage, unless you are very smart and careful and lucky. I know myself well enough to know that the sort of person who is all three of those, in the context of a Kickstarter campaign, is unlikely to be me.

Again: The issue here is not the Kickstarter model, which I think is fine and which is perfectly congenial for some people. Some people really like the whole Kickstarter experience, and I think that’s fantastic. It’s just that I look at it and think Oh God, so much work and then hope that the world never gets to the point where it’s the predominant model for funding creative work, because then I’m just going to sell blood plasma and live beneath an underpass.

So, yeah. I like Kickstarter (and other similar companies) in theory and as a new and vital avenue for works to be funded when they might not otherwise. I’m not sure it’s for me — or at least, not right for me without a team of people behind me to do everything I don’t want to/am not competent to do.

Fortunately for me, at the moment at least I can already work with teams of competent people willing to do the stuff I don’t want to, called “publishers.” I’m going to keep working that angle for a while, I think.