Episode 139: Authors and Kickstarter

I wrote this interesting piece on authorship in serial fiction and Patreon which makes a lot more sense but I want to start with something on Kickstarter. When people think of crowdfunding they think of Kickstarter, a portal that lets projects be funded, they take care of some of the nitty gritty for the project developer (which is pretty much like an author) and the website gets like 10% of the money but only if they succeed in their funding goal within a set amount of time. I first got into crowdfunding when one of my favorite comics, Order of the Stick by Rich Burlew, did a Kickstarter for a few thousand dollars to get some of his books reprinted. What followed was a crazy month of breaking a few records and the initial reward of one new backstory of a minor character turned into half a dozen and so much more as more than a million dollars was obtained. Of course, those records were shattered today when Matt Inman of “The Oatmeal” fame drew funny pictures for a card game about exploding cats that plays like Russian Roulette. They asked for ten thousand dollars, they got 8.7 million. It was a success and I’ll be getting my copy in the mail in a few months. Unless things go horribly wrong.

And that is the biggest risk when it comes to crowd funding. The Kickstarter website actively states that it is not a store and that giving people money with the promise of getting something in return is risky. The website only charges you if the minimal goal is met and serves as a portal for communication in this weird author reader relationship. If the people in charge of the project decide to skip town with the money they’ll lose a ton of credibility but people aren’t getting refunds. There are several reports out there of people who tried Kickstarter and got a lot of money but had no idea what they were doing so they ended up losing even more in the process of giving what they promised. Other times people just kind of disappear. Which is what happens more times than people might know and even to a project I was looking forward to.

A little over a year ago, this board game based on another webcomic I love was in development. Goblins by Tarol Hunt aka Thunt, would have this cool game with weird mechanics. It easily got funded and we were told to wait. Patience grew thin and what we kept hearing from the board game developer (who is not Thunt) was that the game was flawed and needed to be redone from scratch. After a while I gave up on it but but Tarol didn’t. In his blog posts, which you can find here, we find that that the money and those in charge of the board game have disappeared and that Kickstarter really can’t do much about it. Thunt, being the awesome author that I love, is currently tracking all backers and trying to rebuild the game on his own and send versions to people, without charging extra money. Now that’s an authorial performance we can all applaud.

So yeah, be careful with sending money for promise of stuff in the future.

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