I like Kickstarter. I’ve been part of a dozen or so Kickstarter campaigns (as either a main sponsor or as a named stretch goal) and a good number of my friends have run Kickstarter campaigns, too. Some of them have even been among those crazy-successful, multi-hundred-thousand-dollar type that create not just ONE product but kickstart a small ongoing company. But as much as I appreciate and applaud the really big successes, my favorite thing about Kickstarter is the small successes.
I’ve backed about 80 different campaigns over the years, and the vast majority of them have been small publishers and independent artists creating projects that otherwise would likely never be. they’re projects that would require the creator to take on significant debt to produce on his or her own, and all for the risk of only a small profit. In point of fact, most of these projects, even when Kickstarted, generally return a small profit to the creator … often significantly less than enough to cover the cost of the person’s own time for creating the project, running the campaign, and shipping the rewards.
In my own case, I can tell you that while The Littlest Shoggoth raised about $11,000 in Kickstarter pledges, it took more than 3 months of my time to create, fund, and produce and to date has returned less than $2,500 in actual profits for me. I say this not to elicit any sort of sympathy, but to illustrate that you cannot measure the “success” that a creator reaps from a project solely by the funds it raises.
As I mentioned above, my favorite Kickstarter projects are the little ones—the ones that have almost no hope of EVER making much of a profit, and that would be too risky to bring to market on a whim, but whose price tags are low enough that a round of crowdfunding can cover them relatively easily. This week, I got rewards from three such Kickstarter campaigns.
Littlest Lovecraft: The Shadow Over Innsmouth is actually the THIRD Kickstarter that Tro Rex and Eyona Bella have done to create children’s book adaptations of H.P. Lovecraft stories . . . and I’ve backed all three. This should come as no real surprise as the book is certainly in the same general category as my Littlest Shoggoth (not to mention Ken Hite’s terrific trilogy of Cthulhoid kids books—Where the Deep Ones Are, The Antarctic Express, and Clifford the Big Red God). Definitely worth adding to your library, or buying for friends with kids you’d like to initiate into the world of Lovecraftian horror.
Minimal Trek was a project by a graphic designer named Mike Gonyea who had created icons representing each of the episodes in the original three-seasons of classic Star Trek—every one from The Mantrap to Turnabout Intruder. It’s similar to the movie poster project that Juan Ortiz did a few years ago, but on a much smaller scale. Gonyea didn’t want to make a big coffee table book, just some posters and postcards, and he succeeded so well that he was also able to create a poster and postcard version of his 10 Little Red Shirts story/poem.
Finally in my recent grab bag of Kickstarter rewards is another Star Trek related project—a little art book entitled Ladies of Kirk by Portland artist Kelley McMorris. It features a painting of each woman that Captain Kirk lavished romantic attention on during the three season of the original Star Trek TV show, along with a paragraph about each woman. Rather than being racy or salacious, the art and text in this book really just an appreciation of these character and what it is that makes each one interesting beyond their shared interest in a certain Starfleet captain.
Projects like these inspire me to want to do more Kickstarter campaigns, and I have a few in mind. Hopefully, it won’t be too long before I dust off one of my “one day I’d like to” projects and bring it out to see if I can generate just enough money to make it real.