Earlier today I mentioned the Evil Hat Productions RPG tie-in book Kickstarter project, which has scored enough pledges to bring it in at second place in the Fiction category, right behind a book of made-up Finnish folklore from Regretsy, and ahead of a project to publish an edition of Huckleberry Finn with the “N-word” changed to “robot” (which is probably poking fun at the edition I talked about here).
When I mentioned it to a friend, he pointed out the Kickstarter project that Rich Burlew, webcartoonist behind The Order of The Stick, ran that concluded in February. I somehow missed it when it happened, probably because I don’t read that comic. On a goal of $57,750, to provide for reprinting some out-of-print Order of the Stick strip collection books, this Kickstarter raised a record-setting $1,254,120. (Presumably the “Comics” category is separate and distinct from the “Fiction” category, which is why this project earned approximately 20 times what the top-ranking “Fiction” project did.) Needless to say, Burlew was rather surprised at how it all played out. (And who can blame him? He got over 20 times what he asked for!)
There really are an amazing number of Kickstarter projects being funded lately. It’s like people have been hungry for a way to do this very thing. It sort of goes back to the Storyteller’s Bowl model and the Street Performer Protocol, except that the founders of Kickstarter actually put their (investors’) money where their mouth was—and people started making and funding these offers. Kickstarter basically automates all the extra work creators would have to do in keeping track of donations and donators so that the creators can get down to the business of creating.
Of course, some of the problems with the Storyteller’s Bowl model still remain. In particular, nobody’s going to kick in for something by a complete unknown, so it may be most useful to folks like Evil Hat or Rich Burlew, who already have fan followings—or to people who can demonstrate such an awesome idea that people will trust in them enough to invest. But whereas the Storyteller’s Bowl model was mainly meant to apply to media, Kickstarter can apply to basically anything that has start-up costs.
I wonder if Kickstarter is going to be the next disruptive force to the publishing industry a la Amazon’s self-publishing program? Are we on the cusp of everybody Kickstarting their own projects? We’ll just have to wait and see.