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Kickstarter and Fantasy

Fantasy is a genre that extends across mediums with artists of every ilk contributing and expanding it in their own ways to create a wonderful shared experience for the community. Whether it’s the artist drawing, the cinematographer filming, or the novelist writing, fantasy and art are connected in a symbiotic relationship.

Kickstarter LogoKickstarter, and other sources of crowdfunding, have had a surge in popularity in the last couple of years. It’s a wonderful platform for artists of all types to gain support for the projects that they normally wouldn’t have the means to fund, while simultaneously giving something back to those that donate in order to make an inclusive experience.

For those that are unaware here’s a basic rundown of how Kickstarter works:

1. An artist posts their idea on Kickstarter, with a full proposal and a requested amount of money they’d need to complete the project.

2. Along with the proposal is a tier system of pledge amounts that typically run from $1 – $10 – $50 all the way to as high as $1,000 or more. Each pledge tier typically has a set of rewards. Obviously, the more you pledge the more, and typically better, the rewards are.

3. A backer, that’s you or I, can choose a reward tier and pledge their money. Your credit card isn’t charged until the end of the 30-day project timeline and only if the entire requested amount is meant. Meaning if the artist is asking for $3,000 and by the end of 30 days they only have $2,000 you’re card isn’t charged and the artist doesn’t get a dime.

4. Once successfully funded, if the project still has time left on their 30-day timeline, some artists choose to include Stretch Goals, which is additional content or an improved product if they hit a certain monetary goal above their initial requested amount. It’s a way to further the backer’s bang for their buck.

5. At the end of the 30 days, if successfully funded, the artist will send out a survey to each backer asking for shipping information in order to send along any rewards – including, hopefully, the finished project.

Kickstarter (screenshot)Kickstarter has a host of different categories to choose from and explore, with artists ranging from amateur to professionals, each looking for a better way to get their idea into your hands. Categories include: Art, Comics, Dance, Design, Fashion, Film & Video, Food, Games, Music, Photography, Publishing, Technology, and Theater.

There are some risks to pledging your money to a Kickstarter. First and foremost are those unsavory types that merely use Kickstarter as the latest platform to scam. These are the people that simply take your money and run, with no intentions of providing any kind of finished product. The Kickstarter team does their best to manage these types of accounts but every so often horror stories trickle through the grapevine.

Another possibility is any kind of unforeseen complications ruining a project. We are all human after all and any number of tragedies can befall any one of us, and our dreams, especially those of an artistic nature. Whether it’s natural disasters that ruin international shipping of goods or supplies, human error in delivery, or production costing quite a bit more than anticipated. Each of these scenarios, and many more, have occurred and left backers with nothing to show for their pledge other than an apology, and rarely yet possibly reimbursement, from the artist.

The Name of the Wind Playing CardNone of this should deter any one of us from looking at Kickstarter and pledging to the projects that sound appealing to us. I would just advise caution and do your research beforehand to ensure your money is going to a credible place. I’ve donated to nine projects to date and I haven’t regretted a single one and I’ve received some amazing things as compensation, including a deck of officially licensed The Name of the Wind playing cards done by Albino Dragon in cooperation with Patrick Rothfuss.

(I’d keep an eye out on this space here when they announce their Wise Man’s Fear card deck on Kickstarter.)

I wanted to take the time now to go through a few fantasy-themed Kickstarters that I thought the Factioners might be interested in taking a look at.

Wrath of Kings by CoolMiniOrNot – A miniatures war game set that is focused on epic fantasy. The plus to this being that the project has already reached its funding goal, meaning there is no worry about if they’ll be able to produce or not. The artwork and detail in these miniatures is really quite impressive and if the war game is your type of scene you might want to take a look at this and consider reserving your set.

Planeswalkers – A Documentary on “Magic: The Gathering” by Broken Science Productions – This is exactly what it sounds like, a video that is meant to focus on the players and subculture of the fantasy card game, Magic: The Gathering.

Explore Strange New Words! By Ari Marmell – A novel featuring a series of short stories with a wide range of themes. Fantasy is the majority but there is also cuberpunk, horror, and many others. It’s an interesting project that might be worth checking out if you’re in the market to try out something new.

Kickstarter is attracting more and more attention each day, both from newcomers and professional authors. Looking to use the platform to create a better, more personal product for their fans. I encourage everyone to check in with Kickstarter every now and again and find a project that’s both unique and interesting to you.

Happy Backing!

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Have you found an interesting fantasy Kickstarter that you think everyone should take a look at? Tell us in the comments!

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11 Comments

  1. Avatar Allison Moon says:

    I Kickstarted Hungry Ghost, the 2nd novel in my series about lesbian werewolves (talesofthepack.com). I only asked for what I knew I needed to pay my cover designer and editor. It was a grueling process, asking for money every day. But, it was great publicity, and incredibly rewarding to be able to pay my contractors real money, and ship out the completed book to all my backers.

    I’m Kickstarting another book now (not fantasy-it’s a book about queer female sexuality called Girl Sex 101). I have a more ambitious budget, but because it’s a collaboration, I have an amplified reach.

    The hardest part, after just banging the drum to get enough backers, is staying up to date with your rewards. For Hungry Ghost, I achieved two push goals ($ raised over the minimum goal)- an audiobook and an anthology. The audiobook has been incredibly time consuming to produce, so a year later, it’s still not done. I feel out of integrity with that even though I know it wasn’t a huge selling point for people.

    Bottom line, a Kickstarter is a promise to your fans. Ask for what you need, communicate with your backers, and deliver what you’ve promised, even if it takes longer than expected.

  2. Avatar A.E. Marling says:

    I Kickstarted my epic fantasy, Gravity’s Revenge, to cloud-soaring success. I reached the stretch goals of not only producing an audiobook but also funding the creation of a world map. The Kickstarter funded editing, cover illustration, internal illustrations, and a modest amount of publicity.

    The most exciting thing about the Kickstarter was giving my readers a venue where they could come together and build something together. It felt like a mini convention for those who loved independent fantasy. I had fun prizes, such as posters, dancing, short stories, and a secret chapter only available to Kickstarter supporters. My only regret was restricting my t-shirt reward to the higher pledge brackets; only a few people selected that reward, leaving me with a surplus of shirts.

    KIckstarter is about mobilizing your current readers but also the Kickstarter community is strong, and many new readers found my writing through it. And promoting my work for a month was an interesting discipline.

  3. I kickstarted my Hollow World project. I wanted to use the same professionals when self-publishing as I do when traditional. I figured i’d need $6,000 so I chose $3,000 because it was (a) 1/2 of what i needed and I thought me doing 1/2 and the readers doing 1/2 would be a fair approach. (b) I didn’t think I could get more than $3,000. To my surprise we blew through $3,000 in the first few hours and by the time it was done it went over $30,000.

    I agree with A.E. Marling in that the really neat side benefit was the community that formed around the people who contributed to bringing Hollow World into the world. I will definitely do more of this in the future.

    • Avatar Nate says:

      From what I’ve read and seen Kickstarter has really out performed what many people thought was possible especially when it comes to funding large expensive technology products.

      But It’s even greater to hear of authors and artists who are getting funded and like in your case Michael, funded over 10x what you asked for.

      It is quite amazing.

      • Avatar Devin Madson says:

        Your campaign for Hollow World was fantastic, Michael! It was seeing what you were capable of that gave me the courage to try it myself. I can’t wait to receive my hardcover of Hollow World in the mail. You do an amazing job inspiring authors to break new ground.

  4. Avatar C. says:

    I just recently backed an R.A. Salvatore book and game project that was successfully funded for quite a bit of money.

  5. Avatar Alex Hurst says:

    The comment success stories here are awesome. There is a project I really want to crowd-source, but I’m going to have to really do some serious research and pre-campaign marketing beforehand. I’ve seen some truly beautiful anthologies sourced on Kickstarter!

  6. Avatar Jessa says:

    Great article! I was just thinking about how Kickstarter is a way for artists to get paid before producing as opposed to producing and then hoping people buy it. There’s an interesting gamble for everyone; as a fan you hope the artist actually completes the project and hands over what was due, plus you have to hope it was worth what you paid (though that’s always the risk if you can’t preview art, written or otherwise); as an artist you have to hope your name and previous works carry enough weight to make the risk seem worth the reward.

    The fact that people can pay an artist what they perceive the value is rather than the value being set by the market is interesting, too. I may not want to pay $30 for a hardcover novel, but I might not mind risking $15 on a signed novel plus my name on a Dedications page. And it might be worth even more to me to get a signed book plus a postcard from the author with a special for-backers-only picture of the main character.

    Let’s not forget that the economy is still a problem. It’s possible that someone might be a HUGE fan of an artist and spends a ton of time talking them up, but really can’t shake loose the money for a hardcover. They can, however, dig up $2 to donate, netting them a copy of a story. Kickstarter can become a way for fans who are outright poor to still support their favorite authors.

    Besides, who doesn’t love the excitement of being a fan eagerly trying to choose between a map of the world with little dotted lines showing travel paths or weaponized frisbees? I myself will pony up a simply ridiculous amount of money for some of the pledge rewards. We won’t even talk about how much I gave to the Morganville Vampire’s web series Kickstarter for some of their rewards. Poor Rachel Caine kept having to add more vampire bunny slippers rewards…

    Most of my thoughts were triggered by yesterday’s new Kickstarter by author Harry Connolly, whose 20 Palaces novels were dark, grim, and utterly fascinating Urban Fantasy books that died too young. His $10k Kickstarter was funded in 8 hours. This is not what happens to someone who is unpublishable. I’m so happy to donate to get more of ANYTHING Connolly writes that I’m scrounging for loose change in my car seats to find more money to fling at him. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1179145430/the-great-way-an-epic-fantasy-trilogy-by-harry-con to get in on that act.

  7. Avatar Devin Madson says:

    Being an Australian, we had no access to Kickstarter, but used an Australian based platform called Pozible.com and it was a really interesting experience. As A.E. Marling and Michael J Sullivan said, it’s all about the community that grows up around the project – having fans for a book before it is printed. It is the enthusiasm of readers that makes it a really special experience.

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