Saturday, March 29, 2014

Kickstarter: Hope for poor writers or a scam?

Sites like Kickstarter and GoFundMe have cropped up in the last few years, supposedly allowing the community to back projects they find worthy of funding. It sounds great, right? Create a profile, a video, an explanation of your project, and then submit it to Kickstarter. Kickstarter will approve or deny your application. Once approved, your project has a certain length of time to amass “Backers” and the funding you need.

This idea appeals to me. I love the idea of putting my book out there and having it funded by people who fully support the idea. Kickstarter even has a “Publishing” section! That’s perfect for all us unpublished souls who know what it’s like to eat mac and cheese or Ramen every night just to pay the rent.

Only, I get concerned when I read their Terms of Use. They can suspend your account at any time for any reason, and they don’t have to tell you about it (whether a Bakcer or a “Creator”). They can stop or suspend a campaign at any time, for any reason. If your project is not 100% funded, you get nothing (unsure, based on my reading, if Kickstarter keeps it or the Backers get it back). If you are 100% funded, also know that Kickstarter keeps 5% off the top, plus Amazon (who you must use to get paid) charges a 3-5% fee for credit card processing. You will be taxed on what you received in funding.

Also, the accountability is limited. If I get $10,000 funded for my project, there is NOTHING in place to guarantee that I will complete my project. Absolutely nothing. Kickstarter states that the Backers and the Community are responsible for keeping the Creator on track, but how much can you do with a few emails? Kickstarter makes no guarantees to Backers, but does state that “launching a Kickstarter is a very public act”, so fail to follow through on commitments could be damaging to the Creator’s overall reputation.

This might be something that works for you. As for me, I won't use it; I’m just not convinced…

Have any of you used Kickstarter (or tried) to fund any projects? What was your experience? Can you convince me otherwise?


  1. Children's author, Julie Heckling, has & is using this venue for her children's pb, My Love For You Is The Sun. She got fully funded & is on her way to publication.
    I'm also looking into this. I would say check into the person you are thinking about backing & their project. If I do this, I have a publisher, editor, & illustrator director that will be working with me.
    Good luck!

  2. Tracey, thanks for your input! I had someone casually mention Kickstarter to me as an option, but they didn't know much about it. Great to hear from someone who has had a good experience with it (the reviews online are fairly negative, but its usually the complainers that talk the loudest)!

  3. Amy, I'm going down this path with my Kickstarter right now. I just started a couple of days ago, so I'll have to get back to you when it actually completes. But there are a couple of things to note:

    - Kickstarting takes a lot of work! And backers only back projects that show great progress and really well done. This means you are already very invested in your project and want to see it finished. And, in most cases, finishing it opens much bigger opportunities. People don't back projects where there's any doubt they'll get their product.

    - Kickstarter does have fairly constrained Terms of Use. I haven't heard of any cases where they abuse that power, but they could. Of course, there are always other crowdsourcing options like Indiegogo. If the power is abused, I'm sure people will simply move their dollars to another channel.

    Anyway, wish me luck, and I'll let you know how the journey went. You can check out the project here: