Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Kickstarter My Heart

A suggestion that's been passed my way about publishing and promoting When We Were the Kids: How about a Kickstarter campaign for it? While I have no problem with fans helping fund an album, a tour, or a promotional campaign, I'm not sure a Kickstarter pledge drive is the right thing for this book.

Based on what it took to get Post out there, the total cost of publishing, promoting, and having the book listed as "returnable" (an important factor if you ever want your book in a store) is somewhere between $1,200 and $1,500. That's not an unreasonable number, but it's not the kind of money I have lying around and burning a hole in my house.

The problem I have with fans and friends funding a project like this: I can't really offer much in return other than a thanks and a signed book. There's no signed vinyl, guest list appearances for life, a camping trip, a lunch date, or having a song written about you. This is merely a 200+ page Word document that I'd like see bound in a paperback and converted into an e-book. I don't mean to say it's a flimsy piece of crap; it's something that I've worked very hard on for over five years and I'd like to share it with the world.

I've pledged money to only one Kickstarter campaign in order to help my friend get his second movie going. In return, I have borrowed his old bass and amplifier for over two years. (By the way, this bass and amp will be on the cover of When We Were the Kids.) I don't regret helping my friend out. He reached his goal, but he's still trying to get his movie to happen. His Kickstarter was just breaking ground on a proverbial skyscraper.

When I see campaigns, the only real, tangible items are rewarded to big pledgers. I'd be glad to have a signed vinyl copy of Ben Folds Five's latest record and a special T-shirt. Sure would mean much more than my name in the liner notes along with thousands of other people.

Kickstarter is perfect for established acts who have a built-in fanbase. I, not to sound like Eeyore, don't have a truly measurable audience. People in England, Australia, and the Philippines, along with people in the United States, have purchased my first book since fall of 2008. Locally, a lot of people who are regular readers of the Observer know my name, and I'm happy to share Post with people who might enjoy it, like Tom Mullen from the Washed Up Emo podcast, Steven Smith from Going Off Track, Superchunk's Jon Wurster, and Kyle Clark from the Nerdist podcast.

At most, I expect to sell a couple dozen copies out of the gate with When We Were the Kids, but if I want to sell more than that, I'll need to promote it, which I have no problem doing. If I could do a reading at a Half Price Books, I'd be game. If somebody wanted to interview me for a blog or a podcast, I'd do it. Sharing something I believe in is really easy to do.

But funding is not an easy thing, and I certainly don't want people to fund something that they might feel cheated by. I'd feel bad for a reader who pledged $50 and was incredibly disappointed with the book. And if somebody pledged $300, imagine how many other books, groceries, and baby gifts he or she could afford instead of a single book.

All I will ask for those who want to read my books is the price of purchase. That's all.

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