The recent-ish umm… discussions around Kickstarter reminded me that I’ve had this post kicking around in draft mode for a bit. Basically, it’s my personal experiences of the (few) Kickstarters I’ve backed so far, in reverse chronological order.
I’ve mentioned Kickstarter briefly a couple of times before on my blog, and have contributed to a few book-related ones. I view them more as a pre-order mechanism for books (with the (slight) risk of not seeing anything for my money), as opposed to funding the arts or anything remotely altruistic! I’ve seen a few Kickstarters (or similar crowd-funding campaigns) with rewards that have made me raise an eyebrow, but I usually assume best intentions and just close the tab…
So, FWIW, here are the five I’ve backed to date and the results, plus overall thoughts below.
Fiction River Subscription Drive: I’d bought a couple of Fiction River anthologies previously (just don’t ask if I’ve read them…), so I was happy to buy a year’s subscription. I chose the $30 level for six volumes, plus I also got one previously-published volume as they hit a bonus funding goal.
Result: I’ve received the bonus volume (I haven’t actually read it, but we’re not going there, right?) and I’ve had the first of the 2015 volumes come through in January. No complaints – I suspect I’ve my commuting reading materials sorted for the year.
Athena’s Daughters: Women in Science Fiction & Fantasy: $5 for a female-positive ebook anthology sounded very do-able, and by the time all the bonus goals kicked in, I got a lot of reading material for my money.
Result: All the additional digital downloads were delivered promptly, IIRC, followed by the completed ebook anthology. I’ve liked the stories I’ve read so far, and the art has been a nice bonus. The Kickstarter creator (Silence in the Library Publishing) seem to use Kickstarter quite a bit, which means I get updates on both their projects as well as related ones – some people might not like that, but I don’t mind (and I’d change my update settings if I did). They just finished another Kickstarter for Athena’s Daughters Volume 2 – I didn’t contribute to this one as the additional Kickstarter rewards didn’t appeal to me and I figured I’d just purchase the ebook once it was released.
The Great Way, an epic fantasy trilogy by Harry Connolly: Heh. I can’t remember why exactly I backed this. Possibly a weak moment. No, seriously, I was familiar with his UF work, and while I’d normally balk at $12 for an ebook, the reward came with a few other (already-written) books.
Result: The book was delivered in December 2014, so slightly later than planned. I haven’t read it yet, but am looking forward to doing so! (Also, writing this post prompted me to check that all the books were actually loaded on my Kindle, which is always a good thing.)
Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera: I have a soft spot for space opera (surprise, right?) and Seanan McGuire was a contributor to this anthology. It was $5 for a copy of the ebook.
Result: No issues with delivery, the ebook came out more or less on time, I think. I felt the stories in the anthology were a bit uneven, but haven’t finished reading the whole anthology yet.
Tales of the Emerald Serpent: Shared World Mosaic Anthology: This was me dipping my toe into the Kickstarter pool. I can’t remember where I first read about this, but I was prompted to toss in $5 because I was keen to read a couple of contributors in the list.
Result: Ebook came out sooner than I expected, IIRC, and I liked the anthology. There was a follow-up Kickstarter for Volume 2, which I passed on because the reward level for an ebook increased to $10.
Main takeaways from my very limited sample of Kickstarter campaigns… I buy too many books?
- I lean towards anthologies, which makes sense, as they have broader appeal than a single-author book.
- I back campaigns where I’m fairly certain that the creator is going to deliver the product, usually because of a good track record and/or if the book’s nearly done.
- Conversely, I’m not too bothered about delivery timelines (YMMV) – it probably ties into the fact I’m not massively invested in individual campaigns. Also, I manage projects in my day job, and if someone’s new to Kickstarters/projects, I suspect they’ve under-estimated the amount of work and external dependencies involved in doing one.
- I do consider value for money – I wouldn’t pay extra for an ebook than I’d pay in the normal manner (taking into account any extras/add-ons). In that sense, I suppose the “premium” the creator gets from me is the cash upfront, as opposed to any additional money for non-tangible rewards.
- I go for digital rewards because of the international shipping costs associated with physical ones.
- And really, yes, I do have a book-buying habit.
I should also say that I’ve chosen not to back a project many times – either I didn’t care for the subject matter (I’m very unlikely to back anything involving zombies, for example) or I just didn’t feel that the reward levels made sense to me personally (e.g. $10 for an ebook or rewards I didn’t want). I also feel quite strongly that no one should feel obligated to contribute towards a Kickstarter, even if it is for a “good cause” – there are always other ways to support causes. At the end of the day, it’s your money and you choose how to spend it.
So there you have it – everything you ever cared to know (and more) about my views on Kickstarters. Tell me your thoughts – love them, hate them, don’t really care?