Johanna Draper Carlson has a thoughtful post about the appropriate use of Kickstarter, and uses Lea Hernandez’s Kickstarter for The Garlicks as an example of a campaign she’s not comfortable with, because the comic doesn’t exist yet:
I am more comfortable funding a project where the work already exists, one where the creator needs print costs. This doesn’t apply to Lea’s case, but one of the reasons why is that, if rewards deliver within a couple of months, I’m protected if something happens and I don’t get what’s promised. Within 3-6 months, I have the ability to do a credit card chargeback in the worst case, if the provider flakes out. On a more personal level, it’s more rewarding to get a book or other rewards within a couple of months, as though it was similar to a preorder. Otherwise, it feels like throwing money into the wind.
In Johanna’s case, it’s a matter of not wanting to invest in something that isn’t substantially complete — because she wants to be sure she gets what she paid for. In the comments, though, it turns to a more general discussion of whether it’s appropriate to use a Kickstarter to support the artist while she is working on the project. Hernandez points out that her Kickstarter includes printing and production costs and a modest page rate paid directly to her for doing the work:
It’s a modest and responsible budget that ensures THE GARLICKS doesn’t go off-track because I’ve under-funded and have to stop working on it to take other work or a job in case of an emergency.
I’m all for making donations that match the costs of printing. What you get is likely to reflect what was given. However, when we get into cost of living and so on, it gets messier. Maybe I’m a bit of a sadist, but stay up late nights and work during my breaks and lunches in hopes of making my comic successful and asking someone to take all the risk for me with only marginal reward just seems too easy to me. But of course, that’s just me.
Maybe there’s an opening here for a second version of Kickstarter, one for donors who are more interested in nurturing new talent than holding the finished book. Creators would still have to have a well thought out business plan (as Lea does), but donors would be more comfortable with a longer time scale. With crowdsourcing, even people of modest means can be patrons of the arts—as long as the expectations are clear on both sides.