Kickstarter - It Is to Writers What Ink is to Printers!
Contributor

Imagine you're in a low rent Royal Inn Motel in Waynesboro, Virginia, alone, having been on the road for two weeks on a once-in-lifetime, going-for-broke road trip with your 86-pound mutt, in which you're writing a book about your journey. You're hyperventilating, laying on the bed, worried sick that you're ruined your life, you're a fool to have bugged out on the 60-hour a week, soul killing corporate job to pursue the missing links form your life, to test your mettle as a writer. You've made a very public pronouncement via your website, Facebook, EVEN a story on the local TV about your willingness to "bag the day job" to pursue the writer's life.

 

You've burned your bridges, they're going to repossess your house AND you really might not have enough cash to even get home to clean it out.

 

The aforementioned dog is nonplussed. She is simply trying to figure out why she gets to sleep on a new bed every night.You dissolve into tears, on your back, the choking kind of sobs. You feel a fool. You're afraid. You miss your kids. You wonder why a certain number of cards were dealt your way;  divorce, bankruptcy, a child with in incurable disease, a former husband and provider of child support, who gets thrown in the slammer for seven years after the media frenzy over his sex crimes, you start to succumb to the very thing you're writing about rising above- paralyzing fear. You feel like an idiot --worse yet, a hypocrite.

 

And then, you force yourself to go check your computer. It's D Day. Deadline Day on your 30-Day Kickstarter fundraising drive. It's an all or nothing proposition. ALL or nothing. The $5000 you so ardently lobbied for, pitched friends for, posted on your Facebook page about, handed out cards in dog parks about -- today is the day you find out if your passionate artists' plea for funding worked. Or not.

 

You go to your laptop, hungry. You've only eaten granola bars for breakfast for the last five days to save money. Your hands are literally shaking and you know the motel maid is going to come knock on your door in a few minutes to tell you to get the hell out or pay another day's rent -- you open up the Kickstarter project page, where your funding campaign is featured and, MY GOD, YOU'VE NOT ONLY MADE YOUR GOAL, YOU'VE EXCEEDED IT BY $490!!!!!!!!!!

 

I bawled like a baby when I saw that 72 individual backers believed in my project Off the Leash: Road Stories With My Dog, enough to put their money where their mouths are. 72 people, who combined, most of them with $20, $35 and $50 pledges, helped fund the coast-to-coast road trip with my dog to write a book! The Kickstarter campaign gave me enough cash to at least GET HOME!!! Now, the prudent thing would have been to raise the money BEFORE I embarked, (all puns intended) on this passion project to revisit all the influential people and places of my life -- a part tribute trip for my brother who passed away from cancer last year, and part "everyman's tale" about being willing to risk everything we have, to truly go after what we believe defines our lives.

For me, it's being a writer. For more than 30 years I've been writing other people's stories -- as a TV reporter, political press secretary, speech writer, you name it. But all the while, I was also pursuing my OWN writing -- two screenplays, a memoir dressed in a blog-to-book, entitled A Woman With A Past: The Post-Apocalyptic Approach to Men and now, Off the Leash, the sequel to the first blog.

But I did not do the prudent thing. I backed out of my driveway in St. Louis, Missouri on July 5th, without knowing if I'd get the project funded enough to get back home. And when I opened my lap top on July 24th, in Waynesboro, Virginia and saw that 72 individual people thought enough of my writing to back me with cash, I was completely overwhelmed. I can not express to you how this has sustained me on this journey -- both in the most practical manner, like gas and food, and bargain basement motels, but in moral support as well.

 

Today, I am on Day 37 of my journey, which has taken me to 17 cities so far, 3900 miles behind me, 3700 more to go. The people I have met on this trip have been amazing --like truth seers, holding up a mirror to my life. I have reconnected with long lost neighbors, co-workers from early journalism days going back some 20 years, cousins, whom I have not seen in more than 40 years, and ultimately, I hope to find a half brother I have never known. Pieces of my life are strewn from New York to California and Libby has been my faithful traveling companion along the way. We visit off leash parks, to give her exercise and to allow me to receive glimpses of other people's lives.

 

 

I am abundantly enriched by this experience and I believe I will have an incredible book when the whole thing is said and done. I wanted to share with my fellow SheWriters the fabulous platform which is Kickstarter and urge you to consider this premiere artists' funding platform for your projects. The process is easy: you simply go to their website and submit a brief proposal for your project, they review and if it's a legitimate, original project (book, film, visual arts) they'll approve, and leave it up to the artist to make their appeal, create their own page, determine how much money and how long your pledge drive should be.  The artist/writer reaches out to their core backers and benefits from the more broad exposure they receive from the Kickstarter site.  Kickstarter facilitates getting the pledges and paying the artists through Amazon and only take about 5% off the top. This is less expensive than an agent! Artists are required to give something in exchange for different levels of backing, you can check out my site to see what I offered. At the end of the road, if the publishing gods give me the nod, it's a signed copy of my book.

 

The art of patronage, in the very best way possible, is indeed, alive and well.

 

 

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Comments
  • Congratulations Jean! I just recently completed a successful Kickstarter campaign myself for my photography coffee table book "Art of Winter".
    @ Cindy Brown  and any others - A few people have asked me for advice on doing a successful project, so I've put some notes together. If you're interested in reading my notes let me know. I'm happy to share what I've learned.

  • Julie Farley

    What an inspiring post!  Wishing you tons of luck!!!!!

  • Alana

    So inspiring! I'm glad it worked out so well for you. I'll have to look into that myself.

     

    PS Your dog is adorable!

  • Barbara Fischkin

    I posted this on my facebook page too!

  • Barbara Fischkin

    Jean, this is a terrific, inspiring story. I have seen kickstarter work for a few projects and I am thinking about using it myself someday perhaps to fund both film and writing endeavors.  I am grateful to hear about other people's experiences. This is what makes shewrites.com a community!

  • Cindy Brown

    I just discovered Kickstarter recently - it is a great way to support others and a great way to learn about all sorts of new products and/or ideas. I was shocked at the the success stories! Good luck to you and your dog - I am so happy your goal was achieved on Kickstarter and you are able to continue your journey.

  • Jean Ellen Whatley

    I highly recommend it. Just updated with more info on the process. Good luck to you!

  • Bridget Straub

    Congrats on your funding! I'm playing with the idea of useing it to fund a musical I've written. I was all signed up and ready to start when my co-writer got overwhelmed with other projects, but hopefully someday soon we'll get it together.