Fans

I don't know why, but I have been a Kickstarter skeptic. To be sure, there are some great projects that have been—sigh—kickstarted this way. The Glif. The hypothetical Bolex D16. But a lot of the time I find myself rolling my eyes.

Kickstarting a first novel? Shouldn't you at least prove you can write one first? Kickstarting a student film? Isn't that just a more public way of begging your family to pay for film processing? Kickstarting a film festival? Really, a festival that charges entry fees to be considered and then doesn't pay the filmmakers for the privilege of showing their content? Kickstarting a film that already has a $100k raised so you can finally pay the crew? Are you frigging kidding me? I think of Merlin Mann's sidebar on a recent episode of Back to Work where he dreams of a possible "Kickstopper" where you can contribute money to stop things from ever being made.

Complex visceral response. Feels too snarky. Jealous? Just not getting it? Unsure. All I knew was that it seemed that Kickstarter might have been something that I could pursue at some point, but that so much of it now looks like a rat's nest of hypocrisy that I wasn't sure I wanted to get anywhere near it.

Last week, one of my favorite writers on the subject of indy and digital content and distribution, Ross Pruden, wrote a tweet that grabbed me.

Even if you have access to 100% funding, run a crowdfunding campaign to see who your fans are and how committed they are.

Loooong beat to let that sink in. I think I did totally miss the point before. It's not really about the money. It's never about the money. It's about building the connections, and it's one of the better ways to do it than has come around in a long time.

So screw it. I'll give it a try. I've got a couple things that'd be worth taking a stab. But I feel a lot of fear gnawing. If I try to kickstart a new piece where the subject matter is part of what's attractive, would letting out the subject matter diminish its impact when it's released? If I kickstart the next DVD compilation, of my shorts, why would anyone pay for repackaging old stuff? And then there's the whole matter of feeling like all those people are watching and waiting on the creative process.

But all those feel like excuses to not try. All of these are dancing around the real fear: What if I find out I don't have any real fans anymore? Or that I never did?

Scary stuff. But that's the crux of it, isn't it? In my whole life, one thing that has proven to be true is this: when I feel resistant to a prospect because of fear, it's usually the thing that I most need to be trying. So I guess I'll be Kickstarting something soon.