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  • Writer's picturePru Warren

Trying to Look Smart

Trying to Look Smart


Is it snakes for you? Confined spaces? Maybe a palmetto bug in flight causes you to climb (illogically) onto the sofa? (You know that bug can get you up there, too, right?) My husband was paralyzed by birds. And horses, which he insisted all wanted to “tromple” him.

But there’s one fear that I SWEAR every one of us shares, and that’s the fear that everyone else nodding will discover you don’t know who de Tocqueville is. Or you don’t know the latest political outrage. Or you are just pretending you know what happened with Lenny Kravitz.

(As far as I know, nothing. Lenny’s fine.)

We hate to be perceived as ignorant—even though not one in every hundred people has even read de Tocqueville.

So this is my theory: There is SO MUCH tech out there—so many platforms (Reddit, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, the craft one where you “pin” things to your “board” whose name I cannot now remember) that the presence of ANOTHER one just makes you nod your head wisely rather than say “I DON’T KNOW WHAT THAT IS NOR KNOW WHY I SHOULD CARE.”

Pintrist. It’s called Pintrist. Although maybe it’s Pintrest.

So here’s what I’m going to do for you: I’m going to give you a tour of Kickstarter, because with all the other things you’re supposed to be keeping up with, Kickstarter is just not high on your list, is it?

Because I’m just not very up on cultural literacy, I think the first time I heard of Kickstarter was years ago when rabid fans of the TV show “Veronica Mars” rallied to Kickstarter to pledge actual dollars to get a few more episodes made. I was too old to even know what Veronica Mars was; the entire thing passed me by…but I dimly felt that it was a cool thing for rabid fans to be able to make something happen.

Myself, I can quote whole passages of “Serenity,” the movie sequel to the TV show Firefly made because insane “browncoat” fans of the show practically held studio executives at the end of a blaster to make the movie happen.

But the fans of Firefly had to nag and nag and nag to inspire studio executives. The fans of Veronica Mars just put up the cash. This was more direct. More appealing. Nice—well done.

Then I forgot about it for a decade or so until the remarkable Mindy Klasky (romance novelist you should look into) told me that a fantasy author named Brandon Sanderson had raised a staggering $43 million on Kickstarter. Then I sat up to pay attention.

I poked around. Turns out, if someone “launches” a “project” on Kickstarter (quotes used to avoid saying “if someone tries to raise money for something on Kickstarter”), then people come to stare at their project page.

There’s a long explanation on the left side. On the right side, are “rewards” levels. (If you pony up some cash on Kickstarter, you’re not buying something; you are an INVESTOR. Investors aren’t buying things, no-no-no, perish the thought. Investors receive rewards in thanks for their investment. See?)

The rewards are almost always related in some way to the project. By the time I went snooping around, an author who was launching a book project would have rewards like “if you pledge $X, I’ll send you the ebooks, but if you pledge $Y, I’ll send you the paperbacks.” Particularly sophisticated authors would offer hardbacks (often special editions with exclusive artwork and foil on the covers—mm!) or audiobooks.

And almost always there’s stuff that will never be available elsewhere—like art prints of the cover art or a t-shirt with a particularly pithy statement on it.

Every project creator puts a goal on their Kickstarter. “I’m raising $5,000 to have an audiobook made of my most recent series,” for example. If people pledge a combined total of $5,000, then the Kickstarter is a go. Everyone gets their rewards.

If the goal isn’t met—if the creator only makes $4,500—then Kickstarter sends out an email at the end of the campaign that says “Sorry—the goal wasn’t met; we’re not charging your credit card after all,” and that’s the end of that.

(And of course if the creator makes more than $5,000…like, if they make $43,000,000…then everything is tickity-boo and happiness reigns in an author’s home and also at Kickstarter since they get between 6 and 10%.)

To participate, investors obviously have to give Kickstarter information. Like an email address, and their credit card.

Fantasy and science fiction readers are fine with that. They grew up on Isaac Asimov and Phillip K. Dick and they’re resigned to digital overlords knowing everything anyway. Fantasy, paranormal, and sci-fi are HUGE on Kickstarter. Video games, too.

Romance readers, however, are not quite as happy yet with the idea. In fact, at this moment, there are NO romance Kickstarters going on. (At least, I can’t find any.) So MY Kickstarter is going to be an uphill struggle, even though my goal is only $1,500 and I have EXCELLENT rewards. There just aren’t many romance readers wandering around Kickstarter looking for something cool to invest in.

So we’ll see what happens. My Kickstarter launches on Nov. 1 and ends on Nov. 17. If you want to be notified when it goes live (or if you want to snoop the details once it’s running), the link to get there is

I hope to see you there!

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