One of the most nerve wracking parts of the writer’s life is submitting work to a publisher. We all hope for the sweet validation of a publisher writing back to say, “this is good, here’s some money.” We also fear the rejection that is much more probable. We will examine a rejection letter like a forensic scientist, searching for any hint of vindication or clues to help us do better next time.
As we wrap up the Kickstarter for Black Suit of Death #2 it occurred to me that every one of our backers is a publisher. They may not be in charge of a multi-million dollar printing press or have a big fancy office with a “rejected” stamp sitting on their mahogany desk. They are, however, literally paying us to publish our story. That makes them a publisher in my book.
Launching a Kickstarter is like submitting your work to hundreds or even thousands of publishers over the course of a month. Every pledge is an acceptance letter, and other than canceled pledges there are no rejection letters. Yet this doesn’t make Kickstarter any less stressful than submitting to a traditional publisher.
Every Kickstarter has a dead spot. There’s typically a big splash at the beginning during which creators get to bask in the love of their biggest fans. Then the action trails off and the new backers trickle in at an agonizingly slow pace. Unless you’re one of the few to reach funding in the first 36 hours chances are you’re going to spend a week or more questioning your worth as a creator. If this dead spot drags on long enough the joy and validation of that early outpouring of support starts to give way to despair.
Unlike a traditional publisher Kickstarter can sometimes give creators the feeling acceptance and rejection at the same time. You can get dozens of backers, each bringing the feeling of validation, and still ultimately feel the sting of failure. In that context, the risk of launching a Kickstarter makes sending a story to a publisher seem about as intimidating as ordering a pizza. The greater risk also comes with greater rewards. When you pass that 100% mark it means you didn’t just convince one person to take a chance on you; you convinced people.
There are still a few hours left but the Black Suit of Death #2 Kickstarter made it past 100%. You’ve given us that sweet, sweet validation. So to all our backers, our publishers, thank you for taking a chance on us. To you and everyone who helped spread the word, thank you for being our people.