by Scott Kenemore
This summer, I used the internet funding tool Kickstarter.com to raise over $1,000 towards research for my new novel-in-process Zombie, Illinois. It was fast, easy, and allowed me to connect with my readers in a new, fun way. I thought other HWA members might enjoy hearing about this web tool, and might find it useful for raising funds for their own research.
Kickstarter.com is a website that allows artists to propose an artistic project (for which they lack the means), and then invite visitors to pledge an amount of money toward making the project happen. It can be anything from a film to a book to visual art. The artists typically record a video describing or illustrating their proposed project, which is then added to a Kickstarter page. The artists also provide rewards for different levels of support to their project. (For example, if you pledge $25 toward the completion of a film, then you receive a DVD copy when it is finished. If you pledge $250, you get to be an extra in the film. For $2,500, you might get your name in the credits as an Executive Producer.) Kickstarter projects also have a time limit (that you get to set—usually 30 or 45 days), and you must reach your desired funding within that time limit, or you get nothing.
I did a Kickstarter to gather research funds (a.k.a. gas money) so I could take a number of road trips across Illinois to research my upcoming novel Zombie, Illinois. I recorded a brief video introducing myself, describing the project, and outlining what I would use the funds for. I created rewards that would allow my fans to feel engaged with the book. Among others, for a pledge of $50 I would name a minor character after a Kickstarter backer, and for $100 I would base a zombie upon that backer.
When I launched the Kickstarter, I shared the link to the page with my social media friends and also got horror bloggers to share it with their followers. I’d set my goal at $900. (I couldn’t decide if this was high or low. Most Kickstarter projects seemed to be in the low four figures, so it felt reasonable.) Having never tried such a thing before, I worried nobody would be interested in my project, and imagined humiliating scenarios where I would have a total of $2 pledged by the end of my 30 days. To my relief, I reached the $900 funding goal in just six days, and had $1,261 pledged by the end of the project (of which, Kickstarter and its payment processors took 10%).
I would encourage HWA members to consider using Kickstarter to fund research for their horror writing projects. I was hesitant about Kickstarter at first, but emboldened to throw my hat in the ring by how many Kickstarters for book projects are absolutely horrible. (Seriously, go online and have a look at some of them: “I am raising funds for my new twenty novel sci-fi epic Omega Rising. In chapter one, we will meet the protagonist John Omega when he is a senior at Mars University…” [Shudder.]) I thought “I can do better than that!” And it seems I did.
An HWA member since 2011, Scott Kenemore is the author of the novel Zombie, Ohio and the Zen of Zombie series of horror/humor books.