A snapshot of a recently drawn panel, since I have been bad about scanning things.
A blog post at The Comics Journal last Friday kicked off the latest “is-Kickstarter-a-good-thing-or-not?” annual debate. It’s definitely the new “are there too many sad-boy autobio comics?” (my answer to that one: “No! Never!”).
Personally, I am totally fine with Kickstarter. I don’t have issues with anyone who has used it, and I’ve contributed to a bunch of interesting projects.
However, I realized during this latest go-round, that I would personally be hesitant to use Kickstarter to raise money to publish my own work.
Simply put, I’d be wary of allowing my ability or inability to successfully fund the printing costs of a book to have any influence over whether or not I saw said project through to completion.
Pre-failing financially, would undoubtedly undermine any chances I have of succeeding creatively.
Allowing a kind of market to pre-determine if my project has value… that would alter my own perception about it’s worth, no matter how hard I tried to fight that.
Failing to raise funds would mean I’d scrap the story and try something else. And I think that’s a crappy outcome.
It’s this concept of pre-failing that I personally couldn’t deal with. Failing after the fact? That’s fine, and I’ll get to that.
A lot of people point out the common Kickstarter model is really doing nothing more than asking readers to essentially pre-buy their copy of the book. But, what if I couldn’t find enough people to pre-order? Could I deal with that? I am not sure.
I see it as a different thing from publisher rejection. I’ve had lots and lots of publisher rejection. And it’s never stopped me from finishing a book*, because even though it’s discouraging, it’s easy to dismiss it as only really one (or two) person’s opinion (no matter how much you respect it). Any time I got rejected, I’d feel down for a day or two, but eventually my resolve would come back.
Someone else will go for it, or if not, then I’ll just self-publish. Because really, how can anyone know how something’s going to do with the readers, until the readers get a chance to read the thing? It’s just their opinion, maybe they’ve got a packed slate, maybe it doesn’t gel with what they do, I’ll show them all, they’ll all be sorry one day, etc, etc
But failing with the readers right off the bat? Before the book is even done? How do you bounce back from that?
Who else is there to show? They’re not real readers, they’re just potential-readers, they didn’t even see the whole thing… is that enough to keep telling yourself sitting alone at the drawing table for all those long hours? If you think you’ve already failed in the market? I dunno…
I think failure is part of the creative process. A fear of it hangs over you while you make art, and that’s part of what pushes you forward. There’s the sense of failure that comes after a book is published. The feeling, common to many artists, that what you made wasn’t that good. That’s when you hear people talking about not being able to look at their own work. And maybe that’s part of what pushes you on to make the next thing.
And, of course, there’s still the ultimate failure with the readers. Probably very few people sell the number of copies of their comics that they’d really like. That’s its own thing to deal with. Did the comic get good reviews? Did it even get very many reviews? Did you get many letters from people saying that they read the book and it spoke to them?
Dealing with the way your comic is reacted or not reacted to is its own thing, but at least it’s out there for readers to engage or not engage with at all.
*Not totally true. The one book I scrapped was called Jack & Max Escape from the End of Time. But, I like to think I scrapped it because I realized I was trying to make something more “commercial” with it, instead of making the thing I was really compelled to make but kept putting off, which was the not-very-commercial sounding Troop 142.