Kickstarter, Storytelling, and A Kitten

People are talking about Kickstarter a lot.  Indie musician Marian Call, who organizes some of the most organized shows I’ve helped with,  organized a very successful Kickstarter for her first-ever tour of Europe.  And did the tour, and has released the live album that the Kickstarter promised.  Oh…and blogged about it.

A lot of it comes down to making sure you will have supporters, and not expecting them to sent by central casting.  Pre-Kickstarter, Marian had done other fundraisers, both quiet ones and auctions. She knew who would want to contribute and what they’d want.  Marian also has 3 bullet points that are variations on “know your audience”, “respect them too” and “like your audience”. But she also points out the financial side:

[Once] you deduct 10% for Kickstarter/Amazon and then 15% for taxes, and then you really add up the cost of fulfillment, you might be earning only $2-3 at your reward level that seems to profitable. [On the NUMBER SMASH page of my public budget] I calculated what each reward level would cost me, and then I wondered how many people would go for higher-return vs. lower-return rewards. What would people buy the most of?  If everyone went for necklaces & USB drives, could I still actually afford to do my trip?  I worked through a couple different scenarios to get a good estimate of what rewards would cost me — and how much I would need to ask for to wind up with $7,000 to make it to Europe & back (the answer is about $11,000, so $4000 would go into fees & fulfillment).

And:

Does anyone want you to make the thing you want to make? Are people clamoring for it? Because — this is an important distinction — there is art you make because other people want you to make it, and there is art you make because you must make it. [….Y]ou only want to crowdfund something people want and need and get super excited about.  [If they don’t]  I’m not saying don’t make it. I’m saying fund that thing in another way.

Not everything has an audience.  Or has found their audience, at least.   If you’re interested in Kickstarter, either as a funder or a fundraiser, you may find Marian’s writeup useful. (Also longish and conversational.)

On a more dour note, discussing rape in fiction in her brilliant essay titled “The Rape of James Bond”, Sophia McDougall asks writers to ask themselves:

“Would I ever write a story in which the male hero is raped as part of his origin story, or as the nadir he had to fight back from, or to inspire someone else to take revenge?”

And if you would, yes, I think perhaps you should go ahead and do it. If done very well, and respectfully, it could even help to destigmatise the experience of male survivors. It could help to diminish that sense that rape somehow defines female experience.

And if you would not, ask yourself why not. And if there’s any part of you that answers, that you wouldn’t find a male survivor of rape heroic, that it’s too humiliating to even think about – then, for everyone’s sakes, until you can honestly find a different answer within yourself, you need to not be writing about rape at all.

(links added)

And here’s a video of a kitten playing with a Roomba.  Happy Friday!

11 thoughts on “Kickstarter, Storytelling, and A Kitten

  1. With respect to rape. I generally don’t like any story that involves rape, because I want my dramas and adventure stories to have more good than bad. In my view, a rapist that is simply rehabilitated, imprisoned, or executed just isn’t enough of a happy ending to offset the suffering of the victim earlier in the story, so I finish disappointed.

    That said, I would not have a problem enjoying a good story in which the male or female protagonist was a rape survivor. Rape is not emasculating, it’s dehumanizing.

    • I tend to avoid fictional stories that include rape, because a) that’s not how I want to spend my off-hours and b) it’s so overdone and often BADLY done. I did think the question of why it’s overdone for characters that are women and not characters that are men is useful to think about.

      I also realized I should add more context that this is about fictional portrayals.

      • Where I think rape stories have more potential to be well done, and less potential to upset the reader, is when a science fiction story is based around something that is thematically similar to rape. Even then, most of the stories are poorly done. But I think a well-written story in which a character is enthralled to a vampire, mind controlled by a psychic or some chemical, or possessed by a spirit can explore similar concepts. Since it’s not actual rape, it’s less disquieting to read and less offensive when the writer insults or stereotypes the attacker or the victim.

        • The Toby Daye series by Seanan McGuire starts with a bad guy turning Toby into a fish in a pond within a Japanese garden. Toby remains a fish for 14 years. Nobody knew what happened to her — the bad guy didn’t send out press releases — and so Toby’s family and friends thought she’d died or abandoned them. Including Toby’s preschool-age daughter.

          That’s the opening of book one.

          It occurs to me that a GOOD writer doesn’t need to use rape to show the bad guys are evil, or that the hero can come back from bad things happening. Or even to make a parallel to rape. ;)

          I agree that writing about rape can be helpful to victims by breaking through the shame and deconstructing myths like “men don’t get raped” or “rape is rough sex” or “the victim really wanted it and couldn’t admit it.” But a lot of rape in fiction is reinforcing those myths, which isn’t helpful.

  2. I was sexually assaulted myself, both in childhood and adulthood. I participate in a group blog, and several of our characters have a history of being sexually assaulted, as do several of the blog participants. It is cathartic for us to write about it. We handle the feelings of the characters with realism. We do not utilize the very serious issue of rape in an exploitative way but rather in a hopefully healing way and one that perhaps other people who have been through such trauma can relate to.

  3. The article on rape in storytelling was interesting, but it fell flat in a few places. One of them was a discussion of a series of novels in which the author claims there is something seriously wrong because the author of the novels includes many examples of rape with female victims (much of the action takes place in a pseudo-medieval war zone) and no rape with male victims–but in fact there are several examples of this in the series. The author of the article did stop reading early, but based on what she writes there were instances in the portion she read, which she apparently simply did not notice. To me, failure to even notice these victims speaks much more about the author of the article than anything the article says speaks about the author of the books, and this mistake makes me a little leery to take the author’s word for it when it comes to other works I’m less familiar with.

    • A Song of Ice and Fire, the book series by George RR Martin that became the “A Games of Thrones” HBO series, is absurdly grim and gruesome. I gave up on the series in the second or third book after it’s mentioned in passing that one of the knights has tortured to death dozens or maybe hundreds of peasants simply for the amusement of it.

      I know the series has a devoted following, but no happy ending or moral lesson could offset the discomfort I experienced with all of the terrible events that occurred in the story. I don’t think George RR Martin got rape wrong, given his setting: all bets are off when Torquemada would have been appalled by your world.

    • Can’t read/watch Song of Ice and Fire. I read the first book. I remember that there were some things about the way the “winter is coming” thin worked that annoyed me (can’t remember what they were) but mostly it was the constant rape. Some people have argued that all the rape is there to show how bad rape is/how bad medieval times were. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s true, but after a certain point there’s just too much rape for it to be something I enjoy reading.

  4. I remember when I was a teenager reading fantasy novels, it seem like at least 50% of them feature a rape scene (maybe some of them were attempted rapes). This seemed awfully high to me. It still does.
    OTOH, I read the Red Sonja comics… (Their quality has been uneven over the years, but lately they’ve gotten better again.)

  5. Pingback: Crowdfunding | Living ~400lbs

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