If I were obscenely rich, I’ve decided, I would become a patron of Awesome.
That is to say, I would spend a large chunk of that money — after ensuring that I could live comfortably for the rest of my life — providing the funding for cool creative people to make cool creative stuff. Because that’s the biggest problem I’ve come across for creatives — the money to make their awesome ideas happen. And sometimes these ideas could make money! But without the money to pay people to help make them, and to cover the creative’s own living expenses while they make it, a lot of amazing ideas would never come to light.
That, and there are great things that don’t get to see the light of day or get cancelled just because of dumb things like network politics. I would, if I could, bring Firefly back.
We’re at an interesting place in the creative world. As has been discussed endlessly over the last few years, we’re at a place where independant creators can make great stuff and put it out on the internet and find an audience all by themselves. What we’re seeing is some really interesting experiments in how to be successful at that.
First of all, of course, there’s the ongoing conversations about self-publishing? Does it work, is it the best way to go, etc. Chuck Wendig has had many an interesting thought on the subject, having explored both self-publishing and traditional publishing with his own work. He had a good post recently about upgrading the discussion — let’s talk about good stories. And Chuck has succeeded to some degree with self-published stuff, among other things putting some of his writing advice articles together into little anthologies, as well as some short stories and a novella. But he’s found that he needs to keep putting stuff out, constantly, otherwise the market gets cold and he stops selling.
Then there are crowd-funded projects. A great transmedia team of Andrea Phillips, David Varela, Adrian Hon, and Naomi Alderman is putting together a story called Balance of Powers, which they successfully funded via Kickstarter.
David Varela is involved with another project along with Alison Norrington and Yomi Ayeni called The Clockwork Watch, a steampunk transmedia story being funded through IndieGogo.
And Andrea Phillips just today attempted a really interesting new kind of experiment — using Kickstarter to sell a single short story directly to an audience. It was more than funded within two hours. (But there’s still time to help her out even more!)
These are ones I mention specifically because… Well, because I’ve helped fund all of them. I’ve bought a couple of Wendig’s books, and I’ve contributed to all of those crowd-funding campaigns. I think it’s important, here, to examine why.
They’re people who, in my eyes, have proven track records, for one. I follow Chuck and Andrea on their blogs, I’ve met Andrea and David in person, I’ve interacted online with Alison. And they’ve all worked on awesome stuff in the past. So I trust them.
On top of which, they’re generally great people, and I think that’s extremely important. Show me someone looking for crowd funding for a new project who has done great stuff in the past but who isn’t someone I can connect with personally, and I’ll probably say, “Nice, I hope they get funded.” Show me someone who is genuinely thankful when anybody gives them any money, is happy to chat and share insights, who is friendly and delightful and funny and really connects with their audience, and I will throw money at them.
Even though I don’t have a lot of money to throw. Which is why, were I rich, I would really go out and do it even more. There are amazing people who are amazingly talented who struggle to make a living and fund the projects they’re in love with. There are people who deserve to see their work Out There.
And maybe Karma will be nice to me when I decide to go out there and seek funding for my work.