For several months, Jeff McComsey, my Flutter partner, has urged me to do a Kickstarter, not only as a way to promote the upcoming release of Flutter, Volume Two, but to relaunch the graphic novel series on the popular crowdfunding platform. The response and support for Flutter has been wonderful. However, the one thing we haven’t been able to achieve is getting copies of Flutter distributed into comic shops.
Jeff has had great success with Kickstarters for his FUBAR comic anthologies. In fact, the first FUBAR Kickstarter helped FUBAR: Empire of the Rising Dead hit the New York Times best-seller list.
Still, despite Jeff’s success and other inspiring Kickstarter examples, I hesitated to do one for Flutter. I struggled to understand why I was so hesitant. I had no issue backing other projects and often encouraged others to go the crowdfunding route. The workload that comes with a Kickstarter didn’t overwhelm me. It wasn’t a fear of failing, of not meeting the Kickstarter goal, because even if it failed, I’d learn something. In fact, it was another chance to collaborate with Jeff, a chance to collaborate with him in a different way, learning the ins and outs of crowdfunding. No matter how I looked at it, going the Kickstarter route was a new, different experience for me, an opportunity for personal and professional growth. So what was my problem? Why did I still hesitate?
I even struggled to talk with friends about it, to tell others about my Kickstarter hesitation. That’s when I realized my issue was in the asking.
While I have no problem fundraising for organizations and causes that I’m passionate about such as GrubStreet and the Chicago Women’s Health Center, this is asking people to help me directly. Yes, this Kickstarter is about supporting a small indie press, Jeff, and Flutter, but it’s me asking for help about my project, my dream.
And, yes, Kickstarter backers receive rewards such as books and art, but it’s in good faith. The books, art, and other rewards aren’t handed over right away. It’s asking people to have faith in the project, in me.
I’m not alone in this fear of asking directly for help, as Amanda Palmer points out in her book, The Art of Asking. In the book, she writes about many musician and artist friends who struggle with the same thing. My anxiety comes in part from not having learned the simple act of asking for things early on in life.
Both of my parents struggled to communicate, to ask directly, even for the tiniest of things. My mother asked if we were cold instead of simply asking Dad to turn up the heat or turning it up on her own. Dad asked if we were hungry when he was. Asking for anything directly felt wrong in our house.
In addition to confronting some leftover childhood baggage, the Kickstarter allows me to address some present issues as well. For a long time, I’ve told myself to stay focused on whatever keeps me writing. However, in recent weeks, that hasn’t been enough. Writing is isolating, even when you’re collaborating with artists, editors, and writing partners. Usually those collaborations are long distance. Even when they’re not, working together is only part of the work. You still spend many hours alone.
Life isn’t just about writing, creating, and putting stuff out there. It’s about connecting. It’s about whatever keeps us connected to other people and whatever helps those connections grow and strengthen. Part of that connection is giving to others. Another part of it is asking for things. It has to be both ways in order to work. You can’t always just give and you can’t always just ask. You have to do both for the connection to continue to grow. Palmer addresses this in her book as well. In fact, her book helped me come to the realization that I should do a Flutter Kickstarter campaign because it pushes me out of my comfort zone. It allows me to confront my fears about asking for help. It opens up the opportunity to connect with people in a new way. It makes me nervous and excited. It makes my heart flutter.
The Flutter Kickstarter can be found here. It is running from April 13 through May 12. If we make our goal, all of the funds will go to printing enough copies of Flutter, Volume One & Two to distribute them into comic shops. Any amount we raise over the goal will go toward printing more Flutter.
Backers who mention Dead Darlings in the backer surveys will get something extra. Thank you for your support!