Shadow-ware and the Busy Author

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a bit of a Kickstarter addict fan. Since backing my first project in April 2012 (specifically Alex Woolfson’s Artifice comic), I’ve successfully backed 131 projects, 101 of which have delivered their product to me so far. The rest are all in the process of fulfillment, but I’ve finally encountered one of the dreaded bad eggs of Kickstarter—a project that seems to have taken all of the money and run. Now, Kickstarter backers (for the most part) are fairly patient. I’ve got projects outstanding from as far back as 2013 but they’ve been good at updating backers as to the scope of the project, problems they’ve run into, and the progress they’ve made, so I’m not worried. Some I’ve already received part of the reward—namely a digital copy of whatever book/game/etc that is being made—and am just waiting on the print version to be finished so I can check it off my list.

This is not the case with Shadow: Community of Dreamers. Of all of my backed projects to go wrong, this is probably one of the best because I only spent $8 on an app that will never happen, but my concern is more for the $82,500 that the campaign raised only to get a vague mention of an iPhone prototype in 2014 and then nothing. What’s even more disheartening is the creator’s apparent attempt to bury complaints in the comments on the project by spamming the comments with the full text of articles copy-pasted from the internet that are only vaguely relevant to the project, thereby burying talk of refunds, a class-action lawsuit, and other complaints. All the creator needed to do was address concerns and give an update of “yes, we’re working on it” but he seems to have instead taken the ostrich method of response and stuck his head in the sand.

That is the absolute worst response a creator can give.

As an author, I’m well aware of the pressure readers can bring when they’re salivating for your next work. (That’s yet to happen for any of my projects, but I’ve definitely seen it happen to others.) I’ve been one of those salivating readers, though I’m usually fairly careful to keep my salivations contained. I’m patient. I can play the waiting game because I know that good work takes time. (I’m also a computer programmer, where the common adage is that you can have a project be two and only two of the following: fast, cheap, or good.) Good work is worth the wait, and all readers (and Kickstarter backers) want is a little assurance that good things are coming. Communication is key. I know it’s hard sometimes to face the hordes, but it goes a long way toward fostering goodwill and keeping anticipation in check. Also, it makes a project all the sweeter when you can finally deliver it to people who’ve been looking forward to it.

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