Kickstarter Tag Team Post: What’s Asking Too Much?

Okay, here’s the deal. I have thoughts on this whole Kickstarter kerfuffle yesterday, and my ranty-pants are securely fastened upon my kicking legs. Ah, but YA author Laura Lam — a wonderful author fresh from the fallout with Strange Chemistry — also had thoughts and asked if she could write up a guest post at the blog. I said hell yes, and told her I’d add my thoughts, too, at the bottom of the post. TAG TEAM MATCH. Here, then, is Laura, with her thoughts:

Very recently, YA author Stacey Jay launched a Kickstarter to fund her sequel to her first novel, Princess of Thorns. Hers is a familiar tale: due to low sales of the first, her publisher declined to pick up the sequel. But the sales were still high enough to investigate self-publishing. Yet self-publishing in YA can be a tricky beast. E-book sales are still a smaller slice of the pie than print sales, meaning without bookstore and library presence, it can be hard to gauge interest. She created a Kickstarter, detailing her goals: $3,500 for fees, cover, and editing, and around $7,000 to make it a financially viable option for her because it’d be enough to cover basic bills and give her 3 uninterrupted months to write the novel and get it to readers sooner.

Yet Kickstarter is more about the end product, some argue. Living expenses aren’t a product. Stacey Jay came under criticism, both for asking for an advance, essentially, and for the line saying if it didn’t fund she’d instead focus on re-publishing her backlist. Some thought it had a whiff of emotional blackmail about it. (I didn’t see it that way. She writes under three names and is supporting a family. I figured she was saying if it doesn’t fund, she’ll focus on things that will let her provide for her family).

Stacey Jay ended up taking down the Kickstarter, and writing a blog post saying she’s stepping back from writing as Stacey Jay for a while.

Hearty debate ensued on Twitter – was this right? Is it fair? Was it bullying? When crowdfunding, is it appropriate to ask for more than simply production costs? As hybrid publishing is becoming more common, it all ended up coming to a head here—unfortunately for Stacey Jay.

So, my feelings. I think this story especially hit home for me. I don’t know Stacey Jay, but man, I just want to give her a hug. My books Pantomime & Shadowplay came out, but my trilogy was cancelled, and then the imprint folded a few months later. I have considered Kickstarter, and done a lot of research on it over the last few months, but since some stuff is up in the air, I haven’t gone live. But if things had gone differently, I might have been Kickstarting Masquerade (book 3) right about now. And then, maybe, this could have been me? Who knows.

Perhaps, in a request like this where living expenses for three months were needed, something like Patreon or IndieGoGo would have been better than Kickstarter. However, this can be a hard call. I asked on Twitter a few times over the past year if Kickstarter or IndieGoGo would be better for raising production costs for a book. With IndieGoGo you can have flexible funding and keep what you raise instead of losing everything, so that was appealing. People overwhelmingly told me Kickstarter because it had a bigger reach, so I figured I’d use that if I needed to.

In terms of Patreon, that seems to be more of a website to support an artist from month to month, regardless of the specific project. This can work really well for ongoing things, like Peter and Emma Newman’s excellent podcast Tea and Jeopardy (here’s their Patreon page). But if I wanted a set amount for a set goal Kickstarter would probably still be what I’d go for.

I don’t think saying outright that some of your money going towards having the time to create the product is disingenuous. The most precious commodity for writers is to have time to write. Time to create a good product is just as important as having a good cover and strong edits, if not more so. I’d rather read an awesome book with a horrific cover than the other way around.

Other people thought the levels weren’t generous enough. $5 for an e-book seems to be fairly standard practice in a lot of Kickstarters. Yeah, $10 for just an e-book is a bit steep. But I do see Kindle books regularly for sale by publishers for that price. I’ve bought Kindle e-books at $10, and recently. Yeah, I’ve grumbled about it, but if I love the author and know I’ll love the book, eh. It’s the price of a movie ticket but a book lasts longer than 2 hours. I’ve also seen other Kickstarters that funded and then some having a $10 e-book levels, too.

Would I have run a Kickstarter the same way? No, I would have done some things differently, but hey, I’m a different person, so that’s not terribly surprising.

I would have given a more detailed breakdown of costs. I’d have a wide range of rewards with different options, with the hope that there’d be something for everyone. Benefits for librarians, teachers, or booksellers. For e-only bundles, they’re the highest profit margin because you don’t have to pay for postage. To sweeten the pot, maybe I’d add some exclusive extra short stories for KS backers only, or deleted scenes, or access to a forum to discuss things about the book. I think offering print copies is still important, but that means: physical formatting & costing print runs or seeing if you only need CreateSpace. Also: lots and lots of swag! Everyone loves swag, right?

That gets complicated really fast though. And it gets more expensive, and that it’d take a lot more time, taking away from other potential (paying) projects.

And time is still the kicker. Writing takes time. Having the time to write takes money. You can’t get around that. Publishers pay advances. Most of the time it’s not enough to fully support you, but $7k is still a standard advance for a lot of authors (for SJ, it was a 60% paycut from the first book). Not everyone is in a position of privilege to be able to ask only for production costs and hope that, once all the work is done and it’s out in the world, it’ll make a profit eventually. From my own experience, my self-published short stories and novellas, Vestigial Tales, haven’t made me the professional minimum of 5 cents a word yet, even though they’ve been on sale for 2-6 months. That was a hell of a lot of work. Not everyone can write for free and love and warm fuzzies. But creators are still battling this notion that we deserve to be paid for the work that we do.

And, importantly, it’s so hard to reach out for help to crowd-fund a novel, especially on a series where publishers have told you they don’t think it’s worth the money. You’re vulnerable. I don’t blame her one put for putting up her hands and going “you know what? Never mind. I’m sorry this didn’t work out.”

Kickstarter is optional. If a Kickstarter is your jam, you pay the level you choose. As long as you receive the product on time as promised, the obligation has been fulfilled. If I’m paying $10 instead of $5 and that $5 difference is going to go to letting the artist whose work I admire be able to create a better book sooner, and I know that and don’t care, then what, exactly, is the problem here?

* * *

*Chuck jetpacks in, lands on the back of a sea serpent, ululates*

Isn’t getting cranky about Kickstarters a 2011-2012 thing?

Is this time travel? Maybe it’s just nostalgia for an Internet kerfuffle from our salad days. Soon VH1 will do a series of episodes — “Internet Kerfuffles of the Last Decade,” and a hilarious panel of Z-List talents will opine about this.

So, here’s the thing.

I did a Kickstarter to fund a novel. A YA novel, actually, called Bait Dog.

I did that three years ago.

At the time, Kickstarter campaigns were not yet super-savvy and. I didn’t know what the floppy fuck I was doing, so I didn’t talk much about why I was asking for what I was asking in terms of money (which was three grand). I didn’t reference what would go toward cover art and editing and all that. I also didn’t note that uhh, yeah, some of that money would land squarely in my pocket.

It would be something roughly comparable to an advance — money up front that would pay for a pre-order. A pre-order for a novel that I had not yet written. I knew the novella had sold really well, but I wasn’t sure how much of an audience was out there clamoring for the next part. So, I thought, a Kickstarter is a good way to test those waters. I’d land a Kickstarter, see who flocked to it and who didn’t, and if it funded — well, then I knew I had the audience to write that book.

As I am wont to say about crowdfunding, in the OLDEN DAYS of HUNTING BUFFALO and HAVING ONLY ONE WAY TO PUBLISH, you worked your way to the stage and then the crowd would carry you away from it on a magical fun ride over their heads. Now? Kickstarter and the other platforms for crowdfunding determine whether or not the crowd will surf your ass to the stage, not away from it. If you have the audience? They’ll get you there. If not? You’re gonna drop on your head and crack your creative skull like an egg.

But that’s how it’s supposed to work. If I don’t fund, why make the thing at all?

A lot of Kickstarter campaigns work this way. It is situation normal.

For me, my Kickstarter was funded 100% in 10 hours.

It gave life to the book, Bait Dog, and that book then went on to a more traditional publishing deal — and, in a bit of utter shamelessness, I’ll note that the book releases in e-book and paperback at the end of this month. Further, I’ll get to write a second book as part of that deal (tentative title: Frack You) and Kickstarter backers will receive a copy of that book, too (thanks to stretch goals and the goodness of my publisher, Skyscape).

Some of that money from the Kickstarter?

It probably went to groceries.

It helped fund my life, in a literal sense.

Now, here is where you object, flailing your arms around — “Buh, buh, buh, Kickstarter is to fund projects and products, not lives.” And your point is accurate, if a little pedantic. But here’s the deal: let’s say the money is there to pay for the project only. Let’s say I want to pay an editor, a graphic designer, a dog-washer, a bodyguard to keep away my adoring fans (all three of you, two of whom are actually just cardboard cut-outs with leather masks over their drooping heads). Okay, so, the campaign is successful and I pay them.

Where does that money go? Once it reaches the intended recipients, I mean.

I’m going to take a wild guess here and say it goes toward paying their bills.

Meaning, I’m helping to fund their lives, if in a small way.

So, back to me. Me, me, me. *pirouettes*

I’m part of the equation, too, and so was Stacey Jay in her own campaign. She was acting as writer and as publisher of the work. Two genuinely essential jobs in the creation of this work. One could argue that she ventured too much information in being honest about, ohhh, needing to eat and pay those pesky bills, but truth is, the Kickstarter would have paid her to write and publish the book. Paying for those things, yes, means some of that money is going to find its way into her own personal ecosystem. Because it needs to.

What, she and her family should starve while she writes the book?

And here, you object: well, I starved when I wrote mine, why shouldn’t she?

That’s not very nice. Is it? That’s like saying, “I didn’t have the Internet when I was a kid, why should all these other kids?” Next thing we know, you’re telling us how you had to walk to school uphill both ways and cross rushing rapids and there was this evil ring you had to go drop into a volcano along the way and you were being hunted by orcs and the ghosts of corrupted kings, and then you’re shaking your cane and talking about those damn kids and why don’t they get off your lawn and stop playing video games while they’re at it.

Here you might say: well, I had to work a dayjob when I wrote my book, why shouldn’t she?

Again: super not cool. Why do you insist that things be bad for others like they were for you?

Here’s a thought: celebrate that Kickstarter is now an option.

One you, and me, and you over there, could use.

The starving artist is a real-life trope that we should never, ever encourage. Listen, being a creative person is hard enough as it is. It’s a path fraught with boundless uncertainty. And one such uncertainty is: will I be able to feed myself next month, next year, for the next ten? Can I feed my family? Can I have a family? It’s scary. It’s life without a net. Kickstarter, along with other modes of self-publishing, is a valuable way — one option — to create cool stuff.

Out of the $10k, she was asking for $7k for three months.

Roughly, $2,300 a month, or $28,000 a year.

(Not exactly The Great Gatsby.)

You might offer: This isn’t an advance and most authors don’t get advances.

Well, it functions for the author as a kind of advance and to the reader as a kind of pre-order system and… again, some authors don’t get advances and some do. She wanted to feed her family while she wrote. Not buy a Wave Runner. Hell, if she wanted to buy a Wave Runner with that money: not my business.

*takes a note: run Kickstarter campaign to buy self a Wave Runner*

You might say: but this challenges my livelihood, and it changes the system.

Meaning, what? It changes the way books are written? And marketed? It doesn’t change what’s already happening out there — it just adds a brand new option. It’s like, the door out of the room is still there — but now you have another door. And a window. And a basement. Options. Paths. Choices. Those are choices for you too. It changes nothing except gives you more ways to write, more ways to reach an audience. How is that bad?

Well, I don’t want to be marketed to all the time by these authors with Kickstarters.

Hey, I don’t either, so if an author gets noisy about it, I unfollow them. That’s true of anybody who acts like a human product and not a human — get spammy, I boot you out the airlock.

I didn’t like the way Stacey Jay ran her campaign.

So, maybe don’t put money into it? A weird, revolutionary concept, I know, but Kickstarter and other creative endeavors is one of those ways where voting with your dollar really matters.

We should be allowed to criticize her and her campaign and this process.

You can, and you are, allowed. Just as I’m allowed to sit here and tell you why I disagree. I disagree because what you’re criticizing is her option. Moreover, an option that is not precisely new — like I say, this is kinda how Kickstarters work. It’s how mine worked three years ago. You’re yelling at a woman in a boat because you’re mad at the ocean. Meaning: if you don’t like the Kickstarter option, or self-publishing, or traditional publishing, okay. Criticize the mode and the model. But sniping at those using those models is, to my mind, a little bit of dirty pool. It’d be one thing if she used the model in a way that wasn’t expected or wasn’t standard. It’d be one thing if her campaign was somehow socially bereft — racist, sexist, or shitty in some other hurtful way.

But, to me, she wanted to write a book and she got grief for it. (I dunno that I’d call it “bullying” — I think in this Internet Age, we maybe overuse that term when real bullying exists. Both in the halls of schools and across social media. Gamergate is home to a great many bullies, actual bullies.) Do I think criticism is fair? Sure. You’re free to do it, and she’s free to respond however she responds. But we’re all free to respond to that, too, and honestly, I don’t see the problem. Not contributing money toward the Kickstarter is the cleanest, simplest way to let her do her thing while simultaneously not supporting her. Just as you likely do day in and day out with 99.9% of the media that crosses in front of you.

Again, you can find Stacey Jay’s apology and retreat from Kickstarter here.

I hope none of this stops others from exploring the wide, weird variety of writing and publishing choices available to them. Lots of options that will continue to exist only when we use them.

217 comments

  • “Pay every creator in the production process but the writer” is the stupidest thing I ever heard. When they fund a game, do they expect the game designers and writers and coders won’t get paid?

    • Actually this is the mindset when it comes to any artistic or creative endeavor. Being an artist myself, sometimes any price I set on my work is considered outrageous for there are alot of people who think I should just give it all away. However they expect to get paid when they go to work…..and I bet that $ is going to bills!!

    • I can’t believe this is even an issue. I thought the whole point of asking for money to produce a work of art was to be able to pay for the time you spend on it. I mostly ignore kickstarter and other crowdfunding sites, so i didn’t realize this was an issue at all. And if you don’t like the idea of paying for someone to work on a book, then don’t fund the kickstarter, as chuck said. When I buy stuff from artists, I do so because I know that a part of my payment will go for them to eat, pay bills, etc. All those things that are more important than paying for the materials. of all the things to get angry about, someone wanting to get paid a little for their work seems really really low on the list.

  • January 7, 2015 at 7:49 AM // Reply

    Chuck, I’ve just started following your ranty-pants, I mean your blog, and I have to say that, no matter what you’re writing about (like Kickstarter, in which I had 0 interest previously), you are well worth reading. Your prose absolutely bounds off the page and right into my head, barking and wagging its fun feathery tail and encouraging me to play, play, play with words! Thank you for always, always making me laugh–and think.

  • I would love to see all who balk at writers getting paid for their work lose 1 single paycheck. What an uproar that would be. There would be strikes! Maybe that’s what writers should do…go on strike. Sadly, I do know that wouldn’t work. People would just find another form of entertainment. But how p***ed people would be if *they* didn’t get paid for their work.

  • I’m just going off what is written here, but what confused me is why her and why this Kickstarter? I’ve seen scores of Kickstarters that basically say “fund me so I can quit my day job and do this project full-time.” (Web comic artists are the example that immediately spring to mind.) I’m assuming when they quit their day job they also don’t magically start eating air for sustenance.

    • This is exactly what’s baffling to me about the whole situation. I specifically remember The Doubleclicks kickstarter where one of the stretch goals was for one of the artists to quit her job and do music full time. Is it because Jay isn’t popular enough? Or too popular? (although I hadn’t heard of her before this). I know the I’mma quit writing if I don’t get enough rubbed people the wrong way but the kickstarter as a whole seemed pretty standard and benign. Like hey, if you liked the first book and want to see more well, I need to eat while I’m writing it.

      • I think it came down to timing—for whatever reason, the crowd was ripe, there were probably some behind-the-scenes factors going on amid a crowd of people (whether it’s in the YA circuit, or something else) to create the initial spark, the boiling point for general outrage was low enough that it caught fire quicker, and it JUST SO HAPPENED to be Stacey Jay.

        The worst part of it is that I don’t actually think it’s personal. I think she just got made a scapegoat by an online need to rage. And that’s awful. :/

    • Because hunting female targets is the favorite Internet sport. Rudy Rucker, as has been pointed out, does several Kickstarter campaigns — most recently with the request being: “Your support will allow me a more generous amount of time to be working on my book.” No flak. People hold Kickstarters to fund their weddings, order pizzas and any other sort of campaign. No flak. Some people found her Kickstarter, they passed word to their pals: “Look, target!” and they went after her as a woman daring to ask for funding of her work as a writer because that’s what people do now, for kicks. And they shoved her off the Internet and out of the market, at least temporarily. Which is the secondary goal.

        • It’s not a sport exclusive to men on the Internet. It’s a general problem in society that women are not considered as worthy of financial investment and are more heavily criticized on performance and behavior rigidity than men, including by quite often other women. Rudy Rucker can ask for money for time to write — living expenses. Chuck Wendig can ask for money for a project and no one demands that he promise not to spend it on his bills. It does not occur to anyone to be upset. Hundreds, thousands of authors have done Kickstarters. People have done generally weird Kickstarters. They have not necessarily written brilliant business proposals to do it. And yet one woman author gets flack for trying to give an honest breakdown of what her expenses would be to try to do the project.

          As others noted, authors regularly try to get grants, fellowships, scholarships and other sources of financial support so that they have money to be able to write, to be able to take time off from work or stop working temporarily in order to write the project, or to be able to write full time if the book ends up selling enough by being able to produce the book in the first place. Such funding helps the author and makes the project more likely to get done. Nobody thinks this is strange. It’s a normal part of publishing, academia and many other industries.

          Kickstarter is a grant funding project, where the grant is funded by crowd sourcing, rather than from an organization. In return for the grant donation, the author attempts to produce the book. The backers are not venture capital investors who are going to get their money returned with interest from the profits. They aren’t buying a license from the author like publishers (who may, if able, pay an author royalties in advance, an estimate of what the author will likely earn on the book, not free money.) They aren’t getting a cut of the profits like Amazon (which keeps pretending that giving indie authors their net sales are “royalties” even though they don’t have a license agreement.) They are basically making a charity donation to someone to support them financially to try and do something, maybe a creative project, maybe just supporting a guy to make potato salad which started as a joke. They don’t get to instruct the author in how to write the book or handle his or her finances.

          And I sincerely doubt any male author has gotten a lecture on this for a Kickstarter project. But we have had an increasingly vitriolic problem with female authors getting piled on for talking about any problems they have in the industry, from discrimination, lack of media coverage, funding difficulties, to writing while raising kids and convention expenses. Someone saw the fundraiser, got annoyed that a woman author was asking for funding — like everybody else on Kickstarter — told pals and a new target was born.

  • Just goes to show that telling the truth is a bad idea. I think some people are just wankers and have to have a pop at everyone and there just seem to be more of them on the internet than anywhere else… I feel for Stacey Kay. I’m looking at crowd sourcing my next book, although I am not expecting to reach my goal so I was looking at Unbound or IndieGoGo. I sort of feel like I’ve escaped by the skin of my teeth, as if she’s taken the flack so the rest of us don’t have to.

    Cheers

    MTM

    • I agree with MTM about the wankers.

      The great thing about the internet is everyone has a voice. The annoying thing about the internet is that people (wankers) often don’t know when to keep their mouths zipped.

  • This is just awful. Again, the perception that artists don’t deserve to earn a living for their work. I was running numbers on a possible Kickstarter, and based on my current sales there’s a solid chance that even if I ran a successful Kickstarter, that my backers would be my only readers. So, what? Is the role of the artist to just earn barely enough money to keep churning out work while also breaking their backs in a day job to pay the bills?

    I’m definitely steering clear of Kickstarter. I don’t want to expose myself to that kind of backlash.

  • The whole ordeal really seems just an extension of the attitude people have that creative work should be done at-cost. I’m a visual artist. I can’t tell you how many people have tried to get me to do work just for purchasing the material for me. I’ve found that a surprising number of people are really put off by the idea of paying for an artist’s time and skill.

    If anything, her mistake was being completely honest and open with where the money would go (which you would think would be preferable, giving people plenty of information on whether to contribute or not). It’s difficult for me to wrap my head around the idea that people were basically angry that the writer would get most of the money from her writing project.

    • That was my feeling as I read too. I’ve had that same experience with making cakes for people. I like to make things- so far cakes and woodworking make me the happiest. With most of the cake stuff, I charge to cover the cost of ingredients because I learn and apply new techniques to pull some creations off. (I’ll get to molten sugar one day..one day!)

      That’s the choice I made, I felt this would be fair for a kind of portfolio build. I’ve been extremely lucky that the people I’ve made cakes for understand what goes into making them apart from the ingredients and are willing to let me try something sort of new in the process. And that my full time work is not making cakes. I choose to take them on and let them be what I spend my non-work hours on.

      The other day I was told that one person couldn’t believe I charged so much ($80) for a three tier cake (I really enjoyed that one, I painted with Vodka). The person I made it for pointed out how long it takes me to make it, transport it, and deliver it and that it isn’t the thing that I do to make a living. They still thought it was a bit much. I wanted to be surprised, and I was for a moment, then that faded. If they thought $80 was steep, that person would be shocked to know what a bakery would charge for half sheets, let alone specialty tier cakes.

      It’s a week (for the actual making bit) of my time…so it made me wonder would they work a full work week for $80? My feeling is the answer would be ‘No.’*

      *Actually I feel it’d be more along the lines of a ‘HELLNO! NO HOW, NO WAY’

  • Let me be very, very blunt about this: American culture has a deep-seated belief that some people should work for free. I remember all too well the ‘welfare reform’ of 1994-5, the rhetoric about ‘entitlement’ and ‘laziness’ — in re a pittance paid to (mostly) women to feed, clothe, and house themselves and their children.

    Now it’s not acceptable to speak plainly about what the money/time for a book project really mean: food, shelter, clothing. Necessities of life.

    Much of the outrage about Anita Sarkeesian is that she DID raise the money for her project, in spite of harassment and death threat. How dare a woman get paid? This time, it’s: how dare a woman be frank about where the money goes?

    Want a step beyond? Take a look at the incisive thinkers, writers, and creators of Black and Native Twitter, who get all of the harassment, none of the bucks, and into the bargain get their work appropriated by ‘professional’ (i.e. PAID) journalists and academics.

  • If I fund a kickstarter it is because I either really like the person who is running it, or because I really want the product. Usually a combination. If I really want the product, from someone I basically like, why *wouldn’t* I want it soon-sih instead of in ten year’s time when they have finally had time to complete it?

  • Call me neurotic (just so long as you call me!), but I don’t think it’s just bad luck that this happened to a woman; there is a taint of misogyny to the whole thing.

    The vibe is: I’m not going to fund your little “hobby”. Because a woman isn’t a breadwinner. She is an Avon lady or an etsy crafter – she is supplementing her husband’s solid paycheck and pottering about trying to avoid suburban neurosis while the kids are at school.

  • What do people think money from kickstarter goes toward? Like seriously any kickstarter? I would guess that at least half of most kickstarter money is money to live on while completing whatever product. I don’t know if I’d go as far as pashortt and say I’ll never use kickstarter because of backlash fear. I’ve been riding the internet bull long enough not to worry about that.

  • I hadn’t heard of this little kerfuffle, but it makes me sad. Kickstarter and the like are new venues for authors to pursue to fund projects they’re really passionate about, and it still amazes me that others are still throwing a fit about crowdfunding. Didn’t we already go over this crap with Amanda Palmer and others like her? I’m currently gearing up for a campaign on Pubslush (Kickstarter for Books), and yes, some of the money will be used to pay bills, because writing is my JOB. Oops, this little link just fell out of my pocket. 😉 http://steamwars.pubslush.com If the campaign doesn’t fund, the book will be pushed back to a time when it’s more financially viable for me to dedicate the time to it that it needs and I’ll focus on shorter projects. If it does fund, I’ll push other things aside and bust butt to get it done. Crowdfunding is a valuable way to test the waters for an idea, but supporters need to also understand that for someone to drop everything to focus on that one project, it means they need to eat somehow. They need to pay their electric so they can make posts about their progress.

    • I’m with you, Samantha; this makes me sad. People forget that ALL products, from paper products to public utilities, include as a built-in the cost of overhead. Those who don’t understand this are naive at best and willfully blind at worst. To stigmatize someone because they have the unmitigated gall to actually show that as part of their funding request is ludicrous and uncool.

      If people don’t want to fund something, there’s this nifty little thing called EXIT. You don’t like it? Then vote with your mouse. Just don’t fund it! How hard is that to understand?

      One of my favorite authors, Devon Monk, had started a wonderful series with a steampunk/magic theme. Gut a bunch of us hooked on the first three books of the series, and then her publisher convinced her that steampunk was a dying genre. Us readers convinced her otherwise, and she is working on the next in the series this year. I like this series so much that I would be willing to put down $25 to help fund her to do it, just for the chance to read another in this story arc. That, for a book that in hard copy would probably cost me less than $8. The pleasure I receive from those books, those worlds, those wonderful words, far outweighs the money I spend on them. And I’ll do the same for the next book, and the next, and the one after that. And I’ll reread them until the pages fall out, or until *sigh* my ebook reader goes up in smoke. How’s that for interest?

      By the way, Samantha — thanks for that fortuitous little link-drop. I hadn’t heard of pubslush before. Now I’m stalking–oops, I mean following you! Can’t wait to see Steamwars!

  • People need to stop being offended about what people ask for. When you go to a store and something looks more expensive than you’re willing to pay… you just don’t buy it. Same with Kickstarter, books, ebooks, computer games, Xboxes, cars, bus passes, cherries, houses, and anything else.

    So if people thought, “Hey, that looks like more than I want for that book”, then don’t buy it. Maybe someone else wants it more and will pay that much. Ta da! It’s like some sort of… market.

  • I’ve a fair number of friends who have kickstarted games and art books — whether as illustrators, game designers, or just the person with the vision to organize their friends. I’ll let you in on a secret: their own salaries are included in the costs.

    Because…of course they are.

    Ask any start-up: the cost of doing business also includes the cost of staying alive and paying bills.

  • Wow. Sour Grapes. Too bad she canceled. I would go contribute out of principle. Why are people so set in their ways? Poor babies.

    • I don’t know that it’s sour grapes, and I certainly don’t think folks are being babies — though I think there are some wires being crossed here where they don’t like what Kickstarter represents or how campaigns are run, and they pointed those lasers at her more than at the system supporting her. Like I said, there’s room for criticism, but taking shots at her for doing what Kickstarter is effectively designed to do (and what many folks have done before) seems a little overly cranky, to me.

      • Yeah, but there really isn’t any reasoning that produces this kind of vitriol based on what kickstarter represents other than exactly that. ‘Why should someone else get something I don’t get?’

      • I’d contribute, too. Someone needs to start a new kickstarter for her, for the same exact project. Like, now. Before all the haters forget about all of this and go find someone else to torment. $5 contribution gets you an ebook and a virtual smack to the haters. Sign me up.

        • I really, truly do wonder what people would say if a 3rd party started this Kickstarter and stated “I need $3000 to pay the editor and cover artist, and $7500 to pay the author.”

          I want so badly to see the responses from people who object to her taking money “for herself” instead of “for the book”.

          • Also, I think it’s important to note that this is all taking place in the context of a crowdfunding service where thousands of people gleefully donated over $55,000 for some guy to make potato salad.

            But $7,000 for living expenses while working on a project is somehow diabolical.

  • I found it interesting that you Kickstarted a YA. One my first thought was that maybe this drama is the result of someone bringing Kickstarter to a new audience. In our circles, it’s not a big deal to see Kickstarter or Patreon anymore because we’ve been through this battle and are used to it now. But I got the impression those who were criticizing her ran in book circles where this wasn’t the norm (romance, YA, etc). I also found it interesting to see so many Indie authors criticizing her.

    Regardless, I feel horrible for her. Getting dropped by her publisher had to be devastating and when she tried to make lemonade from those lemons she got dog piled. I dunno, I think my whole issue is that we are no longer satisfied to let people make mistakes and learn from them in an organic way. The entire industry is in flux and all authors are trying to figure out how to survive in the new ecosystem. It’s disheartening to see that making mistakes (if indeed she did make any) isn’t treated as a natural part of growth, learning, and creativity.

    • Well, I’m not really classically YA, and it was my first, so I wasn’t on anybody’s radar.

      I’m also a guy, and y’know — not to play that card too heavily, it’s sadly much easier to criticize a woman author than a guy doing the same thing. I dunno if that’s at the heart of this in any way, but… it’s there, sometimes, so.

      • I might know a little something about that particular card and I agree was probably played here (yes, even by women who can be worse than men at keeping other crabs in the pot).

        Were I in her position I likely would have flipped the double birds and burned the mother down. Or not. I certainly would have wanted to.

      • Was gonna say this, Chuck, but not surprised you were ready and willing to speak up about it first. The truth is, I’ve seen writers whose work I love, and *who happen to be men,* do this plenty (Toby Buckell was one of the first I saw, and he’s done some brilliant things with Kickstarter)–and nobody said a damned thing along these lines. I fear that particular card may be all too relevant here, and it’s a shame.

  • This does feel like an argument we’ve had before, doesn’t it? I remember reading a huge kboards.com thread about a first-time self-pubbed writer doing a kickstarter for a project several years ago, and the whole mess that started. This just all seems silly to me. If you don’t want to help support this woman and her family, don’t fund the book. But certainly don’t call her out on blackmailing readers if she decides to focus on something more lucrative – that’s what her publisher decided when they pulled the plug on the book in the first place, and who’s bitching at them? Nobody forces anyone to contribute to any Kickstarter, not even the amazing Weird Wild West anthology I’m currently working on (no, I’m not going to make a link here, but you can find it if you want). You don’t want to pay my living expenses, don’t back my patreon. You don’t want to pre-order my books, don’t pre-order them. But when I can’t churn out books as quickly as you want them because I have a day job and write in the evenings, don’t gripe about the delays. Everything has its costs, and somebody’s going to pay them. It’s up to each individual to decide what is and is not worth their money.

  • Cost of production is cost of production. If that’s what it takes to make the product – then that’s what it takes.

    Not everyone is fortunate enough to already have an income stream to sustain them whilst writing.

  • Perhaps the issue is that people would be happy to pay for production costs, art, printing, editing, what have you. What readers are not going to do is pay for your mortgage and Dominos pizza for three months while you write. Not when many of us get up at 5am to write, then sit at work for 8 hours and then go home and start writing again at 8pm, and then write all weekend. Sour grapes maybe and thanks for asking me to help you out there but…..no.

    Maybe she could have just focused on the business aspect and offered a coupon for X % off of the finished product so that people feel like they get something out of their donation besides the peace of mind in knowing that they helped a book come to life.

    My understanding is that kickstarter is not to be used for things like ‘living expenses while I do X’. And recently there are a lot of GoFundMe campaigns for stuff like ‘I need $1,000 for a gym membership and to go grocery shopping because I am going vegan’. It’s charity fatigue. Honey, that’s not what we’re here for.

    It smacks of the idea that readers are supposed to feel lucky to get anything at all. We all talk about how authors don’t owe readers anything. We write when we write and release when we release and eff your expectations, I don’t work for you! Now suddenly it’s the reader’s responsibility (even if they are willing to donate and don’t think it’s a responsibility)?

    I wouldn’t place risk and responsibility on a reader. “Welp, if you want more books, I need money. Up to you guys!!!” Writing is my job– even if it’s a job I make -$12million doing.

    • Dominique, what you seem to be forgetting is that Kickstarter isn’t charity. Backers receive a product at the end of the process, so why would anyone only want to break even on production and shipping costs?

      Kickstarters can make a profit. Where do you think that money goes?

    • Risk and responsibility is always on readers. Meaning, you buy the book at the store or you buy the book pre-order or you pre-order via Kickstarter. Sometimes that costs as much as the book would normally cost, sometimes it costs more — always, the reader has the choice to support or not, early or late, on release, before it, or after it. But at the end of the day, all the risk is on readers. Publishers take risk, yeah, and that’s very meaningful, but it’s ultimately the same risk that self-publishers take (who are, of course, publishers, too).

      Production costs, art, printing, editing — what you’re saying is, writing isn’t producing.

      It is.

      For better or for worse, you can write a novel without art, editing, design.

      You cannot write a novel without the writing part. Writing is part of production. Writing is the first, vital part *of* production.

      And paying for that — whether as a Kickstarter or at a bookstore or at Amazon — is not charity.

      — c.

      • Yes, that’s what stuns me about this whole thing. Kickstarter is about producing a product and surely paying the producer is part of that? Would it have been better if she had suggested that she pay more to the editor and cover designer? Would that have been okay? It sounds like someone who wants to build a house and is happy to pay all the trades to put it up, but not the person who makes the bricks. I don’t get it. I mean sure, I’ve seen ones that were ‘give me living expenses so I don’t have to support myself’ thing and I have rejected those too – but I haven’t seen the need to go online and rant about them. If enough people want to fund someone to do that, good luck to them, I say. But I don’t see this as the same. It’s a limited payment for a specific time to do a job. I don’t see what’s wrong with asking for that.

    • Yes, actually, it is the reader’s responsibility if you want to see the third part of a trilogy. This is not the same as the thousands of pay-while-I-write authors asking for a hand-out. This was a specific book, for a specific audience. If you weren’t part of that audience, why bother even paying attention? It has little to do with you.

      Kickstarter rules specify that the creator be honest and the projects include “journalism,” and “dance” in their list of things people can kickstart. It’s specifically about the creative process. If she paid someone to design a book cover, she wouldn’t just be paying for a physical product, she’d pay for the creative process that went into it. Why is it okay to pay the cover artist’s mortgage but not her own?
      The bottom line is if you were not interested in this trilogy, she wasn’t asking you for money. Let the people who were interested decide if it was worth it.

    • If you pay $10 to pre-order an ebook, it shouldn’t matter if the money goes to pay for the writer’s mortgage, the cover artist’s rent, the publishing house’s receptionist’s lunch, the editor’s day care, the web designer’s dog walker… Sort of like if you pay to preorder a book on Amazo, it doesn’t matter if it went to the writer’s mortgage or Bezo’s mortgage.

      People want to get all up in the business of the poor, the creative, the people society thinks are “doing it wrong.” And then those same people who yelled at a welfare mom with a hand-me-down third generation iPhone will clap in awe at a ric man spending three people’s salary on a tie clip.

    • I agree with you 100%! I have supported a number of projects on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo and some of them were indie published books. But the writers (or artists) never asked me to pay their living expenses while they “produced their art.” I’ve been getting up at 4:30 every morning for the past two years to write for a few hours before going to work. (That’s what most of us do to support ourselves while we write. We don’t ask others to pay for our living expenses. We work a full-time job to do that.) In the past two years I’ve written and published 18 romance novels while working a full-time job. (And like you, Dominique, I have also sacrificed many of my evenings and weekends to write and market my work.) I’ve never asked for anyone’s finacial support because to me being an indie published author means I accept the risk and responsibilty for my own work. I may be of a different generation, but I believe in supporting myself. And I would certainly never consider starting a business, like being an indie publisher, if I didn’t have the finacial means to be successful at it.

      • Readers who buy books are paying for a writer’s living expenses. When you buy one of my books, that money finds its way to me in varying percentages, and I use that money to live.

        That’s the contract between reader and writer. You pay. We write. We all survive with books to read and books to write.

        Sometimes there’s a publisher in the middle of that, and various distribution or retail points. Sometimes those roadblocks are fewer.

        But that is always, always, always the relationship, even when we don’t see it clearly.

        • The difference is that as an indie author I don’t get paid until AFTER I write the book and it is already in the marketplace. I don’t expect to be paid WHILE I am writing it. Being paid for a product I’ve created is a lot different than expecting others to finance my creation of it.

          • Didn’t Chuck specifically address that already? It’s just another medium. It’s like an advance, except from readers rather than publishers. Cutting out the middle-man. I see absolutely no problem with this, and if you don’t like it, don’t criticize the author for using the medium when it is the medium itself you don’t like.

          • I also work (close to 60 hours per week) and am not getting paid for the novel I am writing. That said, I would LOVE it if I did get paid for the novel I am writing. Sadly, I am unproven and have no idea if mine will actually pay afterword, either.

      • So in essence unless a writer or other creative is not doing it your way then they shouldn’t be creative? The idea of a patron of the arts has been around for thousands of years. Bards and painters were supported by their patrons while they created. Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel ceiling while someone else paid his living expenses. Why should being a creative now be restricted to “only if you can afford it”? Why are we so willing to restrict and hold down creative people when in reality we should be lifting them up to do that which they have been called to do? If you chose to spend all your spare time and spare cash creating why does that mean I am not allowed to seek out patrons to support my creative endeavors so I can devote more than just “spare time” to creating?

    • Then don’t fund her project. Just don’t whine about how unfair it is for her to get something you don’t. Start you’re own kickstarter if you’re so hard up.

  • Well, shoot, thank God for Twitter Arbiters of Correctness, or how would I be able to tell what is and isn’t a legitimate use of Kickstarter? Now that I know a writer’s time is worthless, that will sure let me make easy decisions about what not to fund.

    I wasn’t familiar with Stacy Jay, but I, too, would have zipped right over to kick in just on general principles if she hadn’t canceled.

  • I guess I don’t understand who or what chose to make this particular kickstarter get the ire of assholes. There are tons of kickstarters out there where people are asking for live-on-money. So what exactly happened here to set this tone for this particular writer?

  • It’s too bad this happened. In principle, I don’t see anything wrong with being honest and vulnerable with your fans, but in this case the sucky ones were the loudest. I think an artist should be able to earn a living wage. She wasn’t robbing anyone. Vote with your dollar or leave.

  • It’s amazing how many people think artists should work for free. When I worked as a professional photographer I’d have brides (or worse, mothers of the bride) call me and offer to “let” me photograph their wedding and reception in exchange for using the photos in my portfolio. Seriously? I’d calmly explain that the reason I don’t have wedding photos in my portfolio is because I don’t do weddings. Ever.

    It was so nice of them to offer. Put in over 100 hours of shooting, curating and editing hundreds of photos free of charge? Sounds fun.

    Writers? Geez, all we do is type, right? Why should we get paid for that?

  • Wow. This brought back some memories. (Hey, Chuck, I hope you’re okay with me sharing links here…)

    See last year (yeah, this is still a raw subject for me) I did this — http://teemorris.com/2014/02/14/happy-valentines-day-from-billibub-baddings/

    It took me a lot to step up and launch this because I had other projects I wanted to do, and while Ms. Jay was asking for $10K, I was (apparently) laying my ass on the line for a whopping $15K payday.

    The Billi Baddings Mysteries, from a business perspective, is my own ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW. It was not a runaway smash hit (although it was the first major award winner with Dragon Moon Press and a critical success), but fans of Billi were PASSIONATE about the series. They could not get enough of the dwarf detective. However, with the sales of the two books remaining tepid (at best) I could not really justify putting in any effort — and as I was freelancing, turn down work — for this series. However, the Smoky Mountain Writers Retreat I attended that year served as a tipping point. The general consensus: Go for it. So I did.

    On launch day, I was met with both praise and criticism. “You’re asking for too much,” I heard and heard often. I asked for $15K. I made just under $12K.

    And I learned a LOT from the failure — http://teemorris.com/2014/03/16/lessons-learned-kickstarter/

    In that second blogpost, here’s where I disagree with Ms. Jay’s decision to cancel her Kickstarter. It was a lot I was asking for, but this was what I needed to turn the book around, make it good, and keep the lights on. The market liked Billi. A lot. They didn’t love him. I gave it a college try, measured the market, and now I’m moving on.

    What I tend to balk at is this ridiculous notion of “You’re paying for the project…” nonsense that Chuck and Laura touch on. Writers, it seems, have evolved in the popular perspective as artists that will gladly work their fingers to bloody stumps for “exposure” and that “starving” for your craft is some kind of badge of honor and rite of passage.

    To those nay-sayers, I say “Until you try it, go fuck you hard with a power washer.”

    As my wife loves to say, “People DIE of exposure.” This badge-of-honor for the starving artist is fine…but not fine when it comes to my kid. In fact, I think she ate my last badge-of-honor and complained it was too spicy. (She has a sensitive palate.) Point is, writers are just as deserving as game designers, artists, musicians, and the like. Writers matter, and I think sometimes people forget that.

    Here’s why paying authors the bucks matter. Without us….

    Actors become mimes.
    Games like Mass Effect, Destiny, and Bioshock becomes Atarti’s Pong, Combat, and Breakout
    Songs like Moonage Daydream, Bohemian Rhapsody, and Scenes from an Italian Restaurant become instrumentals.

    So yeah, writers still matter and the notion they are not worth getting paid a wage that is barely above a minimum one is ridiculous. There’s a reason we ask people not to pirate books, to drop us reviews on Amazon, and to talk about our works. It keeps our works and words alive, and it keeps us writing, both from a personal and a financial aspect.

    I wish Ms. Jay had seen this Kickstarter though. It would have been a good measure of the market for her. Now, she will have unanswered questions.

  • And yet I know of others who asked for and got monies. I thought about doing one too and even put up a profile but took it down after three days (not kickstarter) because no one put in anything. Being a writer without a day job is difficult (like I’m doing) and I wish the US would wake up and treat creative types as valuable. Would you ask your doctor to treat you for free? I know the answer. It’s too bad Stacey felt she had to apologize. I hope she continues to write.

  • I used Pubslush to crowdfund a book about a rare disease. It was successful, but not in 10 hours. What I like about Pubslush is that they give you advice and instructions and they take a slightly smaller cut of the proceeds than Kickstarter does. Oh, and also Pubslush focuses specifically on books. My campaign is over, but if anyone wants to look at it, here’s the link: https://pubslush.com/project/3730

  • I think there are a couple other ways to look at this. I wouldn’t expect her to not feed her family, and I fully expect that people should be paid for the work they do. But, an crowdfunding advance? There’s a perfectly other viable way to get paid for writing, and it’s called writing. Writing a lot, self-publishing, going to town. That should get her $7000 for a month’s work, possibly a lot more if she’s smart about it.

    Roll up your sleeves and fund yourself.

    • $7,000 a month for self-publishing and writing a lot? I do those, where do I collect my cheque?

      More seriously, that estimate is beyond optimistic. I’m still new to this, but after three years and four novels I haven’t even cleared $1,000, let alone the $252,000 your estimate says I should have earned by now. Writing alone doesn’t generate money.

      And if you take it that Kickstarter backers are your customers, they are paying for a product in a pre-order system. That’s not an advance. An advance is offered by publishers as an investment they expect to earn back.

      • Well, I don’t know your catalog, but less than a novel a year is a tough production rate in this market. She was talking about a novel in 3 months, which should have a better result. Amazon has a pre-order system in place, which she could use with a publication date 90 days out if she really wanted to guage interest.

        The estimate is not at all “beyond optimistic.” It’s fairly common for indies in hot genres. Since her name is already known, she might do really well. If she’s concerned the book wouldn’t do that well, then maybe it shouldn’t get written.

        I’m just saying that framing the argument as “If you don’t support this Kickstarter you hate artists and want them to starve and don’t value arts you philistine republican artzkilla” is incendiary and incorrect, at least for me.

        • I think it’s also worth noting that no-one’s saying that by not supporting the Kickstarter you hate artists, but that it’s unfair to criticise an artist for asking for a living wage.

          • You think that a whole novel can be edited for somewhere less than $500? And that covers should always cost less than that– more is, I guess, a ‘Cadillac’ cover? And 3 months is a long time to write a book, even if you have another job? Good God.

            Yes, traditional fulltime authors ‘clear their schedule’ in that it is already their fulltime job. They get paid a portion before they write the book, too, after the first book or two. And the people who edit their books get paid way, way more than $300 for skimming it.

            I’m happy you believe in the indie model as a path to success. As somebody also on that path, it is patently obvious that ‘success’ either requires enormous amounts of luck, or a whole bunch of initial outlay. Because I’ve done the ‘less than $500’ route and it has not resulted in enough money to buy a pizza, let alone feed my family for a month.

            Seriously, I think you are mistaking your genre and your experiences for the standard (if you are making that much). Everybody likes to tell–and read– success stories. But ‘indie’ is no easier or more straightforward a path to success than ‘traditional’ and in this case the author in question was trying to see if there was enough interest for her to go indie.

          • @Chrysoula
            “Because I’ve done the ‘less than $500′ route and it has not resulted in enough money to buy a pizza, let alone feed my family for a month.”

            Your book didn’t sell well, so of course it’s the editor’s fault.
            Ahem.
            Anyone else see a serious disconnect here, or is it just me?

          • January 7, 2015 at 6:42 PM //

            I recently came across Robert Heinlein’s critique/dissection of an early draft of Niven & Pournelle’s 1974 novel THE MOTE IN GOD’S EYE:

            (https://web.archive.org/web/20130701140830/http://www.virginiaedition.com/ve/TheVirginiaEdition-sample.pdf#page=23)

            It’s an excellent in-depth analysis of that early draft, covering not only major issues but drilling down to minor details. It’s the type of analysis you’d want, desperately, for someone to do for your own manuscript. It makes a great model for what writers need, and should look for, from editors.

            It also took Heinleiin three to five -days- of his regular writing time to do for Niven & Pournelle. If that’s how long it takes to do an in-depth analysis of comparable quality, how much should a book editor be paid for that time? Frankly, if you blew your entire $500 on that , it would be a spectacular bargain.

            (Being critiqued by Heinlein in particular: Priceless.)

          • Hoop, what are you talking about? Did you get some sense that I was blaming an editor? Because I’m not. I do on the other hand KNOW professional editors and they all charge more than $1000 for a full-length novel.

            My books don’t make money because I don’t write in an extremely high-demand genre, because the covers (commissioned by my publisher for 3x of them) are non-traditional, and because I haven’t been lucky enough yet. They are solid, well-produced books but there hasn’t been much advertising for them and without that there’s not much reason for anybody to notice them right out of the gate. It is a flat fact that almost everybody who is doing well in indie publishing is benefiting from a massive dose of luck.

        • No. It’s not. It’s perfectly fine not to support the kickstarter. That’s not what people are complaining about. Nay, that’s the entire POINT. If you don’t want to support the kickstarter, don’t support it. It’s the internet dogpiling because she /dared/ to try a kickstarter that some people don’t approve of. That’s the issue.

    • I think she does make a living as a writer. From what I understand, this series was released under a pseudonym and she was trying to figure out if she should actually spend the time on the series (i.e. finding out if people were willing to pay upfront for it) or if she should concentrate of the other writing projects she has that are paying for her to live and eat.
      That was the whole point of the kick-starter. It wasn’t that she was asking people to just pay for her to write, it was asking people if they were willing to invest enough in this particular book to pay her to stop writing on her other projects which make her money.

      • Dude. Yes.
        I’ve been looking for someone else who saw that this was what was going on.

        Most people seem to have seen that she had other things she would have to do as some kind of threat.

        She was saying “hey, I have other things that will for sure make me money. If you want me to stop doing those money making things and just work on your book for three months, give me the money I would have made doing things that pay my bills and you’ve got it.”

        Seriously that’s it.

        What I wonder is how this all got out to the offending parties. There’s a storify link floating around and things look like they really got blown out of proportion after people saw the $20 backer level was that she’d give an interview or something for book bloggers. It makes me think that maybe she sent invites direct to some book bloggers, and that’s why it got lambasted so soundly. It’s a lame kickback, and if it came unsolicited it might draw a lot more attention.

  • Then let’s make a website like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo that’s JUST for writers. How about them apples?

    Not hating on any writers who do this sort of thing, but I do recall being told not to quit my day job if I intended to be a writer. Which made sense. So I didn’t. Which is how I fund MY writing. Has no one else been told this little piece of advice/information?

    • Question: What do you do if, like Stacey, you are already earning a living wage from your writing, and it *is* your day-job, and then your publisher drops you?

      If you’re doing well in a career you love, surely you have the right to try and remain in that career when you experience difficulties, rather than having to change careers?

        • You can only set print books to pre-order on Amazon, though, not ebooks, so it’s limited that way. And it requires all your cover design, edits, and interior design to be completed first, which all have to be paid for, and that’s a huge outlay of money for something that might not be possible to complete.

          • My apologies, it’s the hard copy you can’t give a future publication date, but with the Kindle edition, you can.

            But my point about not being able to publish a book, in any case, without having content and a cover uploaded, stands. Those require an investment up-front, which means you need to already have the money that you would otherwise use Kickstarter to raise.

            Also, it strikes me that using a Kickstarter to gauge interest makes far more business sense than an Amazon pre-order, because cancelled orders affect your Amazon rating and damage your professional image because customers assume that a pre-order on Amazon will be fulfilled. Not to mention the difficulty in advising those customers of the reasons for the order being cancelled.

            Meanwhile, Kickstarter backers go in fully aware that a project won’t be funded if it doesn’t meet the target, and there is transparency when a project fails.

          • This is when you find a way to make it work. Offer to swap one kind of work for another — editing for cover design, proofreading for formatting, etc. It does not have to be a huge outlay of money. Find beta-readers or volunteers among fans. I bet she has enough of them to find a passable cover artist if she’s really lucky. It does not have to be exactly the same as the last book, but that’s when you swallow your pride and hit publish if it’s up to publishable standards. Life happens. Make more money and buy a custom cover for it later that she prefers. The great thing about self-publishing is that NOTHING is set in stone.

          • You say that nothing about publishing is set in stone, yet you’re criticising one author for choosing a method you don’t like.

            You can’t fairly make sweeping assumptions about the connections a given author may or may not have, and you can’t reasonably insist that they must have access to acquaintances who will offer to work for free or for returned work in kind. Nor can you assume that a given author has the skills to offer said services in kind.

          • “You can only set print books to pre-order on Amazon, though, not ebooks, so it’s limited that way.”

            This isn’t true. It’s a recent addition (July of ’14, I believe), but Amazon allows self-pubbed authors to do eBook pre-orders. I did it for my own book last August/September.

          • I was mistaken. It’s the Kindle editions you can set to pre-order. I wasn’t able to set my print books to a pre-order options at all, unless that’s changed since October.

  • Have you read Amanda Palmer’s Art of Asking? (Surely you have, yes? It is great). She discusses this issue as well: why do we balk at the the idea of paying artists to do art? Why must we turn what they do into a product, plop it on a scale and determine whether we’ll pay the price per pound? Instead, can’t we understand that, while artists make art, they also have to live?

    Also, if you don’t like a Kickstarter, don’t back it. A simple, elegant solution.

  • I, for one, would have happily put money toward seeing that book come to fruition. If it meant my money going to buy groceries and paying bills, and I got the book, so be it.

    Here’s the thing…Kickstarter is about ideas. Its hope. And dreams. And I believe in that. I believe people should have the opportunity to see their dreams come true. If that means paying $10 for an e-book in advance, then okay. I’m game. (I would have gone for a bigger option, tho.) I wish I could say that to Stacey Jay. I followed her on twitter. I’m a fan of her books. I would have slapped my money down, sat back & cheered her on.

    I’ve funded a bunch of Kickstarter projects – from books (Kelly Thompson’s The Girl Who Would Be King is a particular favorite) to tarot decks to games (both computer & tabletop) to ridiculous things like The Fairy Godmother Doll. Are deadlines always met? No. Have I lost my money on a project? Maybe. I’m still waiting on one thats two years behind schedule. Do I care? No. I invested in a dream. Some dreams are just that. I’ll either get it or I won’t – and I knew that when I funded it.

    But as far as books are concerned, every last book I’ve funded (other than one where the author ran into life problems & refunded everyone’s money) has far exceeded what I expected. I have some unbelievable books from my funding – books that wouldnt exist without Kickstarter. Books that I love.

    I feel so bad for Stacey Jay. I wish I could hug her. I wish she had left her Kickstarter up, so people like me could prove to her that what she asked for wasnt unreasonable. I wish I could have a word with the people who made her feel like she was wrong for asking. I have a lot that I’d like to say to them about minding their own business and the importance of dreams.

    I wanted that book. It deserved to be written. And if her other books are any indication, it would have been fantastic.

  • Standard pricing determination of a product includes the production time, utility expenses, ingredients/resources. Many people understand what standard pricing for many products is just by exposure to the market. However, when it comes to art, I think that there is a disconnect between the buyer and the artist. Many people who consume art (of any kind but in this case, writing) don’t fully understand how long it takes to produce the product. In the case of books, since consumers are used to paying anywhere form .99 for an ebook to $25 (or higher) for a hardcover, I think that consumers have a hard time translating their purchase to the production costs of a novel and to what everyone involved actually gets paid.

    For many readers, I think if they knew how much time goes into the writing of a novel and then do the math based on how much the author is paid, they would be shocked at the hourly salary of most novelists.

    I think the problem was in the presentation of the statement. By saying that money would go towards paying her bills so she can focus entirely on the project makes it sound like it is not a necessary production cost but a donation to her personal live. However, I think that if she had instead said that the money would pay her a living wage for the time involved in writing the book, there would have been a different reaction.

  • WOW – just WOW. How very sad. I can’t believe that someone who honestly and upfront asked for what she needed in order to write a book under deadline could be penalized in such a way that she has to “retire” her pseudonym. This is why the great societies had patrons for people working in the arts. I am so sorry for Stacey Jay, because I really enjoy her work.
    While I agree it is not bullying per se, it is indicative of the cruel and unusual place the internet has become lately. Again, just WOW. How sad.

  • I have to say that I think this blog pretty much missed the point, and the comments even more so, although it was beautifully written.

    No one is saying that authors should work for free. The analogy was made “would you ask your doctor to treat you for free?” And the answer, of course, is no. But the flip side of that is “would you expect to pay your doctor today for treatment that you may or may not receive in six months and which he ultimately has no obligation to perform if he decides to stop being a gynecologist and becomes a snowboarder using the money you prepaid him?” And the answer to that is, of course, “hell no.”

    This is all about risk and reward, and to try to turn it into people wanting free stuff is wrong. When you go with a publisher, and the publisher gives you an advance, then you and your publisher embark on a lovely journey of risk/reward together. If your risk pays off, the rewards are great. If your risk doesn’t, the rewards are nil. You both lose, and this is fair because the point is that you are a team – you both have skin in the game. If you go it alone, again, you are on your journey of risk and reward all by yourself as a self-publisher. Your risk is higher, and, concomitantly, so are your rewards, if they pay off. This is fair because you have even more skin in the game.

    This kickstarter, though, it removed all of the risk from the author and placed it directly onto the donors, while the author got to retain all of the rewards. It’s a lousy model from an entrepreneurial stand-point, and publishing is, at its core, a business, and self-publishing in particular is, at its core, an entrepreneurial business. And the idea that somehow the fact that authors pay cover designers (when they deliver their product) and editors (when they deliver their product) means that everyone gets paid but the author is equally absurd. The author gets paid when he delivers his product to the audience, if they want to buy it.

    Suggesting that the fact that people think that paying for a book that doesn’t exist yet is a lousy idea somehow equates to not valuing creative people is just a leap that shouldn’t be made. When I pre-order a book on amazon, they don’t charge me until it is published.

    You’re right, ultimately people can do a kickstarter for anything they want, and no one really has a dog in this fight except Stacey Jay and her donors. I’ve seen kickstarters that were nothing more than high-tech panhandling. But if that’s your choice, people are going to have an opinion, and they might even say it out loud, and that isn’t bullying.

    • ‘No one is saying that authors should work for free. The analogy was made “would you ask your doctor to treat you for free?” And the answer, of course, is no. But the flip side of that is “would you expect to pay your doctor today for treatment that you may or may not receive in six months and which he ultimately has no obligation to perform if he decides to stop being a gynecologist and becomes a snowboarder using the money you prepaid him?” And the answer to that is, of course, “hell no.”’

      Well, sure, and that’s totally okay. HELL NO is a perfectly viable decision, and if enough people say HELL NO, then the Kickstarter fails and that’s how it goes.

      But Kickstarter by its very design is about generating revenue for projects that often exist as ideas. The problem here, as I see it, is that a lot of the criticism wasn’t about Kickstarter or crowdfunding (which are, again, not new or in any way untried or untested) but rather, seemed very pointed at Stacey Jay wanting to earn a living. Which is why you see the reaction, I think, that pushes back about how writers deserve to be paid. Kickstarter is one way for an author to survive. It’s a way that many authors use *to* survive, one of a panoply of diverse paths that include blogs, big publishing, little publishing, Amazon Publishing, self-publishing, etc.etc.

      It’s just odd to me that people suddenly had an opinion right here and right now when authors have been doing this for years. That’s where it starts to feel a little vengeful and strange.

      — c.

      • I don’t think that criticizing something is either vengeful or strange, but I guess reasonable minds can differ here. But I also really don’t understand how many authors seem to have made the leap from criticism of a business model – which is what this was – to “and people don’t want us to get paid and they demand we work for free and want us to starve in the streets and they don’t value our creative work.”

        That’s the leap I don’t see, and the division I don’t understand. Readers buy books. Certain readers buy lots of books, and spend lots of money on them, which by definition establishes that we value authors and their creative efforts. I show my devotion near daily and my bank account sadly, and to my husband’s infinite frustration, reflects it.

        • “I don’t think that criticizing something is either vengeful or strange, but I guess reasonable minds can differ here. But I also really don’t understand how many authors seem to have made the leap from criticism of a business model – which is what this was – to “and people don’t want us to get paid and they demand we work for free and want us to starve in the streets and they don’t value our creative work.”

          That’s the leap I don’t see, and the division I don’t understand. Readers buy books. Certain readers buy lots of books, and spend lots of money on them, which by definition establishes that we value authors and their creative efforts. I show my devotion near daily and my bank account sadly, and to my husband’s infinite frustration, reflects it.”

          The vengeful and strange part is in reference to those who aimed specific comments at Stacey Jay and her Kickstarter (comments about groceries and such) — I think criticizing Kickstarter in general or crowdfunding is a different animal, and i get it. There’s a lot of room there for asking, what does this mean for the future of writing and for the future of reading? Totally something to explore.

          The issue for me is when it becomes a thing about this one woman doing the same thing many have done successfully for years — years! Like, this isn’t a new model. This isn’t something strange. And to be affronted (not you, but the criticism I’m referring to above) that she’d be buying groceries or supporting her family — I mean, she’s not trying to live like a Kardashian, here.

          I also don’t think criticizing this means you’re a bad reader or an evil blogger — but some of it did feel vengeful or petty, and speaks to a larger issue with writers and other artists which is how hard it is to get paid to actually MAKE ART. She was trying to do that, and so some of the criticism feels very much like an attack not just on her, but on the very ability we possess to make a *bare minimum* of income to keep doing this thing that we do.

          Honestly, this is an issue for bloggers, too. It’s hard to be a blogger — this is a blog, after all, and it costs me a whoooole lot to operate it in both time and money.

          — c.

      • I think the issue is that many indie authors understand that we are “writing on spec.” We don’t get paid unless our books sell. Kind of like home builders when they “build on spec.” They invest in a house and then hope it sells so that they can make money on that investment. Of course I believe writers should be paid for their work, but most indie authors realize that payment comes AFTER the book is released and readers purchase it. I don’t know of many other businesses where I pay for the product BEFORE there is even a product and I certainly don’t pay for the living expenses of the person while she is creating the product. The idea would be absurd in another context.

        • You’ve obviously never done contract work (for instance, as a web developer) before. There is a contract, money (not the full amount) changes hands, and then person A goes off to make product B for person C. If the product isn’t up to contract, person A has to give the money back; otherwise, they get the rest, but money absolutely changes hands before there is a product.

          That is very, *very* similar to the way KS works, except that person A gets all the money up front (still having to give it back if they don’t deliver what they promised). And if you don’t think think contract money (KS or otherwise) goes towards living expenses, I kind of wonder where you’ve been living.

          As an aside, I wonder if there would be more or less uproar if she assigned an hourly rate to herself and estimated how long it would take. Because that’s what it comes down to – her time is worth money, and if she doesn’t find it financially viable to use it to write this book, she absolutely should use it (instead, NOT in addition) to write a different book or look for other work.

        • Well, sure, but that’s not the only way, nor has it been the only way. Some trad authors write on spec, too, and then they sell a few and then they sell books they haven’t written yet. Scripts work the exact same way — you write your first couple hoping to break in, and then later you get paid for pitching and writing after the paycheck rolls in.

          Kickstarter is another — not a replacement — way to reach an audience. If an author has an audience, there’s no harm in running a campaign and saying, “Here is what I’m offering, and I hope you like it.” And they get whatever is on offer: the book, swag, some other exclusives, stretch goals, etc. That’s a relationship that the author gets to have — or at least try to have — with their existing audience.

          And if the audience jumps in, why is that wrong? If they’re willing to crowd-surf the author to the stage and to the shelves, hey, so be it. That’s a pretty pure relationship. Just as pure as people buying the book after the fact.

          As for “I don’t know of many other businesses where I pay for the product BEFORE there is even a product and I certainly don’t pay for the living expenses of the person while she is creating the product.” Kickstarter works exactly like this already for 100s of businesses, gadgets, projects, products, widgets, movies, anything and everything. It’s okay to not like that, but it’s there as a proven mechanism. It’s not absurd, at all. It has worked before and will work again.

          Hell, look at it this way — if you hire a contractor to work on your house, you pay them for work that has never been completed.

          I just bought a couch this week. I paid for the couch. I don’t have the couch. It’s on backorder, which means they *literally* have to manufacture it and get it to me.

          This is all totally normal. Why artists are being held to a different standard — when they already have a hard time putting food in their mouths — is puzzling to me.

          — c.

          • ^ All of this.

            I’ve seen *so many* arguments today that are predicated on the idea that income avenues for authors are (or should be) absolute and set in stone. If you’re trad-pub, you get paid an advance by a publisher. If you’re self-pub, you get your money after publication. End of story.

            Why can’t there be more options? Why is the idea of fans and crowdfunders assuming some level of risk so foreign and/or offensive?

    • Lots of publishers use the KS model for their preorders, or to fund print runs. I’ve participated in kickstarted projects like this. We were offered advances by the publishers, the publishers set the levels it would take to fund the project, and used the KS to set up preorders, deliver merch, and fund initial print runs. This is not a unique idea, nor is it against entrepreneurial spirit. FWIW, the project I was in, the most successful literary kickstarter ever, has already paid royalties due to additional sales. Whether you pay your preorder fees to KS or to Amz, what’s the difference?

      • Onyx Path, an RPG publisher, tends to run very epic Kickstarters, actually. Evil Hat, too. It’s actually a great way to help make these things get made — these books almost certainly would not exist were it not for crowdsourcing power. It’s pretty amazing.

  • What a complete waste of time and argument – as long as people get what they expect you should be able to charge *anything you like* without necessarily providing any information at all about why that’s the amount you’re asking for. It’s entirely up to the person running the project.
    If you get it wrong then it simply won’t work, no matter how just or unjust your fees are.
    Too little and you could end up out of pocket even if you hit the overall funding target, too much and you’ll never get there.
    Mixed in there’s also how good your product is *perceived to be* in comparison to the competition plus exposure/advertising – both these are *vastly* more important than the amounts for individual funding or the total target because investing effort in exposure/advertising and hype will always help to let you use higher individual package charges, from basic to those with all the extras.

  • Thanks Chuck for hosting Laura’s well-considered comments, and for yours.
    Hopefully I’m not repeating from any one or more of the 47 comments I don’t have time to read right now
    when i say that this is really a *very* simple thing (not that the commentary on it isn’t fascinating, my
    simplification is aimed at the morons who complained!): The sensible and proper way to respond to a Kickstarter you disagree with in any way is to *not fundit*. Just as you don’t buy a book you don’t like, a dvd you abhor, or the spoiled fruit at the grocery store. (If it’s a matter of blatant disregard for
    Kickstarter’s rules, they have a mechanism to report violators, I presume, in which case you can quietly do
    that. Doesn’t sound like these complaints were about rules, though.) Re: Stacey’s cancellation, she did
    what many people wanted, so I can’t see any sour grapes issue there. Hopefully she finds another venue to fund her book. That would erase any suggestion that she cancelled as a knee-jerk reaction to the complaints.

  • A lot of words, energy, and anger have been spilled over something that, to me, can be boiled down to one sentence:

    If you don’t like a crowdfunding campaign, don’t contribute.

    *covers face with arms as haters’ brains explode into a million gibblety pieces*

  • There really is an odd attitude about writers, in particular, I think. I’m a playwright, and I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been told my work will be produced – if I agree to not be paid. In each case – every other person involved was being paid (even if a small stipend), the director, the lighting person, the prop master, the actors, etc., etc. But I, as the writer of the play – the person who created the work they wanted to do was expected to provide that work to them gratis for the privilege of having the work produced.

    There are bigger examples of this as well, the web sites who want to “give you exposure.” The magazine that want to pay you in “copies.”

    I do not understand why there is this notion that paying a writer is not necessary. I would never go to a doctor and say, “If you treat me, I’ll write a great review of you on the web,” or to a shop, and say, “If you let me have this dress, I’ll wear it and look great and tell everyone where I got it!”, they’d think I was nuts.

    So please, don’t ask me to work for free, or tell me that I should get a “day job” to support myself. I’ve had a “day job” all my life, and spent the bulk of “my” time working on my writing. Yes, I love what I do, but you know, I put in the time, and I had jobs that didn’t pay well so I would have that time to write this thing you profess to love so much that you want to produce it or publish it, or whatever. So no, I’m not going to GIVE it to you exposure. Exposure doesn’t pay my bills.

    If you love a writer’s work, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that writer saying, “I’ll write more if you can help me support myself.” If you don’t love that writer’s work, then don’t do it. No one is holding a gun to your head.

    But stop resenting or trashing people for making an effort to at the very least supplement their meager incomes with their creative endeavors.

  • I’m going to admit I was confused reading this. Not because you guys were unclear, but how is paying the writer not part of “development costs” when making a project?

    Maybe she shouldn’t have been clear about it. Maybe she should have just said “I need x thousand dollars to pay for development, production, editing, covers, etc” and left it at that. But even if she didn’t, who cares? Kickstarter is “I need to see $X interest, up front, to consider this project viable. If that interest isn’t there, the project is not viable.” end of story.

    Stupid internet.

  • How other people feed their kids is none of my business, and not my responsibility. The only difference a sales appeal of any kind which included mention of someone’s living expenses would have on me would be to tell me they are absolutely not professional, and are playing pathetic, kind of weird mind games. Run away…

    Kickstarter is business, period. (As opposed to Patreon, which is about donations. I do NOT donate to writers. The “start-up costs” for a book must be 100% absorbed by the writer. The world is already glutted with excellent books, not to mention flooded with crap. Why on earth would I give charity to anyone to add more? Especially when you can get a notebook and a pen for less than five bucks?) The only question for anyone on Kickstarter is whether or not what the person proposes doing or providing with the cash is worth the cash. Even charities have a payoff for the donor (she said, getting all Ayn Rand about it), i.e. helping the world change in a way I want it to. If someone’s going to list “feeding my kids” as a Kickstarter goal, why bother with the book at all? The goal is to pay her bills. I don’t see where this has any advantage for me. If she wants to be on welfare, why not go down to the Federal office complex and sign up?

    As for people using Kickstarter to produce books, unless I’m already reading them, I don’t care. (As I’ve said ad nauseum, no stranger who is self-publishing is worth the time it takes to vet them.) If I am already reading them, my first question is whether of not the book that drew me in in the first place was traditionally vetted, edited and published (as in this case). If so, I’m probably not going to trust that they will be able to produce the same level of work independently. I’ve been burned too many times by people trying to go hybrid who only prove by doing so just how badly the world needs editors. Maybe — MAYBE — someone with a strong academic background (20 years running a legitimate* University press for instance) or a strong hybrid record (again, measured in at least a decade of prior output) would be worth gambling on, but that’s incredibly rare. Even if I were a fan of someone’s self-published stuff (true, in my case, only for a couple of cartoonists I read now and then), my primary question is solely whether or not what they’re selling is worth my cash. I ain’t their keeper.** Also, I’m not particularly interested in sponsoring or producing someone unless I have a stake in the potential profits. Kickstarter sort of provides for this with stretch goals, I guess, but even then, the only question is what’s in it for me. Obviously, I’m not a big fan of the whole “patron” idea. Even people with full-time jobs and kids have far more leisure time, liquid cash, and available energy for creative work than anyone in the past, with or without “patronage.” It’s not like they have to go dig their clay from the banks of the Seine… And, those “patrons” got to control what people produced. Is that really what these folks want? And, don’t even get me started on (unproven, egotistical, LAZY) poets and painters who think the world owes them grants…

    All of that said, the way to discourage begging for living expenses on Kickstarter is to not fund that particular “project.” There’s no reason to waste time on email abuse. Just don’t fund them, and move on.

    *We have a local junior college with a “university press” that is just a fake, sleazy excuse for five of the professors to self-publish absolutely self-indulgent, sloppy garbage. They publish only each other, and don’t even accept submissions in any form from anyone else. Sleazy. Dishonest. Did I mention sleazy?

    **In this case. If they want to talk about charity to help keep them off the streets, that’s a whole nuther discussion. Step one: prove to me you’re destitute. Destitute means homeless, or nearly homeless, i.e. facing massive medical bills. Anything less does not warrant charity. Step two: tell me why you can’t support yourself. What went wrong? Why are you living an abnormal life? Step three: tell me what your plans are to support yourself in the future.

    • A P.S. I guess, ultimately, I’m not convinced that anyone’s living expenses are “needed” to write a book. If someone needs to get a day job and write part-time for nine months instead of writing full-time for three months, that’s not exactly the end of the world. Most writers don’t get to write full-time. What’s so special about her? And, if a writer chooses to work on stuff that is more profitable, or more likely to be profitable, that also is not the end of the world. In fact, it’s simply the free market making choices what to support. If a project ain’t sustainable, it ain’t sustainable. Let it die.

      • Another P.S. I have supported Patreon projects (a couple series of videos) in the past, but that’s more like subscribing to an ongoing service. Again, money for value… If the person stopped producing stuff, but still wanted the monthly payments for their “living expenses,” they would surely feel my wrath. In both cases, the series dies, but the people were HONORABLE, and cancelled the projects and ongoing funding when they stopped doing the projects.

      • Got any tips on getting that day job when you’ve been out of the market writing fiction for 6-7 years and your technical skills have decayed and you never had the retail skills? My current experience is that unless you’re in a niche position or lucky with who you know, the turnaround time in getting a job is about a year.

    • “If she wants to be on welfare, why not go down to the Federal office complex and sign up?”

      If everyone believed paying for her book to be Kickstarted is tantamount to welfare, then we as authors are pretty much all fucked.

      That said, I agree with your point that the best way to not support this is to just not support it. If something about the KS campaign upsets people, then I don’t think there’s any pressure at all to contribute.

      — c.

      • I was thinking about the “welfare” angle this morning whilst on Twitter, discussing what fellow artists had spent their last art-related income checks on. Without fail, it was stuff like rent and gas and food and tuition and utilities and clothes for their kids. Only one admitted using their funds to buying glitter. No one copped to hookers and blow. But is IS a welfare-state when most of us are uncomfortable saying our art paid for a single thing that wasn’t an absolute necessity, for fear of public disapproval.

  • I didn’t know Stacey Jay or this whole situation even existed until a few minutes ago, and now I want her to put the Kickstarter back up so I can support it–just because.

  • I personally had no issue with her asking for funds to cover living expenses- you don’t care for it, you don’t contribute. Easy peasy.

    The part I took umbrage to is when the convo turned “bloggers just want free things” making the message “help me or you’re a freeloader.” It seems strange that the convo turned that way in the first place and made the situation worse than it really needed to be and caused more of a backlash than I think it would have otherwise had.

    At the end, there were overreactions on both sides, but I think we can agree insulting your audience isn’t the best way to endear yourselves to them.

    • Looking at her KS, where did it become about bloggers wanting free things or the freeloader thing? (Serious question, not picking.) Did that happen outside the KS page?

      • It happened outside her KS page on Twitter. Not sure who started that part of it, but then others jumped on the bandwagon and became the kind of clusterf*ck that only social media can produce.

  • Thank you for thoughtfully including two perspectives and a dose of reality-snark to make this palatable. I’ve been struggling with coming to grips with this all day and I think a large part of the reaction from readers/bloggers/tweeters was the sticker shock of what it can take to write a book–not just package it pretty, but create it beginning-to-end–and that it covered livelihood. Then there was the reaction, then the reaction to the reaction, etc.

    I tried to take a crack at it myself, but am still mulling it over. http://www.dawnmetcalf.com/thoughts-on-stacey-jay-time-money-telling-it-like-it-is/ Hm.

    Thanks, as always, for being ranty-pants!

  • Being someone who funds a fair number of projects, there are a *lot* that have cost of living as part of the deal. There is nothing wrong with it and, frankly, I would expect it. I don’t think someone should be ashamed for asking for that. If you don’t like it, then don’t add money to it.

    Of course, I just say support writers. We need the help. 🙂

    • Even the ones that don’t list “cost of living” often have it tucked away in there somewhere. IN SEEEEECRET. Mine did. The lion’s share of the money didn’t go toward groceries, but it trickled down to that at some point, I’m sure.

  • Are there bad projects and scammers on Kickstarter? Absolutely! It all comes down to a leap of faith. Someone called it welfare and that if it’s some no name person trying to fund their dream then it’s a waste of their time and would never fund that. I call THAT douche bag talk. Because what that person just essentially said was that new authors are not REAL writers and unprofessional. I take offense to that because I take my writing VERY seriously and see it as a profession, not some hobby. I’ve been on welfare before numerous times in my life and know the difference from what she wanted and a government program. I have helped fund a few projects and some were hit and miss. You fundit and let the chips fall where they may or you don’t and move on. Either way, no one is getting bludgeoned to death over this.

  • I did a kickstarter back in 2012, for the paperback edition of a short story collection. I used the money to pay an editor and for new cover art. It funded, barely.

    Now I’ve got a new kickstarter coming up to fund a web series. Most of this is salary for the actors and crew. I wrote it, I’ll be directing it, and I’ll be producing it, so yes, my own salary is included in the goal… but I’m paying myself far less than a “fair” wage, because getting the damn thing done is more important than drawing a “proper” salary.

    Half the reason I started my production company is because artists deserve to get paid. I see casting calls in the local film scene all the damn time that offer nothing but reel footage and maybe lunch, and that’s too bad… actors deserve to be compensated for their work.

    There’s this pervasive cultural attitude that “creative” work is somehow less worthy than other work, or less deserving of compensation. I saw it when I was a freelancer, I’ve seen it as an author, and I see it in filmmaking.

    We will continue to be taken advantage of until and unless we stand up for ourselves.

    Does this mean we should ask for living expenses during the production of a project? Depends. This is a marketing question. How much value does your project has? How much value does your brand have? Remember, whatever you’re offering is only worth whatever you can sell it for, and how much blood you sweat out onto the page isn’t someone anyone else cares about.

    So respect yourself and your work. But don’t expect other people to give you more than THEY think they deserve. If what you can expect to receive isn’t worth your time, then don’t do it. Save your creative energy for projects where you will be appreciated, financially or otherwise. Choose your projects wisely.

  • I have a question for those who object to Stacey Jay using Kickstarter the way she tried to.

    What is the difference, in your view, between the following:

    (A) An author asking for $10,000, on the understanding that $7,000 of that would be used to devote all their working time on that book and provide it by the end of May.

    (B) An author asking for $3,000, on the understanding that this would only cover their own expenses, so they would have to work on other projects, with a release date of the end of August, and then the author receiving $10,000, so they decide to shelve their other projects and focus on this book, bringing it out early, at the end of May.

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