Kickstarter Kerfuffle, Part Two: Thoughts And Clarifications

[EDIT: 12:03PM — some folks have brought up that other voices have made good points on the subject, particularly the voices of, frankly, women smarter than I am. I do attempt to boost other voices when possible, so here are some I found valuable on the topic: Marni Bates wrote a great post about Stacey Jay, Kickstarter and Veronica Mars. She really nails it. Also: Justina Ireland: Suffering For (And With) Our Art. And for a differing perspective (one I don’t quite agree with but I like Jenny Trout’s blog a lot in general): Jenny Trout on crowdfunding.]

[Edited, too, to add Natalie Luhrs’ take — Kickstart This: Asking For Money.]

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Catchup reading homework: Stacey Jay’s latest post, which she (rightly so) gets mad and discusses the transparency surrounding her Kickstarter (and also the fact that, ohh, someone sent her aerial photos of house as a response, which is not fucking okay). Also, the tag-team post between Laura Lam and I here: Kickstarter: What’s Asking Too Much?

(Also, as a disclaimer, I received some commentary that me interjecting myself in this discussion was sexist — the justification being, because this was an issue between Stacey Jay and Other Women, it was a women’s issue. I’m a white guy who is, honestly, pretty lucky to be a white guy because we can get away with like, actual murder, and I recognize that my privilege is blinding. So, if you feel that I’m being somehow misogynist in my criticism or in the very act of talking about this topic, feel free to talk to me about it. I’m having a hard time seeing it, as I think this is an issue of art and commerce and audience, but “having a hard time seeing it” is sometimes the very sad and awful nature of privilege. Happy to discuss!)

In the days following Stacey Jay’s Kickstarter, I continue to see criticism of the model and of the authors who use or have used it, and so I thought: well, let’s go through some of these criticisms. This is a good discussion to have, because it gets to the heart of the question of how we make art and how that art reaches audiences. Right? The model has changed over the many moons and epochs and up until fairly recently, you had one primary path and it was a well-trodden, muddy one — you went to a publisher, and they gave you some kind of advance big or small (or sometimes non-existent), and then you wrote a book for them and then it landed on shelves and — well, you know this, already. Because this is recent history. Dinosaurs didn’t do this. This wasn’t a problem of Cro-Magnon man figuring out how to publish his cave paintings of that romance novel between Caveman Thog and that one saucy antelope. This shit just happened.

Then the Internet came along and it disrupted everything.

It is so disruptive it continues, in fact, to disrupt itself. Like a snake eating and barfing its own tail.

And suddenly writers and artists and, in fact, People Who Make All Kinds Of Shit had options and opportunities that simply didn’t exist before. The priests of the old religion went scrambling, trying to figure out when the commonfolk created a pipeline to talk directly to God instead of going through a passel of divine intermediaries.

That’s not to say traditional publishing is bad or dying or any of that — just that it was not a perfect system and it remains imperfect and for Creative Types, it’s nice to have a new way to shake hands with the audience and slip some art in their eyeholes.

You know all this already.

Point is, one of the options that has arisen is crowdfunding Cool Shit. Cool Shit that sometimes includes books — novels, novellas, art books, short stories, serial stories, etc.

Kickstarter launched in 2009.

It has successfully funded almost 1500 novels in that time.

(The amount not funded? ~3-4 times that.)

About 50 of those successfully funded were young adult projects.

Some Kickstarter novels have done very well.

I’ve been involved in several Kickstarter campaigns: one for my own original book, Bait Dog. One for a novel line created specifically for Evil Hat Productions. And also for a few anthologies and literary magazines (like Fireside).

So, let’s tackle some of the criticism I’m seeing going around.

It puts all the risk on the reader.

Maybe not all the risk (the author still has to write and publish a book), but it certainly moves some of that financial burden to the audience side, yes. Some people are understandably not interested in shouldering any of that burden, and they shouldn’t be expected to contribute to Kickstarters if they feel such discomfort. On the other side, if one’s fans and audience are interested in having that relationship and are comfortable shouldering some of that risk, then crowdfunding is a very nice way to capitalize on that relationship for both sides. Because it is a two-sided equation — this isn’t just an author getting rich, rolling around in caviar (ew), and then fucking off to the Caribbean. This is the author doing work and giving the audience something the audience specifically asked for. Riskier, yes, but also a direct exchange.

It’s not an investment.

That’s true, it’s not. And there are admittedly a lot of analogies that get thrown around as to how this works, and I’ll tackle some of those (with the explicit understanding that all analogies fail and crowdfunding is its own unique thing). But no, the audience gets nothing financial out of it.

They may get rewards — swag, a short story, a Tuckerization, a jar of bees, or whatever.

You might argue that there is some kind of investment going on, and that is to say, emotional and creative investment. That means you put in money and in the process get an emotional and creative stake in the creation of something. Something that, very likely, wouldn’t have existed before. Crowdfunding allows projects that wouldn’t have existed to exist. It applies early proof-of-concept. When I put Bait Dog out there as a KS campaign I didn’t know if I had enough audience to support the writing of the book — meaning, taking the time to write that book would have taken me away from other work. Crowdfunding sent a very clear signal that I did have the audience to support that book. And, the book and character only exist because of Kickstarter.

It’s a donation / it’s a gift.

It’s definitely not a gift. A gift is like, “Here’s a pony.” And then I take the pony and you don’t expect anything in return and then I eat the pony because I’m a monster.

(You shouldn’t have given me a pony.)

So, is it a donation? Ennh. Well, I can see the logic — like, if NPR/PBS goes on a pledge drive, they’re saying, “Hey, we can’t really keep existing unless we raise funds from you.” And they call them pledges but they also call them donations. You give money. You get a fucking tote bag. And what’s happening with Kickstarter is similar — authors are saying, “This book won’t exist except for you funding it.” And the interjections of money are called pledges.

And you sometimes get tote bags.

I have a little discomfort in that NPR tends to fund itself in perpetuity this way, where as Kickstarter is ostensibly (though some bigger campaigns have skirted this) meant to fund individual projects — so, you’re not throwing money to support an overall existence but rather, the creation of a given thing. Just the same: donation isn’t the worst definition for what’s happening here, though the connotation is a bit wonky and too much like charity.

(Hint: this isn’t charity.)

It’s not an advance.

It’s not. Though, a lot of the criticism over this term in this context seems to be overly pedantic in that what they mean is, “It’s not a traditional publishing advance by which a big publisher fronts a bunch of money and gets a return on that investment and then the big publisher becomes a giant robot and fights the Amazon Kaiju in the streets of Chicago and –“

Well, you get the point.

No, strictly speaking, it is not an advance.

But you do have to allow us to say, “It’s like an advance,” because it kinda is.

The audience advances money. The author is expected to produce the thing that was a part of the original deal — meaning, the Kickstarted Tale of Debauchery and Woe or whatever the floppy fuck it is. The advance is the publisher saying, “I’m paying you to write this book or to stake my claim on a book already written.” And here, the audience is saying, “I’m paying you to write this book or to stake my claim on a book already written” (Some folks do after all run Kickstarters for novels that are already written.)

So, it’s not an advance.

But it can feel like one and act like one in some ways.

You shouldn’t use it to fund your life.

Strictly speaking, that’s correct. Kickstarter in particular frowns upon and usually forbids funding-of-life projects — meaning, “I want to be paid to learn to play the violin, so pay me.” That’s a different service, like Patreon or GoFundMe.

Kickstarting a novel isn’t that, though.

You pay into the novel and get the reward level pledged.

That specifically funds the creation of a specific thing.

Now, here’s where it gets sticky, and here’s probably where some authors (like myself, admittedly) are going to get their codpieces in a contortion about the whole thing — you don’t want to pay for living expenses for the writer. (A quote from the Dear Author post on the subject: “As to why other people are talking about living expenses, it could be because living expenses are something we all have to pay regardless of our avocations or jobs whereas the hard expenses are something that are above and beyond living expenses. The truth is in every fundraising organization, the hardest thing to get anyone to donate money for is a general fund that pays salaries. People will give money for libraries, monuments, science labs, but they do not like to donate for salaries. Readers work hard and often work at low paying, thankless jobs. To see a person ask for donations to live when that person is able-bodied and can hold a job, then it becomes less obvious why they need donations for living expenses.” That post actually screencaps this blog but does not name it, so there you go.)

Here is a reality: when you buy one of my books, you’re paying for my living expenses. That’s true if it’s at Amazon, on B&N, from Payhip direct, or in a Kickstarter. Sometimes this money directly hops into my bank accounts, sometimes it goes through various pipes and tubes and filtering processes where it’s winnowed down.

I worked for a library and I’ve worked for a non-profit and in each, the first place the money goes is to keeping the lights on and to paying staff. That money is not always golden money, but it’s not bare minimum stuff, either — yes, the organization takes cuts and makes sacrifices when necessary, but the money goes toward those things first. So: if you’re involved in giving money to an author however directly or obliquely, assume it’s going first toward keeping the lights on and paying staff (meaning: the staff of one, which is us). (Also, “The Staff of One” sounds like something in a D&D game. Or a sci-fi porn movie? Never mind.) These things are, quite literally, living expenses. Being alive is a prerequisite to writing books.

I mean, I’m sure some zombies do it, but it’s all CHAPTER ONE: BUHHH BRAINS ONCE UPON A TIME BRAINS ROPES OF VISCERA CHAPTER TWO EAT YOUR FACE BUHHHHH.

Also, it’s a bold assumption that an author is able-bodied and can hold a job. Also a bold assumption that they are able to even get a job, as that can be kind of tricky.

Oh, and also a bold assumption that writing isn’t a job in the first place.

(Spoiler alert: it is! It’s actually my job! My whole job!)

As to readers working hard at thankless, low-paying jobs: sure, that can be true. And I wouldn’t ever expect or ask such a reader to contribute to a Kickstarter campaign. Hell, I wouldn’t expect or ask a wealthy reader to contribute, either. Kickstarter is voluntary. No one should feel shame at not contributing. It’s okay to wait or not to pay at all. No guns held to heads.

But some readers want to contribute. They are offering enthusiastic consent and want to be a part of that relationship. Some readers — as I have done as a Giver of Money — dig the idea that a creative project exists in part because of their will to see it made. Sometimes a project is Too Weird To Live. It’s too uncertain — a strange format, an odd topic, a difficult subject. And Kickstarter can be a place where those voices can find a megaphone. Where those projects can be conjured as if by some divine summoning.

Now, back to the funding-of-life thing:

If you see an art studio on Kickstarter, it’s assumed they’re going to use that money to keep the lights and heat on in the building. If you buy a book from a publisher, that publisher will use that money for lights and heat and to pay staff and writers who will also use that money for — YEP YOU GUESSED IT — light and heat.

Living expenses are part of the deal even when not explicitly stated.

A writer should have to shoulder all the cost as a small business would.

Well, no, not really.

First: should is dubious and depends on literally nothing except the old saw of, “That’s how things used to be done.” The disruption that’s been ongoing in all industries and sectors has made hashbrowns out of the way things used to be done.

Second: why should a writer have to do that, exactly? Because others have done it? Mm — *sips* — this Kool-Aid tastes like sour grapes. As I said before, wanting things to be bad for other people because they were bad for you doesn’t make much sense. We should strive to see things be made better. We should want new doors opened — doors that were closed to us in the past. So we can collectively explore whatever waits beyond. (Though in publishing, a pro-tip: it’s probably a grue.)

Third: small business do not uniformly have to shoulder all the costs. They get investors (which is not an option for many writers). Or — they go to Kickstarter! Kickstarter isn’t just for novels and in fact it’s barely been used for those. But for games? Tech? Coffee roasters, craft brewers, thingies, whatsits, widgets, dongles, dildos, and more? Yes! It’s all there. In a town about 45 minutes south there sits a frozen yogurt place that exists only because of Kickstarter. I gave a little money and got frozen yogurt and now they exist.

IT’S BASICALLY MAGIC.

Why do we want things to keep working the same horrible way they’ve always worked?!

It’s an insult to readers.

It’s not. It’s not!

It’s an opportunity for both author and reader.

It is never an insult to ask to be paid for your work.

And I don’t think readers feel insulted, either.

It’s not sustainable / it’ll change everything / a rush to money, etc.

This has been going on for many years now and we’ve seen, as noted, around 1500 successful novels. On Amazon, there now exist — what? Three million e-books? Kickstarter isn’t taking over or it would’ve colonized us by now like drug-resistant staph bacteria. KICKSTART THE HIVE MIND BZZ BZZ BZZ. Ahem. It won’t change everything. It won’t ruin everything. People aren’t rushing to it because for the most part they’ve realized that to run a successful Kickstarter you need some things already in place.

But it is one option for some authors.

That’s a good thing. We like options.

Readers like options, too! How is this bad for those readers who are interested?

Some books exist because of Kickstarter and other crowdfunding efforts.

How fucking rad is that?

This is not anti-author / authors hate bloggers / authors hate readers, etc. Also, we should be allowed to criticize Kickstarter and crowdfunding and those authors who use those services.

I’ve seen the rhetoric kicked up on both sides of this debate, and from where I’m sitting, this isn’t a blogger issue. Or a reader issue. Authors love bloggers and love readers, sure as we love booksellers and librarians and publishing people and anybody who shares the warm, fuzzy virus known as ragingly contagious book-love.

If we seem prickly about the subject: apologies. But let me try to get at the heart of it a little bit: crowdfunding is an option on the table. One lots of authors have used. It’s a new way for books to exist and so, when you criticize them — sometimes in ways that seem to misunderstand how it even works, and sometimes in ways that suggests you’re uncomfortable with us paying living expenses — we’re probably going to see our hackles raise a little. Nobody was explicitly calling for authors to not be paid or asking for books for free or any of that. But at the heart of this discussion is an ancient question of how do we get paid to make art — ? How does the writer survive? We should be encouraging a world where fewer authors have to take the dreaded day-job and where their writing alone can support them. That’s an amazing world, and I’d rather see that money go toward creative people than toward, I dunno, oil companies or anybody else. And Kickstarter is one way forward for that.

Kickstarter is not perfect. Of course criticism of the process is valid. And some campaigns do it poorly (and usually perform poorly as a result). This is all a vital discussion about how art is made and how it reaches audiences. We just want to make sure that the criticism isn’t geared toward closing this door. Because it’s open now, and we want it open. Not because we’re Big Exploity-Faced Mine Bosses who want to give pick-axes to our readers and have them do the work while we sit back on toilets made of hundred-dollar bills, but because this is a super-cool thing for us. To interface directly with readers, to be able to say, “If you want this, my 1000 true fans, I will make this.” And they say yes. And a book is born! In a manger! Okay maybe not in a manger!

There was much rejoicing.

(On the Stacey Jay Kickstarter, I stand by the idea that some folks made it personal. In other words, not criticizing just the nature of crowdfunding but choosing to yell at her — and as soon as you start bringing up her groceries or, worse, where she lives as if that’s a justification for anything, you start making it less about crowdfunding and more about that individual person. As I said before, it’s like being mad at the ocean but yelling at one woman in a boat. A commenter on my last post demanded proof that anyone had gotten personal and in the same comment literally said: “Chuck, I really think you’re doing that think mend [sic] do when a girl cries and you rush in to save her. Where is she to speak for herself? If you can’t defend yourself then you don’t deserve to be an author. Put on your big girl panties and deal with it-don’t run away and quit. And I’ll take this time to remind everyone that Stacey Jay was a professional actress. Drama is literally what she is good at.” Which is the very definition of personal. Oh and SHE WAS DOXXED.)

(I mean, what the fuck.)

(God, people can be shitty.)

Anyway, so, there you go.

My thoughts on Kickstarter and why it’s a vital resource for some authors.

Discuss.

114 comments

  • How about that Veronica Mars movie? It was crowdfunded. Did people lose their shit there too? Everyone there was paid their salary too. And guess what they got themselves from it? Food! Light! Paid some bills. *gasp*

    Like I said on Chuck’s FB page too: If you don’t like the thing being crowdfunded, then don’t freaking donate. Crazy, I know.

    And I still can’t help but wonder: why her book? Because she was too honest? Because she is female? I just don’t get it.

  • I’m pretty feministic-ish myself, and I don’t find your comments “sexist” in the slightest, Chuck. I think that accusation was probably just a way of deflecting from some of their own ass-hattery in this drama.

    Also, I’d consider Kickstarting a novel myself. I’ve written novels the “hard way” (e.g., after long days of working a day job).

    Come to think of it, I’ve never written a novel the easy way. Is there an easy way?

  • I get that the line of what should and shouldn’t be covered by crowdfunding is very firm for some people (and if I didn’t before I do now!). And sure, if you have strong feelings about it, have that discussion. But if it’s reducing people to personal attacks and the like, I think it’s time for us to take a perspective pill. Kickstarter is voluntary. This really is a case of ‘if you don’t like it, don’t do it’. There are times and places where that phrase is not real, but it does seem to apply here. And it cuts both ways. I have supported Kickstarters where I DIDN’T EVEN WANT THE PRODUCT. I have paid for a book I suspected I wouldn’t read (and I didn’t) because I liked the author’s other work and wanted to support their blog which they provided free and from which I had received great value. These people who think that writers shouldn’t be allowed to ask for funds to pay for their time, are you going to tell me I shouldn’t have supported that kickstarter? Or that I should have been protected from so doing? Well thanks, but I can make decisions about how I spend my money for myself.

  • As someone who once wrote an entire novella in WordPad on an at least decade old computer after my actual computer crashed and it was a couple of months before I got a newer hand-me-down and bought it a copy of Word, I’m quite sure there are easier ways and harder ways to write a book.

    Sure it’d be nice to be paid to write before the fact, and I’m not going to claim that you must suffer for your art. Or even that better art is likely to be produced by someone who writes even when it is hard to get the time, and you don’t know if it’s ever going to be published, and your ancient computer is out to get you. I suspect on average it may be, but I’m also betting there are hacks who are driven and writers with quiet offices and eight hours a day to write who produce beautiful things.

    I’m not particularly concerned about whether it’s “fair” or not. The universe is supremely unfair and I think most adults know that. Except possibly on the internet, because we’ve all reverted to middle school.

    Some of my unease is definitely that you are asking for assistance to do something that should be feasible, if harder, without that assistance. That lots of people do without help, sometimes in circumstances much more difficult than writing after work and/or relying on an ancient and balky computer. There are enterprises, such as movies, that will never come to fruition without backers. This isn’t usually true for books. If I strain my brain I could probably think of circumstances in which I’d be more supportive of someone kickstarting a novel, but I have to strain pretty hard. I really can’t imagine the circumstances in which I would do it personally. It’s making the way smooth, not making it possible.

    In the category of things that shouldn’t need to be said, no-one actually needs my permission to do anything, either.

    • Okay, let me elaborate a little.

      I’ve sold four books. Three have already been published and one is coming out this year. The first two were written without contracts, the second two were written under contract, with advances. I’ve been working as an author for the last five years or so. During this time, I’ve had day jobs and I haven’t had day jobs. Either way, my writing income is a significant portion of my total income.

      There are advantages and disadvantages to writing books under contract. I’ll stick with the advantage here: It mitigates my risks by guaranteeing me income for the book I’m writing and all those hours I’m going to spend writing it. You know, like a job.

      If I had a book idea that for whatever reasons a publisher was not interested in but I had a reasonable expectation that my readers might be, I would consider a Kickstarter as a way of testing that expectation and taking some of the risk out of my investing in the time that it takes me personally to write a book–it answers the question, is there really enough interest in this book that the market will support my getting paid to write it?

      It takes me at least a year to write a book, so that time investment is a serious question for me. Though to be honest, if I were really interested in writing that hypothetical Kickstarter book, I’d probably write it regardless, because I’m not all that rational when it comes to these things.

      As for writing books the hard way or the easy way, I just think writing books is hard, period, day job or no day job.

    • “In the category of things that shouldn’t need to be said, no-one actually needs my permission to do anything, either.”

      If only more people realized that they could comment (even negatively) without condemning or saying what people *should* or *should not* be able to do… sigh… well posted persimmonromance.

  • Random opinion time from a reader-blogger-person:

    I don’t see how you talking about this is misogynist. You’ve been misogynist before about other stuff, sure, which I’m also sure you (probably) didn’t intend…but I don’t see how you weighing in on this as an indie author and someone who has used KS is a bad thing. That said, there may be some lesson to be learned here about the reality of Being A Woman On the Internet.

    Also, before I write any more on this comment, discussing any of these issues without addressing the insane amount of backlash and harassment Stacey Jay faced is disingenuous and reads like apologism. “It’s OK, they harassed this woman for a really good cause!” Nope. I do not give a fuck how flawed the KS system may be or how right its critics may be; there is no reason for her to have been treated in that way. That’s probably the only “misogynist” thing I find about your post; it describes the incident as a “kerfuffle” which downplays the viciousness of what happened. This was a taaaaaaaad beyond “kerfuffle” territory. Kerfuffle is like when you have 10 people trying to enter and leave an elevator at the same time. This was more like 10 people chase a woman down a dark alley. One person went so far as to threaten her and her family over this. The context in which this debate takes place is extremely important.

    1) I don’t think contributors to a Kickstarter are obligated to any additional return, as a business investor/advance situation might be, for doing the equivalent of dropping a few dollars in the donation box at the art museum because they like art. The suggestion that that earns them some kind of share in the profits or increased benefits strikes me as TERRIBLY entitled. Since you already named them, I’m just going to cough delicately while muttering @DearAuthor under my breath.

    2) I as the consumer should be free to spend my money on whatever I want, to “donate” where I want to as well, without having to feel guilty about it or need to justify it or having @DearAuthor condescendingly explaining the risks it put on me, or making a disingenuous attempt to stand up for those poor readers who work hard jobs with little pay (also me). The allegation by some that SJ was taking advantage of her teenage readers with this kickstarter was absurd. I mean, I know. It’s a risk and I still choose to donate because I believe that risk is worth it. That risk isn’t worth it for others. And that is fine. They don’t have to donate, nor do they have to act like they’re the ones with the truth who are out to “protect” the rest of us from those thieving authors who want to take our money. There’s a weird sort of evangelistic “we’re the business savvy types out to save you people from wasting your money” tone happening, and…well…again, weird. I’m having trouble understanding why other people are so invested (pun intended) in where I choose to splurge.

    3) Crowdfunding is not quiiiiiite charity. I worked in a call center gathering donations and it really isn’t the same (though there are a lot of similar points to be drawn). With a KS you are going to see more of a return on your $10 than someone who donates to a given charity, usually. Sometimes those benefits may be very lucrative. My friend donated $11 to a Kickstarter and got a pack of themed playing cards…which are now rare and hard to get, and are being sold elsewhere for upwards of $100. Also, I’m with you, Chuck, in that I agree that most people have no practical idea about how making art works. Having worked at the phone place, I’m always surprised at the naivete of people who think that donations don’t or shouldn’t go to lights, heat, salary. So, you want your money to go towards “research,” but you don’t want to pay the researchers or maintain facilities? That’s cute. I wonder if SJ experienced so much backlash because she was transparent about her costs of living instead of putting something vague like “development costs” or “administrative needs.”

    4) Speaking of risk, I’m surprised you didn’t address the professional risk to the author should the project fail. This is primarily what makes KS worth it to me as a hopeful potential consumer. The author stands to lose on reputation, credibility, fanbase, etc. if they do not fulfill their end of the deal. There was an accusation going around that Stacey Jay was not going to a) return on her promise, which considering that she is the main breadwinner for her family is rather absurd, and also insults her professional integrity; and b) that were the project to fail, she would not have refunded the donations.

    I believe there ought to be recourse for donation refunding if a project fails. Still, this is where it gets tricky, because implying that an author won’t refund money or worse, won’t finish the project at all, is calling someone a thief (in a roundabout way) and is insulting/attacking their integrity and professionalism. So it can be difficult both to hear and make critiques of this aspect of the system without being insulted or being insulting. In this case, I felt that there was no need to bring up such concerns when discussing the situation of an experienced, professional author with a track record of reliability. It’s true that it’s a problem with KS, but bringing it up in Stacey Jay’s case was COMPLETELY unwarranted, out of line, and was an attack on her character and her professionalism. Again as with the lights/heat/salary thing, this seems to reflect a troubling assumption that writing is not a “real job” and writers aren’t real professionals somehow.

    • Laura, I’m going to have to disagree with you. A misogynist is someone who hates women. I’ve met misogynists and I’ve met Chuck both in person and online and they manifestly are not the same thing. If someone disagrees with your point of view, it doesn’t make them a misogynist. If someone uses a word you think is inadequate in a title, or expresses an opinion in a way, or covering issues that you find problematic, that still doesn’t make them a misogynist. Nor does criticising a woman’s behaviour (although I don’t believe Chuck has done that in either of these posts). Projects not being completed once funded is a risk of any kickstarter. Pointing that out in a post about the pros and cons of kickstarter is no reflection on the bona fides of the person whose kickstarter kickstarted the subject. And even if it were intended as such (which I don’t believe, either from the context, or what I know of Chuck generally) it still doesn’t make him a misogynist. People are allowed to have opinions about other people and their behaviour. If I dislike my next door neighbour, and he happens to be Indian (or Scottish), that doesn’t make me racist – unless I use that as an excuse to hate and abuse all Indians (or Scots). He might just be a prick. Or maybe I am. Still doesn’t make me racist. There is enough real misogyny in the world. If we’re going to fight that, we need as many good guys as possible on our side. If you don’t like what he said, by all means say so, but don’t start slinging labels where they don’t apply.

      • Sorry, I didn’t mean for the 1st and 2nd paragraphs of the comment to be connected in such a way as that when I went on to talk about how people discussing these issues out of context of what had happened to the author involved, that I was talking about Chuck’s blog. I was not. I had other blogs in mind. Reading back on it, though, I can see where it read like I was contradicting myself. The comment wasn’t well-constructed. As you may have noticed, I said that I *didn’t* think he was misogynist for discussing this. In fact, the only “misogynist” (in quotes) thing that bothered me about this post was the word choice in the title. I put that word in quotes to show that it was very weakly “misogynist.” However, tone can be hard to convey via text and I was also trying to convey too many things at once so I apologize for insulting Chuck and I assure him it was not meant in a nasty way. I just didn’t express the ideas very well.

        I do believe that words are important, though. One of the most valuable things feminism has done is give women a new vocabulary. The way we and the media phrase and discuss things that happen to women also tends to be in a way that chooses words to downplay the seriousness of the situation or subtly blame-shift. Sometimes it is unconscious and we do it because otherwise it gets uncomfortable. Sometimes it is rooted in sexism. I tend to be a bit more…sharp…in noticing word choice on author blogs because words are the trade and I assume authors choose words for good reasons. So while I am sorry for suspecting Chuck’s motives for choosing it, I don’t apologize for not liking “kerfuffle.” Even though it alliterates with Kickstarter. Maybe that’s part of the reason I didn’t like it. Alliteration signals “I’m trying to be cute or clever” to me. It did not sit all that well, but it was the only thing that bugged me about this post so I’m not sure where some of your comment is coming from. …Nowhere did I say he was misogynist for not agreeing with me, for instance. I think you may be reading the post as me arguing with Chuck? But I am basically agreeing with him on almost all points except I wish he’d expounded a bit more on some? When I say something like “In this case, I felt that there was no need to bring up such concerns when discussing the situation of an experienced, professional author with a track record of reliability” I am not saying that it was Chuck Wendig who did that but Stacey Jay’s detractors, who took what may have started as criticism of KS and turned it into an attack on her work ethic and her character.

        I resent your accusation that I am “slinging labels,” but I think this is all some misunderstanding because I wrote my first comment poorly. Sorry about that. I probably shouldn’t write about this at all because it is angry-fying and tensions are running high everywhere.

      • ***Would also add that I read this in my inbox because I subscribe to this blog via email, and then jumped right to the comments, so I did not read the edited version where he posted links better explaining the context and more details of the situation. I realize this post is supposed to be “pros and cons of KS” and not “look at the bad things that happened to this author” but I don’t think we can honestly discuss A without first addressing B, so thank you Chuck for adding those links to other voices that helped contextualize. (rendering most of my “meh” feelings abt aspects of the original post void.)

        Some of the cries of “go away male blogger!! sexism!!!” may be coming from the fact that this happened in the mostly-female writing community of romance/YA romance. People perceive Chuck, as a male who writes in different genres, as an outsider nosing in on this community and then offering an opinion about what happened there. This perception is absurd, considering that Chuck is also a self-published author who ran a KS and who also happens to write YA, so there’s a whole hell of a lot of reason for him to be concerned about this issue.

        • Okay, it seems we’ve had more of a clash of soapboxes and hot-buttons than anything here! 🙂 In answer to your question, yes, I did read the bit at the bottom as you saying that Chuck had questioned Stacey Jay’s bona fides, so I misunderstood that. I genuinely (again, hard to convery tone, but there is absolutely no snide in that genuine!) apologise for misconstruing your intent there. And yes, that was a big part of me taking exception to your comment, along with the bit at the top about him having been ‘misogynist before’. I know you went on to say that you thought he didn’t intend it and I did notice that most of the post you were agreeing with him. 🙂 In a way, what I took exception to was one of the same things that you did, which is word choice. I am perfectly willing to believe that Chuck has been sexist in the past (although, like you, I would do him the courtesy of assuming it was not deliberate, just as I hope people would acquit me of deliberate sexism, racism, or other isms, even though I’m sure I’ve been guilty of them). What I objected to was the use of the word ‘misogynist’. As I said, I’ve met them and worked with them and the truly misogynistic are nasty people indeed and I really objected to hearing that word applied to someone I consider a mate. I probably should have asked for clarification before commenting, but I, like you, feel he’s taken unreasonable flak over this (not as much as poor Stacey, of course) and I thought that you were calling him a name that was unfair. Anyway, I hope that ameliorates the resentment a bit. 🙂

    • Agreed that the SJ thing wasn’t a kerfuffle — I tried to frame this post as less about her KS and more about the criticisms against KS/crowdfunding in general, which was where I felt there remained a kerfuffle. Sorry for the confusion! — c.

  • The bottom line of this entire issue is (drum roll, please) Kickstarter is voluntary. No one is forcing you to give money. If you don’t like what someone is doing on Kickstarter, don’t fund it. Simple

  • Maybe my lightbulb isn’t on very high but I don’t get how you were being called out as being sexist. I don’t see this as women issues, I see this more as writer issues where the person in question is female.

    T. A. Pratt has funded his last four Marla Mason stories through kickstarter and he had laid out where the money was going towards (such as food for his family and the like). he also does freelance work but he has always asked less of what he would have gotten as an advance if they had kept his series going. And even when he asks for the BARE minimum so that he can write the book and support his family, They have always raised more. The extra that he pays out is an artist who does the cover for his books and awesome swag. No one has called him out on doing the same thing that Stacey Jay had done and he’ll more than likely do it again for his next book. And I’ll donate to that because no one is twisting my arm, forcing me to donate.

  • I think that the ‘internet’ is way too hypocritical and PC (not to mention racist, bigoted and highlighted by other negative human traits). After reading SJ’s post, I respect her decision to pull her KS campaign, but really wish the ass hats hadn’t won on this one.

    As far as the ‘kerfuffle’ comment–sometimes words have to be taken as they are given. It was clear that you meant no harm, and frankly, I prefer you calling it that to @dearauthor’s bullshit helpful article about us poor consumers getting ripped off by KS.

  • Yeah, I remember that particular comment you referenced, Chuck… and the persistence of the commentator in asserting she was ‘right’ – until she found out she was actually wrong (Google is NOT the infallible fount of all knowledge it claims to be. Shocker!)

    I’ve supported Kickstarters for a number of different reasons, many of them nothing to do with having a ‘proper business plan’ or whatever. One in particular I can think of is a guy who’d had an accident that had left him with permanent damage so that he’s now unable to work. Faced with long-term unemployment, he’s decided to use the time to write the novel he’s always wanted to write. He may finish that novel and get it published, or he may not – but if he doesn’t I’m not going to feel ‘ripped off,’ because what persuaded me to pledge to his fund in the first place was his spirit of turning a terrible downturn in his fortunes into a positive goal to inspire him. He was picking himself up and taking a shot at his dream, and that was enough for me. That, I’d always believed, was what Kickstarter was all about – people having a dream and then having the balls to find out if they can make it a reality, with a little help from the global web-world.

    And y’know what? I’m not having some pompous warrior trolls stomping on those they don’t like the sound of, in the name of ‘protecting consumers’ or whatever the heck… I’m a big girl now, thank you very much, and it’s MY FLIPPIN’ MONEY so I’ll spend it how I like.

    Keep on doing what you do, Chuck. Even on the (few) occasions you’ve got it a little bit wrong, your heart has always been in the right place. And that means much more than sometimes using not-quite-the-right turn of phrase.

  • Ugh. This whole thing makes my head hurt. There are so many reasons why I get annoyed and baffled every time somebody loses their mind over a Kickstarter. You’ve hit on most of them. Obviously one thing we can glean from this whole thing is that we seem to have a really strange understanding of the value of art. We want it, we feel entitled to it, but we don’t really want to pay artists for it. Or we do, but only in abstract after the fact ways, certainly not directly. Or we do, but not enough that they can function as artists alone because while we value them we certainly don’t value artists enough to think they should have the same basic rights as say a doctor. This alone would drive me batty (I believe that art is worthwhile and thus I believe that we should pay artists to create it). The thing that really, really, *really,* gets my goat though is the underlying implication that those of us who participate in kickstarter campaigns are idiots.

    Many many people here have touched on the idea that “If you don’t like it, don’t contribute.” This is absolutely, 100% true. But it should also follow that if you don’t like it you shouldn’t contribute, and you should leave me alone for my contributions. When people spend all this time ranting about why this kickstarter or that kickstarter is bad and shouldn’t exist what they’re further saying is that they don’t agree with it and thus *I* shouldn’t have the right to it. In some cases they’re even implying that the person running the kickstarter is somehow manipulating me. Look random internet dickweasle, I’m a pretty smart lady. I know exactly what I’m giving my money to, I have an understanding of the transaction I’m participating in. I really don’t appreciate being infantilized.

    You have every right to complain about a kickstarter until the day is long. But really it needs to be in terms of “I don’t like it and am not going to contribute and here’s why.” As soon as you start phrasing it as “It’s bad and shouldn’t exist at all” what you’re saying is you’re so much smarter than me that you need to protect me from spending my cash on that evil manipulative project. And that makes you look like an asshat. So knock it off.

    • I’m not certain anybody has gone so far as to say it’s bad and shouldn’t exist at all, or that other people shouldn’t contribute. Some people have worried that if all authors go in that direction, it’s not positive for readers. But that is as unlikely to happen as snow in hell, since all authors can’t find people willing to support their efforts in advance.

      • There have absolutely been efforts to remove certain KS campaigns based on opinions like this. Perhaps not in Stacey Jay’s case but this post was about the KS model in general rather than the specifics. Amanda Palmer’s KS a few years back is a notable example. And even when not explicitly said there is often an underlying implication that removal is the desired outcome and they certainly got their wish here.

    • I don’t think it’s a bad thing necessarily to point out flaws with a KS (ie. fictional situation, query where someone thinks they’re going to get a 100K book edited for $100 or a print run of $100 for 5c a piece) to let people know that they might not be backing a good / worthwhile / well-costed product.

      But I think say folks should say their piece or query it with the creator and then leave it alone. If the information is out there, people at the end of the day will make their own decision. And will regardless.

      Completely agree with you re: your last paragraph. You don’t like it, fine, but that’s no good reason to hound the creators.

  • This is really a problem? When a manufacturer makes a product, all costs to that product, like the salary for the person owning the company, the time for product development, the product testing, and the pay for the other working on that, are factored into the price. So the time of the author, the manufacturer of the book, is also a part of the equation.

    Or is the production of our cultural assets on to done by those wealthy enough to afford to do that? Why is paying a CEO a living wage OK, but not a creative worker? Free has been the worst economic model since Amazon.

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