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Don’t Do This…Ever?: (an advice column for writers): “Crowd Funding” edition

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The internet book world has been abuzz with discussion about the ethics and logistics of crowd funding books.

Well, not books, really. They’ve been talking about crowd funding an author’s career.

When author Stacey Jay’s publisher declined to contract the next book in her YA series, she took to Kickstarter to fund the project. This isn’t uncommon, on both fronts. Many authors have crowd funded books, and many authors–and readers–have seen a series they loved discontinued by a publisher due to poor sales. It sucks for everyone, and I should know; it happened to one of my books.

Bear with me while I tell this tale.

Back when I was writing as Jennifer Armintrout, the sales of my Lightworld/Darkworld series were definitely not enough to earn out the $50,000 per book advance I’d received for them. When it came time to contract my next book, I had what my agent referred to as a “bridge” contract, a single title contract that offered a lower advance (I believe I got $35,000). The idea was that the sales of my next book would be enough to lead into my next contract.

They were not.

Although American Vampire was critically well received, it sold for absolute shit. In four years, it has not earned out. In fact, I think at last count it was somewhere in the neighborhood of $20,000 short of earning back the advance. Unsurprisingly, Harlequin wasn’t interested in another book in that series. Meanwhile, readers kept asking me if American Vampire was a series, that they wanted another book, and would there be any more books in my Blood Ties series. At this point in my career, I was writing as Abigail Barnette and making about fifty bucks a month. That’s quite the income drop from $50,000 per book, in case you were wondering. Nothing I sent out was selling. I proposed a spin-off novel about a popular character in my Blood Ties series, offering to write it without an advance for Harlequin’s Carina line of e-books, and was turned down.

In short, my career had taken a nosedive.

Things are obviously going better now, but had Kickstarter been a viable option back then, I might have undertaken a campaign on my own to self-publish a novel or two. When the state is paying for your heat, you can’t afford to self-publish. I would have asked for money for editing, for cover art, for professional design, probably even for advertising. I would have done it in a heartbeat.

So, what is it that rankles me about the Stacey Jay controversy? Well, several things, and hardly any of them have to do with Jay herself.

Foremost, I’m really uncomfortable with the stance her defenders have taken. Many have claimed that what Jay did with her Kickstarter was simply obtaining an advance in a non-traditional way. But it just…isn’t. An advance is money a publisher gives you before the title is put on sale. The idea is that the book will “earn out,” and the publisher will make that money back. It’s a risk they take, and as Jane Litte pointed out on twitter:

 

On the other side of the issue, people defended Jay by suggesting that those who questioned her campaign simply didn’t value an artist’s time or money:  


But it isn’t that simple. Writing isn’t “work.” It’s a business. If I own a ketchup factory, that’s running a business. If I work at a ketchup factory, that’s work. The owner of the ketchup factory assumes a financial risk in putting their product out there. They have to produce the product and pay the workers. The workers get paid for the work they do, the raw ingredients get paid for, and at the end of the day, if the business owner has money left over, that’s profit. This isn’t a business model that should be alien to anyone.

But supporters of Jay don’t see it that way. They see complaints from readers, bloggers, and other authors as an attack on Jay and a denial of the need for compensation:

 

No one cares what Stacey Jay spends royalties or advances on. No one expects writers to starve. I’ve seen readers called “entitled,” as though they’re demanding free product. No one has, to the best of my knowledge, asked Stacey Jay to write a book without being paid. What people have been objecting to is that a writer is asking readers to provide them with profits before the product has been delivered. That is not the responsibility of the consumer. I cannot ask customers who bought my ketchup in the past to fund my factory so that I can continue making product I can profit from.

As for Stacey Jay, she has posted a public apology and declared that she won’t be writing YA anymore. And again, there are authors, bloggers, and readers who are furious, insinuating that Jay has been forced out of the YA community or that disagreeing with her business model is akin to a personal attack, but that’s disingenuous. Jay decided to take down the Kickstarter and announce her retirement from YA. And you know what? If she feels that’s a sound business decision, I won’t argue with her. I have two series that at the moment I don’t have immediate plans to finish, because I won’t make as large a profit from them as I will working on other projects (don’t worry, they’re not either of my current series). It sucks for readers, in the same way that it sucked to see GCB cancelled, or like how every time I find a moisturizer I like, they fucking discontinue it. If publishing is a business, then business decisions are being made. If they’re personal or emotional, that’s not the fault of the consumers. The consumers are voicing objection to a business model, not saying that they want free ketchup, or to intentionally bankrupt ketchup companies world-wide. No one, not one person, has asked Stacey Jay to write for free. She has simply rejected the idea of writing on spec.

Stacey Jay is a talented writer. Read her Night’s Rose, written as Annalise Evansand you’ll see another example of the true unfairness in publishing; she should be more well-known than she is (or was, I guess, since this is spreading like wildfire). But that’s not how it works out, a lot of the time. More people buy Heinz than exquisite gourmet ketchup (that’s a thing, right? “The fanciest dijon ketchups?” BNL would never lie to me). And no writer is guaranteed to be paid for their projects before they complete them; it’s really nice, but it’s not owed. And these days, it’s almost become the golden ticket (if Willy Wonka were about ketchup instead of chocolate. I’m not rewriting the whole damn post to make that metaphor work).

Readers asking not to bear the cost of a work’s production in advance aren’t asking for anything for free. They were just surprised and insulted to be asked to pay for the production of the supply before the demand was fulfilled. They were further insulted by the excessively dramatic predictions of authors starving with their children in the streets, made by writers who had the gall to say the objectors were the ones acting entitled. That behavior isn’t making a case for authors, and it certainly isn’t helping to support Stacey Jay.

No matter how much we love our books, writing isn’t a job. It’s a career. You’re running a business. And nobody is responsible for making the ketchup but you.

151 Comments

  1. Laina
    Laina

    Thanks for writing about this. I’ve had my head under a rock because finals, and had no idea what was going on.

    January 7, 2015
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  2. So I actually don’t disagree with this post although I have a differing opinion. I haven’t seen vitriol concerning Jay but she apologized and decided to quit writing YA. It seems to me she at least feels like her hand got slapped.
    I disliked the KS campaign from the first. But I think conversations need to happen around how indie authors fund projects. The living expenses thing isn’t so crazy when you consider there are other industries that do this. And really, I do see it as nearly the same as an advance. Perhaps a hybrid of a donation and an advance. No, the consumer doesn’t get money back but they do receive a product in the end. I also kinda feel that big publishers pass on some that cash advance cost to consumers via higher priced books. Certainly, advances are considered part of the overhead in book publishing?

    It’s not something I would give money for but it doesn’t insult me or make me mad.

    January 7, 2015
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  3. Thank you for writing this! You’ve said everything I thought when I read about the controversy.

    January 7, 2015
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  4. Naomi Clark
    Naomi Clark

    Thank you for articulating what was bothering me about this whole thing in a way that makes sense.

    January 7, 2015
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  5. I haven’t heard of this controversy until now, so I may be missing something, but I am wondering: what makes writing different from music, or film, or other types of art? Why is it ok for, say, musicians to crowdfund their albums before they start making them, but not for writers to crowdfund their books before writing them?

    Sure, writing is a career, but so is music. So is visual art. So are any number of other art forms for which the artists regularly use crowdfunding to make the money necessary for creating. What makes writing different?

    January 7, 2015
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    • JennyTrout
      JennyTrout

      I think the difference is that crowd funding an album is crowd funding a particular project. This Kickstarter wasn’t just to get the project out there, it was to cover living expenses for the writer while she wrote the book. It’s kind of like how I feel about Amanda Palmer’s Kickstarter (in hindsight; at first, I thought it was genius). Yes, she made the money she needed for her project, but then she wanted people to play her tour for free and give her a place to crash. Both are similar situations, in which the artist isn’t just asking for the money to create their product, they’re asking for personal support so that their profits can be increased.

      January 7, 2015
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      • That makes sense, thanks for clarifying! Personally, I don’t have a problem with artists/musicians/writers crowdfunding for the living expenses needed to work on a project, because I see living expenses as one of the things that’s necessary to make a work of art–equivalent to art supplies or music equipment or such. I do have a problem with it when they turn around and ask other people to work for free, though, like Amanda Palmer did.

        January 7, 2015
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      • Boost
        Boost

        But isn’t the author’s time what it takes to produce the product? Isn’t a book a particular project?

        I want to fund a wristwatch on I see Kickstarter. It takes plastic, steel, glass, the designer’s time, and shipping from Korea. My money goes to that.

        I want to fund a book on Kickstarter. It takes the author’s time, an editor, and a cover designer. My money goes to that.

        There’s a product I want to exist that I’m willing to give money in advance for it’s creation.

        January 7, 2015
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        • I suppose it comes down to what perks you get out of the kickstarter. If you got a copy of the book then it wouldn’t be bad really. But if you fund it, get nothing (except the ‘privilege’ of the book existing) and then are expected to buy the book again, that would feel like a scam. When the same thing happens with indie games you tend to at keat get exclusive content, lifetime membership and goodie bags – thin you’d never normally have access to.
          She may have this stuff – this is the first I’ve heard of it- but if it doesn’t I’d raise an eyebrow

          January 8, 2015
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          • I heard the word ‘generous pre order’ used elsewhere in the comments to describe the kickstarter and, yeah, I could get begin that. Buoys a tricky area and the blow up of people pretending to be victimised by the people who don’t agree to this system is ridiculous.

            January 8, 2015
        • Kathe Messina
          Kathe Messina

          I’m with Boost. Crowdfunding is about helping to get something created that you want. When you get your hands on whatever it is, THAT is your incentive for contributing. I, personally, don’t care about perks.

          I tried to crowdfund my book, which I’m still writing. My campaign was VERY clear that I was asking for a measly $4 to cover the cost of an ebook and that I was donating everything I made to a serious cause. What I do with the money is MY business as long as the contributor gets the book, right?

          Bottom line is … people do NOT want to put their money where their mouths are. If you believe in the spirit of crowdfunding then there’s a component that allows for the reality that the project may not come to fruition.

          I didn’t know about the Stacy Jay controversy before this but I certainly think it was an indiscretion to include the stuff about her mortgage, groceries, etc. Those are things she has to face regardless of being a writer, just like I have to hold down two jobs, two uni classes and try to write while I also have four kids and a serious cause for which I need to raise money. All I asked for was a donation that would equal the cost of an ebook download, in advance of publishing it.

          If you can’t donate four bucks because you are afraid, even if you don’t fully believe in the writer or their cause, then you don’t really understand the spirit of crowdfunding. It simply shouldn’t necessitate perks.

          In the end, it’s very sad to me that she felt she should give up the project.

          January 30, 2015
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  6. See, I just find the reaction to her kickstarter to be a little eyebrow-raising. I have seen loads of kickstarters from male writers who put in their development costs (i.e. keeping the lights on and the refrigerator stocked and the heat going and other costs of doing business . . . hell one even included a line item for his ongoing therapy and antidepressants) and no one said boo to any of them. And those projects got funded. And yet a woman does the same thing and the internet gives her the back of its hand. Why is a man allowed to ask and a woman is not?

    I see no problem in putting things such as living expenses and the like in the development costs of a project because they are JUST AS IMPORTANT as hiring a designer for the cover or materials or whatever. If you don’t want to fund that, then don’t, but the collective shaming of this artist – the gathered voices sneering at her, saying, “That just isn’t DONE” . . . even though it is, as long as one is of a different gender – it’s ugly. It’s an ugly color on all of us. And it’s everything I dislike about the internet.

    January 7, 2015
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    • JennyTrout
      JennyTrout

      I think the reason it’s blown up with a female author is because of the genre she’s writing in. YA is basically a female dominated genre, and it’s YA readers who first raised the alarm. And she was getting a lot of support from other people. I think for the most part things had been civil–at that point I hadn’t seen anyone outright attacking Jay, but criticizing the concept, as people have done with artists in a lot of different fields. When she removed the Kickstarter and wrote her blog post, that’s when the real blow-up seemed to start. Either way, people could support her or not support her. The really problematic part came in when authors started accusing readers and bloggers of feeling entitled to free labor.

      January 7, 2015
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      • Laina
        Laina

        *raises hand gingerly* Not to be a jerk, but… that’s sort of the pot calling the kettle black, isn’t it? I mean, most authors are great, but a great many of them do expect free labour from bloggers by way of book tours, WoW posts, reviews, and other promo. We do it out of love, sure, but that doesn’t mean it’s not work.

        January 7, 2015
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        • JennyTrout
          JennyTrout

          It’s very hypocritical on the part of authors, I think, to attack bloggers and accuse them of being entitled, for that exact reason.

          January 7, 2015
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          • Laina
            Laina

            And that’s not even getting into the ACTUAL threats and violence against us that happen. I mean, of “hobbies that could end in your untimely death”, book blogging generally isn’t one that comes to mind, but there is a very real history of that stuff.

            January 7, 2015
      • And yet male YA authors who asked for the exact same thing did not get the same sort of tut-tut-tutting from the nattersphere, you know? That kind of hand-slapping is reserved for women, and it bothers me.

        January 8, 2015
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        • JennyTrout
          JennyTrout

          I wish that’s something that would have been discussed more by her supporters. It would have been a lot more constructive than, “Look at these greedy people wanting to take food from our children’s mouths!”

          January 8, 2015
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    • Divine
      Divine

      What Kelly Barnhill said!

      I’ve seen Kickstarters by male writers that include payment for the author (i.e. himself, the person running the Kickstarter) for the estimated length of time it will take to write or finish the book. I distrinctly recall at least one Kickstarter where the male author explained the Kickstarter goal $ included an estimate of what he needed to be paid to write this project (I think it was a book in a series cancelled several years earlier) when he could INSTEAD be using that time to write a project for his advance-paying publisher; so he needed enough money, as his authorial income while writing, to make writing this project a fiscally viable use of his time.

      And I have not seen a Twitterstorm or scandal (or even isolated objections) to numerous instances of male writers posting Kickstarters like that.

      So what was different here? Was it merely the phrasing? That she described the money for the author as her “living expenses for 3 months” rather than as her authorial earnings or writer’s fee or whatever?

      Well, no, I don’t think so. There’s at least one male writer who has, for 2 or 3 years now, repeatedly asked the internet to send him donations (so you’re not funding a book as a backer, for which you’ll get a product; you’re just sending money to this writer as a gift or donation) to help pay for his living expenses, for his children’s school fees, and to send him to conventions which he can’t afford to pay for himself. And I’ve never seen any Twitter storm or scandal about that, either, even though he asks routinely for money for living expenses and also asks for money for, yes, luxuries (such as convention attendance–when I can’t afford to attend a convention, I just stay home).

      So it’s a little hard to avoid the conclusion that Stacey Jay has gotten all this criticism and flack because she’s an uppity woman who thought she had a right to be PAID for her professional work and time the way men are.

      January 8, 2015
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  7. I don’t understand why people feel such vehemence towards this. If you (and I’m using “you” generally) don’t want to support the KS campaign, then don’t support it! Why should anyone feel “insulted” by this KS campaign, but not the millions of other KS campaigns out there? The campaign has absolutely ZERO effect on ANYONE, excluding the author and any of the people who chose to support it. No one was forced to donate. Tax dollars were not being used. It was a mutually beneficial arrangement, as all KS campaigns are, between the person who sets it up and the people who willingly choose to support it. I just think it’s a shame that so many people got so irrationally riled up over something so trivial.

    For the record, I attempted to read Princess of Thorns a couple of weeks ago. I didn’t care for it, and I set it aside after about 50 pages. So, I certainly wasn’t going to donate to the KS, but I wouldn’t feel very good about myself if I participated in kvetching and moaning on Twitter until Jay felt forced to shut the campaign down.

    January 7, 2015
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    • Agreed. Totally voluntary, so I don’t see the big deal.

      January 8, 2015
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  8. Megan M.
    Megan M.

    I’m not sure that I agree that this KS was out of bounds. I’m only hearing about this now so I didn’t see the actual campaign page, but I did find and read the apology post she made.

    If she was an unpublished writer looking to fund herself while she wrote her debut, then I’d be giving it some major side-eye. However, she’s a previously published author who presumably knows herself well enough to know how quickly she can deliver a book, and the book itself is a sequel that she likely had planned and thought out before her publisher dropped her. Advances are meant to cover living expenses while the author writes, right? In that way, I don’t see it being different from an advance.

    January 7, 2015
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    • Actually, this makes even less sense to me, Megan. Why would you side-eye an unpublished writer with a dream for seeking assistance at an undertaking that may not bear any profit, but you are perfectly fine with someone who knows that their project will turn a profit unloading their overhead onto fans?

      Think of it this way:

      What if the CEO of Simon & Shuster decided, hey, you know what, Stephen King’s advances are really effing expensive. I know, I’ll ask his readers to pay his advance, we’ll use them to fund all of the expenses of the book, we’ll release it, it’ll hit the best seller list, and BONUS TIME (!!!11!!!eleventybillion) we will get to keep all the money for ourselves! Overhead is for suckers, people!

      Would you still think this was a good idea? If you are a self-published author, you are your own Simon & Shuster. And if your books don’t make enough for you to support yourself, then you are Simon & Shuster after ten consecutive quarters of losses. You’re basically a failed small business, just like the bookstore down the road that closed its doors because it didn’t have enough foot traffic to pay the bills.

      Anyway, it is all much ado about nothing, really, because in the end, only the super popular writers who don’t need to crowdfund will be able to do it. Neil Gaiman could likely crowdfund the money to pay off the national debt in fifteen minutes.

      For the rest of the mere mortals, the vast majority of kickstarter projects fail. And, it might work once, it might even work twice, but that well will run dry in short order when backers realize that for that very same $10.00 they can mosey over to amazon.com and buy a book they can read right now, instead of backing an author who may (or may not) produce a book six months from now.

      January 7, 2015
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      • Megan M.
        Megan M.

        The reason I said I would side-eye an unpublished author is because, in my opinion, the risk of the novel going uncompleted/undelivered is much higher with someone who has never been published than someone who has published multiple novels, most likely under some kind of deadline.

        I’ve seen authors asking for direct donations on their blogs. Presumably some of that money goes toward living expenses. If she’d asked for donations on her own blog, would that be different?

        I still don’t see what she did as controversial. Anyone who didn’t agree with it wouldn’t have donated. As long as she chose the option to reimburse all donations if the full campaign wasn’t covered (I have no idea whether she did or didn’t do this) then the whole thing would be resolved when she either did or didn’t get funded.

        January 7, 2015
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        • I don’t really have a dog in this fight. I’m just explaining what I see as a major case of cognitive dissonance/magical thinking here.

          And it bugs the heck out of me that a bunch of quite successful authors have turned this entire thing into a strawman argument about how people just don’t want to have to pay for books. There have been more logical fallacies perpetrated on twitter about this issue today than in a week of stories on Fox and Friends.

          What the hell are they talking about, anyway? No one that I saw lashed out at Stacey Jay, or called her names, or “bullied” her in any way, and acting like the YA community is some den of iniquitous and vicious backbiting sexist mean girls is wrong.

          January 7, 2015
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          • Megan M.
            Megan M.

            I don’t really, either. I wouldn’t have even known about it if I hadn’t read it here. I just wanted to explain a little more since you replied to me (I love when people reply to me, even if they disagree!)

            I haven’t read anyone else’s comments on the matter, so I’m not sure what people are saying, etc., but these things blow up very quickly on Twitter. *shrugs*

            January 7, 2015
      • I’m 99.9999999% sure that corporate publishers like S&S, HC, McMillan, et al, pass on the cost of author advances through the price of their books. That’s not something they would just absorb as a price of doing business.

        January 8, 2015
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        • About advances
          About advances

          In publishing, an “advance” is the pre-payment of royalties that the book is expected to earn after it is printed. It is part of the normal cost of doing business: it’s how publishers pay authors, and it is generally a contractually-specified percentage of either the list price or the net sale price of each individual copy. Some publishers offer very large advances in anticipation of the book selling very well, other publishers offer small advances, still others only pay out royalties as they are earned by the book’s sales.

          January 9, 2015
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    • Kathe Messina
      Kathe Messina

      As an unpublished author, with 2/3 of my book done, I can tell you that “side-eye” is ALL I got out of my crowdfunding campaign and I never asked anyone for anything personal. In fact I highlighted that if everyone contributed just $4 it could get funded.

      I paid for the boosting and my campaign was seen by thousands worldwide. Not a single contributor. Four measly dollars. That’s side-eye.

      I can’t give up like Stacy Jay did. I’ll keep going in spite of the two jobs, the two uni classes, the four kids, and the book … and maybe one day I’ll get my “fuck you” moment. Maybe.

      January 30, 2015
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  9. P.E.
    P.E.

    To me, she was asking for support as an artist, not just support for her art, and I generally don’t think there’s anything wrong for her to be asking that. I understand what you mean that it’s not like the supporters would be making money off of her book like publishers would, so it’s different than an advance would typically be. But in this case, I don’t think she was looking for business partners. I think it was more of an endowment. And some people could dislike that, but I don’t understand feeling insulted. It’s different than what other publishers do, but she was trying something new. She explicitly stated what she wanted the money for and I don’t blame her for trying it. If people wanted to give her money for this non-traditional venture, then it would be their choice and no one really would get hurt for what she did. If someone really really liked her writing and her plan, they could choose to support her as an artist and they would get a book out of it. That’s about it. It’s different than publishing and self-publishing, but I don’t see trying a different model out as wrong in any way. It didn’t succeed and that indicates that readers didn’t support it and there wasn’t a market for this sort of arrangement.

    January 7, 2015
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    • JennyTrout
      JennyTrout

      Because of your initials, I’m going to assume I’m talking to Danny from Doctor Who.

      Anyway, I think the readers who were insulted felt so because they got a “I’m holding this book hostage” vibe from it. On twitter, I and a few others compared it to fanfiction communities, where people wouldn’t finish a story until they got x number of reviews or what have you. There were people who said they liked the first book, but wouldn’t support the Kickstarter because they felt like the author was saying it was their fault if she quit. I don’t think it would have come across like that if the campaign had been written just a little differently, or if “I won’t write this anymore” hadn’t been on table.

      January 8, 2015
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      • P.E.
        P.E.

        I don’t read much fan-fic but isnt that different because fan-fic is usually not someone’s main source of income? Correct me if I’m wrong on that.

        That kind of argument presume that readers are entitled to books. Hostage implies that Stacey Jay is unjustly keeping something away from her readers. I don’t think readers can really have any sort of claim that an unwritten book is their right. She is putting some onus on supporters to help make the book happen, but I don’t see it as a threat because she is entitled to do it. The reader is not entitled to have her book unless she made some kind of deal promising a new book, like in her KS. Maybe some people don’t like her pinning her writing future on them because that is a grim thought, but that’s kind of how the industry works, doesn’t it? If you don’t buy or support an author, chances are they don’t have the separate means to write. She’s an author with books that don’t have the reach or sales to have a publishing agreement. She definitely has readers (I read one of her books and liked it) but if her books haven’t had the numbers publishers need and she can’t write them without compensation, it’s not her readers’ fault. And I’m not saying this to imply that readers are to blame in any way. It’s not their fault that she says she can’t write anymore. It’s more about the lack of readers. Writing is rarely lucrative and her point is valid, even if it’s something people don’t like to think about very much.

        Beyond entitlement, it’s not much of a threat if it’s true and she genuinely feels like she has no way to write the book without that support. The arts don’t provide much compensation and the really sad part of this entire story is that a good author wasn’t able to find enough of a market for her books.

        January 8, 2015
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    • I just had to get my $0.02 out there… just for background, I’m a reader and blogger, but not a writer myself.

      I’m going to compare this to one other kickstarter (Veronic Mars movie) just because it’s one I was very familiar with, in addition to comparing it to a practice of an author I am fan of. With Veronica Mars- they had a script (so it was already written), then had cast members that agreed to do the movie if it was funded, and for movie standards- they were only asking for peanuts, really. They accepted that their ultimate ‘paycheck’ would be based on how the movie did, they were just looking for the capital to make it happen. They also offered, each and every person on their kickstarter campaign to get something- a copy of the script, a copy of the movie, getting in the credits, attending the premier- their ‘reward’ was comparable to their donation. They ‘got’ something out of that kickstarter- each and every donator. While the movie would not have happend without the kickstarter- they did work (such as the script) BEFORE the kickstarter was created.

      In contrast, Stacey Jay flat-out stated in her kickstarter campaign that if the funding was not met, she was NOT going to write the sequel. She even starts out saying how much she loves her book (the one at the focal point of the campaign) and never planned for it to be a standalone. So, she was telling her readers, fans, donators – if you fund me, I will right it. If you don’t, I will not. Not that it would take her longer, that it might be a year or three… no, she just wasn’t going to write it at all unless we gave her money specifically to write that book. That is my problem. (And can I say- what she said was needed for cover expenses- holy mother of pearl she is using the wrong damn cover artist if she’s paying that much.) I don’t have a problem that she ‘added life expenses’ and such to her kickstarter. Yes, authors need to eat and pay bills and all that jazz. But as the blog post so eloquently states: I am not paying for her to have a career. I’ll buy her books, if I like them, and support her career in that way. That’s the way the whole ‘book sales’ thing works. The author writes, it gets published, the readers buy and read the book. Advances for books are not a guarentee, an entitled thing. It’s a gamble that the publishers are taking, and they are in a position to make their money back and then some if it’s sucessful. If an author doesn’t have a publisher, then they are their own publisher, and it’s up to them to fund an advance because they are in a position to pay themselves back if it’s sucessful. Really, it is business 101. There are hundreds, nay, thousands of authors out there- sometimes really sucessful ones, that find themselves suddenly without a big publisher house, or that have always released self-published titles. They have to live, too, and there are not thousands of kickstarter campaigns for each of them. If you are a writer, you write. If you are a musican, you make music. An artist, make art. – You get the idea – but pretty much anyone in an artistic career… you are in it because you simply MUST do so. Usually, if an artist can be happy doing something else, anything else that actually makes regular money- they’ll do that in order to live. It’s the ones that just can’t see doing anything else, or despite doing other things find time to do what they love because it’s their soul. A writer writes. A writer doesn’t ONLY write if we are willing to pay for them to live over the next 3 months.

      Now, on the other hand- the simple fact of offering fans a way to support your career is not a bad thing. There is one author I love that regularly offers up a ‘tip jar’ if you would like to support their writing. Regardless if they get money in that tip jar, they write. They write because it’s inconcievable not to. Tips hep, sure, and I’m sure some of those tips are used for living expenses, but they are not holding their own career hostage unless donations are submitted for ransom.

      Do I think the kickstarter was ‘in bad taste’ – quite honestly, yes. I do. My finding it as bad taste doesn’t mean I’m badmouthing anyone or expecting authors to write for free and automatically give me free books… I also find the ultimate decision the writer made to ‘retire from YA’ as more of a toddler tantrum that she’s taking her toys out of the sandbox and going home. We won’t pay for her holding her own career hostage, so she’s going to deprive her loyal fans from any future YA books. As far as I’m concerned, she dug her own grave as a bed, and now she has to lay in it. It’s especially sad to me, because I actually read and enjoyed one of her YA books- I was going to continue that series… but, after all this brouhaha… I’d rather support authors that write for the love of writing, not only writing if they are guarenteed an advance paycheck.

      January 8, 2015
      |Reply
      • Tez Miller
        Tez Miller

        Ah, I’m familiar with the ‘tip jar’ author. That’s perfectly fine, because the tip jar money goes toward short stories – not full-length novels. So even if the short stories don’t get published, no one’s missing out on the novels. (Yes, I value – ie. I would pay more for – novels over short stories, which probably makes me a snob 😉 )

        January 8, 2015
        |Reply
      • Caitlin
        Caitlin

        I’m a little confused about your comparison so I’d like to ask for clarification. With the Veronica Mars and other kickstarters, no one gets anything if the project is not funded. None of the Veronica Mars backers would have seen a single reward and furthermore it was clear the movie would not be made if it wasn’t funded. I think this is very similar to Stacey Jay saying that the book would not be written if her project was not funded.

        All of the things you mention the Veronica Mars project having done before posting? Those had absolutely no bearing on what would have happened if the project was left unfunded. What they did offer was a really great indication that if funded the project would actually happen. Kickstarter does not guarantee that projects will be completed on time or at all so things that indicate the creator knows what he, she, or they is/are doing is the only real indication you have that the risk you are taking as a funder will result in the reward level you chose. It’s actually a sort-of joke around kickstarter backers that all kickstarter projects are delayed. (I have friends who have funded upwards of 11 projects, less than ten percent delivered on time. One project was a year late and it was not the latest.) I can absolutely see you saying “because Jay didn’t do these things in advance, I found it hard to believe she would actually deliver her product.” But I’m really confused by your comment because it sounds like you are saying because she didn’t do these things that you think that had some bearing on what would happen if the project remained unfunded and, perhaps I’m reading your comment wrong and just not getting it but, all kickstarters that remain unfunded have the same result: no product.

        February 26, 2015
        |Reply
  10. If Jay had gotten her money what would have happened in three months? Would she ask for more for the next book? When would she realize that if her books aren’t paying all the bills that she needs to find a job?

    January 7, 2015
    |Reply
    • Chrysoula
      Chrysoula

      If she had gotten the money wouldn’t she by definition be paying the bills? So confused. It seems like if she could get fans to give her 10k every three months in exchange for producing 4 books a year that she would have something clise to a steady job.

      January 7, 2015
      |Reply
  11. nyrajaid
    nyrajaid

    ” That is not the responsibility of the consumer. I cannot ask customers who bought my ketchup in the past to fund my factory so that I can continue making product I can profit from.”

    But lots of crowd funding is doing exactly that. For example, I know quite a few farmers who are using KS and Indiegogo to raise funds to expand their farms. Basically, instead of ketchup substitute tomatoes and it is the exact same scenario. The farmer (factory owner) finds customers who have bought their tomatoes (ketchup) in the past to fund their greenhouse expansion (factory) so they can continue to make tomatoes that they then sell to the customer at market or in a CSA for a profit. So I guess I don’t really see how the medium make it different. You either believe that it is ok to ask your customers to fund future projects or you don’t. Saying “oh well, it’s ok for musicians but not writers, or it’s ok for farmers but not ketchup makers” seems like a real slippery slope.

    I guess for me it comes down to the basics. If you don’t want to fund someone else’s dream job then you don’t have to. There is no one forcing anyone to contribute to someone else’s art whether it be writing, music, or farming. People do it because they believe in the finished product enough. There is a measure of trust and good faith involved. And if you are trying to be a writer the thing you need most is time to write. It’s hard to get that if you are working a separate full time job to cover your living expenses. Yeah people out there do it… but it’s nice to think that maybe we can live in a world where there are alternatives.

    January 7, 2015
    |Reply
    • That’s basically what I was saying, but I used a boatload more words.

      January 7, 2015
      |Reply
    • JennyTrout
      JennyTrout

      It really does come down to, “either support this, or don’t,” but then the whole thing became, “If you don’t support this, you don’t support any artists, ever!”

      I mean, I’m a huge supporter of crowd-funding projects. I’ve backed several in the past couple of years. But if someone doesn’t want to do that, they’re not greedy or unsupportive. They just don’t like the business model.

      January 8, 2015
      |Reply
      • I definitely support writers when I buy their books, so I definitely support them. That doesn’t mean I have to personally pay them an advance. Silly logic.

        January 13, 2015
        |Reply
  12. Confession: I’d never heard of Stacey Jay before your tweet of this article. If I understand correctly, Kickstarter’s terms specifically forbid soliciting “living expenses.” But that doesn’t seem to be your objection, and a similar campaign would have been a good fit for GoFundMe or IndieGoGo, which allow such things.

    Among the things you list as problematic:

    1) That her defenders were calling it an “advance” when it technically wasn’t. That hardly seems important. Maybe they should have called it “generous pre-ordering.” To fans, I suppose “advance” could just mean, “money the author gets before the book comes out.”

    1b) And the distinction is cut even more finely when you say advance money “is a risk [publishers] take.”

    As patrons, her donors were taking a risk: that she wouldn’t produce the promised work, or would produce sub-par work. Her funders would have been taking a risk of not getting what they thought they were buying, much like a publisher risks not seeing their advance pay out.

    I’m just not seeing why such a minor misuse of the term (again, by fans who don’t know the nitty-gritty of the biz) is worth making a fuss over.

    On to part 2: “What people have been objecting to is that a writer is asking readers to provide them with profits before the product has been delivered. That is not the responsibility of the consumer.”

    But *why* is anybody objecting to this? Where in the Holy Scrolls of Capitalism is it written, “Your product must be available for immediate delivery?” Truth be told, the business world is full of people paying money for work not yet completed.

    You write, “I cannot ask customers who bought my ketchup in the past to fund my factory so that I can continue making product I can profit from.”

    Can’t you? If you make a special ketchup that has a handful of devoted, motivated fans, what’s stopping you from doing that by pre-selling a “super-fancy ketchup sampler kit with cute pink bow on top?” Delivery in three months.

    Yes, it’s a big ask. Yes, it means your fans are taking a leap of faith. Yes, it’s way different than the ketchup business usually works. But none of that means it’s wrong. If you’ve got a special relationship with the people who consume what you make, whether it’s books or ketchup or dental floss, and asking for their help is what keeps you producing for them, do it!

    None of the things you say about “here’s how a business really works” are written in stone. The only question Stacey Jay had to answer was, “Can I bring in enough income to keep producing books?” If she got that from a few hundred fans who were willing to donate to see her career succeed, more power to her.

    The people who didn’t want to donate were free to do so. But I don’t see why it makes any sense for them to add, “And neither should anybody else.”

    January 7, 2015
    |Reply
    • JennyTrout
      JennyTrout

      People are free to donate to an author’s Kickstarter, if they want to. I said on twitter that I don’t give a damn how an author does their thing, and that I would have probably considered doing a Kickstarter, too. I’m laying out what readers and bloggers were objecting to, and I think they had some good points. For authors to turn around and say that if people don’t want to fund this Kickstarter, or don’t like it when authors do a Kickstarter and have objected to this one, are bullies and that they drove Jay away from writing is an absurd reaction. That’s not what happened. She chose a different business model, one that many authors, readers, and bloggers don’t support, and when there was internet discussion about it, those people discussing it were told that they do not support authors, that they want books for free, that they have entitlement issues and, as per one of the tweets above, that they’re assholes. None of the accusations people are hurling at readers and bloggers who’ve spoken about how they feel toward author Kickstarters are true; not one of them has said they want authors to not get paid and that they’re entitled to free stuff. They’ve said that Kickstarter is not the same thing as an advance, that they are unlikely to support authors through Kickstarter, and that they don’t want to be buying books this way in the future. It’s been twisted by authors into a “poor us vs. mean them” debate that it never was in the first place.

      January 7, 2015
      |Reply
      • goddesstio
        goddesstio

        The problem I’m getting here seems to be with your whole ketchup diatribe, as I think it is with the person you just replied to; ti makes it sound like you are very against the model. Which you can be, but paired with this post you sound kind of Anti-Stacy. I mean, her kickstarter might have asked for living expenses, but so what? It’s a voluntary thing. You get enough people who agree to get together and donate, presumably receiving a free copy of the book in return for a certain donation threshold. If they agree with the model, they donate and either fund it and get the book or it fails and they don’t pay and don’t get it. No loss to anyone who didn’t know what they were asking for. If you don’t want to support that business model don’t support it. Why is this a big deal?

        January 8, 2015
        |Reply
        • JennyTrout
          JennyTrout

          I’m not anti-Kickstarter at all, and that’s why I said that hardly any of my problem with this entire kerfuffle had anything to do with Stacey Jay. I’m not a fan of “I’ll quit writing if I don’t get this thing” as a business tactic, whether it’s a Kickstarter or an author rant on facebook (see also a previous installment of this column wherein someone threatened to quit writing a series if they didn’t get enough pre-orders. But she could run her Kickstarter and it’s no big problem.

          I’m just laying out the traditional model, and what people had a problem with, and how it somehow got conflated with not wanting to pay authors.

          January 8, 2015
          |Reply
        • Tez Miller
          Tez Miller

          ti makes it sound like you are very against the model. Which you can be, but paired with this post you sound kind of Anti-Stacy.

          There are a lot of things I don’t like or don’t agree with. That doesn’t mean I’m “anti” them. They’re just not for me, and I should be allowed to say so.

          If this is going to devolve into a “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” conversation – well, it wouldn’t be fair to try to shut down people from airing legitimate grievances just because some people insist on only all-positivity, all-the-time.

          Speak, and let speak, I say. Talk, but also LISTEN. EVERYONE’s opinions are valid, whether others agree with them or not.

          January 8, 2015
          |Reply
          • goddesstio
            goddesstio

            I wasn’t trying to shut anyone down, and I don’t think I was rude. I love all Jenny’s other “Don’t do this ever” posts. I come here for the snark and the criticisms.

            What I was trying to say was that there are a couple examples of mild tweets from authors about the Stacy Jay thing, neither of which seem anywhere near on par to me with the other sort of tweets featured on DDTE posts. Then there’s several paragraphs about a ketchup metaphor that further add to the feeling I got.

            And you know what? I did speak, and I did listen, so don’t patronize me, please. I did not say that Jenny should take her post down or change it, I just pointed out the way it was reading to me. Jenny might be fine with that. Maybe she didn’t see people as reading it like that. I didn’t see her reading my post as suggesting anti-Kickstarter tones until she replied. (That was not my intention, by the way. The Kickstarter section was more in general than to you, Jenny.) Either way, don’t try and put words in my mouth about “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”.

            January 9, 2015
      • “For authors to turn around and say that if people don’t want to fund this Kickstarter,”

        Hold up. I’m having real trouble imagining any author or fan saying, “If you don’t donate to this campaign right now, then you obviously hate all authors and want to see them starve in the gutters.” That’s nonsense, and by and large people know that it’s nonsense.

        “…or don’t like it when authors do a Kickstarter and have objected to this one,”

        I still don’t see any good grounds for objecting to it. The tender, tortured soul of the artist is trapped in a meat machine that needs food and shelter and wifi.

        “are bullies and that they drove Jay away from writing is an absurd reaction. That’s not what happened.”

        Though it’s impolite, I feel compelled to ask: are you new to the Internet?

        You make it sound like all the criticism of SJ’s campaign was cogent, measured, and not-at-all-freaking-the-hell-out. That’s simply not how the Internet works. Things get heated, stupid things are said, stupider replies are made, then somebody tries to frame an analogy about Hitler and Nazis.

        “She chose a different business model, one that many authors, readers, and bloggers don’t support, and when there was internet discussion about it…”

        “Internet discussion.” See above.

        She chose a business model that people were free to not support. They could have whistled on by on their way to supporting things they did believe in. And I’m sure that’s what most people did. We never heard from those people.

        Reading my way around the Web, it looks like the main problem people had with the campaign was that she said flat out, “If this doesn’t fund, I’ll focus on republishing my backlist.” Which is just one of those sensible business decisions you’ve said authors need to be making. It was a perfectly reasonable thing to say. Authors, to be successful, need to be focusing on the things that pay the bills, even if that’s not the project they’re most excited about.

        So she admitted that she had living expenses, and asked her fans for help in making “the thing she was excited about writing” into “the thing that can pay the bills.” As best I can tell, the Internet (civil and decorous place that it is) responded with a “conversation” that more or less amounted to, “OMG Y U HOLD SEEQWEL HOSSTAGE???? LITRLY WURSE DEN HITTLER!”

        Of course my description does a disservice to the critics who were fair in their analysis and measured in their rhetoric. I don’t think that matters much, because when you’re the target of an Internet crap-tsunami, it’s not the polite, measured, friendly disagreements that stand out. It’s the crap.

        From SJ’s apology post, it sounds like she was legitimately horrified and demoralized at the reaction her campaign received. Whether she was “bullied” is a semantic question. But when you describe her decision to abandon her campaign as primarily a business decision, I think it’s a whitewash of what actually happened. If SJ felt bullied, that was her experience.

        January 8, 2015
        |Reply
        • JennyTrout
          JennyTrout

          You say that discussion about this on the internet couldn’t possibly have been reasonable, but then you say you don’t believe anyone accused bloggers of wanting authors to starve. I’m not going to go through and find the actual tweets, because there are so damn many, but there really, truly, seriously were authors using the phrase “starving artists” and “let my children starve” when discussing this, while bloggers/readers were saying things like, “But what are living expenses?” and “Why is she asking for so much?” and “I would never contribute to something like this, because I don’t like it.” Authors are better than anyone on the planet at making overblown, dramatic word choices (I know this because I’ve honed the skill for years). They absolutely did call bloggers and readers who gave reasons to not support author Kickstarters “entitled” and “greedy.”

          This post wasn’t about whether or not I thought Stacey Jay was right, or whether or not Kickstarter is a good venue for authors (I think it’s a good venue for some books, but not necessarily novels, but that’s a whole different post), it was about how people reacted to what happened, with my own explanation of the business model thrown in there. And I feel that authors reacted badly to the small amount of backlash there actually was, and that’s what blew this out of proportion; in trying to support Jay, they made it a bigger deal than it was ever going to be.

          SJ never said she felt bullied, but if she did… she wasn’t. Bullying isn’t just having a lot of people object to something you’ve done publicly. I do believe that she was making a business decision, because she said as much in her Kickstarter; that if she couldn’t make YA writing profitable, she’d concentrate on her other pen names. The decision rested on whether or not her Kickstarter reached its funding, so it was one she’d made before putting Kickstarter up in the first place. Dropping YA was always on the table.

          January 8, 2015
          |Reply
        • Tez Miller
          Tez Miller

          I still don’t see any good grounds for objecting to it.
          Just because YOU don’t see why, does that mean others should not be free to object?

          You make it sound like all the criticism of SJ’s campaign was cogent, measured, and not-at-all-freaking-the-hell-out.
          I followed as many conversations as I could. No one started “freaking-the-hell-out”, until some people started claiming that readers didn’t want authors to be paid, that readers wanted authors to work for free. And of course people were all, “We did NOT say that.” If people were making claims about things that YOU said, even though you didn’t, you might object to their false claims, too. In other words, everything was peaceful until some people made false claims. But if you’ve seen differently, please share the links so we all can see it, too.

          Things get heated, stupid things are said, stupider replies are made, then somebody tries to frame an analogy about Hitler and Nazis.
          Not yet, that I know of, but plenty of calls of “bullies”, “haters”, “just plain evil”. Inflammatory language ahoy, apparently.

          She chose a business model that people were free to not support. They could have whistled on by on their way to supporting things they did believe in. And I’m sure that’s what most people did. We never heard from those people.
          Also, those who objected to the criticism of the KS were free to whistle on by on their way to supporting things they did believe in. Alas, they did not. If people are going to criticised for criticising – that’s some hypocriticism/double-standards there. Which leads to power imbalance.

          As best I can tell, the Internet (civil and decorous place that it is) responded with a “conversation” that more or less amounted to, “OMG Y U HOLD SEEQWEL HOSSTAGE???? LITRLY WURSE DEN HITTLER!”
          Again, if you have links, please share them. If you’re going by stuff you’ve only seen talked ABOUT, but not actually SAID, then maybe more research should be made and shared. (I did my part – I made two Storifys, as well as a post sharing reaction from Facebook.)

          If SJ felt bullied, that was her experience.
          IF. That’s the key word. No one knows for sure how she felt – just people INFERRING from what she ACTUALLY said. No one has access to her inbox, so no one knows for sure if she was/felt bullied or not.

          Discussing hypotheticals is fine, but really the focus should be on the FACTS.

          January 8, 2015
          |Reply
      • I hope that people come back and read this post the next time a blogger cries, “Author X is stalking me!!!” as the result of a single tweet or comment made by an author. It’s…interesting that many of the same bloggers who have been proclaiming that all of their negative tweets about Jay are not bullying are the same bloggers who regularly claim that they are being stalked, harassed, and bullied by various authors. I do agree that discussing a topic on Twitter is not bullying, but let’s not ignore the fact that the majority of the bloggers who were doing this would have raised holy hell if a large group of authors spent days criticizing them on Twitter.

        In my two years of blogging, I have witnessed only a single example of an author stalking or harassing a blogger – Kathleen Hale. That is not to say that other instances didn’t occur, but in my particular online social sphere, for this one example of legitimate stalking, I have seen probably around 100 other ridiculous, overblown accusations.

        January 8, 2015
        |Reply
        • JennyTrout
          JennyTrout

          I would truly be concerned if a large group of authors were criticizing bloggers, because bloggers are performing services for free for most of them. And I could see why they would see it as bullying; some authors have done really vindictive shit to bloggers, like unleashing their street teams on them, trying to get them banned from cons (I know someone who runs a con and who can tell you aaaaaaaall about this) and asking their publishers to stop sending ARCs to them, so I get being on edge and looking at all author criticism as having the potential to become a bullying incident.

          As for only one incidence of stalking in the blogging world, Stop The GoodReads Bullies (which was created by an author and is maintained by other authors under pseudonyms) has doxxed so many bloggers, it’s absurd. I think going to the trouble of posting someone’s work schedule and where they like to go for walks qualifies as stalking.

          I’m really glad you haven’t run into that crap, though. Sometimes, I wonder why book bloggers keep on doing stuff at all. When I look at it, I’m like, “This costs you time and money and you don’t really get anything back for it, except for authors continually asking you for more and more.” You guys must really love books, because there is no way I’d be able to do that.

          Also, I read too slow.

          January 8, 2015
          |Reply
          • Laina
            Laina

            I can’t speak for others, but – you know that feeling when you walk into a new library or bookstore and you wanna go in six hundred directions and also crawl into the shelves and never leave, or when you get books in the mail and you put them next to you for a little while and pet them and occasionally smell them, and it’s nearly impossible to choose because they all look so good and you want to read them all at once because there’s so many possibilities, or when you buy a book that you read as a kid and it’s like coming home to an old friend?

            That’s why.

            January 8, 2015
          • Totally agree that the things you listed qualify as bullying/harassment/stalking, and while I’ve heard of them happening (except for the con banning – yikes!), but 99% of the complaints I see are of the “Author X subtweeted me! He/She is a stalker!” variety. It bothers me because I HATE to see stalking/bullying minimized in this manner, and because it is the same group of bloggers who do it over and over.

            Great question about why bloggers blog. For me, it’s more about having the chance to talk about books with my fellow book fanatics than it is about helping out authors. I don’t have any friends or family who come close to having my level of passion for reading, and blogging helps fill that gap. I’ve never felt put upon by authors, and I suspect that’s an issue primarily faced by the “big” bloggers.

            January 8, 2015
        • Tez Miller
          Tez Miller

          It’s…interesting that many of the same bloggers who have been proclaiming that all of their negative tweets about Jay are not bullying are the same bloggers who regularly claim that they are being stalked, harassed, and bullied by various authors.
          Will you name those bloggers, please? I’d like to research them and their claims.

          I do agree that discussing a topic on Twitter is not bullying, but let’s not ignore the fact that the majority of the bloggers who were doing this would have raised holy hell if a large group of authors spent days criticizing them on Twitter.
          Generally speaking, authors have more power and influence than bloggers. When authors say something, their followers are more likely to believe them, and neglect to do their own research. (Hero-worship – they don’t believe their heroes would ever deliberately mislead or lie to them.) Thus a large group of authors spending days criticising bloggers on Twitter would be “punching down”, and abusing their power and influence by implying false things about bloggers.

          January 8, 2015
          |Reply
        • Caitlin
          Caitlin

          I think maybe, and I’m not sure here, but is this because of the public figure line and which side of it authors fall on? It’s like with slander, the bar of proof is higher for public figures than for private individuals so, with authors, readers (including bloggers) feel like they can talk about the writer on twitter because he or she is a public figure but if a group of authors were to talk about said blogger, it would feel wrong because that blogger isn’t a public figure or because there’s an actual or perceived difference in the balance of power?

          Does that at all make sense or does it just expose me as terribly ignorant of the world of book blogging?

          February 26, 2015
          |Reply
    • Tez Miller
      Tez Miller

      The people who didn’t want to donate were free to do so. But I don’t see why it makes any sense for them to add, “And neither should anybody else.”

      I did not see anyone say anything in the vein of that – and I saw a lot of conversations. So I’m not sure why you brought that up, unless you saw something I didn’t. Got a link? (I have Fear Of Missing Out – I like to see evidence rather than hearsay of what may or may not have been said.)

      No one was stopping anyone else from pledging. They just said that they personally would not pledge, because they did not agree with it. They never tried to say, “Hey guys, don’t pledge to this!”

      Just as everyone as a right to say, “I’m pledging to this”, everyone also has a right to say, “I will NOT pledge to this.” IF – and that’s IF – people are going to claim that, “I’m allowed to speak my mind, but these people shouldn’t be allowed to speak theirs,” it’ll turn into talk of hypocriticism and double-standards. A power imbalance, and attempting to silence others.

      January 8, 2015
      |Reply
  13. Laughing Giraffe
    Laughing Giraffe

    At first I couldn’t figure out why anyone could possibly object to Kickstarter-funded projects (with the possible exception of, I dunno, “Puppy Kicking: the Motion Picture!” or something). Then I realized what the issue is.
    I’m used to working in theatre and film, where it’s extremely rare for someone to be able to make a project without some outside financial assistance. You need to pay your actors and crew, and yes, your own living expenses, while you’re working. Unless you’ve got very deep pockets, you need to go out and ask someone to give you some funding. Jenny’s right that artistic endeavour for money is a business, but those people who hand over the initial start-up cash are not the business’s customers; they’re its investors. They assume some measure of financial risk in exchange for the potential reward. People become investors for all kinds of reasons, but in the arts especially, they often do it because they just like art, and want to live in a world that has more of it, even if they don’t get their investment back. Kickstarter’s basically the same: you put some of your cash in and hope that you get a good return on your investment (in this case, a book you enjoy reading) while accepting the possibility that you may not recover its value (maybe the book is crappy or doesn’t get written at all).

    January 7, 2015
    |Reply
  14. I really don’t understand why ‘cover’ and ‘editing’ are acceptable production expenses but ‘eating’ isn’t? It puzzles the hell out of me; I’ve spent all day trying to understand that. Pretty much all Kickstarters that involve professionals include ‘eating’ and ‘mortgage’ for the staff as part of the funding. And I seriously thought ‘profit’, in a small business, was what you had left over after you paid expenses, including your own reasonable salary.

    January 7, 2015
    |Reply
    • I don’t agree that “profit” should be a legitimate line item in a Kickstarter campaign. The reason is, once the campaign is over and all the bills are paid and the rewards divvied out, you possess a marketable product. Or, theoretically so.

      January 8, 2015
      |Reply
      • Yes, but you do have to eat while producing the product. I mean, in video game projects, they don’t expect the developers to live on air, or their life savings. They get paid. Reasonable life-sustaining salaries for the people producing the project are not considered ‘profit’. Profits are post-launch bonuses, or seed money for initial development on a new product, or whatever.

        I just find it really really bewildering. I can’t imagine people going to team efforts funded via Kickstarter and saying, “You guys need to not use any of this money to manage your human resources. They all need to be unpaid volunteers until after the product is on the open market.”

        January 8, 2015
        |Reply
  15. Rachel Hartman
    Rachel Hartman

    “Ketchup factory” is humorous, but it’s not the best analogy. In fact, I’m not sure we need to make any analogy at all, when what she’s transparently trying to do is be a Small Press. The KS campaign = pre-orders. Or you could see the KS as a species of investment with very specific terms — give $10, and in 3 months get a book — and a certain amount of risk (like all investments) because she could get hit by a bus tomorrow, or flake out, or write a sucky book. If people who liked her previous book want to take a mild risk on the next one, why shouldn’t they? If it sucks, they can end the relationship there.

    Her phrasing seems to have been ill-chosen, and it’s possible she didn’t properly understand that what she was doing was creating a business and not “labouring” — but that doesn’t mean nobody should ever try this, or that it can’t work. In fact, indy comics people do this all the time. There is a long tradition of small presses in comics, and a community of supporters who are excited for a chance to help their favourite creators produce new work — not surprised or insulted at all. I was a small press myself, back in the 90s, and I quit because the cash flow was just too erratic, and the constant hustle too wearing. I’m GLAD people have a chance to try to make it work this way now. I really don’t fathom the shame in it.

    January 7, 2015
    |Reply
    • JennyTrout
      JennyTrout

      For whatever reason, people didn’t like it. But not liking the idea isn’t the same as saying, “I want you to write for free.” There are way too many people interpreting readers’ objections that way.

      January 7, 2015
      |Reply
      • Caitlin
        Caitlin

        I think maybe, after reading this post and several of the comments, that it’s your title to the post that’s confusing me because I think what you’re really saying is not “don’t ever ask for money for your writing on kickstarter like Stacey Jay” but rather, “don’t respond to people who have legitimate criticism/concerns by implying they are author-hating mooches” (?), but the post title made me feel the author’s actions rather than the actions of her defenders were what should never be done.

        ???

        February 26, 2015
        |Reply
    • Tez Miller
      Tez Miller

      I really don’t fathom the shame in it.

      I didn’t see any mention of “She should be ashamed of herself” or “Shame on you”. If you did, it would be great if you could provide links, please. I ask, because “shame” can be a rather inflammatory word, so hopefully there’s evidence to back up your use of it.

      I did see one person saying that those who criticised the KS “should be ashamed of themselves”. I included that Facebook comment here: http://tezmilleroz.wordpress.com/2015/01/08/the-reaction-on-facebook-to-the-reaction-to-the-kickstarter/

      January 8, 2015
      |Reply
    • pinkoeria
      pinkoeria

      “Or you could see the KS as a species of investment with very specific terms — give $10, and in 3 months get a book — and a certain amount of risk (like all investments) because she could get hit by a bus tomorrow, or flake out, or write a sucky book”

      This analogy would work if people who kickstarted her book actually got the book for free once it was written. But they don’t. After SJ had written the book with funds provided by her readers, those readers would then have had to pay more money to read the book. So it is not an investment, as there is no return. Having to buy the product after investing in the production is not a return on investment.

      January 10, 2015
      |Reply
      • I thought the $10 donors got an advance copy of her book?

        January 10, 2015
        |Reply
  16. Great post, Jenny. Most authors have to work a second job, or have a supportive partner. No author is that wonderful that they should expect support from anyone who isn’t contractually guaranteed a cut of the profits. Usually that’s a publisher.

    It cost very little to self-publish, and many a novel has been written in the wee hours after the kids have gone to sleep, or during lunchbreaks. And that’s not even considering the talents who never get a chance to express themselves at all because the person is never taught to read or write, allowed to go to school, or publish anything. Jay has many options. She chose begging. Fine, if you want to put money in the hat, do it. But don’t pretend it’s an ‘advance’.

    And don’t fucking tell people it’s bullying if they don’t like this model. If they want bullying I have some bloody good, *real* examples to show them.

    January 7, 2015
    |Reply
    • “No author is that wonderful that they should expect support from anyone who isn’t contractually guaranteed a cut of the profits. Usually that’s a publisher.”

      Then don’t give it to her. Let her Kickstarter fail. But I’m still having trouble understanding why you and so many others got rankled by the request.

      “And that’s not even considering the talents who never get a chance to express themselves at all because the person is never taught to read or write, allowed to go to school, or publish anything.”

      I agree, that is a complete tragedy and a waste of human potential. But unless you have some concrete proposals for remedying the plight of the developing world, why are you bringing it up? “If I can point to someone worse off than you, then you need to stop griping about your own problems” is not a respectable debate tactic.

      “And don’t fucking tell people it’s bullying if they don’t like this model. If they want bullying I have some bloody good, *real* examples to show them.”

      Presumably neither of us have the password to SJ’s inbox. So we can’t pretend to know what was said to her or by whom. The only evidence we can go on is what SJ said and did in response.

      I think that evidence is telling. Cancelling her kickstarter and withdrawing from social media is pretty standard “I’m being bullied” behavior. Calling out a community that you’ve long been a part of for “increasing vitriol” also makes it sound like she was bullied. English is a sloppy tool for expressing ideas, and I don’t know where it’s written down, “You must be at least this bullied to use the word.”

      Not that Stacey Jay did. If her supporters are using the word, they may just be making assumptions. But judging by her withdrawl, the assumptions aren’t wild ones.

      And it’s not up to us to tell people what shouldn’t hurt them, or how they should react to being hurt.

      January 8, 2015
      |Reply
      • JennyTrout
        JennyTrout

        Just to be clear on the “bully” word, I don’t believe Stacey Jay ever used that word to describe what was going on. I think she did say the YA community was… I don’t remember the word, but I don’t remember it being “bullying.” Something like, not nice, but fancier. Anyway, she never said “bullied,” that was the word leapt on by supporters and shot around like a twitter ping-pong ball.

        January 8, 2015
        |Reply
        • Thank you for the clarification. And thank you, sincerely, for your patience with me. I’m a bit of a grump.

          January 8, 2015
          |Reply
      • Tez Miller
        Tez Miller

        English is a sloppy tool for expressing ideas, and I don’t know where it’s written down, “You must be at least this bullied to use the word.”

        Generally when people are bullied, they specifically say, “I was bullied”, or “They bullied me.” If you’re bullied, they use the word “bully”. But there are false claims of “bullying”, which often confuse the matter. It’s an inflammatory term, whether it’s true or false.

        January 8, 2015
        |Reply
      • ““If I can point to someone worse off than you, then you need to stop griping about your own problems” is not a respectable debate tactic”

        In this case it is. The author is saying she is more worthy of support than other people with far fewer advantages and privileges. Jay is not starving. She is not even incapable of earning money from her other books. Yet she is asking for charity. There is nothing to guarantee she will write the book, let alone deliver it to her funders, and Kickstarter doesn’t offer refunds. She wants a hand out. And I’m asking, why her and not say a literacy charity? Or an educational one?

        She can work and write, same as the rest of us do (or I did before I retired.)

        “The only evidence we can go on is what SJ said and did in response.”

        Since butthurt authors are as common as snowflakes in Antarctica, pardon my scepticism that anything said to her rose to the level of actual bullying. And I speak as an expert on the subject of being bullied.

        “Cancelling her kickstarter and withdrawing from social media is pretty standard “I’m being bullied” behavior. ”

        Bullshit.

        “Calling out a community that you’ve long been a part of for “increasing vitriol” also makes it sound like she was bullied.”

        More bullshit. You make it sound like the term is never bandied around by fools and selfish arseholes. Someone on Twitter just claimed Katherine Hale – the woman who stalked and outed a harmless reviewer – was an example of a bullied author. You’re talking to someone on the blog of someone else who’s been attacked ruthlessly and relentless by a group of nimrods claiming to ‘Stop the Goodreads Bullies’. If you don’t know anything about that group, then shut up now and do some googling before you come back.

        ” I don’t know where it’s written down, “You must be at least this bullied to use the word.””

        You claim to be a writer. Words mean things. You can’t stub your toe and say “ooh that rock just bullied me”. You can’t call every criticism and every disagreement ‘bullying’ and expect to be taken seriously. Again, there is a lot of history here you are either ignorant of or wilfully ignoring. I can’t take *you* seriously because of that.

        “And it’s not up to us to tell people what shouldn’t hurt them, or how they should react to being hurt.”

        It’s up to us to say “you’re being oversensitive” or “you aren’t being bullied” when the facts don’t support the level of anguish being expressed. I’m sure Ms Jay feels like shit now, and I personally wish her no ill whatsoever. But she took a gamble, went about it badly, and got a result she didn’t like. Gambles are like that.

        And in case you missed it, I am also a self-published author. I’ve been self-supporting economically since I was 17, paid for all my education myself, and wrote my books while working and studying. Jenny Trout is an example of someone who had it much harder than me, and just got off her backside and wrote to pull her family out of the shitter. You’re picking a really bad venue for your concern trolling about Stacey Jay’s bloody charity venture.

        January 9, 2015
        |Reply
        • I can buy a company’s stock, and there’s no guarantee it’ll be well-run. Life doesn’t really offer up much by way of guarantees.

          I subsequently did read her Kickstarter. She’s indicated why we should believe she’ll finish the book. Given she’s a track record of writing, I think there’s some minimal risk she won’t finish, but I’m comfortable with that. If I had read her book, and I did like it enough to want the sequel, I would have funded her. Her request seemed pretty reasonable to me.

          I don’t see it much in other comments, but you seem personally offended she’s asked for money. In your last comment, there seems to be a lot of “I’m a self pub author who had a hard road, and therefore, Stacey Jay should also struggle. ”

          I’m a self-pub author. It isn’t some kind of badge of courage. If Stacey Jay’s fans are engaged enough to want to fund her book, I applaud her for it. My goal is to create that same kind of engagement with my stories.

          January 9, 2015
          |Reply
          • “In your last comment, there seems to be a lot of “I’m a self pub author who had a hard road, and therefore, Stacey Jay should also struggle. ””

            I did not have a hard road at all. My story is absolutely typical for 99% of authors.

            If Jay is that popular, she can write the book, self-pub and profit. THat’s how writing works.

            I have donated to too many really, *really* needy people, including authors (eg who have relatives dying of cancer because they can’t afford treament, have lost the ability to write through car accidents etc) to think this is an honorable way to go about it. She asked, people said no, and told her why. Now we’re being emotionally manipulated into feeling guilty because she’s not happy.

            I’m not falling for it.

            January 9, 2015
    • “No author is that wonderful that they should expect support from anyone who isn’t contractually guaranteed a cut of the profits. ”

      Expect, maybe not? But ask? Why isn’t it fine to ask? If there were people that wanted to support this, let them. It’s their money – they can spend it on anything they care about.

      “It cost very little to self-publish, and many a novel has been written in the wee hours after the kids have gone to sleep, or during lunchbreaks.”

      Sure. I’m one of these authors. But just because I choose to starve in the garret doesn’t mean that that’s the right way or the only way. If her Kickstarter worked, good for her. I don’t understand the outrage, honestly.

      Surely, if you don’t want to support an author, either through a Kickstarter or through purchase of their work, you just don’t. She’s every right to try any business model that works for her, including, as you so charmingly call it, begging. (For the record, I don’t consider it begging. She’s offering something in return.)

      January 8, 2015
      |Reply
      • ” I don’t understand the outrage, honestly.”

        Because there are a lot of writers actually starving, actually in desperate need, who need real charity, and there’s only so much money to go around. Jay can make money, is making money, from other works. She doesn’t need charity, which is what she’s asking for. It’s greedy.

        January 9, 2015
        |Reply
        • I didn’t think there was a Kickstarter police who would determine whose causes were worthwhile enough to support or whose need was great enough so we may permit the ask.

          Nobody appointed any of us to be the arbitrator of her need.

          She’s letting the market decide if her project is worth support. If you don’t think her cause is worth supporting, *don’t support it.*

          Besides, while I haven’t seen the details of the (now removed) Kickstarter campaign, it seems that if you chipped in $10 you got a copy of the book. That isn’t charity, by the way. That’s a purchase.

          January 9, 2015
          |Reply
          • Diane
            Diane

            Nobody was being the “kickstarter police”. People were questioning whether this was a good idea and the ethics involved. Nobody told others “Don’t donate!”. People have the right to question her business model if she is asking for money. Just as some had the right to say publicly that they would donate and why, others equally had the right to say they would not donate and why.

            I think what bothered a lot of people was the amount she wanted for living expenses. Where, anywhere in the U.S., is $7000 over 3 months even close to minimum wage? That is a pretty decent income, especially given that she is still receiving royalties on her other books and her husband works. Many of the people who read her books probably don’t come close to making that kind of money. Add to the fact that she said she would have to give up writing if she didn’t reach her goal, then I’m not surprised it rubbed people the wrong way.

            I don’t think Jay is a bad person. I don’t even think she was being greedy or entitled. I just think that she has been able to live on her writing for a long time and wasn’t really prepared or had a plan when she could no longer do so.

            January 10, 2015
        • goddesstio
          goddesstio

          It’s not charity. it’s selling a product. Pay $10, get a book you want, with a caveat that at least x amount of people have to preorder in order to make it happen. (If she was asking $15,000, then that would be 1500 people at $10 per book if everyone only gave the $10- not a daunting readership number.) If she wasn’t offering the book, then yes, that would be charity. But it’s not charity if you get something in return. This is just a normal business move to me, and I’ll bet you see a lot more of it soon. And it’s good for unknown authors too; the more common this gets to be, the easier it will be for them to get the same thing going.

          Besides, even if it was “charity”, people are allowed to spend their money how they want. You can donate to needy authors. They can set up Kickstarters just like Stacey’s. But you can’t tell anyone that they’re wrong for wanting to give money to an author they like than an unknown one. It’s like saying people shouldn’t be allowed to go to expensive restaurants because children in Africa are starving. Everyone gets to choose what they spend their money on no matter who likes it or doesn’t.

          January 12, 2015
          |Reply
  17. Benjamin W
    Benjamin W

    I…

    Okay I know that this isn’t adding THAT much to the conversation, but I gotta ask:

    I’ve been reading all of your Don’t Do This…es, and I can’t help but wonder how so many authors keep cocking up so *magnificently*?

    Although proportionately speaking, this one isn’t so much a cock up as much as a… rooster raise.

    January 7, 2015
    |Reply
    • JennyTrout
      JennyTrout

      And really, this one wasn’t the author, so much as all the authors who rushed to her defense and decided it was open season to insult bloggers and readers. I think Stacey Jay has been harmed more by the actions of her “supporters” than by her own actions in setting up the kickstarter.

      January 8, 2015
      |Reply
  18. YesAnd
    YesAnd

    Forgive me if this posts twice.

    What bothers me is none of the authors taking umbrage have bothered to look at Kickstarter’s stats page. Only 30.90% of publishing projects get funded. Of those, 79% raise less than $10,000.

    Jay set a very high goal requiring an above average Kickstarter presentation and a deep understanding of what works on the site. One doesn’t have to do much research to realize most successful 10K plus projects are not presented like Jay’s. They have videos or at least better art and offer more than “really, I’m a good author and I’m actually hoping for $15,000!”.

    I’m amused that writers a) don’t get that $10.5K is a lot of money to ask to crowdfund one book; and b) seem to believe a poorly written presentation should be above criticism if the author really needs that money.

    Which makes me wonder, how do they approach deals with professional publishers?

    January 8, 2015
    |Reply
  19. Paris
    Paris

    My problem was never with her asking for money…I would put in on a KS for an author, but what they were asking for would have to be reasonable. I don’t even mind paying for their living expenses to an extent (although most of my favorite authors also have day jobs to supplement their income or amazing spouses). She was asking for $10k….the amount she was allotting for her living expenses for 3 months was a little more than what I make working 40 hours a week for a company I have worked for going on 18 years in that same amount of time, but heads and tails above probably the majority of the working class in her area.

    In Hawaii, where Jay lives, the minimum wage is currently $7.75 an hour. I’m not really good at math, even with a calculator, but I’m pretty sure it would take someone making minimum wage a hell of a lot longer than 3 months to make 7 grand.

    January 8, 2015
    |Reply
    • “Stacey Jay” is the pen name of an author who lives in California. Stacey Jay is an actress living in Hawaii. The googles may have conflated the two in your mind.

      You’re also wrong in your math. $3000 of the $10.5K was slated for direct production costs, $500 was Kickstarter’s take, and only $7000 was going to fund her living expenses for three months. By my math, that’s $28K per year, a little over half the median income in the U.S.

      I’ve pulled down about that much a year, on a few occasions. It’s not exactly Pakistani bricklayer wages (thx Neal Stephenson), but it’s a good thing I’m single and miserly.

      My point is, she ain’t exactly rollin’ in caviar.

      January 8, 2015
      |Reply
      • JennyTrout
        JennyTrout

        I think her bio as Annalise Evans says she lives in California.

        January 8, 2015
        |Reply
        • On her KS it lists Hawaii.

          January 8, 2015
          |Reply
      • JennyTrout
        JennyTrout

        Also, if she lived in Hawaii, 10k wouldn’t fund three months of living expenses.

        January 8, 2015
        |Reply
    • M
      M

      Why does she have to limit herself to minimum wage, which I think we all know by now isn’t a living wage?

      January 10, 2015
      |Reply
  20. M
    M

    It certainly does sound like setting the Kickstarter up as a pre-order page would have been wise. Maybe she needed to find out she could sell $1,000 copies of her book at $10 each or else she’d have to accept that she needed a second source of income. If she knows she can churn out a decent book in, say, three months, then it seems reasonable to me to say, “Hey, fans, I’d love to write a book for you, but I can’t get an advance from my publisher. How about I sell my self-published book directly to you, and you reserve/pre-order your copy now for $10?”

    If she has 1,000 fans willing to pay in advance, then everyone is happy. There are at least a six authors I can think of who I trust enough that when they come out with a new book, I don’t even think — I just get the book because I know it’ll be good.

    If she were to get more than 1,000 people to fund her book, even better. The people funding are, in this scenario, simply purchasing her book, so, again, no one is hurt so long as the book is completed and delivered as promised. If the book sucks, such a funding scheme simply won’t be successful next time around. I’ve bought books that turned out not to be as good as I expected, and that’s made me not purchase books from that author again. Simple enough.

    If she were not to meet her funding goal, then she’d know that maybe now is a time to focus on something else.

    It appears that the author’s mistake was asking for donations rather than purchases.

    January 8, 2015
    |Reply
    • OK, so let’s get this out there: Everybody acts like the Kickstarter has vanished but cancelled Kickstarters are still readable. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/481551832/princess-of-thorns-sequel

      She WAS asking for purchases. And she was offering different purchase tiers just as most authors do. For some reason the rumor is going around that she was asking for money and offering nothing in return. But she was in fact offering copies of the book as a basic $10 tier, and higher tiers with more swag and options.

      January 8, 2015
      |Reply
      • JennyTrout
        JennyTrout

        So it was, as others have said, a “generous pre-order.”

        I can still see why people bridled at the, “there won’t be any new books” part of the equation, especially when she admits that her career is solvent in other areas.

        January 8, 2015
        |Reply
        • JennyTrout
          JennyTrout

          Why don’t I have a little picture? You guys all have little pictures. THIS IS BULLSHIT.

          Guys, how do I make a little picture of me show up there?

          January 8, 2015
          |Reply
          • Laina
            Laina

            Log into wordpress.com, click the little person next to the pencil, and then under profile, I think it’ll be an option there.

            January 8, 2015
      • M
        M

        Ah, sorry about that. Something in the post made me think the Kickstarter had been taken down, so I didn’t even do a search. In that case, I seriously don’t get why this is an issue at all.

        I did read her linked explanation/apology post, and I thought it came across as sincere and well reasoned. I feel bad for that she’s gotten such negative attention.

        January 8, 2015
        |Reply
  21. Hi Jenny,

    Great post, as usual.

    I was one of the people that was slightly opposed to the KS in the beginning. But I certainly didn’t want Jay to quit writing YA and didn’t really care if she took the KS down.

    I feel annoyed at the accusations that book bloggers are entitled when they produce so much work on behalf of authors for free and often at a loss. Giveaways be expensive, man.
    I would never want one of my beloved authors to go hungry. It was never about that, so I’m really glad you took the time to set the record straight.

    January 8, 2015
    |Reply
  22. The reason I’m against this and pretty much any Kickstarter campaign is, what, she wanted money to write a book? So she asked online?

    Which proves she already has a computer and an internet connection. That’s all I had when I started out, and I’ve never asked anyone to give me a penny to help me write a book.

    Many other authors I could name had living expenses. They either got a job and wrote in their spare time, or they lived off savings, or they cut their cloth to fit their measure.

    Why should anyone pay Author X to do something millions of others are doing for free?

    (Note: when I say ‘for free’ I refer to the writing of the book, not the publication. And even there, it’s relatively inexpensive to self-publish a book. Write the book or don’t write it; don’t expect other people to pay you for doing it. Shit or get off the pot.)

    January 8, 2015
    |Reply
    • “Why should anyone pay Author X to do something millions of others are doing for free?”

      Because they like what Author X is writing and want to read more of it.

      I know Jenny said that nobody’s saying authors don’t deserve to get paid. But it sounds a lot like you’re saying, “Authors don’t deserve to get paid.” Saying that someone who wants to create art should get a job to support themselves sounds a lot like “what artists create doesn’t contribute to society.”

      And sometimes that’s true. The world is full of artists creating for the sheer pleasure of it, even though the results aren’t ‘marketable.’ I suspect this isn’t one of those cases, because Stacey Jay seems to have quite a few fans.

      If you’re okay with Stephen King being supported by fans who buy his books, explain what’s wrong with another author with a fan base reaching out to them for support. Because I don’t see the problem, and your objections come across as cranky, what-makes-her-better-than-me? grumblings.

      January 8, 2015
      |Reply
      • You might want to go back and read the part of my comment where I pointed out that millions of others are WRITING BOOKS for free, and I said publication was a different matter.

        Writing a book costs nothing. This is especially true for someone who already has a computer with word processing software.

        Stephen King doesn’t ask his readers to pay his bills while he writes books. He just puts his books out there and lets them buy if they so choose.

        January 8, 2015
        |Reply
        • M
          M

          I don’t think I can agree here. Writing a book doesn’t cost nothing. Every hour I spend on my book is an hour I’m not doing something else, and the costs can add up:

          1. If I work fewer hours so I can write, I’ve lost money.
          2. If I skip yardwork to write and have to hire a gardener (because I don’t have kids I can give chores to), I’ve lost money.
          3. If I don’t have time to cook healthy meals at home because I’m writing, I’ve lost money because premade stuff costs more; plus, I may develop health problems, which will also cost me more to treat.
          4. If I don’t exercise because I’m writing, I may have to buy a size up in clothing and my inactivity can lead to various health problems or injuries, costing me money.
          5. If I don’t sleep and/or relax enough because I’m writing, I may develop a need for caffeine, low productivity at work, less creativity as I write, dangerously slow reaction times as I drive leading to tickets or accidents, health problems requiring treatment or medicine, mental health problems requiring the same, etc.

          I could go on, but my point here is that writing IS a job that takes physical and mental tolls on writers, and a stressful one at that since there are no guaranteed profits. It’s not something that someone can easily do in the off-time of a 60-hour work week (my schedule, but even with a 40-hour work week it’s hard) without making major concessions for one’s time that isn’t controlled by an employer. Going to work all day (or night) and then coming home to work more, even if it’s enjoyable work, isn’t sustainable behavior.

          People do it, sure. But they pay for it. Maybe they don’t always pay for it in terms of money, but they pay for it. So, no, I wouldn’t say writing costs nothing. It always costs time and energy, both of which we have in a limited daily supply.

          January 10, 2015
          |Reply
          • You could say that about any occupation. Any hour I spend at my EDJ is an hour I could have spent doing the laundry. Any hour I spend cleaning the windows is an hour I didn’t spend on the ironing.

            No-one makes you write (that’s a general you, not YOU specifically).

            And if every writer pays for it in this way or that, we could say “No, Ms Jay, I’m not paying for YOUR writing. I’m too busy paying for my own.”

            January 10, 2015
          • PS: Should have added, as far as I’m aware writing IS Jay’s job, and it pays for her financially. So why does she need our help? The help of people who DO have other jobs to take care of?

            January 10, 2015
      • You want to know what the problem is? I’ll tell you, I’ve been talking about since the KS hit the fan. The KS does nothing to make things better for Jay. What happens after the 3 months are over? If she can’t live off the income of her backlist how is one more book going to take up the slack?

        It isn’t. So does that mean Jay stops writing then or does she return to the KS well again? And if she did that, how would that be helping her?

        What I think no one has realized, but a lot have swimming around in their subconscious minds, is the fact that this is not a permanent answer to her problem. Jay needs a long-term financial plan and the whole KS thing somehow feels like she is denying the future.

        I support authors, I buy their books, my purchase is my payment for their work. No one is denying her this. Authors, like a lot of other occupations, mine included, get paid after the work is done. Jay is now facing the reality of life as an Indie author and doesn’t much like it. Don’t blame her but there it is.

        Those aren’t what-makes-her-better-than-me? grumblings, those are you’ve-got-two-kids-and-three-months-and-$7000-aren’t-going-to-make-your-new-life-any-easier-better-face-reality-now comments.

        January 8, 2015
        |Reply
        • What is your occupation? Never mind. I don’t want to make things personal. But I’ll have to guess at what you mean:

          Most “occupations” indeed pay “after the work is done,” just as you say. But in my day job (just as an example), I do the work, log my hours, and get paid every two weeks. The work comes in steady chunks, and you get a steady paycheck in response.

          For a professional author, “after the work is done” means “after the book is written,” which means whenever the book is done,” which could be months or years after the work is started. I hope that’s not the comparison you’re making, because it’s an unfair one. But then, you did say “a lot of other occupations” and “you get a periodic paycheck” is literally how most occupations work.

          I’m not sure why you’re asking me what she’ll do when the Kickstarter money runs out. SJ basically said what she’d do if the campaign didn’t fund: focus on republishing her backlist, continue on her day job, etc. I would assume that would be her fallback plan if this (or any future campaigns) failed to fund.

          Now, it’s not clear what she means by “republishing her backlist,” or which of the thirteen books she has rights to. Maybe she’s working with Delacourte on some sort of marketing push. But she seems to believe that she has options in front of her that would help her backlist generate more revenue. Those options were what she was asking her fans to pay to put on hold for a while, so she could get her sequel out sooner.

          As to your question of how many times she should be allowed to go to Kickstarter for funding? As many times as her campaigns are successful. As many times as her fans agree to support her.

          You’ve implied that she’s failed as an author, and that she’s doing a disservice to her kids by asking her fans to focus too much on her writing. We authors are a self-delusional lot, true. It’s not impossible. But given how little any of us actually know about her situation, her connections, her employment prospects (or, thanks to the abandonment of the campaign, her fans’ enthusiasm), it feels like a pretty harsh judgment.

          January 8, 2015
          |Reply
          • I’ve been self employed for 25 yrs. It’s not easy but it is what I’ve chosen.

            At no time did I mean to imply she has failed as an author, she was traditionally published for a decade. She has more than succeeded. But publishing has changed and authors must adapt.

            I don’t think she wants to. Indeed, that is what her KS proposal sounded like and maybe that is my interpretation or a poor choice of words on her part.

            Now, you talk about her day job, what day job? She said she has been writing full time for the past 10 yrs. Once again, I interpreted that to mean that she only writes her books not that there is another day job. If she had another day job then why does she need to now stop it and write this book full time?

            I’m assuming she is still getting income from her backlist since they are all listed for sale?

            I think a lot of this/these discussion(s) have to do with how we are all interpreting what she posted. So let me be clear on what I took from her post:

            She has been an author full time for 10 yrs
            She has no other job
            She has recently been dropped from her trad pub for low sales (not her fault nor has she “failed”)
            She seems to want to continue being paid an advance even if you call it pre-orders because she always has been
            She doesn’t seem to have any long-term financial plan in place
            She has 2 children and is the family breadwinner

            Okay. There is what I’m working with. Now do you see where I’m coming from? I don’t think this is the best solution for her long term. And let me be plain, I don’t care about her books or her public, I want to see that she can be secure and not constantly worrying about paying the mortgage and feeding the kids.

            That book will get written whether she works at something else to bring in income or not as she decides. (That was a horrible sentence and I can’t fix it) Plenty of authors work, have kids, and write. She can do it, too.

            Maybe she just feels overwhelmed by the realization of how her life is going to change but she needs to address it now not in a few months when the KS funds run out and she is back to this point again. Once again, this is what I read into her KS post.

            Now, do I think writers should get paid during the book writing process? Wouldn’t that be a perfect world? This is a discussion that needs to be done away from Jay because there are all sorts of issues that need discussion that have no relation to her situation.

            Now I’ve rambled on and have no idea if I answered you, sorry, I’m recovering from what I think might have been food poisoning and I’m not my contentious best.

            Here’s my bottom line:

            I would give her money to cover book expenses
            I would give her money for groceries
            I would give her the number of a good financial planner or employment service
            I would not give her what she asked for in her KS because I don’t believe it would solve her problems

            Does any of that help?

            January 8, 2015
          • Laina
            Laina

            I know a few daycare providers who ask for payment in advance to avoid having to chase around the clients because… people who use daycare sometimes suck, and you run the risk of not getting paid at all. I actually know a few who ask for quarterly or bi-yearly checks that they then cash at payday.

            That’s an unusual model, and very little related to this, but interesting factoid!

            January 8, 2015
          • mahala: “Does that help?”

            A lot. Thank you.

            January 8, 2015
          • Tez Miller
            Tez Miller

            Most “occupations” indeed pay “after the work is done,” just as you say. But in my day job (just as an example), I do the work, log my hours, and get paid every two weeks. The work comes in steady chunks, and you get a steady paycheck in response.

            That’s the thing. She wasn’t asking for incremental payment. She was asking for a lump-sum, and upfront. Say you earn $20,000 a year. Do you get paid the full $20,000 in a lump-sum before you’ve even started the year’s work? Not in any industry I know of, but you may know differently.

            January 8, 2015
          • “She wasn’t asking for incremental payment. She was asking for a lump-sum, and upfront. Say you earn $20,000 a year. Do you get paid the full $20,000 in a lump-sum before you’ve even started the year’s work? Not in any industry I know of, but you may know differently.”

            My point was that, while it sounds all sensible to say, “You get paid when the work is done,” the model fails when it puts your pay date months or years off.

            Get paid up front? That works. You put it in a bank, spend it carefully, make sure it can last until the end of the project.

            Get paid as you go? That works. You can live paycheck to paycheck and still have all your needs met.

            Get paid months after you start? Doesn’t work, unless you’ve got a pile of savings at the ready.

            January 9, 2015
        • The whole point of the Kickstarter was that she COULD live off her backlist and other pseudonyms, but she’d rather work on this and she wanted to see if that was a viable option.

          January 8, 2015
          |Reply
  23. Just to put this all in context:

    My sister is a psychiatric researcher at my state’s university, and she’s on a nine-year NIH grant. That grant covers a bunch of stuff – labs, equipment, transportation to wherever the heck fancy places she goes to talk to other scientists, two assistants and her salary. Her salary. (This allows her to see fewer patients in her regular job at the university and focus on the research.) With her salary she does regular things like pay the mortgage and write checks to her kids’ piano teacher and buy Fritos. Because it is a salary. From a grant. Line itemed.

    When Anita Sarkeesian launched her successful kickstarter campaign, the money that she asked for was not just for the basics of video production, but for the TIME needed to be able to produce said videos. Paying for her time. Like a salary. And with that she does what anyone does with a salary – buy heat and water and electricity and go out for tacos.

    When Chuck Wendig launched his successful KS campaign – yes, he asked for less, but what he asked for was TIME. Time to write the book. In other words, a salary. (It should be noted that his YA novel that he wrote thanks to kickstarter later sold to a traditional publisher. No one fussed at him about it. No one said, “Don’t do this . . . ever.”

    Now I know other authors who launched other kinds of crowdfunding campaigns – some through kickstarter, some through Indigogo, some just on their own on their blogs – and they asked for all kinds of things. Time to write their books. Help with defraying costs for psychiatrists and meds to get themselves healthy so they can write their books. Help with childchare costs so they can get their kids out of the damn house so they can write their books. Are there other ways that authors can get this help beside crowdfunding? Of course! I recieved a grant from a local foundation for the sole purpose of hiring a local teenager to watch my kids for three hours a day. I figured, why not ask? The worst that can happen is that people might say no.

    I have no problem with people saying no to Jay. I said no. It wasn’t the type of project that I usually support. I’m picky. But I didn’t shame her in public. I didn’t say, “Don’t do this ever.” And when those voices are raised to the extent that they were – when THAT many people are saying, in unison, “Girl, NO.” it has an impact – the impact here is that it silenced an artist. It silenced her. And this bothers me. It bothers me a lot.

    January 8, 2015
    |Reply
    • JennyTrout
      JennyTrout

      If it makes you feel any better, if I had known that Wendig did it, and if authors supporting his had the same “you readers are all leeches and assholes” attitude that Jay’s supporters took, I would have written the same post.

      That’s why I changed this one to “Don’t do this…ever?” because I don’t know that it’s necessarily a terrible thing to do (as other people have pointed out, authors have done successful kickstarters in the past). I do know that it’s definitely a terrible thing to start accusing readers and bloggers (who, as others here have pointed out, do tons of free work on behalf of authors) of being greedy and wanting artists and their children to starve. I don’t agree that she was “silenced.” She pulled her kickstarter and quit writing. No one forced her to do that. She just didn’t want the criticism her actions resulted in, so she stopped. But I think that if her “supporters” had stopped for a second and thought before engaging in a “oh, poor us, we can never catch a break, readers are so mean” way, it wouldn’t have blown up the way it did at all.

      January 8, 2015
      |Reply
      • Do not forget the fact that when Jay edited her apology blog she added the part about the “vitriolic” vibe supposedly now running through the YA community. That didn’t help matters.

        January 8, 2015
        |Reply
        • Yes, she must be mistaken. I’m sure that those who objected to her campaign only ever couched their disagreements in the most polite and constructive terms.

          Because this is the Internet, where we value collegiality and propriety above all else.

          January 8, 2015
          |Reply
          • Diane
            Diane

            I had been watching this as it happened, and I never saw any vitriol. People were discussing why they felt the request was a bit inappropriate. Most of the tweets didn’t even mention Jay by name. This blew up because some authors, rather than discussing rationally why they didn’t think it was a problem, chose to turn it into an attack on entitled readers and bloggers.

            I can’t even get behind the misogynist claims completely. Jay writes YA and those readers tend to be very active on social media, so it was discussed widely on social media.

            Anytime you come into a debate and start attacking the other side, rather than simply presenting a counterargument, it’s going to turn into a messy kerfuffle. Some of the tweets I saw coming from authors were pretty darn nasty. I just don’t think this would have received much attention, had this debate been about the pros and cons of KS. But, nope, it then became about how entitled readers and bloggers have become.

            January 8, 2015
      • The thing is, I don’t think anyone is saying that. I certainly am not. And I don’t see this as a bloggers vs. authors issue at all. All I’m saying is that there is nothing wrong, when asking for money, to line item the time it takes to make the thing that you’re asking money *for*. People do it all the time. They do it on KS, they do it on the paypal button on their websites, they do it when they apply for grants and they do it in supplicative letters to their publishers, asking for an extra advance because the book is taking way longer than anticipated (nonfiction writers do this ALL THE TIME). This is all normal stuff. The weird thing was when the internet (and I’m not slamming book bloggers by any means. This was bigger than book bloggers. What happened here was pretty ugly.) all rose up and said, “GIRL, NUH-UH.” That was weird. And I contend that it was inappropriate. Because what she was asking for was normal. The method by which she asked, while fairly new, is now considered normal. So why the dust-up. Why the collective voice saying, THAT JUST ISN’T DONE. Why not just quietly decide not to fund this particular KS because it just isn’t your thing?

        Because, seriously? This is Kickstarter. The same site that collectively gifted the creator of a potato salad recipe fifty-five grand. And yet people will still shame – publicly shame – an author for just wanting to finish her stupid book. There was no reason for it. Fund a project or don’t, but why make someone feel shitty for just asking? She already got the wind kicked out of her. Would it kill us to be kind?

        January 8, 2015
        |Reply
        • JennyTrout
          JennyTrout

          I agree with pretty much everything you’re saying here, except for the potato salad guy as an example; there were all sorts of debates about whether or not that was ethical. I took issue with Jay’s Kickstarter when I first heard of it, both in a, “Really?” kind of eye-roll initial way (my stance was that authors need to start using Patreon.com if they’re going to ask for living expenses, because that’s way too nebulous a request to throw into a Kickstarter), but I didn’t really care all that much if people contributed. I’ve supported a bunch of other Kickstarters, and we’ve had posts here where people leave links to their projects, and everybody is pretty aware that participation is voluntary.

          However, I do think it’s an author v. blogger issue now, just because of how all of this shook out. If you searched Stacey Jay on twitter, you got author after author talking about how mean and bullied and terrible everyone was and readers want free stuff and for writers to starve. I think that’s what ended up making it an authors v. bloggers issue; authors who routinely take advantage of free labor from bloggers and readers to promote their books were saying, “You expect us to work and not get paid?! You’re horrible!” Not ALL authors, but there was a lot of it.

          Honestly, Stacey Jay’s Kickstarter wasn’t even a part of the debate at that point, it was just the snowball that started the avalanche of whatever the hell happened yesterday.

          January 8, 2015
          |Reply
      • Yes, I agree that she wasn’t silenced. She just isn’t going to write YA. I assume she is now conscientiously focusing on her other lines of business, because clearly the money isn’t in YA for her.

        For what it’s worth, Jenny, while I’m still confused by all the ideas that an author shouldn’t ask for eating money in a crowdfund, I don’t think bloggers/readers are being greedy. I’m just… confused. It doesn’t make sense to me. I am pretty sure a big part of the blow-up was not READERS ARE GREEDY but a panicky OMG WHAT THE HELL AM I SUPPOSED TO DO from hybrid authors who have been successfully using or thinking of using Kickstarters to take the place of publisher advances.

        January 8, 2015
        |Reply
        • JennyTrout
          JennyTrout

          I don’t think authors *shouldn’t* use Kickstarter. I’ve funded Kickstarter projects, and I’ve thought of doing them, myself. And I would never say an author didn’t deserve money for what they’re doing. I laid out the current business model as it works in the publishing industry, and why people disagreed with her “living expenses” part of her kickstarter. This post was more about the claims authors were making, that bloggers and readers don’t want us to eat, that they don’t want to pay us, that they’re all mean, greedy people (which is especially rich considering how many authors feel entitled to free publicity from readers and bloggers).

          January 9, 2015
          |Reply
  24. Thanks for the post, Jenny!

    I was kind of confused about the whole thing because on the one hand, I wasn’t opposed to the KS despite its objectionable wording since the author did apologize. But then it had so many varying implications, and then the backlash on the YA blogging community. And being kindasorta ignorant, I couldn’t see the relationship. Thanks for making it clear.

    In the end, I think it was Jay’s wording that painted her as entitled. No one is a bad person here–just some in the wrong, IMO. But they don’t seem to realize that. Taking Jay’s decision to quit YA as a consequence of the behavior of the YA reading community is wrong. Nothing more, nothing less. Like you say (and I now realize), it was a business decision. And even if it weren’t, it was HER personal choice.

    Nobody drove her to it.

    YA bloggers get blamed for everything that happens, not only by certain authors but other readers as well again and again and again, is what this incidence illustrates. And I don’t get it.

    January 8, 2015
    |Reply
  25. J Mitchell
    J Mitchell

    “What people have been objecting to is that a writer is asking readers to provide them with profits before the product has been delivered.”

    I am a modern gamer, and a fan of the WWE series of games in particular. With the latest game, they offered a $25 “Showcase Season Pass” for a bunch of downloadable content for the game. At the time the game was released(mid November), you could buy the Season Pass, but NONE of the DLC was released. It is now January. They have not yet released ANY of it. They will, however, still take your order for the Season Pass.

    This certainly seems like asking the users to “provide them with profits before the product has been delivered”, and it (“Season Passes” such as this for all DLC) is pretty common in the gaming industry.

    I don’t see a difference between what this woman wanted and this.

    January 8, 2015
    |Reply
    • Bloop
      Bloop

      Yeah, I see what you mean about DLC–and really, Kickstarter is all about buying things before they’ve been made. The only thing that was really weird about the Kickstarter was…well, to use the DLC analogy, it would be like if the DLC was worth $15, but when you preordered it it cost $25, because they were still making it. But, they would tell you, once it was done it would cost $15. You wouldn’t want to pay MORE when it was a WIP than the cost it would be when completed, right?

      That’s…the thing that was weird about the Kickstarter. She openly said she was charging more for the ebook in the KS than she would when it was completed. Usually Kickstarters are a one-time chance to get things *cheaper*, or the main item is at a regular price but there are high-value tiers with special goods or special sneak peaks that the author is using to find their other expenses.

      I’m not saying it was wrong–like everyone’s been saying, it’s up to each backer whether or not they want to back, nobody’s being forced into it. It was just…weird.

      January 8, 2015
      |Reply
      • J Mitchell
        J Mitchell

        Did she not include other things at the $10, such as acknowledgement in the book?

        At the $20 level…

        “The Early Bird Package: You get the book one month prior to the scheduled release date, an envelope of swag items (bookmarks, etc, US only), and, if you’re a blogger, I will be happy to provide you with bonus content for your blog (interview, exclusive excerpt, shameful story from my childhood, etc.). (This book will not be listed on Netgalley or any other early review site. This is the ONLY way to get an early review copy if you aren’t a member of Stacey’s street team.)

        As well as all rewards from Reward #1 and #2 including:
        An ebook download package including epub (for Nook/Apple) and mobi (for Kindle) files. Personal thanks in the acknowledgements. Name mentioned in a ukulele accompanied song sung by the author that will be made available for download near the release date.”

        So… I’m uncertain why there is a difficulty with the thought of paying more than one would normally pay for the book. You are getting other things as a bonus for your contributions (or, at least, you were…)

        January 9, 2015
        |Reply
        • Bloop
          Bloop

          Nice job wording that condescendingly. 🙂

          Not everyone wants to pay more for a thank-you. Some people just want to directly pay for the book, no frills attached. That wasn’t an option. In Kickstarters, it frequently, if not usually, is an option. In fact, usually the thank-you in included by default, without costing extra. But she specifically stated that she was charging more because of her personal costs.

          Which is legit for her to do. And she doesn’t have to give a thing for free that most kickstarters do. It’s just weird, and not in following with what most Kickstarters seem to do. I don’t think it deserved all this kerfluffle, however–if people didn’t like the way she ran her kickstarter or didn’t think it was a good value for the extra money, they didn’t have to back it. But I can see why they thought it was an odd thing to ask. Of course, maybe lots of kickstarters are doing it her way now, and I haven’t seen them.

          *shrugs* Possibly it may be just me, as I don’t feel like a “thank you” is a valuable thing for purchase–a thank you is a natural outpouring of gratitude. I don’t feel like paying more for it. I want to buy the thing I want, and help the person I wanted to help, and know that I did a good thing and I got a good thing. Don’t need any thanks, and certainly don’t want to pay a price tag for it.

          January 9, 2015
          |Reply
          • Bloop
            Bloop

            Hm. I probably interpreted your comment as more deriding than it was meant to be. Sorry, my bad. A lot of people start in on the “I can see you’re having difficulty understanding this very simple thing” track in arguments as a way of alluding to “you are obviously challenged,” and I’m a special needs advocate so nothing gets my gander up like using “challenged” or “difficulties” as an insult.

            But I’ve been embroiled in too many debates on that topic lately, and I think I’ve developed a bit of a hot button and started jumping to conclusions that aren’t there… So, yeah, sorry about that. ^_^;;

            You do have a point, she was offering something more, I just hadn’t seen it as a thing that should be paid for (to me, a thank you has great value, but it *loses* that value when it has a price tag). But maybe some people do. And either way, it’s up to the backer to decide.

            January 9, 2015
  26. If she could live off her backlist then why ask for money for the mortgage? That makes no sense.

    January 8, 2015
    |Reply
  27. I feel like it’s a little harsh to attack her for just asking. You don’t have to donate, obviously. And I wonder — was she going to give copies of the book for free or a discount to people who did? In which case, it’s like investing in something rather than charity.

    But absolutely, an author doesn’t get paid for the act of writing. You get paid if people like what you did and buy it.

    January 8, 2015
    |Reply
  28. Posey
    Posey

    I’ve seen so many books/comics/games get funded on Kickstarter, so I’m having trouble understanding why ALL of a sudden this one is being burned at the stake. I’ll chalk it up to internet mob mentality for now. Perhaps the people above claiming sexism could be on to something. Who exactly was complaining that she had a book up on Kickstarter? Was it people within the YA community or people from other genres?

    Obviously, no one is forcing anyone to fund her. And from her page, it looks like $10 actually buys you the eBook. If I were her fan, I’d probably be really excited to get the next installment of the series despite its cancellation from the publisher.

    I get the analogy about the ketchup. Yet, at the same time, freelancers (programming, design) usually ask for a % of the total cost up front from a client. The common thought is that you’re paying for expertise/time of this person to do the work because you couldn’t do it yourself. Perhaps not in writing/literature; I can’t speak about that industry. But freelancers (the kind I am and know of) are considered a business by themselves, and that’s how they go about it. Basically what I’m getting at is that I can forgive her for having a similar mentality about writing, even if that’s not how it *should* be in writing.

    January 8, 2015
    |Reply
    • “I’m having trouble understanding why ALL of a sudden this one is being burned at the stake. I’ll chalk it up to internet mob mentality for now. Perhaps the people above claiming sexism could be on to something. ”

      Oh puhlease. Don’t insult our intelligence with this hyperbolic nonsense.

      January 9, 2015
      |Reply
  29. Petra Newman
    Petra Newman

    I followed the initial discussion pretty much from the start and I have to agree that the whole thing did get blown up into ‘bullying’ etc. Yes there was something about the Kickstarter that made people a little uncomfortable – some of the discussion focused on people trying to articulate why that was – but it was also a discussion of wether or not, given the drastic changes going on in trad publishing/rise of self publishing etc, this was a viable model for the future. Thus the inclusion of sites like Patreon and wether they would work better. I never saw anything nasty directed to the author; I’m not saying there wasn’t stuff out there but much of what I saw (including Tez Miller’s great spotify posts and Bibliodaze’s think piece) were discussions of the idea of crowd funding within the context of writing, how and why they could be problematic and wether there were ways to address these issues. Of course people recognized the whole ‘if you don’t like it don’t fund it’ point of view, it was just that it went beyond that point; as any good discussion should. Then all of a sudden the discussion blew up, people weighed in with the bullying charge and the whole thing basically became something else entirely. It’s a shame that the whole thing devolved into this (especially if there were people out there who made direct attacks on the author, something I didn’t personally see) because the changing way that books are funded and publishing is a conversation that needs to happen.

    January 9, 2015
    |Reply
    • JennyTrout
      JennyTrout

      I really feel like authors were responsible for the “bullying” aspect that came into play. So many of them rushed to Jay’s defense, some admitting that they’d never seen the Kickstarter or really followed what was happening, then going off on tears about how nobody wants us to eat.

      January 9, 2015
      |Reply
  30. My beef with this was actually very Jay-specific. I’ve been sent review copies of all four of her YA novels, and ‘Princess of Thorns’ was the first one I thought was legitimately good. This came as a pleasant surprise, because I thought her first two books were *unbelievably* terrible (and found her third forgettable). I wouldn’t mind reading another ‘Princess of Thorns’ book, but I would never, ever contribute to a fund for an author whose work is so inconsistent. There are plenty of under-performing authors whose work I would happily crowd-fund–hell, if Ysabeau Wilce set up a Kickstarter to fund another ‘Flora Segunda’ book I’d be first in line to contribute–but when it comes to an author like Jay I’d want to see the finished book, read the official plot description, and maybe comparison shop for a while before I shelled out any actual cash.

    January 10, 2015
    |Reply
    • Tez Miller
      Tez Miller

      TRIGGER WARNING! Immediately after SJ published that post, and I read it via my Feedly, it referenced “rape”. It may have been edited since (I haven’t checked), but I thought I’d warn anyone who hasn’t visited that link yet.

      January 12, 2015
      |Reply
  31. I have a couple problems with your argument. First, the ketchup factory analogy. It’s an accepted practice in start up businesses to ask for funding from venture capitalists. The idea is, someone has something they think will make a good product, but need money to make it happen. Someone else has money, and they believe the product will eventually be successful, so they help fund it. That’s capitalism.

    Second, you seem fine with taking an advance that your book never earned back. How is it OK to take a publisher’s money up front but not the public’s? Are publishers not people too? Crowd-funding is about letting the public take the role of investor. If they don’t want that risk, they’re free not to take it. No one was ever asked to do anything against their will and no one ever attempted to deceive the public. If you don’t like the business model, you walk away. You don’t complain that the business model shouldn’t be allowed to happen.

    And SJ was essentially just taking pre-orders – you pay up front and she gives you the book when it’s finished. Don’t people pay for pre-orders all the time on Amazon, even before a book has completed editing and no physical product yet exists? Do you think this is different because it’s earlier along in the production process? She had already proven her ability to deliver a product – but if you don’t trust her, don’t give her money.

    The amount of people arguing about the economics of this situation who don’t seem to have a solid grasp of how our capitalist economy works is worrisome. It all sounds like trying to justify an anger that must come from some other place, since JS did what so many have done before without any problem.

    January 12, 2015
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    • JennyTrout
      JennyTrout

      I have no anger toward Jay that I need to justify, and I don’t think many other people do, either. I don’t have a problem with the business model–I even said in this post that I have funded Kickstarters and that I’ve considered them myself–but some did, and I’m trying to explain how the current model works and what some of the objections were, and how none of them entailed Jay not getting paid for her work, as many people were suggesting.

      As for “taking an advance that your book never earned back,” you seem to have companies and people confused; companies give advances, people give patronage. Companies plan on getting their money back with an advance (my first contract earned out within the first quarter of each title’s release). Patrons support the artist. So, those saying “it’s the same as an advance” weren’t right. You wanted a better grasp of economics in this discussion, so there’s some right there. Pointing out the difference isn’t a personal attack on Jay, especially since to my knowledge she never said it was an advance; that was coming from supporters.

      Nowhere in my post did I say anything about not trusting Jay, about anyone being deceived, or forced to do anything against their will. But if people did feel that they couldn’t trust an author’s kickstarter, why shouldn’t they be allowed to talk about that? I saw many, many people stating that they don’t support any kickstarter projects by authors, because they’ve been burned in the past, etc, or because they very rarely achieve funding in the first place. But somehow that got turned into, “We don’t specifically like this one person, and we want to destroy her and watch her family starve.” That was an incredibly unfair attitude coming from authors at readers and bloggers who supply so much unpaid labor in support of authors.

      And almost none of that has anything to do with Jay, beyond the fact that she started a campaign that began this whole thing, and some people didn’t care for the fact that she said she would stop writing if she didn’t get the money (another “business, personal” issue).

      January 12, 2015
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      • Diane
        Diane

        Something else that bugs me about this “it’s no different than an advance” argument is that publishers give an advance on a completed manuscript, or, at the very least, an almost completed manuscript. It’s important to note that Jay had not even begun to write the book. So, in essence she wanted an “advance” on something that did not exist.

        I really can’t see an author approaching a publisher with no manuscript, yet demanding an advance.

        January 13, 2015
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  32. Robin L. Martinez
    Robin L. Martinez

    The thing to remember here is, everyone who contributed $10 and up was going to receive a copy of the book. In essence (as Stacey Jay explained on her blog) supporters were making a pre-order. And that’s something that happens everyday with both known and unknown authors. And preorders are often opened before the book is even ready for distribution.

    As for people not seeing the hateful messages that were sent to her, I believe most of them landed in her inbox. One person, according to Stacey Jay, sent her aerial views of her house, threatening to release them and her address to the Internet. So, she was doxxed, which is harassment.

    As others have said, many male authors have held a successful KS campaign for exactly the same reasons/expenses that Stacey Jay did and they were funded with little or no flack. Why is she different?

    January 12, 2015
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    • Isn’t doxxing when you actually release the info on the net? What happened was Jay said she received the pics and the email but no one released her address or the pics online so she wasn’t doxxed.

      January 12, 2015
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    • Diane
      Diane

      I think one of the big reasons she is receiving so much flack is because of the genre she writes in, which is YA. Bloggers of YA are very active in social media and bloggers in the genre are very influential in a book’s success. Most of these bloggers do all of this for free, so I am not surprised that it rubbed people the wrong way.

      In addition, I don’t really think her KS was getting that much attention. Sure, people were discussing it, but most didn’t even mention Jay by name. It wasn’t until she pulled her KS and talked about the vitriol in the YA community that this whole thing really blew up.

      Whomever sent Jay pictures of her home was despicable and, from what I have seen, has been universally condemned. However, I think it’s important to note that the person who did this was one person, so it is definitely not fair to condemn an entire community for one person’s bad act. Many bloggers have themselves been victims of harassment and doxxing.

      January 13, 2015
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  33. Granted, I haven’t checked up on Kickstarter’s terms of service in along time, but I was under the impression that if a project you donate to flat out doesn’t happen, that there _were_ avenues under which you could get your money back. I know in the past I’ve read about a number of creators who had to pay back money for projects that completely fell through.

    January 14, 2015
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  34. Amy White
    Amy White

    So reading through the comments and the blog, I had to put my thoughts in. I think that publishing a book on your own is business and writing a book for a publisher is a job. The problem is that book publishing is changing greatly and publishers are trying to hold on with a vengeance. So skipping the publisher, you got to do it yourself.

    Writers essentially are artists. But unlike musical artist or visual artists (painters etc), they cannot preform on corners. They have to get their completed work out there and become known. Obscurity and they will never make it with their art. Once a book or two is out, they need to get it circulated. Jay didn’t have this problem because she already had a series out there, which people liked.

    So why should she not be able to ask for crowd funding? As an artist, not a business. Was she being greedy and saying only if I can get this much? Well, that is up to her and deciding whether writing the story was worth it to her creative self and her time and energy. Whether people donate, that is up to them. If they like her work/art enough, they will. The business model is not that of the big publishers, book mostly completed first then, then contracted amount. So… It is not ketchup, it is art. A painter can ask for an upfront cost before starting a portrait, in fact they can ask for more. The biggest problem is if the work is not done after it has been funded.

    Men doing the same thing, get Kickstart funding, and seem to be tolerated. I think women are hardest on women. They just don’t seem to support each other, the way the male population does. If she were a male author, would hate mail stating threats happen? Might, but not as likely as the uproar just wouldn’t be there. Instead it would just be disappointment. Her books are read mainly by females. This blog is denouncing her is written by a female. Then again there is some reasoning to it too you say, perhaps.

    For one… saying that readers want something for free. Really bad. Books have been and should be shared. Without this there is obscurity. Not everyone that might read your book, thinks it is worth buying full price at published date or at all. Maybe they don’t even know about you, unless they are a avid reader and willing to waist time on unknowns, your book wont be read without it being recommended and free to them. Or if they know the artist, they are willing to wait until they can get it from the library, or a friend, or they might be willing to pay less and get it when it comes to a used book store. This model is changing drastically and will continue to do so for the next decade or more as ebooks are change the business model for the new media. Kickstart might be part of the new age, a solution to getting paid for art, from a known writer.

    Jay put it out there that she was willing to continue the series but only if she could make a living during the writing. Some were fine with it, others were not. Those that were not, were hateful and Jay took the offer off the table, perhaps being thoroughly frightened by the hate mail. Those that would fund it and loved the series will never know if enough support would have been there because the haters did stop it from happening.

    I’ve never read a Stacey Jay novel, so cannot say how good her books are. I don’t usually like YA fantasy, so avoid it, and probably wouldn’t read a book of hers if it landed in my lap. I would give it to someone that did like YA though.

    I really hope that people will let artist use new business models to get their art out there. If it doesn’t work, fine. But don’t blast them for trying something new in this age of change.

    May 19, 2015
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