I’ll Save My Money For The Paperback, Thanks

Caveat lector.

I’m not financing your unpublished soon to be self-published eBook. In fact I find the entire process of soliciting donations so you can write, edit, and market your self-published eBook to be as distasteful and shady as it gets. When I read those pitches my eyes feel like they’ve tasted something bad, and I can’t scrub away the taste.

In the last week I’ve seen two authors do this – one is angling for funds to complete a ebook and market it, and the other is looking to finance his entire print book that may not even see a distribution list for 1-3 years, because he still has to write it, pay to have it edited, land a cover artist, etc., etc., etc. OH – and then land a publishing house. Then I was kind of sickened to see that Kickstarter has a whole separate website for writers and creators who need a little green to see their goal come true. A lot of these projects are for self-published books (“indie”, whatever), to purchase ISBNs, printing, marketing, etc…

Really?

What’s more, on Kickstarter – there are even authors who funded their last project through fans, and are doing it again because “the response was so great”.

*raises hand*

Excuse me, if the response was so great, shouldn’t the sales from your last book (or in one case, the previous 5) have given you the needed seed capital to self-publish your next book? How was all of that money used? May I see a prospectus and project plan, because this feels like a pigeon drop with matchbooks glued to rats.

Self-publishing is a time-consuming, expensive venture, often Pollyanna’ed to death by proponents trying to convince green or disenfranchised authors that the Traditional Model is dead, and Indie/Self Publishing is the wave of the future. You can do this yourself, Authors! It’s so EASY!

That bandwagon is full, I’ll wait for the next one, thanks.

It’s not easy. It requires that the author have access to trusted friends and associates who can beta read and catch mistakes. Barring that, there is a lot of money to consider – for editors (saying your friends have neither the time nor the skills). There is the re-editing, and polishing, and formatting, and marketing, and selling. As much as self-published authors tout that the time spent from completion to print is slashed when the Traditional Model is tossed out, there are the things that still have to be done by the self-published author is he or she wants their book to sell.

These things are expenses of the self-published author. That is their choice. Yet for all of their independence they would really like potential readers and future fans to finance them.

No.

I’ve always considered readers investors in the sense their time and their money are spend on a finished product. If they like you, they tell their friends, they blog about you, they buy your books for presents. They friend you in FB and follow you on Twitter, and the wait for the next book so they can buy that one, too. That’s a positive investment cycle for an author – Reader buys, Reader gets great story, Reader gets opportunity to buy more books because Author can write more, hence sell more, lo, the Circle of Life.

This is something to consider when you sell your self-published book for less than a cup of coffee. If the reader doesn’t like you, you won’t sell more books and that is the nature of writing. Not everyone gets to make it, there have to be non-winners.

Another distasteful angle, in this new model of “pay me to pre-write”, Author is turned into a business and it feels less like an art and more like a mill. Readers become shareholders, and with Kickstarter’s program Unbound, you get access to the Authors as they write what basically amounts to your book (you’ve already paid for it, may as well consider it yours).

Access. Think about this, Writers: can you imagine fielding emails from investors  – excuse me, donors – wondering how the book is coming along? Every day? Several times a day? Or unsolicited advice on what to do next after putting up a progress chapter? Doesn’t it make you shudder?

Donors won’t necessarily get approval on edits or cover art, and probably won’t get an eARC, but their names probably go on an acknowledgement page or something.

On a book they’ll have to pay for.

Again.

Question: If in the middle of the process a Donor sees a sample chapter and she really hates how the story is going – can she demand her money back? Probably not, and if the finished product and it’s really, really disappointing, who’s to blame – the author for writing a poor story, or the Donor for supporting what should have been assumed to be a bad idea in the first place.

So bottom line – I will not pay you to write a book. I will not give you money to self-publish and sure as heck not an eBook. If I want to see more of your work, I will buy your previous work. If you are a previously unpublished author, the answer is a flat out no. If this is your 4th or 5th writing project on Kickstarter, I would encourage researching the definition of insanity. Programs like Kickstarter were meant to start up projects and reach goals that had a definite end date, not provide pocket money for authors that don’t have a head for business or writing.

It sounds like independent writers have found a new path for taking the long way around the barn. They just aren’t spending their money to do it anymore. They’d rather spend yours.

Caveat emptor.

2 thoughts on “I’ll Save My Money For The Paperback, Thanks

  1. I concur slash couldn’t have said it better. If I try (to say it better) I’d probably stumfumble and use some completely unnecessary profanity-pronoun everytime I try typing the word selfpubli..asslicker See?