More Book Welfare? No thanks.

This has been a topic of hot debate for a few weeks now and I wanna share some stuff too!

Jerrod started it and Paul continued a conversation about a really shady project and I’m bringing it back to the individual writer as common street busker.

I don’t fund, share, or encourage Kickstarter projects for books.  Or IndiGoGo. Or any number of crowdfunding websites designed to separate Wanna-be Angels/Patrons of the Arts from their money. I don’t care who you are or how wonderful you think your idea is or how many luminaries you can get to join the fun. I’m bothered by the idea that you have it in your head that if someone just gave you the money, you would be able to sit down, write a book, and get it published – and in return your generous someones would get a DRM free copy (we used to call it a book) and a t-shirt.

I honestly loathe this idea. You’re such an up and coming Indie/Self-published writer determined to burn the world down with your literary brilliance, yet you need a few thousand dollars of seed money to really drive the point home. *sniff* It smells bad. It smells like Trust Fund Kid Venture Capitalist. It smells like fear of failure. Nancy Collins tried this – wanting $27,000 (which is basically a food, rent and incidentals for about a year) so she can  – wait, let me let her tell you:

“Another major challenge to writing–and, more importantly, finishing–a novel is dealing with distractions that crop up in day-to-day life. The most common distraction is finance.It’s hard to concentrate on the task of writing when you’re worried about where the rent is coming from and whether or not you can keep the lights on long enough to finish the book. Traditionally, that is what a writer’s advance is for–publishers advance the author royalties from the sale of the book in order for them to have the time and means of providing a finished manuscript.”

I honestly can’t tell if she’s just really spoiled or kinda clueless.

You know what writers do?  They write around the schedules of a day to day job. They tend to kids and spouses and pets and significan others. They move in with their girlfriends. They work their hours and deal with family obligations and go home and write. They eat, sleep, and start over the next day. They do not beg people to pay the equivalent of a year’s salary to ease their minds.  

If you’ll notice, her crowdfunding scheme didn’t quite work out, so she switched sites, lowered the goal (I mean really lowered the goal, which tells you how ridiculous $27K was in the first place) and tried again. She didn’t make it her goal, but here’s the thing about IndieGoGo – even if the goal isn’t reached, the beggar gets to keep the money! Even Under-achievers win!

 “Should I not make my goal, I will use the funds I raise to try and complete Kill City and publish it as best I can…If nothing else, there will eventually be an ebook edition, which I will deliver to all supporters of the campaign.”

Holy crap is that ever shady. She’ll try herbest which is what she should be doing anyway, but this time she gets to try it with your money.

While I have never solicited funding from fans–and strangers–to publish a novel before, I have written over 20 novels, 50 short stories, and numerous comic books, including a 2-year stint on DC Comics’ SWAMP THING.  Producing quality, novel-length fiction isn’t a problem for me. 

I’m sorry, but have a little self-respect. You don’t need seed money to write if you already know how.

Writing should not be crowdfunded.  Writing does not require expensive equipment like cameras or extra bodies or liability insurance.  Writing does not require skilled coders, a graphics system or an outfit to build a prototype. All it needs is your butt in a chair, a few hours a day of your time, and your complete focus. If you can’t do that because you’re worried about food and rent, you’re not nearly as dedicated as you think. Your “muse” isn’t the driving force you think it is. If you believe you need a perfect nirvana of quiet, bliss, and your favorite adult beverage, to write, you’re not ready to even begin.

Tell you what – I’ll fund your next Kickstarter project, but I don’t want some .pdf copy or a t-shirt or the chance to be a character.  I’ll be an investor in your book, not a patron or an angel. You’re not a cancer charity or a fund to bury destitute gang victims – you’re a living breathing commodity. I want in on the action. I want to see daily progress reports, I want to see word counts, your edits, your polishes and if I see something that isn’t going to fly, I want the opportunity to tell you to change it. That’s what Producers/Investors/Stockholders do – they’re keeping an eye on their investments.  You would get regular emails from me, I will become a part of r Facebook Friends List so I can ask about plot progress while you check in from the bar or ask if the 3 movies you claim to be watching in GetGlue are research or you screwing around. When it’s complete, I want access to your editor, your printer and how you’re going to distribute. I want a percentage of the profits because my money is worth a hell of a lot more than a tshirt or a pdf copy. 

And then I want to know what’s next . . .

And I would reserve the right to pull my funding if I see that the quality of work isn’t what was promised, or that you’re churning out garbage, or you really just wanted my money.

Because in the end, that’s what matters – if you’re as serious about the final product and moving forward in the business of writing as you are about taking my money, you’ll make me a partner in your venture and have someone to account to instead of that voice in your head you can easily ignore if you turn the volume up on the TV loud enough. 

Or …

You can do what thousands of writers have done since the advent of the printed word – you can write and submit or publish and sit on pins and needles as the royalties roll in (or don’t) and you can let the people give you money the honest way – for work performed  and a job well done. You can agonize over every word, you can create, you can do it for the love, but if you’re serious about your dream you’ll quit your complaining, sit your butt down and just do it and don’t spare the horses.

Because you really don’t want me as your boss.

8 thoughts on “More Book Welfare? No thanks.

  1. Wow. I wish I had known how hard it was to hold down a full time job, maintain contact with family and friends, and still write. If I’d known it was impossible I wouldn’t have spent all those lunch hours locked in my car with my laptop or sequestered in a supply closet while editing.

  2. I am starting to change my mind about the whole kickstarter for most things. There is a local restaurant that I LOVE, but they have a new kick starter to “expand” operations. Oh. Hell.No. You don’t expand operations if you can’t afford to expand operations.

    IF YOUR MODEL works, then it works. if is doesn’t, having a t-shirt of your failed venture in a year isn’t going to make me love you any more.

    And now that I think about it, the few things that my husband has funded-when he got the awesome item…it sat in a corner never used.

    1. You would think, and this is what really bothers me about KickStarter programs, is people would want to see a positive return on their investment, so they would chat up the project and then the book/movie/art so there wouldn’t be a next time on Kickstarter.

      So many creators are using it as a steady form of income with projects after project, instead of using money made from the initial project to put towards the next one. I think that’s what ticks me off so bad about Nancy Collins – you’re telling me after 20 years of writing and publishing you didn’t put anything aside for future projects? What does this say about your writing or business acumen?

  3. I don’t get crowd sourcing for a book either. You can publish for free. Though there can be service costs, copy editor, cover designer, etc. But they aren’t outrageously expensive. And everything I have written has been around a full-time job and family

    1. Right, Corey – What makes Nancy so special that she specifically needs $7,500 to publish one book? I got my last book edited for less that $400. If I were going the self-published route (which I’m not, but that’s just me) I could pay for a cover artist for about the same. Set up costs on CreateSpace are less than $50.00. GLAHW uses an off-set printer for our anthologies and we pay less than $5.00 a copy. Buy an ISBN – $125.00. Lets throw another $500.00 around for new computer just because. So where is that other $6,500 going – and does she really think it’s necessary?

      Is someone who’s supposedly been in the business as long as Nancy Collins really proving she knows absolutely nothing about how it works? But she wants me to give her money?

      For an industry that’s supposedly about the author being in control, it really sounds like no one knows enough about the business to do much more than throw money at people and spin in circles.

  4. I agree with your points, and have an even worse example.

    Got an e-mail the other day from a high school acquaintance, asking me and all his Facebook friends to donate to a Kickstart to fund orthopaedic surgery for one of his dogs.

    So, this guy has the temerity to beg for cash to fund an operation that may or may not work, on a pet that may or may not survive?

    (Yes, I’m familiar with the whole “…but my pets are my children…” trope, but if you REALLY treated them as you would a child, they’d have health insurance. And braces. Maybe a therapist.)