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Once upon a time The Diner had a little PayPal TipJar in an unobtrusive corner of the sidebar. I was a regular blogger, three or four times a week, and lively conversations popped up from time to time. The text of the tipjar essentially said, “if you like what you’re reading, how about you buy me a cup of coffee?”
Lots of fantastic people bought me coffee. It was never meant to supplement my income so much as a barometer on what I was posting. People liked to show their appreciation in subtle but kind ways.
I guess that’s why I don’t get the idea of crowd-funding sites not only bringing a artists product to market, but also supporting the artist while he or she realizes that dream.
I get it – not all of us have wealthy or understanding significant others that will support us and a household for a year while we “find ourselves” and make a go at our dreams. A lot of us work full time, support our families full time, and at the end of the day there doesn’t seem to be anything left to pursue that dream we’ve been clinging too for decades.
Sure it would be nice if a few thousand people pre-ordered a book I haven’t written yet, paid for the editing, the cover artist, the internet required to send the query letters to agents and publishers.
We all wish we had the time to write without worrying about things like a job, the lights, and eating, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to go to Indiegogo or Kickstarter or Go FundMe and have people I don’t know, donate money to the concept of a book.
At the end of the day, an author said she wasn’t writing for spec anymore – for those in the business, that means she wasn’t going to write something that didn’t already have a buyer.
Nearly all writers work for spec. We have an idea, we write, we polish, we send it out for submissions. We hope it finds a home.
It’s like having a baby. You think you know what you’d like your baby to do in 20 years, the person they’ll be, the people they’ll encounter, the loves they’ll marry. Absolutely no one has a baby with his or her life already planned.
You have a baby and you figure it out. Sure you paint the room and you get the essentials, but that baby has his whole life ahead of him with plans To Be Made Later. That’s what writing on spec is, and nearly all creatives do it. We create with the hopes that someone will love our work as much as we do and buy it. I have a whole folder of ideas I’ll be exploring this year, and not a single one of them has a home yet. I have confidence that most of them will be written, some of them will be published, one or two ideas will suck – we all have duds.
Last week, a YA author found herself without a publisher after the sales of her first book didn’t pan out. She decided to give her fans what they wanted by launching a Kickstarter Campaign to bring that sequel to market. Sure, you say, happens all of the time. Lots of crowdsourced campaigns ask for help with the expensies of bringing a book to market – editing, cover art, formatting.
Except this was more than that.
This campaign was asking readers and future readers to donate money so she could live while she wrote, about $7,000 of the $10,000 she was asking for would go towards living expenses.
A surprising number of people were okay with that.
A heck of a lot more were not.
It’s hard to be creative while working a full time job. I know this, I’ve been doing it for 20 years, but the difference is I’ve never said if you don’t put money in my tip jar, I‘m not writing another post!
That’s what she did. Yeah, it feels a little entitled. I know lots of authors that write alongside their “alternate revenue streams,” also called jobs, to pull a paycheck. Even some midlist authors have side jobs to supplement the feast or famine that is being a creative and wanting to live off the love.
The backlash wasn’t about the starving artist mystique – no one is asking anyone to starve themselves or their children – it was about asking strangers to do something they weren’t willing to do when her first book was published: like buy it and tell your friends and spread the word and support your favorite author. It basically broke down to her aking her fans to pay her $11.00/hour ti write edit and bring a book (that wasn’t written yet) to market in 6-7 months.
My biggest question, and this is the one that’s been nibbling at my brain: how long was her book out before she decided to write a sequel? Did she have other books
Writers should always be thinking about the next project. My CDI could become a trilogy, so I’m taking steps to take notes so I could potentially sell it as a one-off or a trio, however I do have other novels as a follow up. Why wait until you’re dropped by your publisher to decide you want to give your fans what they want? As a writer, why not just write it?
The idea that she’dbe writing fro free when she;s going to self-publish it bothers me. A lot. We to some all write for free.