Less than a week into the new year, and we've already had a literary blow-up. Woof.
The background, as I understand it:
Due to the low sales numbers on Princess of Thorns, a traditionally-published sequel is out of the question. So author Stacey Jay started a Kickstarter to fund the sequel, with some of the money slated for actual publishing costs, and some of the money slated for living expenses while the book was being written.
A short time later, Jay cancelled the Kickstarter, citing anger from the "writer/blogger/reader community", finishing off the blog post with an addendum that reads (in part):
And just for the record, this isn't the sole reason I'm retreating. This is definitely the nail in the coffin, but I've noticed increasing vitriol in the Young Adult community for years now. It's sad. A community that was once a warm, welcoming place has become a place where people wait to pounce and tear at flesh the moment someone steps out of line (in their perspective).
My take, in brief:
Which isn't to say that people shouldn't openly discuss the project, critique the use of literary crowdfunding in general—and the use of Kickstarter vs. Patreon vs. IndieGoGo in specific—as well as in relation to the project. I saw conversations about the possible future effects of crowdfunding on publishing, discomfort with paying for a book before it'd been written, and all manner of other related topics. All of that, really, is to be expected, and good, thoughtful discourse is important and productive.
I haven't see rage or bullying or personal attacks, though I've seen a lot of claims/assumptions that there HAVE been. I don't know if people are conflating disagreement/criticism with bullying—something I've noticed has been happening with alarming regularity—or if I just missed the personal attacks.
BECAUSE. I came to all of this after the fact, so it's very, very possible that I missed something (or, of course, that my interpretation of what I've seen is different than other peoples' interpretation). It's also quite possible—likely, even—that Jay received emails and/or private messages on Twitter/FB that were uglier than what's been said in public.
Anyway. Related links:
- At Storify: The Kickstarter That Was, Then Wasn't. Many of the compiled tweets here are blunt and/or harsh, and some are somewhat snarky—I do think it's understandable that some people viewed them as bullying and/or toxic and/or mean-spirited, etc.—but the majority of them are focused on the details of project itself, on the idea of crowd-funding a book, not on Jay herself.
- At Bibliodaze: Stacey Jay and the Politics of the Crowdfunded Author. "More writers will inevitably turn to the crowdfunding model in the future, probably because they’ll have to. Publishing is a mess right now and it’s particularly vicious towards mid-list writers. There’s less money to spend on publicity in an increasingly crowded market and unless you’re an established big name with an upcoming movie adaptation, you’re going to suffer. "
- At Terrible Minds: Kickstarter Tag Team Post: Who's Asking Too Much? "Stacey Jay came under criticism, both for asking for an advance, essentially, and for the line saying if it didn’t fund she’d instead focus on re-publishing her backlist. Some thought it had a whiff of emotional blackmail about it. (I didn’t see it that way. She writes under three names and is supporting a family. I figured she was saying if it doesn’t fund, she’ll focus on things that will let her provide for her family)." (This one is ESPECIALLY interesting, as Laura Lam (Pantomime & Shadowplay) wrote it (or, well, the first half of it), and as she says, "But if things had gone differently, I might have been Kickstarting Masquerade (book 3) right about now. And then, maybe, this could have been me? Who knows.". Also, the second half is by Chuck Wendig, who HAS Kickstarted books, so that's ALSO a super-interesting and relevant read. So, in short, the WHOLE POST is very much worth your time.)
- At YA Interrobang: Stacey Jay Launches Kickstarter Campaign, Cancels After Controversy. "Other readers discussed how quickly publishers can be to abandon books, and how they wished publishers would focus on promoting more titles rather than concentrating all of their publicity on their bestsellers."
- At The Wanderlands: On writer privilege, crowd funding, and egg sandwiches. "Wanting to make a living and write full time shouldn’t be seen as a privilege. It’s not. Nothing about writing full time is privilege. Writing is hard. Writing is love. Writing takes time. "
- At Teh Awesome Sauce: Suffering for (and with) our art. "I find this idea that creators shouldn’t ask for money for their content to be utterly bizarre. I can’t think of any other profession where people expect to get something for nothing so much as the arts. There is this prevailing notion that art should be free, that authors should create it just for the LOVE of creating and that we should all be able to enjoy it free of charge."
- From Dawn Metcalf: Thoughts on Stacey Jay, Time, Money, & Telling it Like it is. "I assure you, it’s not that any writer *wants* to walk away from a story, especially one that hadn’t been fully told to her/his satisfaction, but the truth is that we have to make tough choices with the precious time we’ve been given: are we going to spend time writing something with no guarantee of return or spend that time on the next project that might go somewhere?"