On Authors Kickstarting & General Online Angst

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Author Stacey Jay, whose books I have never read and who I’ve never met before cancelled her Kickstarter and wrote a blog post about it. A really well written blog post, in my opinion, that, according to her, angered the writer/blogger/reader community. In a nutshell, a lot of people didn’t like that she “included money to pay basic living expenses (mortgage, groceries, gas) for the three months it would take to write the book”.

It really did ruffle some feathers. It’s been talked at length about on Twitter. The words “online bullying” have come up. Again.

My two cents:

I like what Chuck Wendig said in his posting yesterday – “Where does that money go? Once it reaches the intended recipients, I mean. I’m going to take a wild guess here and say it goes toward paying their bills. Meaning, I’m helping to fund their lives, if in a small way.”

That’s really quite true when you think about it. Crowd funding doesn’t require a financial audit done by accountants so really, I think that unless Kickstarter requires KPMG to start looking into the financials of every pitched project, some of the money people kick in will go toward paying the bills. Who knows, maybe even the lion’s share.

You see, for authors who haven’t made it yet, $$$ = freedom to write. Say it with me now.

Every author I know wants to be successful but were you to ask them what success looks like, it’s basically, “to make enough to pay my bills.”

Dear God, can I relate to that.

At the time of this writing it is 5:00 AM Central Standard Time where I live. I’ve been up since 3:00 AM writing a novel. I’ve been doing that now since 2007 because I can’t afford to quit my day job. A day job I need to pay the bills. And, agree or disagree, it does have an impact on the quality of my writing. (Yes, yes … I know … it’s not your fault that I have to work full time and write and yes, I know that I’m a lot better off than a hell of a lot of authors.)

Still,  I know that I could be a better writer if I simply had more time to write, but I don’t. I have a mortgage and bills, just like other people. And I’m not physically starving in the sense that I’m living on Ichiban noodles – my day job allows my to buy sirloin. But I know I could write better if I were able to make enough money off the five books I have written and managed to get published. (And the sixth, which I self-published).

I think all the kerfuffle over this issue has less to do with people wanting to express a point of view that their money shouldn’t have to pay for the writer’s living expenses and more to do – way more to do – with the troubling nature by which we communicate via social media these days, the need for everybody to *be heard*. I suspect, though I have no proof, but I suspect that were one to put all the people who kicked up a stink about this in a situation where they were face to face with the author, behavior would be far different. That’s the thing about communicating online – people rarely conduct themselves with one another the way they would were they face to face with someone they disagreed with.

I support the author very much in this case. I don’t think I would have launched a campaign identical to hers, but I certainly know what she’s going through. And I’m really sick to @#$% death of online angst where readers/bloggers are at loggerheads with authors. Dear sweet baby Jesus, but we’re all supposed to be on the same team aren’t we? Authors write because they love to tell stories. Readers read because they love to read stories. Bloggers blog because they love to talk about the stories they’ve read and the authors who wrote them.

So why are we having these online dramas?

I have no idea.

I just wish it would stop but, human nature being the fickle thing that it is, I suspect it won’t. There really is no force on earth quite like social media outrage is there?

I feel bad that Stacey Jay is going through this. I feel worse that this is even being talked about at all.

(Full disclosure – I’m on Patreon – I haven’t received a penny for my proposed project.)

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The Blog Posting Wherein I Remove Myself from the Self-Publishing Debate

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It all started with my smart phone, you see. It buzzed and then a little blue light came on telling me that I should pick up my phone, which I did. A quick swipe told me that Twitter wanted me so I swiped the app and learned that my blog posting entitled “Two Years since My Book Deal: What Have I Learned” was being featured on a blog about self-publishing entitled, The Passive Voice.

Cool, I thought. Someone actually noticed my blog! (I don’t get boatloads of comments because I’m still a relative unknown in the book world, but I try to blog regularly because I do have a few people that like to interact with me.) Exciting, right? Anyway, I clicked on the link and to my surprise, I found not my entire blog posting, just lifted portions and that’s about it. I should also add that nobody asked me if they could quote my blog in their blog post. Confused yet?

Fine, I thought. Let ’em quote my blog post. Then I scrolled down and read the comments. This led, of course, to me putting in my two cents and VOILA! Forty-some comments later and I learn that I’m basically a twat, I’m misinformed and apparently, living on another planet entirely.

I consider myself reasonably social media savvy. It’s pretty clear that I’m not and my mistake was in commenting and engaging the self-publishing folk.  Now, I’ve said on this blog many times that I don’t recommend self-publishing but that was based on my interactions with some authors who’ve met with little success self-publishing a book. I have said, and will continue to say, that many many many many (see … I didn’t say “most” this time) self-published books are atrocious because it’s true. In fairness, many many traditionally published books aren’t all that shit hot either, but at least they have better cover art.

Look, to all the people who think I’m an ill-informed twat because of my blog post and because of my comments on The Passive Voice, get a life. No, seriously … get a life. If you feel threatened by the observations from a tiny wee little blog written by a bald author who has had marginal success in traditional publishing, you really are barking up the wrong tree. I’m about as influential in the publishing world and in the blogosphere as Canada is at middle eastern diplomacy.

I have had a small measure of success in traditional publishing, but I’m no expert and I often express this point of view in my blog posts. I don’t take myself seriously nor should you or anyone because I write bubble gum. I write books about magic and slamming evil and I admit regularly that I suck at writing romance. I have been writing all my life and I’ve been trying to get published since my soon to be 24 year old son was in diapers and there was no Internet or LOLCats. The reason I wanted to try to get published? To see if I could do it. The reason I sought a literary agent? To see if I could land one.

I’m also the first person to point out that I consider myself to be pretty damned lucky, by the way. I’m my worst critic. I think that everything I write is worse than the worst dinosaur erotica novel currently available on Amazon. I am grateful to a lot of people, mostly my wife who thinks I have some talent and my literary agent who has gone to the freaking wall for me. I’m blessed to have met amazing, wonderful people during my publishing journey. My latest books took me to England two years running and I got to watch Chelsea play my beloved Norwich City FC (who are in a relegation battle right now).

I wasn’t asked if my blog post could be featured on another blog. (There’s a copyright notice at the bottom of this page. Scroll down and you will see it.) I didn’t ask for the attention of the Passive Voice. It’s clear that  I poked the beast with a stick once I decided to engage with you all. My bad. I’m 46 and I should know better.

I’ll take this time to apologize to the self-publishing tribe on The Passive Voice if my comments antagonized you.  If self-publishing is your writing journey of choice and you’re happy with it, then good on you! Make as much money as you can and enjoy your creative control as you become the next J.K. Rowling. I will say this much though: nobody is served well by vitriolic statements and baby, there’s a ton of vitriol in the comment section. I could take a bath in it.

And I contributed to it by engaging your tribe.

My experience with traditional publishing has been just that: my experience. Everything I write on my blog is from my own point of view. I’ve had ups, downs and in-betweens in the world of publishing. But do you want to know something? I’m not ready to become the next big self-publishing phenomenon because I’m not as good a writer as I’d like to be and I rely heavily on the insight of those so-called gatekeepers your tribe dislikes so much. I need my agent to kick my ass because it makes me a better author. I need an editor at a publishing house to do things like, oh, remind me that teenagers swear, for example. I suck at photoshop and I need a good cover artist. I need a lot of things, but what I don’t need is to be distracted from writing my next book.

So, I bid you adieu, self-publishing tribe. Good luck on your journey and you know, maybe tone down the rhetoric because it’s a total buzz kill.

Peace out, yo.

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