Be forewarned, I feel a little snarky about this subject, and it shows.
Kickstarter, seemingly a place for chaos and strife.
Who would have thunk it? Certainly not I.
Kickstarter, for those who don’t know, is a place where creators of whatever — movies, games, zipper masks — can crowd-fund a project. Basically funding an expensive venture through a lot of smaller transactions, and giving those who sent money their way some perks like a free copy of the game, or a thank you in the credits, or a ninja-kick to the junk.
And thanks to Kickstarter, we find ourselves with games and movies that would not have ever seen the light of day otherwise.
Yet, sometimes, a Kickstarter campaign will blow the hell up, sending nerdrage shrapnel and uninformed bullshit in all directions.
First floor: Tee-shirts, swimwear, uninformed rage
A few days ago I came across an interesting post on The Passive Voice, which I recommend you read, as there are always awesome posts popping up there. The title of said post was “Why I Cancelled the Kickstarter”.
Hmm, I mumbled as I clicked.
Here are the basics:
An author, Stacey Jay (a pen name for the author’s YA books), had started a Kickstarter campaign to publish the second book of a cancelled series — one that sold well, but not well enough for the publisher to continue with her (note: I am saying “her” due to the pen-name being Stacey, so this is an assumption, and could be wrong). So, being the brave new world, she decided, WTF let’s do this anyway, and opened a Kickstarter.
The idea: Support me, including the costs I will incur by avoiding an hourly day-job in order to write this novel in a few months, and get a novel and perks for doing so.
I guess the brave new world ain’t so brave, and certainly not as new, as it looks. The “stodgy, grumpy, enraged, filled with assholes” old world is still there, just waiting for someone to overstep some invisible boundary, equipped with +1 Cudgels of Get-Back-In-Line.
In this case, things went *poof* in her face. In her own words:
But late last night I was made aware that the writer/blogger/reader community was angered by my Kickstarter to fund the Princess of Thorns sequel. Space cadet that I am, I was completely shocked. I never meant to make people angry. Quite the opposite–I wanted to make my Young Adult readers who kept asking what was next from me happy.
Angered, folks. People got angry.
There are things to get angry about. A bee in your trousers. A boss that grabs your ass. The fact the highest grossing app in the world is basically “shop for expensive stuff with Kim Kardashian.”
But anger over a Kickstarter for a novel?
Well, it seems an author isn’t supposed to consider eating, drinking, electricity, and the feeding of the wee little ones as they write a book. The catching point for most seemed to be that Stacey Jay needed to consider living expenses as she wrote the novel over the next months.
Oh man! What an asshole, right? I mean, she want to eat and have electricity while writing?
Man, when I was her age, we used to etch our stories into our flesh with hot knives, in the dark, while starving, and only had one pair of pants which only had one leg-hole and…
Now, truthfully, Kickstarter is not meant for covering your food expenses, at least not directly. One cannot start a Kickstarter campaign called “I’m fucking hungry, pay me $10 so I can eat” and offer absolutely no services or end-product.
But when you support that videogame, or that movie, the money does go to food. The coder of that Donkey-Muffin Extreme Snowboarding app you supported will use said money to keep the juice running at home. He/she ain’t working for free. He/she ain’t eating the digital bits and bytes of his/her code to survive. He/she needs to feed them pesky rugrats, who need all those calories and bullshit. Damn little kids.
In this case, Stacey Jay was the provider of said services — we give $$, she eats and writes. What’s the difference? Where is the discrepancy here? Why should the actors in a Kickstarter movie use some portion of said money, paid to them for their talents as actors, to live off of, and Stacey Jay be separate and different in asking for money to use her talent to produce an end-product?
Hell, that’s the whole point. I payed InExile so they could feed their coders while their coders made me my game. Sure, it also helps cover other stuff: New hardware, advertising, bringing in new artists, etc. But in the end, I give $$, a coder eats, a coder codes, I play game, happy fun time much excite.
Allow me a moment of your time here for a quick logic-check
Kickstarting a movie. Great!
Kickstarting an awesome fiction game platform. Great!
Kickstarting a robotic roach. Great!
Kickstarting a salt-shooting mini-shotgun to kill flies. Great!
Kickstarting a sequel to a beloved videogame. Great!
George R. R. Martin getting a hefty advance to write a book so the man can eat and keep the lights on. Great!
Stephen King getting a hefty advance to write lots and lots of books while simultaneously paying electric bills and feeding children. Great!
A woman going to Kickstarter and saying, “Hey, if you want to, you can pay me $10, and I can eat, keep my house, and write the next novel in a series.” Not great! BOOOOOOOO! HISSSS! ENRAGED!
Time to reconsider
It’s time, dear reader, we take a good hard look at this sort of thing, and ask ourselves, “Why? Why? OMG why am I mad about this?”
Why shouldn’t a writer ask for living expenses, as long as said expenses are reasonable, and be able to use Kickstarter for such a thing? The fact is, if her fans thought it was a shit idea, they would vote by not supporting the work. Poof. Done. Gone. The Kickstarter would fail, and then the message would be clear.
Instead, a number of folks went to the internet and rattled cages, flung poo, and made a lot of noise.
And now, Stacey Jay has cancelled the project, and no book gets made.
Is this a win?
Did the INTARNETZZZZ win a decisive battle on the high hill of morality here?
I think not.
To me, this is a loss. I don’t know Stacey Jay. I don’t read YA romance. I would never have picked up this novel. It isn’t on my radar.
But we lost something here: A novel, yes, and more.
The freedom of an artist to ask for money — not just for their art, but to simply exist as a human being while making said art — has yet again been punched in the groin.