Whether you think Kickstarting a writing project is a good or bad idea, and whether you think that artists can legitimately add living expenses to such funding numbers, you would agree me with, right, that a little more mercy in the blogosphere would be a good, good thing?
We all get upset by stuff. I do. I get upset by greed, injustice, cruelty like the next person who isn’t a psychopath. I wanna rant about stuff. But sometimes, when it’s a gray-thing or a slate-blue kinda thing, maybe give the person the benefit of the doubt.
I had some minor iffy-spasms about Stacey Jay’s Kickstarter--minor–but the fact is that people are free to fully ignore her funding effort and go read a book. Or a blog. Or listen to some cool music.
Why jump on her case? Even if you think an author shouldn’t request living expenses on Kickstarter, should just suck it up like every other writer working a day job or raising a family and writing part-time or 1/4-time, why is this something to get heated over? Yes, she could have gotten a part-time job or taken 2 or 3 times longer to get the book out. It’s not a raging bestseller, so readers could, conceivably, wait 3 months longer to read the sequel. But so what?
What about benefit of the doubt? Just a scosh. Here goes:
I assume what I wish someone would assume if it were me: she really wanted to tell this story, she really wanted to have quality of life while writing it, she really wanted to devote full-time effort to it. And she thought maybe folks would be fine offering her that space with their support.
It’s not really evil, ya know?
M.C.A Hogarth had some interesting things to say about it in her blog post KICKSTART AND THE ETIQUETTE OF RECIPROCAL RISK-TAKING. Do you agree?
I don’t know if folks are thinking “reciprocal risk-taking” so much as, I want this product, I’ll put money on it so it can see happen, and later I’ll get goodies, maybe with perks. That’s all I’ve ever thought when I supported crowdfunded fiction projects.
I refused to fund some that friends exposed me to because I thought the goal was ridiculously high for a project and they were being greedy little pigs. But lots of folks thought otherwise and funded them.
See, I can say no and they can say yes. Everyone does their happy thing.
Why do we have to jump all over an author to the extent she decides to retreat from blogging and internetting? Do we forget these are people? Do we have to think the worst motivations?
If she seemed entitled–why should she be funded like a trad pub when it’s an indie option? Why should we pay her food and mortgage, doesn’t she have a husband who can work and help? Why aren’t her other books her income? Why doesn’t she take a loan from family and friends?–maybe from her perspective, she was just laying out the costs and hoping we’d see they were not unreasonable.
She was wrong, obviously, in gauging how the internet crowd would respond.
Know what? She’s learned a lesson lots of us have had to learn. While there are luminous, sweet, supportive, merciful folks all over the internet, there are also touchy, mean, vitriolic, vicious, grudgy, snap judgmental, critical people on social media and blogs and review sites. There are folks who are keyed up to just jump in and think the worst of the offender and add fuels to fires. It escalates. Sometimes, to really scary degrees.
I know. I’ve done it, too. Although, generally, I wait for some facts on the offense, I’ve had my hotheaded moments. I know how easy it is to get on that wagon–grumble, finger point, ratchet up the abuse, up and up until we are throwing the biggest stones we can. It becomes a mob. It gets so ugly that, yeah, I see why Stacey Jay wants to leave and go nurse emotional wounds.
Imagine this alternate scenario: Someone saw that Kickstarter and thought it was breaching some sort of decency rule or netiquette. They assumed Stacey Jay is not a greedy, self-serving, entitled human being, but someone who just didn’t “get” how these things can come across in a flawed and baity way. One concerned blogger emails Stacey, another leaves a blog comment, maybe a third blogs tactfully, and they say essentially, “Well, you may want to reconsider this phrasing or item in your Kickstarter. It seems X and Y and may cause grief. At the very least, it makes you look Z and ABC. Do you want that? We don’t think you do. Here’s what I suggest so you can get this done.”
A few well-intentioned commenters or emailers or Twitterers might have swayed her to reconsider before it became a stone-fest. Everyone wins: bloggers with concerns, author with needs, readers with desires for a sequel.
If you did something boneheaded (perceived to be), wouldn’t you prefer to be addressed like a Samaritan rather than a Pharisee?
If I screw up–please just talk to me and talk to me with patience and kindness. I’d like to try and fix the mess, not be drowned in it. And being human, I WILL screw up. Fair warning.
And sorry if this sounds like nasty finger-pointing on my own.
I hope SJ comes back. I’m not a fan or reader of her books, but no one should be made to feel exiled for a misstep, a netiquette blooper. She has explained and apologized and if the internet can’t calm down and say, “Well, we may have overreacted, sorry; to each their own crowdfund,” then we kind of suck.
Digital stones hurt pretty bad. We need to cut that shit out.