Monday, January 19, 2015

Navigating Kickstarters and Patronage

There's been some noise lately about writers putting up Kickstarter campaigns, and the ethics of doing such a thing-- whether writers have the right to ask for basic living expenses as part of such a campaign. 
And the answer is, of course they do.  Just like anyone has the right to choose not to fund any Kickstarter that crosses their path.  There is no obligation to kickstart someone, and there is no reason to shame someone just because they decided to do such a thing.
That said, I personally get a bad taste in my mouth at the idea of asking for money so I can write a book.  I'm not saying it's a wrong thing to do, just that is would be wrong for me to do.  I wouldn't be comfortable with it.
Part of that comes from thinking about Neil Gaiman's response to complaints that George R. R. Martin wasn't devoting his life 24/7 to writing the next Game of Thrones book:
George R. R. Martin is not your bitch.
I love this, I really do, as I think it hits exactly on what the writer does and does not owe the audience.  The writer can take the time they need to finish, and the audience can individually decide if that's "too long" for them to still be interested.  But that's it-- demanding the author work at your pace is not part of the contract.
BUT, in requesting patronage in this form, I feel like you're inviting that kind of complaint.  You're telling your audience, "Hey, I'm OK with being your bitch."
That's not a position I'm personally comfortable putting myself in. What other people are comfortable with is their business, and I'm not going to berate them for it.  I'm of the same mind for self-publishing: not for me, but if you're happy with it, have at it.
On the other side, though, if you're blowing a gasket every time someone puts up a Kickstarter that you don't want to support, well, you must have a lot of spare gaskets lying about.  I honestly don't have time to go looking around for that sort of thing.
I've got books to work on.
Speaking of, Thorn of Dentonhill releases in two weeks.  I have an excerpt up on the webpage, so check that out.

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