In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s a new trend going on in the independent publishing community–the Kickstarter, Indie-Go-Go, GoFundMe phenomenon. If you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of years, let me explain how this is SUPPOSED to work.
A writer, like myself, wants to put out their book. They don’t have the cash to pay for an artist, layout, and etc, so they ask the community to fork out some cash to make all that happen. It’s like a pre-order with a set boundary for the work to be published. If the goal isn’t reached, then the project dies. The author(s) might try again and succeed, or perhaps their project simply dies.
If the writer in question believes in their story, then they will find a way to make it happen. But here’s the thing–the story is written.
That particular scenario is a good one. It’s the old patronage model, if you will, to bring art into the world so the artist is guaranteed not to go into debt. It can take a lot of cash to make a quality book happen. I know this all too well from personal experience.
As I said, that’s the way it used to work. Now, however, certain creators are, to a certain extent, holding their content hostage. In other words, “pay me and I’ll create this content, else it will go unwritten/unrecorded/unproduced.” In many cases, these projects are trying to recapture the glory of a previously popular series. There are examples out there if you go look for them.
A few podcasters whom I respect are working on this model to try and get their next few books out. The idea is that they only want to work on properties that will be profitable. Pure and simple.
This, I understand. I understand the need to work on something that brings in bucks. If you’re a pro-writer and creating content is your only income, then you have to choose which properties you want to work on, because any deviation from what makes money means you don’t eat.
But, there is a huge caveat to this. If the author hasn’t even begun to create the content, there’s no guarantee it will happen. If you haven’t written word one of the upcoming story, novel, etc, then how can I, as a consumer, be assured it WILL happen? Years ago, a certain person took their toys and went home because they were angry not enough people showed up to purchase their work when it was published. That sent a shock through the podcasting community and to this day, I think it has greatly hurt the credibility of the podcaster in question.
With no deadline, no samples, no nothing, consumers are being asked to pony up on faith. When I see kickstarters of this ilk, I have to wonder if we aren’t being asked to put up our hard earned cash to subsidize someone’s attempt to cash-in.
In case you hadn’t noticed, this idea doesn’t sit well with me. I’m not here to judge those who are doing it. I’m simply bringing up a fact–there are no guarantees. There’s no way to get your money back if said creator just decides to take their money and go home. Paying per episode is equally insane if the episodes for the arc haven’t yet been written nor released. It’s something I don’t feel comfortable with.
When I put up the pre-orders for Fiends and Garaaga’s Children: Ancients, the stories were done. They had been podcasted. They had been put out as ebooks. In other words, I’d written the content and NOW was trying to get paid for it.
Scott Sigler has said time and time again that podcast fiction is a market test. It’s not the final product. The final product has good artwork. The final product has been professionally vetted and edited. I try and do all these things now before I release anything. Why? I’ve learned over several attempts that doing a half-assed job only hurts my credibility as an author and publisher.
Shadowpublications.com is going to publish a number of books this year. Yes, they will be paperbacks and etc of previously published works. They will also be new works that have never been published in ebook or podcast form. They will be out there. And I’m taking the financial risk that it’s a worthwhile endeavor for both myself and my company. But the bottom line? I’m never going to to ask you to subsidize unfinished works. Others will, but I won’t.
Purchase the books if you want to support me. Donate if you want to support me. Write reviews. Spread the word. But I’m going to write what I want to write. And there’s plenty of stories I want to tell. Not for money. Not for fame. I’m writing them because they are stories I want to tell. And the moment I start writing just for money, it’s time for you to find someone else to support.
I was not accusing anyone of trying to dupe their supporters. There has been much hate for this post and my opinion, but I was not trying to depth-charge anyone’s attempt to get a book off the ground. See this for more info.