Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Kick Me.

I was thinking about Kickstarter. This isn't a critique just some thoughts spurred off by yesterday when twitter was full of 'oh wow, Amanda Palmer!' and 'this will change everything!'

I'm not sure it will, I'm not even sure it's a good thing*.

I just want to get one thing straight as well, this isn't a criticism of Amanda Palmer, I really like her music and she seems all round cool. But she is an established artist and the partner of Neil Gaiman, it would have been more of a shock if she couldn't raise a million.

There's a thing you see a lot when you write, it's the 'it's a boys club, it's not what you write it's who you know,' thing. I don't, and never have**, thought this is true, I think it's just an excuse used to run away from not being good enough yet.

But...I can see something like Kickstarter making this myth come true.

Let's take me as an example. Let's say I want to self publish (I don't). Here's a minimum of what I need: an editor, a copy editor, a cover artist, a graphic designer and printer. Let's put a conservative figure of £5000 on that. There is no way I would raise that through something like Kickstarter. What I want to do is generally a bit odd, it's not going to attract money just from an excerpt from anyone but a very specific crowd. I'm also not a great social networker and when it comes to it feel very uncomfortable asking people for money. I am, probably, what you would call a niche artist^. I'd be shocked if I got £50.

However, let's say you're doing a pretty standard thriller, or an orphan-fulfils-prophecy fantasy, the sort of things that are churned out and are really popular. That'll probably get Kickstarter funding cos people like what they know. Or maybe you're a whiz at networking and have an awful book? You'll probably get Kickstarter finding because OMG, You wrote a book! .

Most worryingly, for me, is maybe you're an established author with a big publisher. You'll almost definitely get funding. This allows you to leave your publisher, Which means your publisher has less money (Yay, strike down the corporate whores, I hear some shout) and if those big publishers have less money then they're less likely to take risks. Which means I, and authors like myself, the not-quite-there's on the fringes doing the not-quite-commercial are less likely to get books out.

Now I know this is all worst case scenario but I'm not always sure the 'self-publishing revolution' is a good thing. Sometimes I think it will lead to a more homogenised scene. Or maybe I am just grumpy cos today I have to give myself a painful injection.

*Well, it probably is a good thing for some people.
**'Celebrity' authors aside but that's a different thing entirely.
^Artist, hark at me, eh?

1 comment:

  1. First: I've got no idea why everyone is so excited for Amanda Palmer. I thought it was a foregone conclusion that she'd raise a million before deadline. If an indie rocker with no recognizable name and a marriage to Joe the Lawn Service Guy pulled it off, I'd be super impressed. And scratching my head.

    Second, I'm not sure your scenario would work. But that's a long and tenuously supported argument, so I can only add my own Kickstarter experience -- as a supporter.

    I peruse the Kickstarter site, or hear about something neat from somebody on Twitter, and I check it out. If, for a small donation, I can get something cool in return, I do it. I don't ever know who these people are that I'm supporting; it's all about the product and return on investment.

    I have never supported a writing project. Would I? I don't think so. I can't think of something that would excite me enough, even if my small donation got my a first-run copy of the book once it was printed. And, honestly, if the book is that good -- why hasn't the author got an agent? (says the girl who has never submitted a single query letter nor gone through said publishing process)

    That's just my two cents. Interested to hear what others have got to say.