Anything mentioned in this post is the opinion of either Andi or Melanie and does not mean that both of us agree, although in many cases we do agree. This one may be a little longer than normal because it is something we both want to rage on.
In recent months, I have noticed that the number of people starting fundraising opportunities with the hopes of having their books published seems to have gone up drastically. It could have been going on for a while and I’m just now noticing it, but either way, I thought I would talk with you about it a little bit today.
There are numerous fundraising websites available, from kickstarter, to go fund me, to crowdfund. And people make all kinds of financial requests on these sites. Some people ask for help raising money to adopt children, build their dream home, even something as trivial as to make potato salad. I personally find the majority of the requests as evidence of the downfall of our society in the sense that people are expecting others to pay for the things they want for them. Instead of going out, working hard, and finding a way to pay for it themselves. I’m not talking about the ones raising money for sick kids or wounded veterans or anything like that. I will support them until the end of time. People think they are entitled to someone else’s hard earned money. Some imply that if you DON’T make a (non tax deductible) donation towards their “dream” you are a bad and selfish person. Whatever. I’m not bad or selfish. I’m broke! I’ve got 3 kids to feed and spend all day working on a blog I don’t get paid to do. I don’t have the money to fund my own dreams let alone someone else’s!
Back to the point. I keep saying “people” instead of “authors” for a reason. Some of these people haven’t even written their books yet. They want you to send them money so they can publish a book that hasn’t had 1 word written! Some will offer things in exchange, such as a character named after you etc, but the majority don’t. You get NOTHING in return and they still expect you to buy their book when (if) it comes out. So you are basically paying for something at least twice. Would you do that at the grocery store? If I came up to you and said, “You know, I would really like to have a ribeye steak for dinner, will you give me some money to buy it?” Not only no, but HELL NO would you give me money for my own dinner. Especially if we are strangers and I didn’t invite you over for dinner. Why is it acceptable to do things like this online and not in the real world? Personal accountability. There is none online. People can pretend they never asked for anything.
Melanie pretty much summed up most of my feelings so I will get straight to the GBU of it all. Sadly there is no good here, actually there is.
Not using kickstarter, indiegogo, gofundme, fundly, or any of the other 100 sites there are for raising money. Yes it is a business, yes you have a product, heck yes you have free stuff to give away, but I just think it comes off as a little dirty. Now with that said, in the sense of fairness and full disclosure, I did donate to a book. In fact here is the link to the book that I donated to. John Avon. Now you are thinking “But you are talking some serious crap about authors and publishers that do this, why did you donate to someone?” Well for starters, my husband and I love Magic the Gathering. My husband’s favorite land art is John Avon’s Island from Zendikar, and I love Swamps so for only a little over what the pledge amount was we got these two, well we got more but these are the two best ones. They are much better in person, it is dark and my camera is all phoney. Oh and these were special edition books, so they were not available in stores.
So bad, there are authors who want to be authors really really bad, and are writing in such a topic that they need additional funds to assist with the book. I DO NOT mean editing, cover art, etc. I mean like money to purchase the images they use in their non-fiction books. If you don’t know how much those are, trust me they are really really expensive, anywhere from $100 a picture to over $2000.
So again full disclosure, in 2012 I wrote a book, it was a non-fiction that came from my thesis. It had over 70 images in it and I thought that I was doing well. Well… I started working on the copyright permissions for the images, and let me tell you that was not fun. 1) The US is pretty lenient with image copyrights, just don’t screw them and they wont screw you. 2) Great Britain and France are stupid regarding copyrights and SUPER expensive. 3) Anything newer than 1972 and your pretty well screwed. 4) People take images that do not belong to them and are public domain and then put their water mark on it and call it theirs…
So, to I had to cut my images down, I went from 70 to just over 30, it sucked and it hurt my book, but those images along cost over $2000. Funding sites were new and all the rage so I looked at how much I needed and asked for $500 which is the lowest you can ask for. Between the free gifts and stuff I was hoping to make about $200 to buy this image from Great Britain that was amazing. I also did it to push my book out there, to show people that my topic was important. I got a HUGE response and actually made over my request. What did I do with that money? Bought another image and beefed up the prize support. All in all I gained nothing and I used friends and family to help me with editing, cover design, etc. That last sentence is important, remember that.
So while I fully consider myself in the bad category, not only because I am more ingrained in the culture, but I have had a lot of time to think about it.
I am not going to sugar coat anything, if you are a publisher asking for money I will never buy a book from you or from anyone you publish for. It is dirty, it is low, and it is taking advantage of those people who THEN have to buy the book that you begged for money on. Don’t get me wrong I know how hard publishing is, but YOU decided to create a company, you either figure out a way to make it work, you cut corners, or you get out. Period, end of story.
If you are an author who says any of the following in your begging for money I will never read your books, heck they could be the most amazing things ever, but nope, I wont, and I will tell people why not.
1) I need help with bills (gas, electricity, rent) so I can start on my dream to be an author. WTF, you haven’t written anything and you are asking for help. You are not asking for help to start your dream, you are asking for people to give you money so you don’t have to find a real job while you play on the computer. Period, end of story. Yes writing is a job, and most times authors don’t get the credit or money they deserve, but I know authors who work when they can, burn the midnight oil, write in the bath, and work full time jobs so they can keep a roof over their head.
2) “I am finished with the 1st in a series and I need help to publish it” Okay I can understand this one more than the 1st one, I can even empathize with them, but save your pennies, look at places that offer good but inexpensive covers, look for editors who are cheaper, work your butt off and publish it when you can, don’t ask people to help you publish a book that you don’t know the reaction to, you don’t know what you are doing, and you do need help. EVERYONE needs help and there are great indie and traditionally published authors out there that will help, trust me on this one, there are people to help you.
3) “My publisher dropped me after 2 books and I really want to publish the 3rd one”, or some other variation of this one. Umm, why did your publisher drop you? It is an important question and I think one that many authors do not want to look internally and answer. No one wants to be a failure, but sometimes you need help, and there is nothing wrong with that. Now in regards to this, this one also has a side element that really upsets me, and I tend to only see it with numbers 2 and 3. It goes something like this “I have an amazing cover artist they are going to be $XXXX, and then I have an editor that is going to be $XXXX, and then I need to hire X and X and X and that is going to run me X and so I am asking for 10,000+. SERIOUSLY WTF. First of all, I am a professional editor and I edit a full length 100,000 word book for roughly $500, that is developmental and line editing, for proofreading for the same words I do like $150-200 depending on the person, the length of book, the genre, and honestly how bad the proofreading is needed. Then I know a cover artist, no scratch that, I know FIVE cover artists that are good and I mean college educated good that charge a MAXIMUM of $200 for a cover, yup you heard that right $200. So for the three most important things you are looking at $900, which yes is a lot, but editors and cover artists are usually willing to work with you. So if I see you prancing around asking for $10,000 because your book is the next best seller, nope, not going to happen.
Opinion Piece: Authors and/or doing kickstarter/gofundme etc to get book published. Ok or faux pas?