The Stacey Jay Kickstarter, Bullying, and Hypocrisy

January 8, 2015 For Discussion 19

I’m not usually one to wade into blogger drama, and I have TRIED to stay quiet on Stacey Jay’s Kickstarter campaignbut I feel like I need to write this post.  First, I’ll mention that I tried to read Jay’s book, Princess of Thorns, a couple of weeks ago, but I DNF’d after around 50 pages.  Not bad, but just not for me.  So when I heard that she set up a Kickstarter to fund the sequel, my response was a shrug.  But my Twitter feed was full of complaints, and I couldn’t (and still can’t) understand what all the fuss was about.  Many of the complainers, in my opinion, had a tone of, “I do not like this thing!  It MUST NOT EXIST!”  To me, that is dangerously close to calls for censorship over something that has absolutely ZERO effect on the people who were complaining.  No one was coerced into participating.  Our tax dollars aren’t being used.  And I’m going to assume that Jay is not a scam artist who was cackling with glee each time a gullible fool contributed to her campaign, so there was no need to get angry on behalf of her contributors.  Instead, the Kickstarter was a mutually beneficial arrangement between an author and her fans.  What could be wrong with that?

Lots, apparently.  People didn’t like the way Jay worded her campaign.  They didn’t like the way she mentioned her living expenses.  They didn’t like how she priced her book.  The didn’t like the way Jay styled her hair in her little Kickstarter picture.  (OK, I’m making that one up.)  But you know what?  Before she canceled her campaign, there were 20 people who DID like all of those things.  20 people who read her Kickstarter post, liked what they saw, and willingly made the decision to contribute.  But because of the waaay over the top vitriol (again, IMO), Jay cancelled her campaign, and these readers will no longer get what they wanted.  As book lovers, can we all agree that this is a damn shame?

Many of the people complaining are the same people who get bent out of shape any time an author, in their view, steps out of line.  When Jay cancelled her campaign, some folks said she did so because she was bullied.  The complainers said, “We’re not bullies!  We are just expressing our opinions!”  Wellllll, maybe.  Here’s what I know.  If a large group of people spent hours (or was it days?) criticizing and ridiculing me on Twitter, I would feel awful.  If they were doing it in response to what I thought was an awesome idea that I had, I would feel even more awful.  And bewildered.  And foolish.  And intimidated.  I’d probably do exactly what Jay did – disappear.  Does that make it bullying?  I don’t know.  Should Jay just have sucked it up and ignored it?  For her sake (because unless I learn otherwise, I assume she is a good person) and for the sake of her fans, I wish she had.  But I know I could not have withstood that barrage, so I can’t fault her for folding.

I’ve told you why I don’t understand the objections to Jay’s campaign, but my feelings wouldn’t have gone beyond a “Huh?” and an eyeroll, and I wouldn’t have spent my time writing this post, until the hypocrisy kicked in.  It did not escape my notice that many of the people who were criticizing and ridiculing Jay are the same people who are the first to scream, “I’m being stalked!!!” in response to a mere POSSIBLY rude or misguided comment or tweet or subtweet by an author.  And then Twitter explodes as the troops are rallied, demands to never read that author’s books are made, and the author is (absurdly) labeled a stalker and a bully.  Sound familiar?  Now, imagine how these same people would react if they were subjected to even a fraction of the criticism that was hurled at Jay.  I actually cannot imagine it, because I have seen people claim that they are having nervous breakdowns because of a single, non-identifying tweet by an author.

Some might argue that this behavior isn’t hypocritical.  That it cannot be hypocritical because there is a “power imbalance” between authors and readers/bloggers.  To that I say: BULLSHIT.   Authors would not exist without readers.  They provide us with a tangible good, and we in turn provide them with financial support.  We, on the other hand, blog for a hobby.  We can end our hobby at any time, and our mortgages and rents will still be paid, and our fridges will continue to be stocked.  I think we all know this, because otherwise, there would not be this expectation that authors must never, ever do anything contrary to some arbitrary set of rules that a small, but very vocal group of bloggers have determined for them.  If they do violate these rules, they must grovel and apologize and promise to change, and forgiveness MIGHT be granted.  So, really, who has the power?

I hope Jay restarts her campaign once the furor dies down.  As book bloggers, as people who love to read, why would we ever want to discourage any method of getting a book into a reader’s hand, even if that method seems odd or different?  This community should be embracing change, not trying to thwart it.  If you hated the idea of the Kickstarter, imagine how you would feel right now if you were one of the people who was enthusiastic enough to donate to it.  Even better, imagine how you would feel if you were Stacey Jay.



19 Responses to “The Stacey Jay Kickstarter, Bullying, and Hypocrisy”

  1. Joy (Joyousreads)

    I’m not aware of this recent bru-ha-ha on twitter, but i think this very thing is the reason why I’m not there all the time. I would have to agree with you, regardless of how you word it, the sum effect of their “opinions” equates to someone feeling awful enough to want to disappear. To feel like an outsider. I could never. NEVER tell an author to stop writing. That is not what a true bibliophile is. I can never tell them to stop writing because their book sucks, or they made enough money. I feel bad for those people who loved her book enough to want to read more. Shame. Shame. Shame.
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    • Stephanie

      Yeah, it can drive you nuts after a while. Most of the “drama” is silly stuff, stirred up by people who are looking for attention, and it’s easy to ignore. But this was a case when there was a negative outcome – the cancelling of the KS, which would have benefited the author and her fans. It is absolutely a shame.

  2. Alicia Batista

    I felt the same way you did about Stacey Jay’s campaign. But I was a HUGE fan of hers. I was anxious that she started the campaign to raise the money she needed to fund her book. I was even going to donate to it. But sadly, it was deleted before I had the chance.

    And OMG, HOW DO YOU FUND A BOOK??? You fund the AUTHOR!!! So if the author is saying hey, I want to write this book, but sadly my former publisher is not looking to sign, and I don’t have the money to stay home and write this book and pay my bills. But if we (the fans & Stacey) can raise enough money to get the book funded, then I will have the means to do what some readers want!! “AND EVEN GIVE THEM LITTLE THANK YOU GIFTS” like Stacey Jay was planing to do, THEN WHAT IS THE PROBLEM????

    Who cares how she worded it, what she added in her campaign letter. She was honest and I highly doubt she was trying to scam anyone for their money. She was producing reading material for that the fans (I) wanted!! WHAT IS THE PROBLEM!! The ones hating didn’t have to support her and funded her in any way, so why are they sticking their nose somewhere they really don’t have to stick it, and hurt an author so bad that she feels compelled to hide away and not follow her dreams??? I just feel it’s wrong, SO WRONG!!!

    Sorry for all the rambling, but this has bugged since it all started!! GREAT post!! STACY JAY, COME BACK!!!
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    • Stephanie

      I’m sorry, Alicia. As a fan, you must have been disappointed. But hopefully she’ll come back and restart the campaign.

    • Stephanie

      I know, Pili. I know it sounds trite, but people need to put themselves in the shoes of the person they’re criticizing.

  3. Kel @ Booked til Tuesday

    I was pretty much in your position. I finished Princess of Thorns, but it wasn’t for me; so when I stumbled across the Kickstarter campaign, I shrugged and went on with life. There was such a simple, easy response to this: donate or don’t. Done.

    But I do wonder if these Twitter/blog explosions aren’t indicative of a larger cultural problem. That is, for the most part, I’m aware that anything I ever post online may be read by a future employer, so I try to do a certain amount of self-censoring. But a lot of people seem to use Twitter like they would a text message conversation or a real life conversation with friends. I get it; when you’re ticked off, you rant and vent to your friends. But online? Where everyone can see it? With seemingly no thought for the person about whom you’re ranting? 🙁

    I don’t know if it’s a cry for attention or an unthinking disregard for the feelings of others, but can’t we all be civil and mildly courteous to one another?

    Great post, Stephanie!
    Kel @ Booked til Tuesday recently posted…Updates: New Year’s SprintMy Profile

    • Stephanie

      I do the same thing, Kel – imagine yourself sitting in front of a prospective employer and have to justify looking like a jerk on social media. Or even worse, not even getting the chance to explain, but just have them draw conclusions about you based on what you’ve written.

  4. Nicole

    So I try to stay out of all the Twitter drama and if I’m being honest, part of the reason is because I’m scared of saying anything that might cause a reaction – not necessarily on the scale of this, but even a small one would overwhelm me. There are some definite cliques on Twitter that I just wouldn’t want to face the wrath of hah. That might be sad, but it’s the truth. I think part of the problem people had with the kickstart campaign was that Stacy Jay said she would stop writing if she didn’t meet her goal, not just that she wouldn’t write the sequel. Maybe she didn’t mean that, and worded it poorly, but I do feel that that was a bit harsh to include. I am sad over this whole situation because I loved Princess of Thorns and would hate if Stacy Jay never published anything ever again. I don’t know the second situation you are talking about so I can’t comment. But again, this whole situation is just a shame…

    • Stephanie

      I feel the same way, Nicole. I certainly would never want that “attention” directed at me.

      Jay’s comment that you mention does have a manipulative tone. I think it didn’t really strike me at the time that I read the info on her KS because by then, I was sort of irritated at all of the “yelling” on Twitter.

      I hope this doesn’t stop her from writing, too. That would be a shame.

  5. Jennifer @ Donnie Darko Girl

    I would’ve backed out, too. I couldn’t have taken all the criticism.

    And I agree those comments made by people not wanting this book to come out do sound dangerously close to censorship. I think there’s nothing wrong with Kickstarter.

    For pete’s sake, ROB ZOMBIE had one for his latest film, 31. Did he really need one? Probably not. I’m guessing he’s pretty rich and could have easily funded it himself. But I don’t think he or anyone else should be prevented from using Kickstarter. If I don’t want to support it, I just won’t. I don’t feel the need at all to bash anyone for using it, and I don’t understand why some people do.
    Jennifer @ Donnie Darko Girl recently posted…Skin of My Teeth by Judith Graves ~ Blog Tour: #ReviewMy Profile

    • Jennifer @ Donnie Darko Girl

      I found this statement by Rob Zombie on the Bloody Disgusting website as to why he chose to use crowd funding.

      “I’m crowd funding because I realize that it’s an incredible opportunity to engage the fans. They’ve always been the most important thing for me because, with metal and horror, the fans aren’t just fans – it’s their life, their lifestyle. They live and breathe it, as I do, and any way that you can bring the people that are as passionate about it as you are into the process is a win-win for everybody.Get on board! Get involved! Be part of this horrifying business! The world of horror needs you!”
      -Rob Zombie

      Sounds reasonable to me.
      Jennifer @ Donnie Darko Girl recently posted…Skin of My Teeth by Judith Graves ~ Blog Tour: #ReviewMy Profile

    • Stephanie

      I love the idea of innovation in the publishing world. There was probably a time when people thought e-books and audiobooks and self-publishing, etc. were dumb/crazy/insert other adjective here.

  6. DannyBookworm

    That sad thing is also, that these kind of witch hunts happen so very often and sometimes an author has not even the chance to explain herself. I’m sure that many times, if these loud people would have taken their time to let the author explain, they would have understood or least have not raised their voices so much. It’s sad to see how many people feel like they have right to judge!
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    • Stephanie

      And by the time an author learns that she has somehow “wronged” the community, it is probably too intimidating to try to respond. I’m sure they’ve all seen it happen to other authors – any reply is screenshot and plastered all over Twitter to be torn apart. Why bother?

  7. Nereyda @Mostly YA Book Obsessed

    “I do not like this thing! It MUST NOT EXIST!” <– Not true, I didn't like it. I didn't agree with it. I never shared my thoughts online but I did discuss it with my friends. I loved Princess of Thorns but didn't like the KS idea, but that didn't mean that I thought it shouldn't exist. Hey, if she somehow managed to raise all that money, awesome for her!

    The KS is not my issue, although I didn't like how she mentioned that she would never write the sequel or any more books if it didn't get funded. Don't put that pressure on your fans! She left a comment on my 4.5 star review of PoT and made the same comment. Left me a link to her KS and said she wouldn't write it unless it got funded… eye roll.

    What I have a problem is with the shitstorm that came after. Authors accusing bloggers of being bullies (because we stated our difference of opinion?) and that we were freeloaders who just wanted books for free and didn't appreciate the value of art. Oh and we wanted her kids to starve. How come they don't think we are freeloaders when we are spreading the word about their books? Writing reviews, WOW posts, TTT posts? We don't get paid for that!

    And yes, authors shouldn't work for free. But that doesn't mean they are entitled to be paid. Especially in advanced. Unfortunately, that is a risk you take with self publishing. Is it because she's so well known? Would everyone be defending the fact that she 'deserves to be paid' for writing a book if this was an author we had never heard of?

    Yes, there are bloggers who love to create drama and blow things out or proportion. But there are also authors who are always in the middle of any drama. (Sarah Breenan, Jodi Meadows, Beth Revis, etc) I was really disappointed with how so many authors behaved (sadly, some of my favorites).

    I also don't think it should be on us as readers or bloggers to worry about authors keeping their jobs. It's like when authors say you shouldn't leave a negative review because it can affect their sales/job. Everyone knows there are risks with any job. And yes, blogging is my hobby, but that also meant I had to have a backup plan for when my company closed down last year. Everyone should…

    (I'm not trying to bash your post or say you're wrong, I'm just saying it wasn't all the fault of bloggers)
    Nereyda @Mostly YA Book Obsessed recently posted…Review: Lost To You by A.L. Jackson!My Profile

    • Stephanie

      Thank you for the thoughtful comment! First, this: “She left a comment on my 4.5 star review of PoT and made the same comment. Left me a link to her KS and said she wouldn’t write it unless it got funded… eye roll.” Yeah, that would have left a bad taste in my mouth, too.

      I do recognize that my post was very one-sided. I just get so tired of seeing the same bloggers get so riled up over EVERYTHING. And it doesn’t seem like there is any room to disagree. I don’t recall seeing any tweets from Beth or Sarah. I did see Jodi’s, but I didn’t see anything wrong with her tweets. Any author saying that readers/bloggers wanted Jay’s kids to starve is nuts. Was it Sarah, Beth, or Jodi who said that?

      I agree that it is not our responsibility to keep authors housed, clothed, and fed, and I hope nothing I wrote gave that impression. We, of course, have every right to buy or not buy any book, and we have the right to express both positive and negative opinions about a book. If a negative opinion causes someone not to buy a book, then so be it. As you said, that is a risk of the job. What I DON’T like is the tone of glee that some bloggers take when they go nuts over some author’s errant tweet. “This author is a BBA! He’s crossed the wrong person! I will rally the troops, and he will never sell another book!” It’s tiresome. Not every author who gets grouchy one time on Twitter is a BBA. Let’s save the energy for people like Kathleen Hale.

      • Nereyda @Mostly YA Book Obsessed

        Thanks for replying 🙂

        And I know what you’re talking about. There are always those bloggers (usually the same ones) who it seems like they just wait for an author to say/do something stupid so they can attack. But simple disagreeing over the KS idea wasn’t bullying, which is what a lot of authors/bloggers were accusing people of. I find it weird that these authors were basically doing the same thing, saying what they did about bloggers.
        And yes, Sarah tweeted:

        It was never about us not wanting her to eat. I saw a few other tweets but can’t remember who specifically wrote them.

        And no, your comment didn’t give that impression at all. But it is one that authors have. I wrote a post a few months ago on how 3 stars are NOT negative reviews and I had a few authors comment that you shouldn’t rate a book less than 4 stars if you liked it because it hurts the author. Excuse me, but my reviews are for readers. Not authors.
        Nereyda @Mostly YA Book Obsessed recently posted…Review: Lost To You by A.L. Jackson!My Profile

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