I’m not usually one to wade into blogger drama, and I have TRIED to stay quiet on Stacey Jay’s Kickstarter campaign, but 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.