Tag: backstage

12Apr

Book Factories

I find some of this incredible, so I’ll highlight a big chunk:

In the heyday of pulp fiction, writers churned their books out at a great rate, usually to earn enough money to live on. Prentiss Ingraham wrote more than 600 books, 200 of them on Buffalo Bill. Occasionally, he wrote a 35,000-word book overnight. This was before the days of laptops and I hate to think of his writer’s cramp.

Writers whose progress is slow usually grind their teeth on hearing these statistics, but comfort themselves with the thought that the more prolific the writers, the more likely they are to produce rubbish.

Alas, this is cold comfort when they remember Joyce Carol Oates, considered one of the world’s finest writers. This brilliant and (to rival writers) perpetually infuriating woman has turned out more than 100 books in 45 years, many of them big, fat tomes. Other prolific literati include Georges Simenon (500 books in 70 years), John Updike (at least 60 books in 50 years) and P. G. Wodehouse (about 100 books in 75 years).

Apart from the truly manic fringe, what makes authors prolific? Sometimes the market demands it. Best-selling genre authors are expected to produce a new book at least every second year or so. Thriller writer James Patterson subcontracts other authors to compose first drafts from his outlines, which means he can produce several books a year.

And I thought I was doing well for my 1,000 words a day.

The first thing that comes to mind with all this is – quality. Is it possibly to write so much, so quickly, and for it to be of decent quality, knowing how thorough the rewriting and editorial feedback process can be when done properly? I guess most readers won’t even notice how the speed of a novel affects the final product, and I’m sure many writers’ minds work quicker than others. Also, there are market pressures for all of this, as the article states. Readers want more of the same thing and they want it now.

As an related aside, I do find it amusing when some reviewers say “the book could have done with more editing”. An editor (not mine) commented on this at Eastercon recently – it’s ridiculous for people to say that, because have they any idea just what work went into that manuscript in the first place? That an editor could have reduced a novel by half to have some clown still say it needs a good edit (when they might also mean, for example, that they didn’t agree with the pacing).

No. People are only ever presented with the end result, and just connect with that.

So no matter how slowly a novel may be written, no matter rigorous the editorial process can be, no matter how many years are spent working on it, most readers will only see it on an equal level with something that is churned out quickly. Few people see what goes on within the book factory.

P.S. As you can see, any of you struggling writers who take more than a year to finish the manuscript, you’ve got to be quicker than that…

7Apr

Interludes & Nocturnes

I’m afraid I’m going to have to bow-out of the very fine Sci-Fi London event, where I was due to pop along on the 1st May.

The reason I’m not going is that, basically, I need to breathe.

As some of you know, I work full time during the day, and write during the night and weekends. As many more of you know, I’m fairly active online, which is activity that takes place around the writing, filling up the gaps in life very quickly. Many conventions are logically planned at holiday weekends, and believe it or not, they’re not really holidays for authors. If you’re on a panel, you have to plan and think about what to say. You have to dust aside your nerve of being in front of people, and have to talk to huge numbers of new and familiar folk, which is all thoroughly splendid, but it can be rather draining on top of all the other things a writer has to do. Like write.

So that’s why I won’t be going to Sci-Fi London.

On a semi-related issue, it was nice that at Eastercon many people mentioned how they enjoyed this blog and the debates generated. Thank you. Some mysteriously thought it was high-brow (me, I’m just getting on my soapbox all the time). Again, thinking up topics is another energy sink, and given the amount of extra fuss being generated by City of Ruin being released in the UK and Nights of Villjamur launching from Bantam Spectra in the US, I dare say the frequency of such entertaining debates will diminish a fraction.

You have to do interviews and features and lord, should all writers be luckily enough to have such problems. I love blogging – it’s the author equivalent of live music – instantaneous rather than being worked on over a long period of time – but I probably need to balance matters a little more effectively.

Time sink #452: I’ve discovered now I’m a vaguely known writer, author-friends also want to send me books to read – which is splendid, but something I’d never even thought about happening, and I feel very guilty about placing their book somewhere on the to-read pile, knowing it could be months before I get around to reading it. I promise that I will get around to reading them, one day.

Another major difficulty is I’m spending too much time watching and engaging in the online debates, whilst trying to concentrate on writing. I’ve dipped in here and there, to give the filter of the real publishing world, but I’ve noticed many people don’t often want to know realities, they merely want their own opinions confirmed, which is funny, because that’s how authors work, too.

Updates… I’m about 70-odd thousand words into book three now, quickly approaching the half way point. I’m enjoying the process – and it’s very different to the first two books. I always intended for the first three books in this series to stand alone as much as possible, but being a series, I need to concentrate on the details. And many online resources – Twitter, for one – seem to drag me away from the detail-checking parts.

Anyway, all of this means I might be reducing my time online just a touch. It’s nothing major, and there’s nothing wrong whatsoever. Just a matter of perspective, balance, living. Hopefully it won’t be noticed much, if at all, here, on the business end of things. I have always preached that regular content is essential, and I endeavour to continue that.

Perhaps now I can contact more of my family and friends and finally remind them who I am.

6Apr

Doorstep Novel

Author wins publishing deal after leaving manuscript on Richard and Judy’s doorstep:

A struggling author landed a major publishing deal for her first novel after leaving a draft copy on the doorstep of television presenters Richard and Judy… The college tutor sent the manuscript to several publishing houses but had no reply and was on the verge of giving up. But when her mother-in-law mentioned that Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan had a country retreat nearby she decided to take them a rough copy. Mrs Saberton drove to their secluded house and placed a 400 page manuscript on the doormat and a note through the letterbox asking them to read it. She was then stunned when Richard – who along with his wife hosted a regular book club on their TV show – phoned her and said he loved the novel. Richard, 53, offered to write a foreword and allowed her to use their name when approaching potential publishers – and she soon secured her first deal.

After their own TV show bombed, I’m guessing literary agency isn’t a bad option for Richard and Judy. Is this a dangerous culture?

To be honest, I have no gripe with this – I realise that the land of literary agents and editors is made of subjective opinion based on the market (and, one would hope, talent). And, as is increasingly the case in publishing these days, it’s shifting units which can make a career last, rather than artistic merit – whether that’s good or bad is something entirely different.

Are TV celebs better or worse than publishers in deciding which books get attention and which should be successful?

Right, tongue in cheek.

Bear in mind just how much money publishers spend on making a book successful – they have to pay vast sums of cash for novels to go in promotions, did you know that? The in-store displays ain’t cheap, neither are magazine adverts, or making advance reading copies. They won’t often (at all?) do that with experimental books they know won’t sell to the masses. (I think that’s called a business model.)

So it’s money that can really make a book a success – publishing is an industry for the most part, after all. (I’ll blog on the money issues and how to buy a success story, if my editor will ever let me.)

At least getting the TV guys in to make the decisions cuts all the crap and is a little more honest about its own commercialism. TV people are readers, right? They can tell what’s a good book, right?

And before we moan about Art (because I’ll even join you after), let’s not forget that these commercial novels are the ones which allow publishers to fund the arty stuff. In genre land, Feist and Brooks and Jordan – well, they might not be intellectually stimulating, but they sure as hell bankrolled the major houses to bring you the more experimental literature over the years. If TV celebs select commercial, inoffensive literature, is it bad if it creates publicity and brings in readers in order to fund other books? Do we even care?

Now, you lot, get back to your Proust.

5Apr

And That Was Eastercon

Well, there were no tales of authors cooking each other eggs (well, not to my knowledge), but it was still a very fine convention.

This was the first time that I’d really been to Eastercon as a Proper Author. What that basically means is that strangers know who you are and introduce themselves. As an aside, there were so many occasions (and I heard many other conversations) where people said, more or less, “Oh, we tweeted each other a couple of times”, so if you are not on Twitter and want to be more involved with the SF community, get yourself on Twitter.

So. We arrived on Friday and slumped in the corner of the very suave Polo Lounge, which was a nice quiet sanctuary. One of those Very Cool moments happened when, with my girlfriend rolling her eyes looking impressed beside me, someone asked for me to sign a book for them within ten minutes of sitting down.

Later, we met the Mighty Sam Sykes, and then Joe Abercrombie. Now, I had told my partner that there might be lots of discussion about high brow topics, chats about publishing. About art. But no, the conversation was guided by Mr Sykes across a whole plethora of gutter topics, including him having read my book whilst drunk and sitting on a toilet. But despite his rough charms, Mr Sykes has quickly become a favourite con person, alongside the ubiquitous John Berlyne. Later, I caught up with Paul Cornell, man of a thousand secrets, and a thoroughly charming chap. (Some of his secrets will be revealed soon no doubt.)

Joe Abercrombie and I were standing nattering on the Saturday morning, and a couple of bloggers came up to say hello to me (not recognising Joe at all, I might add… I can only speculate whether this says something about the quality of Joe’s books or my ubiquitous online ego). This was the first con I’d been to where a lot of the internet review crowd turned up – and it was great to meet all the bloggers. (Hello to you if you were there, and sorry we couldn’t chat for longer.)

Then, whilst chatting to Bella Pagan from Orbit, I utterly failed to notice my own editor, Julie Crisp, standing right next to her. I’m blaming her height. She’s blaming my rudeness. I’ll let you decide.

Saturday’s panel was a huge success. There must have been a hundred people in that room, listening to myself, Joe Abecrombie, Maura McHugh and John Meaney fight over whether or not authors should engage with the web (my spin, if they want a successful career in the long run, then yes – and I gave arguments to support that point). The crowd seemed to react well to the debate, so I hope those of you who were there found it enlightening.

In the evening, Julie took the Tor UK authors out for a meal – Tony Ballantyne, Gary Gibson, myself and – guess who tagged along for the free food? – Joe Abercrombie (who is, I have to say to balance out my teasing, a thoroughly splendid chap). Some time during that meal we all began to rant to Julie about ebooks and DRM. Other good folk I talked to were Damien G. Walter (one day we’ll hatch our plans to revolutionise the poorly served UK fantasy scene), Simon Spanton, Alex Bell, Jon Wier, Niall Harrison and Nic Clarke (sorry I couldn’t speak for longer to you both), Tom Hunter, Simon Kavanagh, Graham McNeill, Jenni from Solaris, Catherine Rogers… And many more who I’ve forgotten to mention, only because I’m blogging early in the morning. There were also people I had hoped to speak to, but never got the chance.

And that was that. I hear that Mr Miéville won the BSFA for Best Novel – so congrats to him. I think Julie was collecting it on his behalf, and she hates public speaking – does anyone know how she did?

Onto the next event. It might be Sci-Fi London, I don’t know yet.

29Mar

Buying Power

Huzzah for the changes at Waterstone’s:

Waterstone’s managing director Dominic Myers has made his first structural change in how the business operates, since taking over in January, moving away from a category management system of book buying while giving stores back some of their buying power.

The moves come ahead of an analyst and press briefing being held today (26th March), at which Myers and HMV chief executive Simon Fox will set out the chain’s new strategic direction.

Myers has restructured the 18-strong buying team to concentrate buying on either range or campaign stock. Previously the buyers bought individual categories across frontlist and backlist.

When I worked for the bookselling chain Ottakar’s, this was pretty much how things worked. Ottakar’s was all about trusting the people who work in stores, and letting them have a say in what books they should support. A return to this is a good thing. Why?

Well, not every area of the country is the same for a start. There are local changes, nuances. A quiet, backwater locations are not going to want hundreds of copies of the latest award-winning novel scaled out to them, which means that title will be sitting in large piles waiting to be sent back. Neither will you get ridiculous celebrity biographies being shipped out to quaint market towns where it’s unlikely the populace would ever have heard of someone with an already tenuous claim to fame.

And booksellers work with selling an art form to the general public, and trusting them shows that they are not brain-dead till-monkeys. This move is good for range (backlist titles, older stuff, not just the new shiny, bulk-discounted books). If booksellers are trusted to make decisions, they will start pushing books they like, rather than ones they are told to sell by those higher up. They engage more enthusiastically with customers, customers consume more books and develop a good habit of regular reading. Everyone’s a winner.

I think this is also a sensible way for a physical bookstore to go. They need to engage with the local community because otherwise they cannot compete with online retailers effectively. (It’s the experience of going into a store, the benefits of that – i.e. booksellers engaging with customers, local knowledge, events, that kind of thing.) Also, it shows they’re not trying to compete with supermarkets with centralised buying decisions – a foolish mission if ever there was one.

So yeah. This is a good sign.

12Mar

Interview With My Editor: Julie Crisp

Despite the impression we authors like to give, publishing isn’t just about us. There are people who work behind the scenes and they work extremely hard in producing novels each month, and what’s more, they get little acknowledgement. These are the people who help shape careers, as well as an industry, yet they don’t often get a voice. So I thought it would be enlightening to ask a few questions to my own editor, Julie Crisp, queen of Tor UK, in order to get a glimpse into a scary publishing mind. We cover topics such as writer submissions, author egos and cover art. So here we go.

You’ve been on the throne at Tor UK for over a year now, and have inherited an established author list from the legendary Peter Lavery. What was that like for an introduction to Science Fiction and Fantasy publishing?

I did work on some SFF books previously – the Dune books by Kevin J Anderson and Brian Herbert, and Ben Bova’s novels when I worked at Hodder and Stoughton many years ago. So the Tor list wasn’t really my first introduction to SFF publishing.

However, taking over from the ‘legend in his own lunchtime and he of the terrifying red pencil’ Mr Lavery was, admittedly, rather intimidating. He’d been working in publishing for years and knew pretty much everything there was to know about the genre, so he left some big shoes to fill and they’re still feeling rather loose around the ankles a year on. But I think I’m getting there…

What were you working on before Tor UK, and had you always been a reader of SF and Fantasy?

Before working on Tor UK I was an editor for the crime list here at Pan Macmillan, and before that – three years spent working in Australia as an editor on non-fiction, childrens’ fiction, and adult fiction – a real mix. Luckily, I’ve always read across the board. As a kid I’d get through about a book a day, now it’s probably two books a week (for pleasure) but across genres. My favorite obviously being SFF.

I blame my Dad for it. I’ve been a reader of SF and Fantasy since spotting the cover of Stephen King’s IT on my Dad’s bookshelves when I was ten. You know that 1980s version with those terrifying yellow eyes peering out of the drain? I devoured it in about a week. Then had nightmares for about a month afterwards. But that made me pick up Dune next and, from then on it was anything set in another world – pure escapism.

It gets asked all the time: “What are editors looking for in a submission?” But what writers might not realise is that every editor is in fact a different human being. What does Julie Crisp look for in a submission, and what’s the best bit of advice for a writer?

Editors are all different and we all have varying tastes but I think the one thing we all look for – no matter what the genre – is someone who can tell a story.

At heart, I’m a fan first and foremost, so I look for books that I’d read for pleasure and that I’d want to recommend to other people. We also have to be quite pragmatic about it though, and keep an eye on what’s doing well in the marketplace. It’s no good being a huge enthusiast of, oh I don’t know, dwarven adventures with magic ponies, if there’s a demonstrated sales record that proves this doesn’t work. So it’s a balancing act between passion and business.

The things I actively look for in a submission are: great characters, a fast paced plot with good story arcs, and a way with words. If I’m still reading after 50 pages then it’s a good story.

My advice to authors is twofold: write what you feel passionate about – don’t write something because you want to be published, write because you love writing. There’s no guarantee about getting published but if you get satisfaction out of writing then, to be honest, getting a book deal at the end of it is just a really nice bonus. And the other piece of advice: write the damn book! Don’t sit there expounding upon what a fantastic idea you have – get it down on paper and get it out there.

If you like a submission, who else is involved in the process of buying the novel?

Everyone! It’s a very democratic process really. If I’m passionate about something I’ll get Team Tor (that’s Chloe in publicity, Amy in marketing and James in Digital publishing) to have a look at it. If they all enjoy it then it will go out on a wider basis to sales and marketing.

Then I have to put a costing together based on sales figures, any marketing and PR spend we’ve forecasted and take this, and my enthusiasm, to the acquisitions meeting where we’ll sit down and discuss the book, figures, the market and the publishing strategy. It’s actually quite an involved process, we don’t buy books lightly and we have to be convinced that it’s the right decision for everyone, author included.

Doesn’t it get boring reading at home after a day ploughing through submissions?

Sometimes – but only very rarely and mainly because I have tired eyes! There’s a difference between work reading and reading for pleasure though. Submission reading tends to be quite analytical – and actually, it’s the submissions that make me forget I’m reading for work that really get my attention.

Authors are a rather demanding bunch. How have you found managing so many egos? Do you feel like a world-weary mother at times? Do you occasionally bash the computer keyboard in despair?

I’m glad you admit how demanding you are! And those author egos – well…of course, you’re the worst of the bunch. 🙂

I love working with my authors – I really do. And I’m not just saying that because you’re one of them. Where else would you get to work with people whose writing you’ve already read as a fan, who you admire for their passion and dedication to their work and actually enjoy hanging out with at conventions and fairs because they’re genuinely fun people with similar interests to your own?!

Most authors don’t tend to need – or want – ego massaging, thank goodness as I’d be terrible at it. I’m far too candid! What they do want is someone who’ll talk to them honestly, do the best they possibly can for them and their books and someone they can talk to easily if they have concerns or worries about their writing. That’s what I try to do anyway…I’m not at all mean. Despite what you say…

How long can it take you to work through a novel when an author submits it? What’s the process?

Did you want a breakdown of manuscript to bookshelf? Blimey – could take a while. Maybe I’ll do a separate blog on that and post it at Tor.com if anyone’s interested.

Actual editing is very dependent on the author and their experience. Established authors tend to need much less editorial work than a debut author who’s new to the publishing process.

I’ll read a script through once for clarity, make a few notes on the way, and then read through it again making more detailed notes. What I’m looking for is the structural work that needs addressing: plot weaknesses, areas where the pace is too slow or too fast, timing inconsistencies, whether characters need more development, if the storyline is gripping and convincing. I also keep an eye on realism, style and consistency – whether character names change halfway through or someone who had blue eyes and blonde hair at the starts ends up with brown hair and green eyes at the end. My structural notes can be anywhere between two pages and thirty! The manuscript also gets marked up. All of the suggested changes are attempting to make the book stronger, faster – a better read.

In general, it will take me maybe three weeks to work up a detailed editorial report. The author then gets everything back and, after they’ve had a chance to digest my notes and cry into their pillow for a bit :), then we talk everything through. Everything is negotiable. At the end of the day the book has to be one that both author and publisher is happy to see on the bookshelves, so editors certainly aren’t tyrannical about having every single one of their suggested changes implemented.

Although, of course, the editor is always right.

Bloggers are famous for complaining about clichéd cover art. So here’s your chance: what would you like to say to all those who might not like one of Tor UK’s covers?

Do you know, I really enjoy the discussions about covers. Honestly. It’s the only genre I can think of where the readers actually care enough about the books to talk so openly and intensely about what they like and dislike about book jackets. In what other area of publishing would you get that much passion and enthusiasm?

The only thing that does frustrate me is when publishers are accused of just ‘slapping’ a cover on a book. That, I do tend to take personally as it’s a sleight on how well I do my job. You have to remember that, to an editor, every book they take on is like a personal crusade. We’ve fought to buy it, we’ve spent hours researching what other books are working well in the market place. We’ve looked at Bookscan figures, comparable authors, held discussions with the art department about which artist might be suitable to use. We have cover briefing meetings, sales and marketing meetings all to discuss cover strategy.

After briefing a jacket I’ll see between 5-20 different versions of artwork. From that we have to pick one that we feel will attract the most number of people. And then that will be tweaked, and retweaked until it’s as close to perfect as we can get it. We show it to the author and agent and if everyone’s happy with it then we show it to the retailers.

Sometimes, we have to compromise, make it look a little bit more like existing authors who have already sold really well because the market tells us that readers like familiarity and books they can identity easily with other books.

Then, finally, we have something everyone thinks will work. We put it out there nervously…some people like it, some people don’t. We don’t mind – we can’t please everyone. But then someone says – well there’s no thought gone into this…and well… the air around me turns a delightful shade of blue. 🙂

What annoys you the most about being an editor?

The only thing that annoys me about my job is that non-publishing people think that all editors do is sit, drinking coffee, and reading books all day. It’s a terrible misconception. I don’t drink coffee…

Seriously, nothing about my actual job as an editor frustrates me. The only, single, frustration I have is that more people don’t buy and read books. Not because I feel they should be spending loads of money and making publishers rich (although that would be nice), but because I genuinely feel that they’re missing out on something that’s completely wonderful and life changing. I can’t imagine a life without books…

8Mar

Bantam Spectra Proofs

Americans! Feast your eyes on this. Fresh from the offices of Bantam Spectra, we have the advance reading copies of the US debut of Nights of Villjamur. Always exciting to share a picture or two.



Incidentally, the typewriter in the background is purely ornamental, and I couldn’t actually find a free space to pile the books up. And the printed manuscript proof of City of Ruin is not artistically placed beside it; that desk seems to be a bit of a dumping ground. Also, if my UK editor is watching, I didn’t, of course, dump it there without being bothered to read it.



Here’s some marketing detail on the inside. I like that they put that page there, since you usually find it in a separate letter or on the back. (One minor correction: I don’t work for Solaris anymore, but never mind.)


Publication date is the end of June, when the next phase of World Domination begins.

5Mar

Let Them Eat Cake

I said to Julie that I would send cake to Tor UK in order to celebrate the new novel deal for books three and four, and I am a man of my word. I recommend writers sending a cupcake with every submission to a publisher. Cake makes them happy.

2Mar

On Writing Advice

Fascinating article in the Globe and Mail about advice writing. (Via Bookninja.)

The market for fiction shrinks every year, the attention paid to novels by the media diminishes monthly, booksellers demand ever-lower prices, everybody in the industry says it’s the worst it’s ever been. And yet more academic or private creative-writing programs are created every year, and the demand for advice on becoming a novelist remains furiously high. Indeed, the selling of advice on writing has become a self-supporting industry: I know young writers who are doing masters of fine arts in creative writing so that they can in turn become creative-writing teachers in similar programs. Any magazine article like this one generates Internet responses as lengthy as any novella. The discussion of creative writing seems more popular than creative writing itself.

I’ve noticed this trend myself, especially given the latest round of hot tips from pros. (As an aside, I always want to point people to Alan Moore’s 5 tips on writing.)

There’s a fetish concerning being a writer. People want to know how things are done. What time they write. What pens they use. What they drink beforehand. There’s a thirst for backstage gossip.

I wonder where it all comes from?

Being a writer is often a dream job for more people than you think, and there’s probably a reality check required for the most part. That said, there’s a huge disparity between dreams of writing, and knowledge of how to be one – where to find an agent, how to get published, what route to take, what gods to sacrifice to, that sort of thing. (Another aside: use Google, because it’s all out there.) And somewhere in-between an information industry has sprung up.

From all the panels I’ve sat on at conventions, and all the questions that I’ve been asked, this lack of knowledge has created an atmosphere where people worry too much. They agonise over every single detail of a cover letter to agents, over how many words to make a novel (answer: as long as the story), a whole load of stuff that stops people from the most important bit of all.

So, I think Neil Gaiman says it best, in his advice to writers:

You write.

You finish what you write.

23Feb

Fund Your Own Writing Project

If you’re looking to get funding to write a book, one option is to use Kickstarter, which was pointed out to me in the comments of a previous post.

I’m sure by linking to this, it’s going to annoy the hell out of some writers – those who think we’ve a god-given right to be doing what we’re doing, that we’re somehow Very Important People. Me, well, I’m reminded of a Don DeLillo character, a writer, who said of himself:

‘I’m a sentence-maker. Like a donut-maker, only slower.’

I don’t think we’re special people any more than anyone else is – we’ve just worked hard, had the skills, but got lucky. There’s a whole bunch of people who probably work hard and have the skills, but luck wasn’t on their side. I can understand that.

This means I’m open-minded about who should and should not be a writer. It’s a fine line between success and failure, and for those who have fallen on the wrong side, perhaps Kickstarter is a good way to fund your project.

‘But is it ethical?’ I hear you cry.

I would place this on the same level as self-publishing, which can split of into ‘good self-publishing’ (small-scale projects that publishers would never touch, such as the history of a local church – something that serves the community) and ‘bad self-publishing’ (vanity, I’ve been rejected a billion times but the world must – must – see what I write because I am a genius and all editors are just missing the point, and I will go into bookshops to annoy the hell out of every member of staff until they stock my book, and it’s all about me, me, me). It’s bad for that kind of person psychologically, perhaps, but more important financially – we should also give warnings against those companies who seduce desperate writers into parting with their cash in order to get published. ‘We’ll send your books to newspapers to be reviewed!’ they cry as you open your wallet and fold dollar notes down their low-cut publishing tops. Because they can say they will send out your book to reviewers, but without the support of a whole bunch of things (a publicist, a publisher with a trustworthy pedigree) it’s most likely going to end up going straight in someone’s bin.

So, perhaps Kickstarter bypasses the whole ‘parting with cash’ problem. It’s an advance paid for directly by the public – or rather, levels of donation in which the public buy in to your project, and you already get some idea of a level of interest. There are questions of ‘ownership’ raised, perhaps, and some may have entitlement issues. George R R Martin could totally be your bitch this time.

But I like the questions and self-examination that Kickstarter raises. Is there anything wrong with funding someone to write a book that you will be interested in? This funding means that – possibly – editorial services can be employed, a decent printer can be sourced. There is still a lot of hard work involved. What if a writer is talented, just not commercial enough? What if they’re writing in a niche of a niche, and the project would never be touched by the major publishing houses? What about supporting the Arts, darhlings?

And what about funding smaller projects run by ‘established’ authors – would that change your opinion? Things which we are mad enough to think of, crazy little ideas that not even the small presses think they can sell, but with a little self-funding, that established writer could commit the time.

Food for thought.

There are some dubious projects already getting a lot of donations, and you have to question who exactly is donating money to have ‘a private reading in a public place’ for a book about sex.

It’s also worth asking that if it wasn’t literature we were talking about funding, would you still think the idea was a bad one?