I've seen a lot of talk going around about the Big Bang Press
kickstarter and whether it's a good idea to contribute to or not, and I have some thoughts on that.
1. If you put in an amount of money that you're comfortable paying for three as-yet unfinished and unreviewed novels by new authors with established fanfic backgrounds, you'll either get three novels out of it or you'll get your money back if they don't actually deliver. (Kickstarter ground rules.) Backing a kickstarter doesn't make you liable for any legal or financial problems the owners run into, so it's pretty much on them to decide whether those risks are too high. If you don't think the books are worth it or you don't have the money to spend, obviously that's also a completely valid choice.
2. Is their fundraising goal too high? Do they have professional editing and publishing experience? Do they have an actual lawyer on staff? I'm not sure I care. The thing is, I'm coming from the tech world, where it feels like a white guy can walk up to a VC and get $10 million to build an app that makes barnyard animal noises. I want to see more women out there in the world asking for money and starting businesses and taking risks. $40,000 doesn't exactly seem like a wildly exorbitant sum to launch a company, and worst case scenario is that they end up with more professional experience and some useful business and life lessons to go on with. And if they get more money than they need and turn a profit on their work? Why exactly would that be wrong?
Have you heard of Wattpad
? It's a fiction hosting site founded by two men that (from what I can tell) seems to be used mostly by teenage girls posting One Direction fanfic. To date, they've raised at least $20.8 million
by making the claim that they're out to disrupt the publishing industry.
Do you know how much money Etsy and Pinterest (both founded by men) have raised to date, on the backs of women creating and sharing content on their sites? At least $91.7 million and $338 million, respectively. And while I'm reading stories about these sites on Hacker News every day, I'm still looking around the internet and seeing a lot of talented women who are underemployed or trying to make ends meet while generating value in the form of content for other people's companies. So yeah, I love the fannish gift economy and have done thousands of hours of unpaid labor on its behalf, but I also respect the fact that people have to eat and pay rent, and I support their efforts to make money to do that as long as they're not hurting anybody. Will I be more cynical the fiftieth time I see people in fandom doing the same thing? No doubt. But if any of them make it big, I'll be thrilled, and in the meantime, if I pay for a book and I get a book that I enjoy as much as my average Amazon purchase, that's a perfectly good deal for me.