Monday, February 22, 2010

Panhandling for Author Advances

“It's true hard work never killed anybody, but I figure, why take the chance?” – Ronald Reagan

A few days ago I read the article, “Is ‘crowdfunding’ really the way ahead for author advances?” on Until then I had never heard of the term.

Wikipedia’s definition is:

"Crowd funding (sometimes called crowd financing or crowd sourced capital), inspired by crowdsourcing, describes the collective cooperation, attention and trust by people who network and pool their money together, usually via the Internet, in order to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations. Crowdfunding occurs for any variety of purposes, from disaster relief to citizen journalism to artists seeking support from fans, to political campaigns."

Whether the correct form is crowdfunding or crowd funding, my definition, after reading the article, is simply online panhandling.

Deanna Zandt is an author whose day job interfered with her desire to work fulltime on a book about social networking as a tool for social change so she issued a plea on her blog for funds.

According to the article:

“Zandt has a publisher for this book, Berret Koehler, but they do not provide authors with advances to write their books. For some (unexplained, especially as the book is due to be published in June 2010) reason the book is "incredibly fast-tracked" and so she needed "to stop working as a consultant for the next three months and do nothing but write the book. Thus, I need investors. I need you to help me raise $15,000 to cover my expenses, travel, and research. Please toss some money into a 'Feed Deanna' pot!"

“Surprisingly, perhaps, Zandt had reasonable success with her call out for "investors" (although there is no payoff for donors other than a copy of the book for those who donate more than $100. And a nice warm feeling inside, of course). She raised more than $6,500, somebody covered her rent, and a pizza company provided free snacks."

What I find most shocking is that there are people out there willing to contribute. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for helping out a worthy cause. However feeding someone who is perfectly able to feed themselves but prefers not to, does not exactly meet my definition of “worthy.”

I also understand how someone would rather spend time writing than at the job that actually feeds them, but again that does not seem qualify as a “worthy cause,” especially when there are so many actual needy people.

How do you feel about crowd funding? Are you willing to help support someone you are not related to so that they can take time off to pursue their writing career? For anyone who may have answered “Yes” to that last question, have I mentioned that my publisher, ArcheBooks, does not offer advances either?

If you would like to read the entire article, you can find it here.

Thanks for stopping by.

Tags: Reagan, crowdfunding, Panhandling, Deanna Zandt, crowd funding, ArcheBooks,


Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said... I'd have to say I wouldn't do that. If the rest of us can fit writing a novel into our busy lives, then the author should just stay up 2 hours later or get up 2 hours earlier and write. That's really all the time it takes if you just sit and write the whole time!

I hadn't heard of this either, Jane! Too funny...

Mystery Writing is Murder

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Unless her book is going to change the world or help needy people, I'd have to say no as well. Three months of nothing but writing? I could churn out several books!

Karen Walker said...

No, I have to say I wouldn't contribute to that kind of thing either. Duh!

Darcia Helle said...

Wow, I actually find the whole thing demeaning. Why not just go on Welfare? Geesh! And how many publishers fast-track a book that hasn't even been written? How do they know it will be worth publishing? It rings of scam to be but perhaps I'm just too skeptical of human behavior!

Marvin D Wilson said...

Weird. But if you can make it work, why not, hmm? Not my cup of tea, though. I suppose if I was planning to write a book about some wholistic way-of-life miracle cure for AIDS or cancer or something I'd discovered I'd be bold enough to petition the "crowd" for a paid sabatical to write it. Then they'd be getting something back in the form of a better world.

But just to write a novel? Nah. Not me.

The Old Silly

Carol Kilgore said...

I would have a hard time asking for a handout. But I know some people who would give it a go. I'm not sure I could give to something like this, either. It would definitely be on a case-by-case basis.

Helen Ginger said...

This is the first I've heard of that. Authors long ago used have a sponsor who would support them, but I don't see it catching on in today's world.

Straight From Hel

Galen Kindley--Author said...

Here is the ultimate crowdfunding story...short but true version. Happened in Albuquerque. Criminal breaks into house. Owner shoots criminal dead. Following week a sign appears in the store owned by criminal's father soliciting money to (supposedly) help bury criminal. I'm just sayin'...

Best Wishes, Galen.

Journaling Woman said...

Hmmm interesting and yet red flaggish.

Enid Wilson said...

This is such a strange world! But if someone is willing to ask and someone is willing to pay, there is no harm to anyone.

Steamy Darcy

Joanne said...

No, I wouldn't help fund someone's life this way. I think that somehow, someway, we are all responsible for ourselves, our lives. Whatever it takes.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jane,

What an awesome blog. I never heard of the term. But I'm gald I stopped by tody amd learned of it. I've got to take the kids to school and run errands, but when I get back I'm going to Retweet your blog, post on FB, and reference on my blog. Hope to bring additional traffic to your site. Again, great blog.

Stephen Tremp

arlee bird said...

I've never heard the term and I wouldn't donate to such a thing because right now I the one who would need to be on the receiving end.

I have heard of similar types of ways to fund one's writing though.
What about those who acquire a wealthy patron or benefactor to provide for them--not uncommon.
Or those who receive government or otherwise sponsored grants-- I've heard of that and where does that money come from in the first place?

I'm sure there are lots of, methods that one could use to finance one's work.

Money is out there, now I just have to find it!


Alexis Grant said...

Interesting. An author would have to give me a really good reason to support her -- other than simply supporting her -- for me to do that. And right now, without an income myself, I wouldn't be able to give either way. I'd say it's a stretch!

dirtywhitecandy said...

Judging by her success getting funding so far, she knows how to use social networking to get ahead. The plea for funds is obviously part of the pre-publicity for the book. People will get cross and write about it, and word will get about. It will give her the content too as she can simply write up her diaries of the last few months and publish them. When it is published, people will know who she is and so it will not sink into obscurity - half the battle these days. This is not about paying her bills while she writes, it's about pre-publicity.

So it's a cynically clever plan, for people who don't mind being treated like idiots. Most of us wouldn't have the gall to be such parasites. But she probably doesn't care.

BTW, Jane, I came over to tell you there's a surprise for you on my blog!

Jan Morrison said...

Holey Moley Batwoman - people will give you money for sitting around! I'd feel so guilty that I couldn't write so pointless. I'd rather work it around my other work and my life and when people ask me how I can do that I tell them that I'll never retire - that I'm fitting in my retirement now sort of. And they don't even put your name in the book. Nah! Where is the Medici family when you need it?

Watery Tart said...

How do I get a gig like that? I want to quit my day job and just write! I'm sure I'd succeed if I just had those extra eight hours a day!

Seriously though, I am with all the folks who might jump on board if it was an urgent message that might motivate activists for a cause I care about (or if the proceeds were going to the same), but just so someone can take the easy road nobody is giving me? Nosireebob!

Jane's Ride - Novelist Jane Kennedy Sutton's journey through the ups and downs of the writing, publishing and marketing world