Jay explained in her original Kickstarter campaign that sales of Princess and Thorns hadn’t been strong enough for a traditional publisher to take a chance on a sequel. Readers pointed out that Princess of Thorns had only been on sale for a few weeks, some quipping that they wouldn’t be launching a Kickstarter for a sequel that “was already getting faceout placement on Barnes & Noble shelves.”
More questions arose from fans and readers when Jay mentioned that the money requested would go to Kickstarter funding fees, editorial expenses, cover design, and “seven thousand … to cover mortgage, groceries, and gas for [her]family during three three months it would take [her]to write the book.”
Jay also stated that if the Kickstarter campaign didn’t reach its goal, “there will be no sequel or new books and I will concentrate on re-publishing [her]backlist” – a statement many seemed to take as ultimative and threatening.
Jay took to her blog shortly after cancelling the campaign to explain her initial reasoning behind the Kickstarter and her choice to cancel, explaining that she had never self-published a YA novel before and wanted to judge audience interest for the sequel.
Jay answered other questions posed by readers, including why money had been factored in for time and for her ultimate choice not to further pursue a career in young adult fiction.
“I … hope you’ll believe me when I say I wasn’t acting out of a place of greed. When I included money to pay basic living expenses for the three months it would take to write the book in my Kickstarter it was because there is no way I can write a book in 3 months while working another full time job or writing other books on the side. I’m fast, but I’m not that fast,” wrote Jay. “The only thing I don’t apologize for is believing a writer’s work has value and should be paid for. Pirating is wrong. So is expecting a writer to write for free because it is their ‘art.’ Art is not devalued when it is paid for, it is lifted up and respected and I believe we’re all better as a people when that happens.”
The full explanation can be seen at Stacey Jay’s blog. Since that post, Jay has deleted both her Twitter feed and her official author Facebook page.
I very much like the point Stacey Jay made in her blog post: writing has value. Books have value. This is WORK. Work has value.
— Mike Jung (@Mike_Jung) January 7, 2015
Not everybody thought Jay’s Kickstarter campaign was controversial. Many authors, including Rachel Caine, Richelle Mead, Sarah Rees Brennan and Malinda Lo, shared support for Jay on Twitter. Zoraida Cordova came to Jay’s aid in a post on her Tumblr, asking “if all of us set up Kickstarters to write books, that would be great because books would get funded by people who will READ them and for a period of time the author can concentrate on this one thing. On the other hand, what the hell? Why didn’t I think about this myself? Am I too shy? Too embarrassed to ask people for money?”.
I’m saddened by the reaction to Stacey Jay’s kickstarter. She was a Deb with me & many others in 2009. She’s a pro. People misunderstood.
— Malinda Lo (@malindalo) January 6, 2015
Others pointed out that if readers didn’t like the controversy, they could simply not support the Kickstarter. The controversy also created a conversations among readers and writers about how much a writer’s time was worth, and whether or not readers should be concerned with only paying for the final product of the book. Other readers discussed how quickly publishers can be to abandon books, and how they wished publishers would focus on promoting more titles rather than concentrating all of their publicity on their bestsellers.
Fixing my car ain’t free. Feeding my kids ain’t free. So you know what else ain’t free? MY LABOR! DON’T ASK WRITERS TO WORK FOR NOTHING! — Saladin Ahmed (@saladinahmed) January 5, 2015
The great thing about Kickstarter is that if you don’t like the campaign — and this is pretty revolutionary, I know! — don’t back it.
— Chuck Wendig (@ChuckWendig) January 6, 2015
As bloggers, we try to highlight books that are flying under the radar, but I wish pubs made more effort to promote MORE of their books. — Cuddleberries (@Cuddlebuggery) January 5, 2015
Others simply pointed out that a Princess of Thorns sequel was a better use of funds and time than, say, Kickstarter’s wildly successful campaign to fund the making of a potato salad.
Direct quotes and questions about the campaign, as posted on social media, can be seen in user TedMillerOz’s Storify of the issue.