Kickstarter, Stacey Jay, and sexism…

Warning: this is a long post. I have my rantypants on.

So there was a(nother) scandal in the YA world this week. An author going by the pen name of Stacey Jay — I gather she writes romance too, under another name — set up a Kickstarter project to try and fund the second book in her YA series. She apparently published her first book traditionally, but the sales weren’t enough to make the publisher want to go ahead with the series. However, they were  enough that she could make a viable go of the sequel if she self-published it.

So she set up a Kickstarter, attempting to raise enough money to cover the costs of a cover artist, editing, layout, etc. As part of that, she also included the cost of her time to write the book. She did this because writing is her sole source of income, and because if she was going to take time out from other paying projects to write the sequel, she’d need to be able to feed her kids. You can see the Kickstarter here.

This started a bit of a storm on Twitter. I didn’t see it myself at the time, but I’m told that there was some discussion about the struture of the Kickstarter rewards, some about the idea of wages vs advances vs preorders, some on whether Kickstarter is the program to use at all, and some about the ethics of asking for the cost of living as part of the price of writing a book.

Regardless of the intent behind some of the discussion (I spoke to one person who said it was mostly a discussion about the system), some of it was vitriolic (“who does she think she is?!”), and Stacey Jay took it as an attack. She cancelled the Kickstarter. Her blog post went viral, and a lot of big names latched onto that last point of discussion, about writers being fairly remunerated for their work. Chuck Wendig and Laura Lam blogged about it. Maggie Stiefvater retweeted the blog with a comment saying she agreed 100%.

Then Chuck Wendig tweeted something I’d seen others tweet, although not in the same words:

Chuck Wendig Kickstarter

He was accused of sarcastically subtweeting a group of women, and of being sexist.

This left me scratching my head, because I hadn’t been aware that the bulk of the discussion about the Kickstarter had been by women. I suppose if I’d considered it, I would have realised, because most YA authors are women. But until then, it didn’t seem to have been a factor.

Still, the subject of authors being paid (in money, not “exposure”) isn’t exactly a women’s issue, so the gender makeup of the two sides of the debate shouldn’t be a barrier to others taking part in a discussion arising from it. The fact that the bulk of the discussion was on one issue, rather than the full spectrum of the original discussion … well, that’s just how conversations work. They don’t always go the way we want them to, especially online.

Sidenote: The claim that Chuck Wendig has a big megaphone to broadcast with because he is a man is undermined by the fact that Maggie Stiefvater — who has almost twice as many Twitter followers — said the same thing. I’m not saying that his white male status hasn’t helped him along the way in his career, because there’s no doubt that privilege shortens your odds in the “luck” part of the success equation, but I’d suggest hard work, clever marketing and talent play big role in his success too. And Chuck is the first person to admit he has received “hetronormative white dude” advantages. His self-awareness earns him mad props in my eyes.

Anyway, yesterday, Stacey Jay tweeted the following.

StaceyJay1

StaceyJay2

She’s been doxxed.

(If you’re not familiar with the term, it’s when someone hacks or does intensive research on a target and then publishes their personal details online. Wiki has a page defining it.)

I saw her tweets this morning, my time, and wanted to Hulksmash something. I feel sick. Really ill, and so bad for Stacey Jay that it hurts. Because this isn’t about the pros and cons of asking for money to cover your bills anymore, or whether Patreon is better than Kickstarter, or whether a $20 reward including promo material was poor form. This is about someone’s privacy being violated.

Regardless of what you think of authors using Kickstarter to fund writing a book, we can all agree that doxxing someone is a dick move, yes?

To be clear, I don’t think for a second that the person behind the doxxing was one of those involved in the original discussion. No doubt some “hacktivist” shit-stirrer saw the scandal and decided to make a name for themselves in the cyber community by targeting Stacey Jay.

And this is where I think sexism has played a part, moreso than in the original tall poppy syndrome or the commentary around it. Because doxxing someone contains an implicit threat. I know where you live. It’s been used a lot by the less savoury side of the GamerGate scandal, to try and shut up those on the opposite side. Usually, it must be said, it’s used to target women.

I hope Stacey Jay reports the doxxing to the police and they are able to find the perpetrator — although I’m not optimistic about that. I hope she can find some peace after all this. I even hope that she reactivates the Kickstarter to take advantage of the publicity all this has caused, although given the doxxing I doubt she will. If I were her, I wouldn’t.

And the truth is that I’m scared to post this, because I’m a female on social media, and I’m afraid of drawing the wrong sort of attention. Of having people leave vindictive negative reviews on my book, or of being doxxed myself. Because it has happened to others.

But seeing others doxxed and being cowed by that makes you collateral damage from the original attack. It’s completely messed up. This is what #YesAllWomen is about.

And that is my rant.

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First Tweets: the Aussie Owned and Read crew

So, to celebrate its eighth birthday Twitter has launched something called First Tweet, where you can discover any Twitter user’s, well, first tweet.

For fun, I decided to do a search on each of the Aussie Owned and Read bloggers and see what their immortal first words were. They don’t know I’m doing this, so I hope there’s nothing too embarrassing there…

Aussie Owned and Read

AOR

Lauren, co-founder

Lauren_1st_tweet

Stacey, co-founder

Stacey_1st_tweet

Emily

Emily_1st_tweet

Katie

Katie_1st_tweet

Kim

Kim_1st_tweet

Sharon

Sharon_1st_tweet

Suse

Suse_1st_tweet

Cait

Cait_1st_tweet

Heather

Heather_1st_tweet

Hahaha, I love these girls! 😀

In the interests of fairness, here’s mine:

Cass_1st_tweet

I’d be interested to know, what was your first tweet? Have you seen any absolute corkers? It’s a funny thing, because almost everyone (with the exception of Joss Whedon, who got over 100k followers in 24 hours) tweets their first tweet to an audience of one. They’ll have no followers, and no one will notice. This tool lets everyone go back and see what those potentially embarrassing mumblings were. (For example, @abcnews, our national broadcaster’s news network, tweeted “pwn3d”. That’s what happens when you let the work experience kid set up the account, I suppose.)

AussieOwned_Contributor


Twitter etiquette: auto-DMs

Spam makes baby twitter bird sad.

Spam makes baby twitter bird sad.

I recently got into a discussion with someone on Twitter after I unfollowed them. They tweeted me and asked why, and what they could do to win me back.

Never mind the fact that I’ve never had anyone do that before — most people, especially those with thousands of followers like this person — take the occasional loss of a follower in their stride. I’d  never had a personal interaction with this person beforehand, and had only followed them for a few days before I unfollowed.

I tried to explain my reasons to them (as I write this I still haven’t decided whether to relent on the unfollow). And I’ll explain them here for you.

DO NOT SEND TWITTER DMS TO PEOPLE YOU DON’T KNOW, ASKING THEM TO DO STUFF.

This is spam. It doesn’t matter whether the DM contains a link, or even whether you’re asking them to do stuff on behalf of someone else — it’s still spam: an unsolicited request to do something they otherwise wouldn’t have.

Think of it like this. When you tweet, your followers see the tweet in their timeline. If they’re looking at the time, anyway. They can either choose to read it or ignore it, and if they choose to read it they can then elect to do the thing you’re asking them to do, or not. It’s like an ad on TV, or in a magazine.

When you DM someone, they will definitely read it, sure. But it’s more like telemarketing: ringing someone up (probably at dinnertime!) and asking them for stuff. I don’t like people ringing me, or DMing me, unless I know them or have otherwise invited contact.

A lot of people send auto-DMs when you follow them. Some are just “hey, thanks for the follow”. Others contain links to blogs and things — which is, to my mind, a little obnoxious. Put the link in your bio; I’ll find it if I want to.

For the record, I usually don’t unfollow someone for this particular offence. But I know people who do, so my advice would be don’t do it.

The person I unfollowed not only sent the auto-DM welcome message (with link), but then went on to send another DM to all their followers a few days later. It didn’t contain a link, but it did ask me to do something. It was spam. Again.

I’ll give someone another chance once, but twice? When I don’t even know you? No thanks.

I think a lot of people with things to sell on Twitter are bewitched by the idea that a DM is a guaranteed read. What they don’t realise is that it’s almost always also guaranteed to piss people off.

If you want people to click on your blog link, or like you on Facebook, or do whatever it is you are tempted to ask them to do, then my suggestion is this: be engaging. Be sociable. Be friendly, and genuine. Don’t just tweet about your product — you can mention it, of course, but it shouldn’t be more than a quarter of your overall tweets (probably less). Talk about other things. Show that you’re a person.

And have the link in your bio, so that when you’ve won people over they click on the link because they want to. Because they like you, or are a fan.

Thus endeth the lesson/rant.


Blog memes – Thursday’s Children and #MondayBlogs

This is my last Thursday’s Children post. Not because I have decided to take my bat and ball and go home (no bat, and also — no home!), but because the organisers, Rhiann and Kristina, have decided that after organising it for a full year it’s time they moved on to a new project. I respect that, although I will miss the meme, which is about sharing the things that inspire you.

thurschilbadgejpgThe meme has been a great thing to get me blogging. Since I joined in April I’ve posted Thursday’s Children blog posts at least once a fortnight — depending on other blogging and real life commitments. And it’s also drawn some extra traffic to my blog that I otherwise might not have had, because each Thursday’s Children blog post is registered at a central list and the participants often drop in on other blogs to say hi and see what’s inspiring them.

And Thursday’s Children inspired me. Talk about the snake eating its own tail … in a nice way, obviously.

#MondayBlogs

If you’re a blogger and also on Twitter, there’s another meme you should be aware of: #MondayBlogs.

This was created by social media guru Rachel Thompson as a way for people to share their blog posts once a week, and to find and retweet others. It is, unsurprisingly, held every Monday — although given the various timezones around the world, Monday goes for way more than 24 hours.

Here are a few tips for participating in #MondayBlogs.

* Write a blog post that others will want to read.

* Tweet about it on Monday. Make sure you include the #MondayBlogs hashtag, and that your tweet actually reveals something about the post.

* If you also include the account name @MondayBlogs, they will retweet your post as well. (DON’T include the account name as the very first thing in the tweet, because that prevents your followers who don’t also follow @MondayBlogs from seeing it. Include a character — even a “.” will do — before the “@”.)

* You can find other blogs to read and retweet by either checking the hashtag contents or the @MondayBlog tweets. I prefer the latter because each tweet only appears once instead of dozens of times as it is retweeted.

* Try and retweet at least a few other people’s blog posts. (I try not to retweet too many links at once, which means I spread it out. And I always read the blog post first, to make sure I’m not inadvertently sharing something offensive — which is why I only manage to share a few each week.)

If you want to learn more, I recommend this post by Rachel Thompson.

Anway, to close, I’ll leave you with the children’s poem that inspired Thursday’s Children in the first place:

Monday’s child is fair of face,
Tuesday’s child is full of grace,
Wednesday’s child is full of woe,
Thursday’s child has far to go,
Friday’s child is loving and giving,
Saturday’s child works hard for a living,
But the child who is born on the Sabbath Day
Is bonny and blithe and good and gay.

Click here to see this week’s other Thursday’s Children blog posts.


Twitter Contest to Win an E-Copy of ‘The Best Man’ by Ana Blaze

Beth Chase is too busy planning perfect weddings to worry about the lack of action in her own love life. But if she was looking for a man, she wouldn’t be looking at Colin Pratt. Her boss swears that Best Man Colin is a quiet scholar and science fiction writer who couldn’t possibly cause a fuss at his own brother’s wedding. He’s clearly never met the man in question. Snarky, sexy and more than a little inebriated, Colin is the final obstacle between Beth and the last perfect wedding she needs to make partner. Of course, when she helps him into a taxi at the end of the night she has no idea that he’s only just begun to poke holes in her professional exterior. Colin might have the skills to seduce a romance professional, but can he convince her that he’s the best man to share her happy ever after?

The Best Man By Ana Blaze

Find The Best Man on Goodreads, or at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo or Smashwords. The Best Man is also available from Entranced Publishing.

Watch the trailer here.

 Contest Details

Entering is easy. Just tweet @ana_blaze and include the hashtag #TheBestMan between midnight EST on 7 June 2013 (NOW!) and 11:59 p.m. EST on 8 June 2013!

 For example, you could tweet:

@ana_blaze I married #TheBestMan I know.

@ana_blaze #TheBestMan is on my must read list.

@ana_blaze #TheBestMan made me breakfast in bed.

@ana_blaze I love sexy nerds. #TheBestMan

@ana_blaze I wish Beth would plan my wedding. #TheBestMan

@ana_blaze Being #TheBestMan is tough, but someone’s gotta do it.

or even just:

@ana_blaze  I want to read #TheBestMan!

You get the idea. Twitter rules ask that we don’t have too many duplicate tweets, so it’s best (and frankly way more cool) if you come up with your own tweet. Ana is really looking forward to seeing what folks come up with. And hoping for some tweets about how to be #TheBestMan. It’s also best if you are following Ana on Twitter. Apparently that’s the only way to guarantee that your tweet shows up in the search.

You’re welcome to tweet (and enter) more than once, but please not more than once an hour. Let’s not annoy the Twitter-folk too much.

This contest is open internationally.

Void where prohibited. 😦

You can find Ana at her blog, or on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Goodreads.


Inspired by others’ successes

thurschilbadgejpg

I didn’t think I would be participating in Thursday’s Children this week, because I had so much scheduled for the blog: cover launches, new release blog tours and giveaways. But it occurred to me that the very reason for all these posts was actually a source of inspiration to me, and that maybe I should share it for anyone else who is struggling right now.

The fact is I get a huge buzz from the successes of other authors—especially my friends, obviously, but also people I follow but am not even that close to on Twitter.

In the past couple of weeks one person in the writing community on Twitter got a three-book deal. Another got an agent. Two others have launched their books, while two have revealed covers for their books. And I know of someone who has had a contract offer and is considering it now (and no, I won’t say who it is—I don’t want to steal their thunder).

I don’t know if there’s something in the water in Publishing Land at the moment to make all these awesome events occur at once, or whether it’s because my circle of writerly folks on Twitter has expanded to the point where I’m just hearing more news. It could be a little of both. But I LOVE IT!

I’m not saying a tiny part of me isn’t jealous—but it’s not the kind of spiteful jealousy that makes me resent the successful people. It’s not the kind that eats at my heart, or even brings me down a little. It’s more of an “oh, that must be nice!” reaction, which is completely overridden by the happiness I feel for these people.

At the end of the day, we’re not all competing for one job; there are a lot of publishers and agents out there, and just because someone else gets picked up for something, that doesn’t reduce the size of the pie for the rest of us. (Mmm, pie…) It’s also a good indication publishing is thriving despite all the changes to the industry, which has to be good news for all of us.

Also, I’ve had UB40’s cover of Kingston Town stuck in my head since I heard it on the radio on Tuesday, and who could be gloomy with such a cute little reggae tune playing? (Given the peppy nature of this post, maybe Don’t Worry, Be Happy by Bobby McFerrin would be more appropriate, but my brain isn’t listening.) 

Click here to see this week’s other Thursday’s Children blog posts.


Finding new Twitter follows more lazy ways: hashtags and advanced searches

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Two weeks ago I blogged about how a great way to find new people to follow was to look at the lists to which others have added you, because odds are there’ll be a common theme uniting you and them. Here are a couple of other ways I’ve used recently to find people to follow, both for my personal account and for the Aussie Owned and Read account. (By the way, Aussie Owned is running a giveaway at the moment; you should check it out!)

Contest hashtags

Yesterday, the queen of Twitter pitching contests, Brenda Drake, ran the latest in the series: #PitMad. In case you’re not familiar with the idea, writers come up with a 140-character hook for their manuscript (including the hashtag) and post it periodically throughout a ten-hour period. Agents and publishing houses can check the hashtag and request to see queries for those pitches that interest them. It was fabulously successful and quite a few folks I know got requests.

But the other upside of a very popular hashtag such as this is that, like a list, it unites people who have similar interests. In this case it’s writers, but there are loads of other hashtags out there you can use.

Advanced search function

Did you know that Twitter has an advanced search function? You can find it here. It lets you enter in various criteria to search for (must or mustn’t include certain words, from or to a certain account, etc). The location function seems a little flaky (whenever I tried “Australia” it didn’t work, so I had to do it by capital city) but otherwise it’s quite effective to find people who have the same interests as you.

As an aside, if you’re trying to market a book make sure you don’t just follow writers. Follow readers too; try searching for fans of popular novels in your genre. If they follow you back you’ve gained a possible new fan (so long as you play your cards right).

So those are two of the ways I use. Do you have any other methods to find people who share your interests?