The Patronage System

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Last weekend, I watched a segment of Book TV, where author Scott Turow and Judge Richard Posner discussed books, ebooks, copyright, and publishing.  The show was interesting, but it was also frustrating, because the speakers often talked past each other, without responding directly to points raised.  Plus, Judge Posner seems to be unaware of the fact that some writers write fiction, as opposed to academic texts.

One of Judge Posner’s major points was that most writers do not rely on royalties to earn their money.  According to the judge, many modern writers are supported by the patronage system, and traditional copyright should not be applied to them.

Patronage?  Like the King of France paying a poet to write a paean? Like the Pope paying a biographer to record his life?

Not exactly.  According to Judge Posner, modern “patrons” are universities, paying professors to write.  Once I understood his definition, I nodded and tossed in “work-for-hire” arrangements into the patronage pot — an author is hired to write a specific work for a specific fee, forfeiting all rights to that work in the future.

But then I realized that there’s another form of patronage in modern writing:  Kickstarter.  We’ve all followed this new system of funding; some of our Magical Words colleagues have been extraordinarily successful using Kickstarter.  (Yeah, Catie and Faith – I’m looking at you!  🙂 )

Kickstarter gives patrons a chance to pay an author to write a specific work for a specific fee. 

But what are the implications for this “new” system of support?  What happens if an author fails to deliver in a timely fashion?  Who defines “timely”?  What happens if an author delivers a poorly written work, or one that strays substantially from the work originally described? What if the Kickstarter patrons are disappointed in the work they’ve underwritten?

Traditionally, authors and artists who were beholden to patrons knew that they had to “suck it up” to a certain extent.  Michelangelo was forced to paint the Sistine Chapel when he would have much preferred to carve statues — all because Pope Julius II was paying the bills.

Should modern writers yield to the tastes of their patrons?  Should we shape our stories to suit the whim of the majority?  What if a large group of Kickstarter patrons wants one thing, and another large group wants the opposite?

I can answer many of the above questions by putting on my lawyer hat.  I can go on and on about contracts, about offer, acceptance, and consideration.  I can answer the  questions as moral queries — the author owes her patrons certain things, but not all artistic control.  I can answer the questions as artistic quandaries — sometimes the words just won’t come in a specific form, no matter what the obligation.

At heart, Kickstarter raises the question of who “owns” an artistic endeavor.  So?  Does Kickstarter change the rules?  What rights *should* patrons have vis-a-vis their supported authors?  And what rights do artists retain?

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19 comments to The Patronage System

  • What if a large group of Kickstarter patrons wants one thing, and another large group wants the opposite?

    Run two Kickstarters, I said dryly.

    I know this isn’t really addressing the question, but thus far my experience with Kickstarter and crowdfunding in general is that the audience is willing, able and happy to get pretty damned excited about any project put forth to them. How excited, I suppose, is ultimately defined by how much money they give you, but thus far nobody has suggested they might be in a position to dictate what project I put forth. I mean, somebody could: someone could offer to pay me the going rate for a specific novel and hell, sure, I’d probably write it for them. But nobody’s likely to individually ante up that kind of money. 🙂

    I think the advantage Michelangelo had was he was essentially only in the position of needing to please one patron, hence the Sistine Chapel. But if you’re in the position of needing to please 250 or 500 or a thousand patrons, then you’re in a whole different situation, and I think it behooves you to say “This is the art offered; support it or do not.”

    At heart, Kickstarter raises the question of who “owns” an artistic endeavor.

    Ah, see, I don’t think it does. The art is mine: I’m the one who’s made it. The patrons are making it *possible*, and they get all kinds of perks because of that (first reading rights, access to the writing-of blogs, etc), but they finished product doesn’t belong to them. It’s mine to do with as I see fit. If I did a work for hire Kickstarter–which actually I am, as a participant in Dinocalypse then the material would belong to the person whose world it belonged to, but it’d have to be a fairly extraordinary proposal for someone to get me to run a work for hire Kickstarter of my own, if you see what I mean?

    I’m sure I’ve got more to say but the toddler informs me he’s done with lunch now. 🙂

  • This post raises interesting questions, Mindy, as does Catie’s response. I would love to see this discussion continue. I guess my feeling is that at root, the Kickstarter process is the same as the “contract” a reader enters into with a writer upon buying a book in a store. The reader expects a certain level of quality from a purchased book. If the book meets those expectations or exceeds them, the reader will come back for more. If it falls short, the author will likely never get that reader back.

  • This is fascinating, though the part that interested me most (at the moment, anyway) is the stance the judge took on “academic patronage.” That the professors don’t own their work. I believe that’s already the case with many of the sciences. But it certainly is NOT the case in the humanities. We had this fight at OSU when the school was demanding we essentially e-publish our dissertations upon completion as a graduation requirement. The problem with this is that, once we did it, we’d “published” it and no press would want to publish it. That makes things like, oh, tenure and promotion, tough. The school caved and allowed us to get waivers for 5 years (renewable).

    But here’s a question for you, I work for a university. Do my novels, according to the judge, belong to the school? Does AJ’s work belong to UNC? I think not.

    As for kickstarter, I think they don’t own the work either. It’s almost like pre-ordering. I don’t own the rights to a book I pre-order on Amazon. Even if it isn’t finished yet. The moment they (the kickstarters) significantly contribute to the art, I think you have a problem. So, if someone did give an author a full outline of a story, there might be some creative issues there (even if that outline was fully collaborative between 100 people!)

    It’s a complicated question.

  • I’ve become a huge fan of Kickstarter, and have already “bought into” a number of projects there, and have been extremely satisfied with the whole experience. To me, it’s a way to help get the things -I- want to see happen, when circumstances might dictate otherwise. Books that the writers want to write when the publishers don’t want to support them. Games that people want to create. Art that artists want to… um… art? The point is, it’s an awesome alternative way to make things happen. I don’t want any extra say in the product, I just want to get that awesome new book that Writer X is so keen to do.

    I spent two years trying to find backing for an anthology I edited after the first publisher basically fell through. No other publisher would touch it because they either couldn’t afford to pay the authors an advance, or they didn’t think the project was worth enough for an advance. In this day and age, no one wanted to pay authors like Tanith Lee, Sarah Rees Brennan, and Aliette de Bodard 2 cents a word on the off-chance that this could be a good anthology. Finally, with the help of a friendly publisher, I turned to Kickstarter so I could pay the authors -5- cents. 5! Ah ah ah ah! And y’know what? It -worked-. Fans and friends and interested parties rallied, and we made our funding. Heck, with five days to go as of now, we might even exceed it by a very healthy amount. And that’s what Kickstarter’s done for me: allowed me to go straight to the fans for support when the publishers balked.

    And yet this anthology doesn’t belong to the backers. I wouldn’t change the stories or theme or content or contributors just because the people pledging their money demanded so. It’s a product, and we’re selling it, and they’re buying it (or donating money for some other reason, and I just don’t -get- the ones who pledge extra or pledge for no reward at all, because everyone deserves a book…). I owe it to them to deliver the anthology as described, and to make sure it’s as good as I can, but that’s about the extent of the contract under the terms set up.

    Not only is Kickstarter allowing people to break the rules and circumvent the usual publisher-creator-audience dynamic, it’s allowing the creator to set their own rules. You could (and some have) say that “$1000 gets you the right to name a character” or “$4000 lets you decide who the character falls in love with” if that’s how you want to play it. You can allow them input and influence in the finished product, or you can simply say “$25 gets you a book, whatever I write, whether it’s a novella or a novel, and it’s about this character.” (Buying into Catie’s No Dominion: one of my best Kickstarter decisions ever. She gives you value for your money!) The sky’s the limit, and you’re in charge, and eventually you’ll find where the fans have their limit: either you make your goals or you don’t. 🙂

    That’s my long-winded essay on what I think of Kickstarter. Because of it, a project that’s eaten at my life for 3 years will finally see the light of day, and I couldn’t be happier. (Well, there’s always the sequel…)

  • This does raise some interesting questions. While I don’t think Kickstarter patrons would “own” the art, I can certainly imagine that some patrons would think so, or at least that they own the right to influence the outcome. Some readers already have that proprietary feeling about books and movies and tv shows (“how dare the writer kill that character/have those two characters fall in love” and ruin *my* book/show/movie). My guess is that those feelings will increase when the “payment” comes before the actual writing is done. I think that some people will view buying a book (or any work of art) after it is completed as very different than “paying for it to be written,” and that some of them will feel entitled to get what they want.

    True fans of the author probably won’t feel this way, but if Kickstarter or other methods of public patronage become more common and popular, then more casual readers may get involved and their loyalty to the author may not be stronger than their desire to read the story they want to read rather than the story the author wants to write.

    I love the idea of Kickstarter, and have become a patron for several projects recently, but I do think there can be some problems with patrons who start to feel entitled to influence or even decide what exactly gets written.

    I didn’t mean to write so much! I’d never even thought about this until this post, so thanks for provoking so many thoughts!

  • While, I’m no expert on Kickstarter, having not used it, my understanding of the model suggests that it’s pretty clear that Kickstarter supporters do not in any way “own” a work of art put forth on Kickstarter. In some ways it’s like traditional patronage, but in key and important ways it is very much not like patronage.

    To use the Michaelangelo example: Michaelangelo did not go to the Pope and say “I have this awesome vision for a beautiful and stunning painting that takes up the whole inside of the Sistine Chapel. Do you think that sounds awesome, too? Would you like to fund my art project?” Fundamentally, that’s how Kickstarter works. In a traditional patronage the patrons commissioned works from the artists directly. Often, artists would be able to use this patronage to allow themselves creative space to create works that were not specifically patron-requested along with those that were.

    Further, in traditional patronage, authorship of a creative or artistic work is never reverted to the commissioner. We do not refer to Duke Ludovico Sforza’s “Last Supper” but to Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Last Supper”. Ownership and authorship were dissociated, unlike in a modern “Work for Hire”. (This points to another difference, being that issues of ownership and authorship and copyright, etc., are different for differing artistic media. A painting is a solitary, practical induplicable thing. A modern book, not so.)

    But anyway, to Kickstarter: the way the model works, an artist offers to create a work of art, and Kickstarter backers decide to support the artist in this endeavor by making a donation. But as I understand it, the specifics of the disposition of that art are clear in Kickstarter’s description of itself: “This is not about investment or lending. Project creators keep 100% ownership and control over their work. Instead, they offer products and experiences that are unique to each project.”

    Tangentially, however, there is the issue of whether backers are satisfied with the finished work. In that sense, there is a very vague “ownership” principle in place (like David mentions above) – the artist has made a promise to deliver a specific art project. If the artist fails to deliver (with the failure to deliver being in the eye of the beholder), there’s not much recourse for the backer save this: they can choose not to back that artist again in the future. So an artist has some incentive to try to deliver on the promise if they want to keep doing this.

  • The more I think about it, the more I think the judge is wrong in describing the academic relationship as patronage. It’s not historically accurate for one thing – universities are not (or were not found to be) rich, powerful, unitary entities which then bestowed their bounty upon artisans who sufficiently pleased them. A university is fundamentally a loose coalition of scholars who are organized for the purpose of increasing and promulgating knowledge. You can have a university without trustees or even students (Oxford has a college like this) but you can’t have a university without professors working on something.

    A patron can/will refuse to support an artist who displeases him or her and sufficiently powerful patrons (kings, for example) could sometimes actively prevent an artist from producing work. In fact, the whole point of a tenure system (now seriously under attack btw) is to protect individual professors from losing their jobs if the tone, content, or moral position of their academic work displeases the people running or funding the university. That’s a critical distinction. A university, like kickstarter subscribers, can cut off funding, but they are limited in their power to stop professors from producing certain results. To use an example that’s not censorship oriented – my own university doesn’t own a particular database I need for my work. This doesn’t stop me from doing medieval scholarship – I just drive down the road to another university and use their library. The school whose database I use is not my patron; they don’t benefit from or reward my work. The school I work for is not insulted by my use of another school’s resources. My university isn’t my patron, nor is my department chair my patron. There are factors of economic exchange (they do pay me) and authority in our relationship, but I don’t think patronage is the right description here.

  • Catie – Thanks for chiming in so quickly! I actually agree with you, that the author’s role is to say, “This is what I’m offering – let me know if you want to chip in.” And I agree wholeheartedly that the author continues to own the copyright in her work – even the most avid kickstarter only provides ideas; those ideas are expressed by the author. I think that I should have clarified my last group of questions to read: “At heart, Kickstarter raises the question of who “owns” THE PROCESS OF an artistic endeavor.” Do kickstarters have the right to demand that an author set aside Project A, in favor of writing the kickstarted Project B? To what extent is it valid for a kickstarter to say, “I feel cheated; the 7500 words that you wrote were not up to your usual craft”? For my traditionally-published work, the folks who put up the money (my publishers) certainly have the right to say that, and to ask for edits. (Of course, the readers who buy the work don’t have the right to ask for the edits.) So, are kickstarters more like publishers, funding new work? Or are they more like readers, buying new work?

    David – Thanks for chiming in. As I’m fumbling through my answer to Catie, I’m realizing the key issue I meant to present. Kickstarter puts funders in dual roles: they underwrite a process (much as traditional publishers do, by paying an advance), and they reap the benefit of a process (much as buyers do, by purchasing a finished work). I don’t think that the latter role gives kickstarters special rights; kickstarters take their chances, just as book-buyers do. But I wonder if the underwriting role *does* provide certain rights/benefits/expectations — about process, and about the interstices of the project not detailed in the author’s kickstarter platform?

    pea_faerie – I had a *lot* of trouble with Posner’s complete disregard for ownership of copyright (at least, in the academic arena; he made clear that’s what he was discussing, and he declined to talk on a broader basis.) In the sciences, of course, there are whole businesses built up on the notion of “technology transfer”, the commodification and marketization of university inventions. Posner seems very uninterested in encouraging creativity — either in the sciences or the arts. I haven’t gone back to read through his decisions on intellectual property; I’m a little frightened to. As for the university owning your novel outright, I don’t know what Posner would say. I suspect that the answer would turn on whether you were hired *to* write novels — e.g., he’d say that a math professor who writes a romance novel is not compensated by the university for that novel (and keeps the rights), but a creative writing professor who writes a literary novel (yeah, yeah, whatever that means) *is* compensated for that novel. And no. I don’t think he’s right. And I’m pretty damn certain that Princeton University isn’t raking in the big Joyce Carol Oates bucks every year…

    SiSi – I agree that the Kickstarter system is set up to increase the feeling of connection to works of art, and that some kickstarter individuals will feel an increased sense of entitlement. (And yeah, the level of entitlement that readers/viewers feel *now* can be overwhelming!) Certainly true fans and new fans each have the right to vote with their pocketbooks, encouraging (by financial incentive) specific shapings of the canon that they want to see. Thanks for chiming in!

    Stephen – Thanks for weighing in; your comments and others have helped me to clarify what I *meant* to write (focusing more on whether kickstarters feel and/or deserve an ownership of the *process*, not the creative work — the issue you discuss beginning with “tangentially…”) The disappointed backer has several places to express displeasure: withholding future support (as you note), in the backer’s media (e.g. his/her own twitter account), in the artist’s media (e.g., commenting on the author’s blog), in review fora (e.g., posting one-star reviews on Amazon and its cousins). Certainly, the author wants to avoid this negative publicity, but the author is still an independent person and creator and can choose to act how s/he wants. Neil Gaiman could write, “George R.R. Martin is not your bitch” to (over-?)eager fans. But does that admonition apply with equal weight if the fans kickstarted the project? (I’m still mulling over your distinctions between traditional patronage and Kickstarter – I had not thought about the difference in who launches the communication…)

  • Sarah – *I* agree that the university system is not a clear-cut one of patronage. I think that it has some elements of traditional patronage to the extent that the university says, “Scholar, accept this payment, then think and write brilliant things which the world will marvel at and recognize me-the-university as the sponsor of those things.” And a professor can say, “I am stifled here, or not appreciated here, or simply don’t like being here, so I’m off to find someone else who values me enough to sponsor me” if s/he leaves. But tenure confuses the picture. As does “publish or perish”. And the fact that most scholars keep the rights to their work, no matter what Posner says. (He noted several times that people regularly approach him with reprint requests; he *does* own his own copyrights, no matter how he positions himself.)

  • Michael (apologies for the slight delay in clearing your post for publication on the site!) – I watched your campaign with great interest – it was exciting to see a long-delayed project break through with so much support from so many. I think that you and I are in agreement – at least with what I *intended* to focus on – the ***process*** of publication, in which I argue kickstarters have a greater interest than the regular reader. You say, “I owe it to them to deliver the anthology as described, and to make sure it’s as good as I can…” I’m intrigued by the idea of a Kickstarter campaign with one-time-donor points allowing the donor to shape the story. But then, I’ve been toying with a “choose your own adventure” type story for grown-ups, for a long time…

  • Yeah, I do think there’s some interesting space there, in this vaguer sense of ownership of process. Or perhaps a better word might be a sense of “entitlement”. In that way, it’s a godo question: to what extent does a Kickstarter/Backer have a legitimate claim to entitlement over the creative process.

    This suggests to my mind a sort of a dance or a negotiation. The author/creator/artist begins the negotiation by offering up the creation of an art project. The backers move to decide what they want to support, what they deem worthy. But the dance progresses as the two sides interact. The author will want to avoid negative publicity due to a failure to deliver the promise, and the backers may feel that they have some entitlement to see certain things reflected in the finished project. That is a delicate situation.

    But how is this different than the relationship between authors and readers without Kickstarter? All of those tools – blogs, twitter, etc. – are available to readers already who feel than an author’s work failed to live up to their expectation. Authors already worry about negative reviews and bad publicity. The very existence of the Neil Gaiman piece on Martin is testament to the fact that readers already feel entitled. It’s possible that a financial investment a la Kickstarter increases this sense of entitlement… but then isn’t that a difference only of degrees, but not of kind?

  • On another tangentially-related angle, regarding Kickstarter, one thing I’ve wondered about is the importance of visibility and recognition to the success of a Kickstarter project, or lack thereof. So far, at least in the book world, it seems like the most successful Kickstarters are those run by established authors with name recognition.

    To tie this back to the ownership question… in a sense the whole point of “Branding” is to create the illusion of a relationship between a customer (i.e. the reader) and the brand identity – the supposed creator of some product (i.e. an author). Coca-Cola is a powerful brand because people feel some emotional resonance with the idea of drinking a Coke on a level that’s not entirely conscious. The backlash against New Coke was so terrible in part because that branding relationship created a sense of ownership or entitlement among Coke drinkers.

    I wonder if the same principle may be at work here, as well… that Kickstarter works for established authors because whether they’re aware of it or not they have an established brand identity (which in a way entails that sense of ownership)…

  • Stephen – Thanks for writing back. I think that there *is* some difference between someone saying, “GRRM should write the end of this series; he owes us, his readers” and someone saying, “I paid $X of my own money to Author, who has not delivered what s/he promised by when s/he promised.”

    If I read the former in various public places, I’d roll my eyes. If I read the latter, I’d say, “Wow. Author seems to have broken a promise. Maybe even a contract. And failing to deliver to kickstarters is just as bad as failing to deliver to a NY publisher by contract deadline.” That latter is *very* important to me – it’s one of my guiding lights as an author; I have *never* missed a deadline. The delivery thing, to me, goes to the heart of professionalism.

    (Answering your other post separately, because of the separate issues raised…)

  • Stephen – I haven’t studied a *lot* of Kickstarter projects, so I’m mostly writing out my theories here… Like you, I’ve only seen projects succeed where the author has a firmly-established presence — or a network of firmly-established friends who promote loudly and often. In some cases, those successful Kickstarter projects have been created by authors who did not have large readerships, but did have large online footprints (e.g., large WoW guilds…)

    (As an aside – I’ve seen established authors crash and burn on Kickstarter, and it’s ugly. Sometimes, it’s because they set too high a goal. Sometimes, it’s because they promote once and then stop. Sometimes, it’s because they say, “hey, I’ve written this, now pay me”, which removes the excitement of the mechanism. Sometimes, they’ve done all three of those things…)

    I suspect that relative unknowns could succeed on Kickstarter *if* they set their goal low enough. They’d have enough family and friends to cover the spread. And I suspect that relative unknowns *might* succeed if they chose a project that was appealing enough – but every project I come up with as I type this would have the copyright lawyers of major motion picture studios screaming bloody murder. Still, I can see it happening…

    I think that your tying the likelihood of success to branding is a reasonable way of looking at the problem. For a writer like me, who has my feet firmly in three camps (no, I don’t have three feet, I just shuffle a lot) – traditional fantasy, light paranormal, and category romance – I would probably have a hard time selling a major Kickstarter project. Of course, I’ve worked on unifying my brand (“Fun. Adventure. Passion.”) And I’d hope to get my category romance readers to kick in just for the possibility of seeing what I could do with traditional romance…

    But so far, Kickstarter isn’t for me.

  • Just from my point of view, I see the Kickstarter patrons primarily as buyers and consumers. If there’s one thing we can agree upon, it’s that the vast majority of people who chip in to any Kickstarter are doing it to get the end result – the CD or book or art piece or technogadget or game. They get something for their money, a tangible or consumable or “real” reward. While there are plenty who pledge just for the sake of doing a good deed or to see something succeed, they’re in the minority. (I contributed $5 to see that a local art show was funded, with no expectation of any reward, but that’s contrary to my usual motivation of getting a book in return.) They’re pre-ordering this thing they want, confident in the knowledge that the person on the other end will deliver. Of course, they also feel strongly enough about the project that they’ll offer their money up ahead of time, knowing that it might be weeks or months before they see the end result. So the creator likely feels even more obligated to deliver in a timely manner, to the best of their ability, because their Kickstarter patrons represent the truly dedicated and most interested of fans.

    It’s one thing to write a book for a publisher and send it out into the cold, cruel world for anyone to buy, where it can sink or swim. It’s another when 200 people each pony up $25 or more ahead of time for the book, plunking down their money based on your reputation, your previous output, their familiarity with your work or their curiosity. I know I certainly feel the obligation to my 213 (and counting) backers to make good on promises. 🙂 However, once the product is out in the wild, it’s still going to sink or swim like anything else, thanks to word of mouth and reviews. Heck, your success with one project can determine the fate of future ones. (Don’t think I’m not terrified of how people will accept Scheherazade’s Facade when it gets released!)

    I saw one project start up where the more money you pledge, the more you can affect the story, including character names and species, how long a character survives, and so on. It’s an interesting way to generate interest and participation, and I’ll keep my eyes open to see how it does in the long run. However, as a Kickstarter patron I’m perfectly happy pledging my money for a nice, normal product. I don’t need bells and whistles to get involved. Just the promise of something good at the end.

    The more I think about this, the more I love contemplating the myriad possibilities and avenues of discussion regarding crowdfunding in general. (And if someone wanted to be my patron and pay me lots of money… well, I’m only human, I can be bought. 🙂 )

  • The more I read about Kickstarter, the more excited I get. It’s free-market done in an incredibly free-market way, not the rich investor driven way (which I’d call traditional patronage).

    As with any transaction of work or goods for money, what each side gets is in the ‘contract’, so if you specifically state what each Kickstarter contributor gets, well, that’s what they get. If ya wanna keep ownership, don’t include ownership in your Kickstarter funder goodies.

    Kickstarter project contributors will feel a sense of ownership, having contributed, which is a great thing. You end up with potentially thousands of advocates. People who will go out and sell your writing for you. You can’t get that with a traditional publisher. You might get a publicist who may know some reviewers, but you won’t get thousands of folk with an emotional investment in your work.

    Beginning writers may not have the fan base to generate significant funding for a project, so it may be less valuable for them, but for a mid-list author with a fan base, well, it might be feasible.

  • mudepoz

    I am a patron of Kickstarter. At first it was Catie. I’m still hooked on the Old Races. Getting extra shorts made it worth while, and I could pay what I was comfortable paying. Then there was Faith’s Mageworld. That really deserves to continue, I always felt bad for Thorn. In bed with all those…nevermind.

    More recently I’m helping out a friend producing an album. It thrills me to be able to give him a chance. Signed, Selfish Kickstarter Patron. And let’s not get into the patronage of text books. The last lab book I helped write made me enough to go to Mc Donald’s a few times.

  • Michael – When you find that uber-patron, will you ask him to send a few bucks my way? 🙂 I, also, think that it will be interesting to watch Kickstarter evolve, to see the different ways that people use the service creatively, to shape new art.

    Roxanne – I absolutely agree with you, that the kickstarters are excellent potential advocates. In addition to the usual “share this” buttons on the donation page, each of those individuals is far more likely than the average bear to trumpet their support of the project. (Looping back around to my original idea, though, I worry that some of those supporters could turn into loud detractors, if they’re displeased with the final product, or with the process in getting to the final product. But then, I worry a lot ::wry grin::).

    Mudepoz – My first reader is also a writer of textbooks, and he just acquired a new computer based on his royalties. He was properly chuffed. I have to admit, I get overwhelmed by Kickstarter – there are *lots* of projects posted by my friends (more than I can support, at this point), and that doesn’t even begin to get to browsing through all the other cool things out there…