So apparently author Stacey Jay started up a Kickstarter, and a horde of critics descended upon her for having the temerity to include line items in her costs about "paying her bills". There's quite the detailed and lengthy discussion about it over at Chuck Wendig's Terrible Minds blog, and it's a good read.
The bottom line for me, though?
The costs for the time spent writing are legitimate production costs in the life cycle of a book's publication.
A technology Kickstarter will often include the costs of coder and engineer salaries (because the product doesn't get made without them). I'm pretty sure the Veronica Mars Kickstarter paid the actors, screenwriter, director, camera people, other film crew, etc (because the product doesn't get made without them). In addition to expenses for editing and cover design (which are services provided by people, and the product doesn't get made without them), an anthology Kickstarter will usually include a line item for costs of paying the writers for their stories (because the product doesn't get made without them). If Ms. Jay had commissioned her book from another writer, that writer's fee would have been included in the expenses listed for her Kickstarter. BECAUSE THE PRODUCT DOESN'T GET MADE WITHOUT THAT WRITER. There's no difference if that fee is paid to her.
The book would simply not exist without the work of the writer. See that key word back there? Yes, writing is absolutely work.
Stacey Jay has nothing to apologize for.
Pay the writer.
I agree that writers ought to get paid for their work, and I think some of the Twitter critics were unnecessarily harsh, but the wording of the Kickstarter was also problematic.
Personally, I've declined to back KS projects because their creators listed "living expenses" as a budget line item. Yes, I know the money will eventually go to pay for groceries and such, but as a backer I'm not paying for that--I want to know that I'm paying for the thing being made, whether it's a book, movie, game, or other product. And this isn't a transparency issue; it's a matter of presentation. I wouldn't mind paying a reputable creator a "salary" to make cool stuff, but I want that part of the social contract to be clearly stated.
I'm very sorry that Stacey Jay went through this, because several people were just plain mean to her, and she didn't deserve that. There's definitely a lesson to be learned here about how to ask for crowdfunding, but I wish people would be nicer when they disagree with things. :P #TheInternet
But if it had been worded as "salary" (which essentially covers living expenses), you'd have no objection?