Update: Best Music Writing 2012 Has Officially Been Canceled
Two days ago, we ran a story by H. Drew Blackburn on the 2012 edition of Best Music Writing, which had been successfully crowdfunded through Kickstarter but was never published. Blackburn reported that while over $17,000 was raised for the project, the book had never been published. When reached, BMW editor Daphne Carr offered no comment on the matter.
A couple updates on that.
One, it turns out there was a second, less high-profile crowdfunding effort on the part of Carr that raised $4,575 for the book, launched after the successfully-funded Kickstarter, meant to raise supplementary funds for the series.
Two, a writer whose work was set to appear in BMW 2012 forwarded us an email from Carr, sent at 1:37am this morning, announcing that the book's publication has officially been canceled. Here is the email as we received it:
Dear potential Best Music Writing contributor,
I regret to inform you that the long pending publication of Best Music Writing 2012 has been officially cancelled [sic] and thus your contribution will not be needed. This is not in any way due to the quality of your work or any other factor relating the contributors or editorial board, but is solely the responsibility of myself as publisher.
I want to offer my personal apologies for this because I know that in the past authors have been deeply proud of their inclusion in the series. You should know that your work was selected over many thousands to be honored by an esteemed group of pop and classical music writers, and that they spoke fondly of each piece to be included. I hope that you will continue to write in excellence and reach wide audiences.
Further information about the future of the title and press will be published shortly. I regret that I will be traveling until September 4, but when I return I will answer any outstanding questions you may have.
We will continue reporting on this story as it develops.
Update: Series editor Daphne Carr has sent the following email to the BMW Kickstarter backers:
To the Backers of Best Music Writing publishing project,
Many apologies for my lack of communication on this project.
I am writing to let you know that the project will not be published. The problems of starting a publishing house and launching an internationally distributed trade book within a six-eight month time frame proved to be way beyond my capacities. As many of you know, I was primarily responsible for the creation and production of the editorial material for the book over the last seven years, and that was my area of expertise. It was my grave error to think I could acquire and utilize a second, enormous skill set involved with production and publishing, especially given the time constraints. That does not necessarily explain why it has taken additional time to write to you, but I hope you understand that this was due to a sort of panic about how to save the title. It is something I love and have held dear to me for my entire adult life. It is my profound sadness to have failed with it.
That said, much work had been done on the book, including selection of the pieces that would be included. I intend to publish the list of the Best Music Writing as selected by the book's incredible, world-class professional editorial board. This in and of itself is a great
achievement and I hope you will take the time to enjoy the pieces mentioned on the list. This will arrive to you via email in the first week of September, after the dust has cleared from this announcement. I hope to separate the good work of those editors from my failure with the publishing house.
So, the money. The $15k that I had hoped for was money I knew I needed to produce only the intellectual property for the title -- editorial stipends, administrative staff, and payment of reprint license. To my grave error this was not a realistic number -- the reality is that it would take another $10k to produce that property, and another $10k to produce and publish a book. I had intended to raise additional funds in pre-sales, but as the project stalled I thought it dishonest to move forward in any way with money.
Which brings me to my main reason for reaching out to you: I intend to pay back all of the backers for this project out of my own pocket. I have done the number crunching and given my current revenue streams it should take about three years of monthly payments to backers. I apologize for this long duration between your donation and my return and promise to do what I can to get it done as quickly as possible.
I have set up a timetable for return to each of you within that frame. If you have questions or concerns about your place in this please email email@example.com. (Please please do not make requests through the Kickstarter interface, because I'm trying to track everything in one place. Just send email to the feedback email, thanks!). Otherwise I will begin payments in September, reaching out to a select number of people each month via Kickstarter to see if you prefer check or Paypal. I will send a final email when the project has been fully refunded.
Thank you again for your support of this project, and my deepest apologies for having to deliver this bad news about it. My goal with Best Music Writing was always to present the best of the world’s writing on music, musicians, the industry, and music in the world around us. I hope that you will continue to be hungry to read that work, and support those who labor to write and publish those works for you.
My deepest thanks and apologies,