Help me write 50 ‘Snide Remarks’ columns


“Snide Remarks” used to be nothing more than a dumb weekly column that I wrote for my college newspaper. That was in 1997. Today, it has grown into a dumb weekly column that I write for the Internet! Like you, I marvel at how far we have come.

But with this progress has come change — change to the journalism industry, change to the way people access information and entertainment, change to my hair. I make a living as a freelance writer, working almost exclusively online. As a freelancer, it’s not feasible for me to spend time and energy writing something — even something I love, like “Snide Remarks” — without getting paid for it. I don’t have a “day job” that keeps me afloat while I dabble in side projects in my spare time. For someone in my situation, there’s no such thing as a side project.

At the moment, no reputable outlet is interested in paying me to write “Snide Remarks.” I know, I know: this is an outrageous affront to all decency, etc. Let us leave the remedying of that deplorable state of affairs for another day. In the meantime, I have found a way to circumvent the traditional publishing model and to keep “Snide Remarks” a-churnin’.

Basically, instead of convincing a publisher to pay me to write “Snide Remarks,” I seek to convince you — the readers — to commission the work. I’m crowd-sourcing.

We did this about 18 months ago, and it was a smashing success. I put in a bid for how much I wanted to be paid to write 50 columns; you guys passed around the metaphorical hat and raised the non-metaphorical money; I wrote the 50 columns.

Now it’s time to do it again!

For $6,000, I will write 50 more “Snide Remarks” columns. They will appear approximately weekly on Tuesdays starting Sept. 4. They will be marvelously funny and insightful, or at the very least will make fun of PETA.

We’re using Kickstarter. You might be more familiar with it now than you were 18 months ago (it has grown rapidly), but here are the basics:

– You go to Kickstarter and pledge as much or as little as you want toward this project. There are prizes for donors at the $20, $50, and $100 levels, but any amount from $1 to $6,000 is welcome. Wanna pledge a buck? Okay! Thank you! As long as 5,999 other people do the same, we’re set.

– Kickstarter works on an all-or-nothing basis. We have until 5:00 p.m. (Pacific) on Friday, July 20, to raise $6,000 in pledges. If we have not reached that threshold when the deadline arrives, NOBODY PAYS ANYTHING, no columns are written, and everyone is sad forever.

– If we DO reach $6,000 in pledges by that time, then the contributors’ credit or debit cards are charged. (You provided the info when you pledged; it’s all set up through Amazon’s payment system; it is safe and secure.) The money goes to me, I waste it on candy and gum, and then I write 50 columns. Everyone is happy forever (for 50 weeks)!

Kickstarter has a thorough FAQ if you have more questions about how the process works.

Please note that this is NOT a subscription. Everyone will be able to read the column, not just those who paid for it. It’s like PBS: funded by viewers like you, but available to everyone! So if you can’t/don’t/won’t pay anything, that’s okay, as long as enough other people do.

Some questions that you might ask, followed by answers to those questions:

Q: What if you raise more than $6,000? Will you write more columns? Will we get a refund, like when we pay too much on our taxes?
A: Well, no. Anything above $6,000 is just gravy. (Kickstarter and Amazon each take 4-5 percent, so surplus funds would offset that.) Think of it as a tip, I guess. That being said, if we raised significantly more than the $6,000 — say, $1,000 extra — I would contribute the excess to charity.  I reckon I would do something special: extra columns, pool party at my house, whatever.

Q: If I contribute, does that make me your “editor”? Do I get to tell you what to write about or otherwise boss you around?
A: Also no. I experimented last time with letting major donors choose column topics, and the results were mixed. It was more of a hassle than it was worth. The idea here is that you generally like the “Snide Remarks” column and want to enable me to write it, not that you want to have creative control over it. (But of course I am always open to suggestions for things to write about, trends to make fun of, news stories to glibly dissect, and so forth. Don’t hesitate to email me or tweet at me if you see something you think I should be aware of!)

Q: What if we fund the project and then you don’t write the columns? Are you going to take our money and run away?
A: I promise I will not take your money and run away. I will write 50 columns. They will be magnificent. Oh, how magnificent they will be! You will tell your grandchildren about them. I will fulfill my obligation to you, both as a man of my word and a man who makes his living as a freelance writer and does not wish to commit career suicide. If something catastrophic were to happen that forced me to quit the project altogether, I would refund everyone’s money.

Q: Who is the dashing young gentleman pointing to a map in the Kickstarter photo?
A: Why, that is me, Eric D. Snider! That is from the time I did the weather on my college TV news program. You can watch the video here.

Remember, it’s all or nothing! If we don’t have $6,000 in pledges by 5 p.m. on July 20, nobody pays anything and no columns get written.

As I write this, we are already more than 40% of the way there. My thanks to everyone who has pledged so far! Please continue to spread the word via Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Friendster, ICQ, chat rooms, WebTV, and Usenet.

In the meantime, feel free to peruse the “Snide Remarks” archives and whet your appetite for the 50-column feast that is about to be served. Yum-yum! (Note: do not ingest “Snide Remarks.”)