Popular authors tried to start an NFT writing community

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In addition to Lindsay Lohan, Lil Nas X and many more, you can now add six New York Times bestselling authors to the growing list of top creators trying to profit from the NFT (Non-Fungible Token) game. NFTs are unique symbolic assets (art, tweets, music, etc.) managed through blockchains (think cryptocurrency).

There is a lot of debate about the value of NFTs, the environmental impact of crypto art, and whether we are in a tulip mania-like bubble or plagued by scams. The edge explained it better than I can, but anyway, for our purposes, popular YA writers Marie Lu, Tahereh Mafi, Ranson Riggs, Adam Silvera and David and Nicola Yoon joined forces and announced the NFT-based writing project. Realms of Ruin.

Realms of Ruin was promoted as a way for young writers (mostly teenagers) to work with the six established authors to build a narrative universe. Think of it as a contribution to fanfiction, but if it is selected, your creative assets for the story are officially added to the canon of the universe and you can make money from it. Seems like a great way to collaborate, except for some reason they choose to involve NFTs.

The rules of the Kingdom are as follows:

  • “The Realm of Ruin begins with an origin story, 5 realms, 42 characters and 12 initial stories.”
  • “Anyone can write a story in this universe and turn it into an NFT they own. “
  • “The authors will promote and reward the best stories. (A little vague, but okay.)
  • “A collectible NFT character set will be sold at launch to fund the project.”

While most of the writers seemed taken aback by the almost immediate backlash of their involvement and open to criticism (even before the project was finally put on hold), its creator, sci-fi writer Marie Lu fought back. Sarcastic remarks downplaying concerns despite being a well-established science fiction writer who we imagine would normally think twice about the social and economic impacts of such a project.

Julie Zhuo (who would have worked on the project from the start with Lu) explained that they were using Sonala for minimal environmental impact. Internet users compare using Solana to using a mid-tier web server like Wikipedia, and it’s generally mentioned as one of the more environmentally friendly options. However, the new company does not appear to have any third party oversight or confirmation.

The backlash from the community of writers

Typical of Twitter, it took a bit of time to piece together the whole story as everyone was reacting to the pieces and looking for a detailed explanation. @BadWritingTakes took notes with comments and @SoulioMolio has archived Discord threads (with names hidden). While I’m sure there were people who saw no problem with this project as planned, a large part of the book community, from writers to booksellers, did.

Many people have flocked to the now locked (or deleted) Discord channel, being frank that they are theirs to watch the world burn. Others have rightly raised problems linked to the nature of TVNs while others have raised the specificities of this project. People have asked how they are going to get around the fact that while this is for young writers, most crypto buys / exchanges are 18 and over. Moderator “Redshirt” (one of the more active moderators) hinted at a shared treasure and that more information was to come.

Others have asked about copyright, which administrators have assured that if you’re in the US and you do, you automatically own the copyright. While the law may be on your side, it’s very complicated with artists in a collaborative format like this. It’s also a gross oversimplification for the young audience they aim to attract. Their documents directly say that all six authors own the copyright, but a community member’s stories can “go canon.” What if it was sold for adaptation or never printed? What about the merchandise? This is a mess.

Moderator PudgyWudgy announced that while they expected questions, the deep questions cause the creators to question the whole project. About 6 hours later, the project was drawn by the creators.

What happened before and after the cancellation

Some Tweets are now deleted (including endorsements from others like Zhuo, although Zhuo remains has tweets about the project on his Twitter) as well as the announcement of the publication Medium. For the most part, it seems the creators are listening to the reviews. Some writers, like Emery Lee, saw that while the project seemed to have good intentions, there were so many other possible options that did not include NFTs. Others highlighted the success of Rick Riordan presents imprint and although I don’t think they’re there yet (few authors are) something along this path would have been a better path.

While I can see some of the good potentials of NFTs for creators, the bad ones far outweigh those, for shows alone. Lu’s comments (since deleted) about the attitude to stop driving if you are upset didn’t add anything. While she may live in a metropolitan area with a robust public transportation system, most Americans (most people, period) don’t. A car where I and many others live means having access to medical care, groceries, school, work and more.

While all of the authors and their agents involved should have known better (given the online and offline debate around NFTs, art, cryptography, and environmental impact), it was Lu who attracted the most criticism as she had an argument with people on Twitter and Instagram. She finally apologized.

It was a matter of time

It is not surprising that this has happened. NFTs have infiltrated almost every community. They can provide financial assistance to artists (or people who steal from artists) in a nation that values ​​products over people. However, no one expected the demographic age of this particular group to be so young, which was a big dud as well. Not only are you presenting a complex (arguably) useless topic to young people, but also high-risk, low-reward transactions. If something looks too much like a pyramid scheme, steer clear and if it targets kids… well, we have a huge problem on our hands.

Plus, this project isn’t the only one to blame, but we’ve seen how the lifestyle-shaking hobby has created a mental toll on young creatives. While creatives should be paid for their work, there should also be room for simply to create. Low stakes and just get stuff done. Especially before the responsibilities of adults weigh you down (which is not even an option for some children).

(via Twitter, image: Julie zhou)

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