Kickstartering

So, as most of you know, the plan for this book project of mine is to get it funded through a crowdfunding service and, so far, the most likely candidate for a creative project like this is Kickstarter. Here’s a quick definition of crowdfunding, for any of you who may not know: “Crowdfunding (alternately crowd financingequity crowdfundingcrowd equitycrowd-sourced fundraising) is the collective effort of individuals who network and pool their money, usually via the Internet, to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations.”-Wikipedia

Kickstarter works on an incentive based system, which they call ‘rewards’. As their website points out:

Every project’s primary rewards should be things made by the project itself. If the project is to record a new album, then rewards should include a copy of the CD when it’s finished. Rewards ensure that backers will benefit from a project just as much as its creator (i.e., they get cool stuff that they helped make possible!).

There are four common reward types that we see on Kickstarter:

  • Copies of the thing: the album, the DVD, a print from the show. These items should be priced what they would cost in a retail environment.
  • Creative collaborations: a backer appears as a hero in the comic, everyone gets painted into the mural, two backers do the handclaps for track 3.
  • Creative experiences: a visit to the set, a phone call from the author, dinner with the cast, a concert in your backyard.
  • Creative mementos: Polaroids sent from location, thanks in the credits, meaningful tokens that tell a story.”

So this is where it starts to get interesting. Literature projects on Kickstarter have a much lower success rate than most other projects there. They are second lowest in success rate, just above fashion projects, at 32.39%. There are over 10,000 unsuccessful literature campaigns, 2,238 of which received no funding.

The numbers are interesting on that front. The further along a project gets (like, say, above 50% funding) the more likely it is to reach its total goal. That may seem obvious, but basically the most important part of the process is to get the ball rolling. I feel I can get enough local support to raise a chunk of what I’ll need, but I’ll need the majority of the help to come from outside of my own small group of friends, family, and other backers. And that’s where the rewards come in. According to them, “To date the most popular pledge amount is $25 and the average pledge is around $70. Small amounts are where it’s at: projects without a reward of $20 or less succeed 28% of the time, while projects with a reward of $20 or less succeed 45% of the time.”

So, I think I’ll start the pledges at $10. I feel if it’s any lower people will pledge $5 and feel they’re supporting the project well. But a project of this magnitude, with projected costs of around $8000, would need 1600 different backers if everyone donated $5. And I strongly doubt I can pull that kind of support, especially coming into this project as an unknown.

So here are a few ideas I’ve had for different rewards at the different pledge points:

$10-eBook version of the story

$20-eBook and Audiobook

$50-eBook, Audiobook and hardcover

$100-eBook, Audiobook, signed hardcover and art print

$200-eBook, Audiobook, signed hardcover and signed art print

$500-eBook, Audiobook, two signed hardcovers, signed art print and name in the acknowledgements

$750-eBook, Audiobook, three signed hardcovers, signed art print, name and picture in acknowledgements

$1000-eBook, Audiobook, four signed hardcovers, signed art print, name and picture in acknowledgements and you get to write the foreword (or, if there are multiple donations at this level, which I find hard to imagine, they could share authorship of the foreword/afterword)

So there are a few ideas. They’re still very early ideas. I feel like I definitely need to come up with some better stuff for the higher donations. More personalized rewards. More exciting rewards. I have no idea if anyone will pledge more than $50, but I’d like to provide some incentive to…

It looks like some authors of art books provide prints that are not in their books and only available to Kickstarter philanthropists. Something like that might be a good idea…

Feel free to let me know what you think about all this. Would you donate with those rewards? What rewards would you like or expect in order to donate? Do you know of anyone else who’s successfully crowdfunded a book project? How did they do it?

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How I Found Flash Fiction, Part 4

(This is the fourth installment of How I Found Flash Fiction, the fascinating tale of a close friend of mine, Cory Bradley.)

And write a novel I did! Eventually.

Over the next two years I halfheartedly worked on a fantasy book set in an Ireland-esque world; I incorporated experiences I had there, places I had visited and based characters on persons I had met. I thought the plot was solid, but the writing process was a sloppy affair, given that those two years began with me starting a new relationship, moving to a new state, getting a new job and trying to make new friends. Naturally, my time for writing was minimal, but when I finally managed to make it back to school I had no time at all.

Focused completely on supporting myself and keeping my grades up, an additional two years would pass without me writing another word. In fact, all that I managed during my schooling was to submit “I Wake Up Running” again for publication with my school’s literary journal. It was accepted, which should have been a significant hint for me. Sadly, I didn’t allow another publication credit to convince me to abandon my novel and return to my glorious career as a short story writer. I should have, because my novel was a monstrosity, though I wouldn’t learn that for yet another two years.

After graduating with a useless degree in Business Marketing, I found myself working odd jobs to keep my apartment. Eventually, though, my lease ran out and I wasn’t able to afford the increased rent, so I embarked on a one year couch-surfing tour, staying with no fewer than 8 different families. I slept in attics and basements and trailers, accepting any offer that would keep me warm at night (or simply alive). It was a character-building experience to be sure, but of most benefit was that the limited cost of bumming off my friends meant having to work less, resulting in more time for writing, which I used to finally finish my book.

Eventually my vagrancy came to an end and I secured a job that allowed me the constancy of sleeping in the same bed every night. It was finally time for me to pursue publication for my novel. Vast amounts of research convinced me of the need to first secure representation from a literary agent. It was a tedious process, but I was willing to pay my dues. After a year and a half, however, my patience was rewarded with nothing but an inbox full of rejections from what seemed like every agent in the literary industry. For the first time, I wondered if I had made a mistake spending six years on a project that no one wanted to represent. The very thought was disheartening, to say the least. No, I wouldn’t let myself believe it. Surely it must be my query letters or synopsis or minimal publication credits that were dissuading agents from brawling for the opportunity to add me to their client list! It couldn’t possibly be my novel…could it?

Though I kicked and screamed and clawed at the idea that my book was anything less than brilliant, I was ultimately forced to face the reality that it was simply a festering turd. The writing was juvenile, the plot wandered aimlessly for near 500 pages, there were far too many characters to keep straight, and the entire story resolved itself perfectly in a nauseatingly heartwarming fashion. Moreover, whatever original ideas it may have contained 6 years ago were original no longer. It was heartbreaking to admit the possibility that the book was unsalvageable and that my career as a novelist was over before it even began.

Cory has recently published several pieces of flash fiction, each taking place within the literary landscape of Auditorium, a city that holds a larger, overarching story. You can find his flash fiction herehere and, most recently, here. Please let us know what you think.

The Art Of Progress (or is it the other way around?)

Hey everybody! Sorry I was gone so long… No real excuses for you this time around. But I’m back to share some progress on my book project and I’m very excited about it.

I’ve already introduced you to both of these characters and you’ve already seen some art. But these are two (more or less) finished pieces. Really beautiful stuff by Stephen Oakley. He deserves a lot of credit (and hopefully a lot of new fans!) for this work. It’s exciting in an indescribable way to see characters you’ve lovingly stoked to life in written word be given even better life in visual style.

But enough of my 1 AM rambling! Here they are!

First is Old Pantomime:

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Next, as if that wasn’t enough, is The Willow King:

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I really hope you like them. Please let me know what you think. And try to imagine the book these belong to. It gets better each time I imagine it. 🙂

Sorry I’ve Been Gone So Long

What am I to feel
When all the feeling is around me?
Sounding, delicate and thin
With each new spin around each whorl
Of each gentle finger spinning

Sounding, with the grace of light
Like waves within this cavernous embrace
To dull the weary noncommittal sirens
Daily, breath upon the windows
On the faces of our homes

What am I to feel
Without a feeling down inside me?
Soft and comfortable skin
Pale from many moonlit chases
You are there, across the consequence, from me

With soundless clamor
Racing, faceless with your eyes wide
Nighttime great and cavernous expanse
Starlit, pale and patterned after
Billows spinning breathlessly alive

I sing to feel
Multi-colored, elemental silence
Consequential touch of you
Your elegance in waves of restless clamor
Battering with pale skin and night

Like sirens, billowing and quiet
Chased down within my noncommittal skin
The heat and pressure rise
Confrontation, cavernous and graceful
Shivering like starlit moonlight waves