Kickstarter: Wrap

Well, that went considerably better than last time. To all of you who backed it, helped spread the word, or put up with my spamminess over the last month: Thank you!



I have wanted to write, professionally, for a living, since I knew it was an option. It’s a long road to get there, and I am certainly not there yet, but this is a huge step towards it. My hope, nay, plan, is to do something different and better than what has been done before. I want to have a way to distribute my books in brick and mortar stores without them carrying it begrudgingly. I want to sell ebooks in a way that doesn’t leave me at Amazon’s mercy when they axe the 70% royalty option (and they will).

You all are helping make that happen. And, despite being someone who intents to make a living off words, they honestly fail me here. The support that’s been shown- and I don’t mean just monetarily- means the world to me. I’ve always wanted to write, to have people enjoy my silly stories of spaceships and tragic romance, and that you do, well… Like I said, words fail me.

So- what’s next? More details as events warrant, but the short version looks like this: As soon as the money clears, I will order the rewards and send out surveys. The new cover will be finalized and I will decide on a publisher. Once I have a good idea of when I will have the books in hand (squeeeeee) I will schedule the launch event at Village Books- probably a few months in advance, so all the reward copies will ship and be in people’s hands well before it hits the shelves. After that, I shift gears to marketing the heck out of it, and wrapping up Series Two (with the named character rewards!).

So, there you have it. I’ll keep you updated with progress as it happens. Again, thank you all so much.


Why Fireside’s Success is (still) a Big Deal

In case you missed it (and if you follow me, you probably didn’t), the Kickstarter campaign for Fireside Magazine- Year 3 just ended, successfully funded, with a few hours to spare.  I’ve known Brian White, who started the whole thing, for a while, and he is one of my favorite online friends. But I don’t have any personal stake in it- none of my work has ever appeared there, though I hope it does, one day. My love and respect for what Brian is doing is, basically, because I’m a writer of fiction.

Allow me to explain. I have a friend who is a blogger, writes press releases, that sort of thing. I was talking to her and she talked about press releases paying a dollar a word.

A dollar. Per word.

I would kick a puppy to get paid a dollar per word.

Obviously, it’s far from realistic for fiction, for a whole lot of perfectly good reasons. Pro rate, according to SFWA, is $0.06 per word, and while a lot of markets pay that, they are highly competitive and many, many more pay less. Now, I’m not complaining, at all- these are just the facts that set up why what Fireside does is awesome.

Fireside pays $0.12.5 per word. Over double the new pro rate. It is great enough that someone is doing it, but even more so that people are rallying behind it, for years now. A friend of mine tweeted, as Fireside was facing another monster climb, that they had gone back to the well too many times. But then, the rally came again and Fireside cleared its goal by $1,000.

Maybe I never make twelve cents a word. Honestly, that’s OK with me. I’d take it over not, ya know, but the reality of it is that someone will, and that is good for the industry, for writers, and- most importantly – for readers. That people care enough to put their money forward to support writers getting paid well, well, that matters.

As with what I am doing with my own campaign, I hope that a few years from now, Fireside will have provided the template for how things are done.

Big News (the Actual News Part)

So, as you may know, I’ve been pondering for a while now how to marry indie publishing to indie bookselling for a while now. It eluded me, for most of that period, exactly how to bring it about. But, as is said, good things come to those who wait.

A match made in Fairhaven

So I’m very excited to announce that I’ve paired up with Village Books to release the second edition of 3024AD: Short Stories Series One. As I have mentioned before, there will be a Kickstarter, and the main goal will be a large, quality print run and distribution. After it is printed, it will be sold not through Amazon, but through Village Books and their website (and Kobo for the ebook). For the first 30 days after release, it will be available exclusively through Village Books- and they, in turn, will have an excerpt on their site, promote it, etc (Kickstarter backers will, of course, get theirs early). I’ll also have a release event there when the time comes.

Hopefully, this will lend credibility as I approach other bookstores, and open the door for other (quality) author-publishers to do the same.

The finishing touches went on the Kickstarter tonight, so look for it either later this week or early next!


Coming Soon…

I’ve alluded to it a couple times, but I wanted address it directly: There will be a second edition of 3024AD: Short Stories Series One. This is spurred mostly by the need for some additional editing (which you may have noticed if you’ve read it). It’s also getting a brand new cover (pictured), which is along much of the same lines, but the formatting works a lot better. As with the first cover, all praise goes to Johnny Atomic for it.

2nd edition cover

2nd edition cover

But, as you know if you’ve paid attention to me for any amount of time, I want to be more than a ‘self-published’ or ‘independent’ author. So I’m using this as an opportunity to expand my reach. I am going to run a new Kickstarter campaign to fund this effort, both the editing and expanded reach. The goal will be $1,000, which will cover all the basic expenses and rewards, but anything in excess of that will go toward printing and distributing physical copies of the book. I want to establish a solid presence in local independent bookstores, and hopefully in some libraries (if nothing else, some of the small neighborhood library boxes which are popping up all over).

This site will also be getting a facelift soon, and you’ll also be able to buy book(s) right off the site. You’ll be able to pay as much (or as little) as you like for the ebook, and a base price for the physical copy. I think one of the things that is broken with a lot of ebook stores (ebookstores?) is that for, say, my book, you have to pay five bucks. It’s a fair price for a good book, I think, but how the hell do you know it’s a good book? Maybe you’d take a chance at two or three dollars, but at five you’re priced out without a solid reason to buy. This will allow people to read it, and pay what they think it’s worth.

So that’s a preview of what is to come. The Kickstarter will launch next week- I have to put the finishing touches on it (READ: Make a damn video), and set up some promo stuff and then wait for the approval. So feel free to start spreading the word! There will be fun rewards, cool stuff and cookies.



Interview: S.C. Barrus

As part of my week away from the internet, I am interviewing a couple authors. Today, it’s fellow Washingtonian S.C. Barrus. He has a Kickstarter going now for his Steampunk adventure novel. I’ll save you some reading time and tell you to go back it now. Also, if you are in the Seattle area, I will be doing a reading with him at the Pioneer Cafe in North Bend, WA. Deets HERE.

On to the interview:

First off, give us a quick synopsis of your book:

Discovering Aberration takes place in the era of budding steam technology. We follow Freddy Fitzgerald, an adventurer/travel writer/Professor of literature, and Thaddeus Lumpen, archaeologist and failed inventor. After they come into possession of a map of an ancient lost civilization, they set out on an expedition to discover what they can.
Trouble is, they aren’t the only ones interested in making this discovery as they find themselves up against a small army of violent archaeologists, notorious gangsters, manipulative scarlets, and maniac scuttlers.
But when they arrive at the island, the situation is worse than they expected. The island has its own secrets which begin to drive each member of the expedition to the brink of insanity.

Fiction is one of the tougher nuts to crack on Kickstarter- what sets your work apart?

Go, back it now. I said so.

Go, back it now. I said so.

Fiction is a though nut to crack not only on Kickstarter, but just about everywhere else. I think there are a few things that set my project apart from the average Kickstarter novel, but I’ll share one.

The novel itself is a great read. It takes your favorite elements from many genre’s and distills them into an exhilarating reading experience that you will want to share with your friends.
Of course anybody can say that, and they may have written a masterpiece, but they tend to ask you to invest in blind faith, sharing little more than a sample chapter. On the other hand, I offer my novel free to read on Wattpad, so you can see for yourself whether its something you want to stand behind before you invest. (you can find it here)
This is a bit of a risky move because readers might think, “I’m reading it here, why do I need to invest?” I’m of the mindset that most readers want to support the work they enjoy, and this will be their opportunity to do just that. They’ll also get the cleaned up, edited and fully designed version of the book and other goodies for their investment.

If this book had a soundtrack, what would three tracks off it be?

Hmm, that’s a toughy. Maybe”Rhapsody in Blue” when the city is introduced, “The Island” by The Deceberists when they arrive at the island, and throughout some of the more crazy scenes, and the album “Von” by Sigur Ros.
Name three books and three authors that influenced you the most:
I could list inspiration all day, but I’ll boil it down to thee who’s work mixed together might equate something like Discovering Aberration.
First would be a combination of Jules Verne and Robert Louis Stevenson (cheating already, I know) . Around the World in 80 Days heavily inspired the writing style and some of the humor, while Treasure Island and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde together really inspired the tone.
Number two would be The Road by Cormac McCarthy. This was an intense book where the survival of the main characters felt like it depended on you reading the novel. It’s a feeling I try to capture in the later chapters.
And three would be the Korean film, The Good, The Bad, The Weird (cheating again…) which is a stylized remake of The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. I love pacing especially, but everything about that movie is great. For Discovering Aberration, I was trying to capture a quality action movie’s sense of pacing.
What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve received?
My greatest teacher I ever had was author David Shields who teaches at the University of Washington. I don’t know if I could boil down a single piece of advice he gave, but I learned so much from him that I couldn’t learn anywhere else.
It’s funny because back then he hated fiction. Non-sequential creative non-fiction was what he touted as the future of literature, so he really got me to think outside the normal ways of telling a story.
If you could go back and tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?
scbarrusvintageWhen I was young, I thought I could write a masterpiece, get it published, and simply become an author.
I learned that masterpieces cannot just be written, they are crafted not by themselves, but over the course of multiple novels where you build all the skills and talents you need to craft that master work.
I also learned that publishing is not a straight forward process, nor is it the end game. It’s just another step along the way, albeit a complicated one.
I wouldn’t tell myself either of those things though, because I needed to learn them as part of the process. Maybe I would have told myself, “When you feel low, when you feel down and depressed, when you think your work is no good and your drinking and your mouse is hovering over the delete key, know that those are the worst of times, and those times pass if you let them. Don’t delete, create.”
Write about anything at all for two minutes:
I’ll use this opportunity to invite your readers to stop by my kickstarter and contribute to both a piece of literature and a dream of mine. Stop by, take a look at the novel and see if it’s something you can get behind. I’m looking forward to talking to everyone who is gracious enough to support my work. Cheers.

Kickstarter: What the Hell (redux)

One of the things that bug me about internet culture is how reactionary it can be. People have knee-jerk reactions to perceived slights without gathering all (or any) of the facts, and there is a large portion of it that reacts to the extreme, countering a small offense with death threats, thus invalidating any point they might have.

stitch eyesSo I try to avoid that. Patience isn’t really my thing, but I try not to go overboard just because I don’t agree with something. For a while now, I’ve harped on the issues Kickstarter is facing from it’s rapid success, namely what the NCAA would term ‘lack of institutional control‘ and coping with the fact that big names are getting involved to the tune if millions of dollars. But recently, it’s been more than just a couple of dumb projects that don’t quite meet the guidelines, plus more and more big names are turning to crowdfunding with less and less definition around their projects.

I go back and forth on the issue of ‘big’ names in Crowdfunding- my personal thought is, if you have the money to invest yourself and the name recognition, why do you need the crowd? Heck, I have neither of those things and when my Kickstarter wasn’t funded, I ended up doing it myself anyway. And now I have a book out, and even made sure the people who backed the Kickstarter got a copy (what can I say? I’m a nice guy). But the downside of people with name recognition and money turning to the crowd is that half the fun and suspense is removed. Watching the Veronica Mars movie take off was cool, and certainly showed that people want to see it, but after day two, their only struggle would be meeting demand. There was no down-to-the-wire suspense like with the Fireside Kickstarters.

This shouldn’t take away from the great projects that ARE out there, on Kickstarter and other platforms, but the fact is there is a lot of crap from a whole variety of outlets. But guess what? That’s true of damn near anything.

Which brings us to the salient point- blatant lack of control. For a while, as I pointed out, stuff has slipped through that does not meet Kickstarters own criteria (IndieGoGo is more permissive, so this doesn’t apply as broadly)- things that aren’t actually projects or are otherwise suspect. The good thing about crowdfunding is that people simply don’t fund these, and they fall by the wayside, for the most part. The Kickstarted documentary guys put a stop to a fraud that would have taken backers for a total of $120,000. So crowdfunding sort of works both ways- by funding, and by not.

And then there is this: At best, a handbook for sexual harassment that is insulting to women by reducing them to some manner of game, and to men because it assumes that we’re all just that base. At worst, well, if a handbook for rape seems strong, this is an excerpt:

“All the greatest seducers in history could not keep their hands off of women. They aggressively escalated physically with every woman they were flirting with. They began touching them immediately, kept great body language and eye contact, and were shameless in their physicality. Even when a girl rejects your advances, she KNOWS that you desire her. That’s hot. It arouses her physically and psychologically.”

(note to dudes: THIS IS A BALD-FACED LIE).

Reading that sentence makes my blood boil. The fact that this was massively overfunded doesn’t help. The fact that after numerous complaints, Kickstarter didn’t step in is, at the very least, irresponsible.

I think Kickstarter is a victim of its own success and the instant-reaction culture of the internet and is essentially understaffed to review every project that comes through in any depth. This, to me, is pretty forgivable- after all, they’re in the business of making money as well. Things are going to slip through that are either unfit for Kickstarter or offensive in some way. It happens. They do need to take action when a lot of people complain, though, particularly about offensive projects. What Kickstarter REALLY needs to do is hire (or heck, ask for volunteers) more people to review projects in more detail. The larger it gets, the more it will attract people looking for a quick buck or who are likely to have something like ‘Above the Game’, and they need to protect themselves and the people who use their platform from such individuals.

Is all of this a reason to stop using Kickstarter? A lot of people are saying so, but I think it’s hardly fair to punish people with legitimate and noble endeavors because of a few bad seeds. There are a lot of good projects, and I think it is better to vote with your dollar in support of those rather than abandon the platform altogether- otherwise the successful projects will just be ones such as these, and that will be all that’s left.

Quick Update: This does, however, mean that, as a creator, I would likely take my project elsewhere unless/until Kickstarter addressed these issues.


Today in Cyclical Arguments: The Fame Threshold

So there is a Kickstarter for a Veronica Mars movie, which in and of itself I have exactly zero opinion about. Maybe it’s great; I never saw it. But the inestimable Janna O’Shea (and others, I’m sure) have expressed concern over it; to whit:

I’m really excited about this movie idea, but I’m not sure how into the Kickstarter part of it I am.

I guess it just bugs me that this forum is being used to fund a movie like this. Can’t really put my finger on exactly why.

Veronica Mars on Kickstarter.

I wager that sentiment comes from the fact that Veronica Mars and the people associated with this project are already pretty well known. It creates “what do you need ME for?” type of feeling. Likewise, the number of other well known people that are endorsing it lend to that feeling, when Kickstarter is generally a platform for new projects, the person who otherwise might not be able to raise the capital for something like that.

A few tweets or a blog post from people like Gabe of Penny Arcade, or even Janna, would make most Kickstarter projects. Brian from Kickstarter has noted that early recognition from Niel Gaiman helped the Fireside Kickstarters.

$2,000,000 is a fair chuck of change, so maybe this is the route to go. Without a major studio willing to invest in it, why not turn to the fans? If it’s something they want, well, that kinda seems like the definition of crowdfunding, doesn’t it? And if it fails, it’s no money out of anyone’s pocket.

My concern is saturation- at what point do enough big names join Kickstarter that the little guy gets crowded out? Based on what I’ve seen lately, that might not be the worst thing ever, but how do we go about getting new blood? The Stripped documentary has some big names behind it, and I couldn’t be more excited for it. Is that crowding out a budding filmmaker? Possibly. Welcome to capitalism, kids.

No matter what, I think we can all agree Joss Whedon should Kickstart more seasons of Firefly, right? I thought so.

Why Fireside’s Success is a Big Deal

Edit: There is a year three Kickstarter. The below holds true, so if you like good fiction & authors being paid, go back it!

Last night, about three hours before funding closed, Fireside Magazine hit its $25,000 goal that will fund the magazine for an entire year. Stephen Blackmore addressed this very topic as well, but I wanted to tackle it too.

As I wrote about last month, short fiction seems to be a healthy area of Kickstarter, and Fireside became the tenth most funded fiction project on Kickstarter. All of that is good, obviously, but it matters for reasons on a larger scale.

Readers are able to connect to authors in a whole different way than they were before, and that was a big part of Fireside succeeding- the authors were directly endorsing Fireside to potential backers. The reaction, however, is what matters- A big part of what Fireside does is make sure authors are paid well, and readers showed that they are willing to support that. Similar outlets are looking to up funding, via crowdfunding or other means, to pay pro (or better) rates.

This success puts Fireside in a great position, not just for 2013, but beyond that. A magazine featuring quality short fiction across several genres that pays well is exceptionally good for an industry that is going through an identity crisis.

A lot of things that make a large difference require the perfect combination of time, people and effort, with a dash of luck for good measure. The timing is right for Fireside and the like, and Brian is dedicated and smart enough to keep it going for a long time. It might not be at the forefront, it might not make history, but it does make a difference for what is to come for the publishing industry.