I only have two days left (Monday and Tuesday) 'til my Kickstarter deadline for Demimonde, a book that I'm loving writing (South Asians! with lots of aliens! at a university! on the verge of interstellar war! -- can you tell this is pushing my happy buttons??). I realized, talking to some friends recently, that a lot of folks are still not sure what Kickstarter is, or why I'm doing this, or why I'm asking for your help. So let me explain, as quick as I can.
Kickstarter is a program Amazon runs; they make it easy to pledge money to support a project, usually an arts project. It's a form of crowd-funding -- the idea is that the artist sets a goal, an amount of money they think they need to do a project. They offer various pledge gifts at different donor levels. Then people pledge money, usually over thirty days. If the project meets its goal, then Amazon collects the money, takes 5%, and distributes the rest to the artist. If the project doesn't make its goal, then none of the money is collected, and the artist doesn't get anything.
I set an $8000 goal for this project. I could have set it lower, and in retrospect, I sort of wish I had. Now that I've read more about funding books on Kickstarter, it seems like $4-$5K is more likely to get funded for book projects in general. And that seems accurate for my book in particular, since I have $2754 pledged right now, and typically about half the donations come in on the last few days. If I'd set my goal for $5K, I'd actually be in pretty good shape to make it at this point. But I wanted to make multiple beautiful editions; I hoped to pay a skilled illustrator to do additional interior illustrations for the bok, because I love books like that; those would appear in both the electronic and limited edition print versions.
Here's my estimated budget breakdown:
- $400 for Amazon's cut
- $1600 for book cover design and layout
- $1500 for interior illustrations
- $500 for paperback and hardcover layout
- $1000 for printing costs
- $1000 for making and sending out pledge prizes
- $2000 to pay me to actually write and edit the book -- which is a pretty tiny advance, but it was a project I was excited about, and that would be enough money to cover some additional childcare so I would actually have time to write the book (in between teaching and admin work for my day job).
Unfortunately, despite a host of generous pledged donations (from $1 to $50 to $750!) it's still a ways to $8000. But I'd like to see if we can make up the difference in the next two days. I've been working steadily on this novel made of linked stories all month, and I think it's going to be something special, not like anything I've seen before; I have four completed stories, and I kind of love them. I wish I could just put Demimonde up for download, to make it super-easy for you to take a look, but I'm hoping to publish some of the individual stories in magazines, and if I put it up for download, a lot of magazines would count that as published. However, oddly enough, most are okay with stories sent via e-mail to a private list of people, so if you'd like me to e-mail you a .doc file of the book so far, I'd be delighted -- just leave your name and e-mail in the comments below. You can check it out and see exactly what you'd be supporting. (And if you have any suggestions for revision, I'd love to hear them!)
So why not just write the book the traditional way and give it to my agent to sell to a publisher? There are a couple of reasons -- 1) my agent is already showing around the YA fantasy novel I wrote recently, and I don't want to make him try to sell two books at once, 2) I was curious about this crowd-funding thing and wanted to try it, and 3) this is sort of a quirky project, and the sort of thing that I suspect big publishers would be wary of; it seemed perfect for just sending out to the community at large. I've published eleven books so far -- I was betting that enough people liked my work that they'd want to see more of it. And honestly, the traditional publishing model is often a long, heart-breaking process for the writer, with a lot of intermediaries between writer and reader -- if Kickstarter worked for me, it would be a beautiful way to get my stories directly to my readers. Just me, talking to you, through the characters in my stories.
What happens if I don't meet my goal? If you'd asked me a month ago, I would have said that I'd probably go on to write something else. But I'm actually having so much fun with this book, and have gotten so much pleasure from the universe and the world that I'm pretty sure I'm going to finish the book regardless. So yes, if you don't pledge, the book will probably get written anyway. But then it just starts making the rounds of publishers, and I think it might well be years upon years before it finds a home -- and then possibly years and years until actual publication. Whereas if the Kickstarter actually works, then it'll likely be finished in six months. A year, tops, until you hold the book (print or electronic, your choice) in your lovely hands.
Okay, that's my spiel. Now, if you like my writing, here's what I'm asking of you:
- if you'd like to pledge, terrific! Please do; any amount is welcome. The list of donor prizes is on the Kickstarter page for Demimonde
- if you can't pledge right now, you can still help! Please spread the word -- tweet, post, share, blog -- whatever you can do to get the news out would be hugely appreciated. And soon, of course -- because at 8:55 a.m. Wednesday morning, this pledge drive ends, and we go back to trying this the long, slow way.
To make publicity easier, here are a few things to cut and paste:
The link: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1989320757/demi-monde-an-erotic-science-fiction-novel-in-stor
Tiny version: http://t.co/HylNxnTO
A little blurb: "Demimonde is an erotic science fiction novel-in-stories by Mary Anne Mohanraj, funded through Kickstarter. Deadline: Wed Oct 12! Pledge your support today!"
Folks, thanks so much for taking the time to read this -- and I want to also take this opportunity to thank all the lovely people who have pledged support so far. If this book ever does get published, by whatever means, you'll be credited in the acknowledgements (under whatever name you like), I promise you. If it hadn't been for your support in the last month, I would have given up on this project long ago.
It's very pleasing to know that people are excited to read Demimonde. I am too! Let's make it happen!