For this self-publishing project, I have to be prepared to go big or go home. A book unedited, undesigned, and unpromoted is, for most practical purposes, unpublished even after you've published it, and might as well be buried in the backyard.
Fortunately, I have some options about how to go big.
And since you guys are my core reading constituency, your input is very welcome.
The big publishing houses are trying a new model for really long books. Fantasy readers love long books and buy long books, especially in a series, but they don’t like waiting between volumes, sometimes for years, while the author finishes the next one. Readers want something more like the experience of binge-watching an entire series on Netflix, so some publishers are experimenting with breaking long books down into serials. The wave of books that will, theoretically, be released in this way has not hit yet. Nobody knows how it will go.
It’s an obvious fit for the manuscript I happen to have. I’m going to strike while the iron’s hot. With luck, Spires of Beltresa will start coming out around when that wave of books does.
Right now, Spires of Beltresa has four sections. I’ll roll my sleeves up with my developmental editor basically the second I have money to pay that person — probably late summer or fall. As soon as I can get the first movement of the book through editing and production, I’ll start releasing one section every three months in e-book format (and print-on-demand trade paperback if the funding comes together for that), and then an omnibus edition at the end of the year (definitely in print-on-demand paperback and possibly also in limited-edition hardcover with maps and stuff if the crowdfunding goes overwhelmingly well).
(And now most of my relatives are wondering what Kickstarter is and what crowdfunding is. Kickstarter allows people to raise money for creative projects sort of the way PBS raises funds to keep broadcasting: by asking for support, mostly in small amounts, from viewers like you. Like PBS, people who are trying to crowdfund their projects offer thank-you gifts of their products, their time, their public recognition of your support, and so on. Here‘s more information about it.)
If I’m very lucky, I’ll get to start out with some seed money, which would allow me to go big faster. The college I went to has an annual alumni grant that allows one person to take a year off from her day job and pursue a much desired project. If my proposal wins the grant, I’ll find out in late April, pay my pros for the first part of the book, and send that part out into the world to show what I can do. In the lucky-like-a-lottery-winner scenario, that’s the point at which I’d turn to crowdfunding, to get the other three sections of the book out.
If my luck takes quieter forms, I’ll find out in April that somebody else with an awesome project deserves my congratulations on the grant, and I’ll run a smaller preliminary Kickstarter campaign to get the first part of the book out. Universe willing, the first part will do well enough to allow me to come back with a bigger campaign to get subsequent parts of the book out there, too.
It’s a little intimidating to think that I could be taking a Kickstarter campaign live around, say, mid-July. Considering that one of the early questions that went into the Big Book was what an epic fantasy would look like if it was set in a time period like 1789, a Bastille Day launch seems potentially auspicious.
Some of you are Kickstarter veterans — what would you urge me to do or not do? If you’ve never really known what Kickstarter is, what questions would you want answered? If you’ve supported other Kickstarter campaigns, what should a first time crowdfunder know about the backer’s-eye view? What makes an awesome pitch video, or an awesome backer reward?
What do you guys think?