My three children are voracious readers. While I love seeing their excitement as they immerse themselves in imaginary adventures and mysteries, the speed with which they read makes it hard to keep them in fresh books!
That’s one reason why I was fascinated when my friend, author Jonathon Mast, told me about his plan to release an entire middle grade book series in a year. He’s also publishing in a way I’d never considered.
He kindly agreed to stop by today to share his newest project—publishing via Kickstarter.
Take it away, Jon!
Anne will tell you I’m a writer. She’s reviewed some of my books. She says she likes them.
Don’t tell her I told you this… but I’m a fraud.
I’m not a writer. Well, okay, sure, I write things, but I’m not an author. I mean, really, that would mean I have some form of talent or skill or something that resembles a worthwhile contribution to the world of literature.
Then again, I do have books. Publishers have bought my stuff. People have read the stuff and said it’s good. Even Anne has.
Can you trust her, though?
Then again, when I showed her my manuscript about a World War II regiment that discovers dragons sleeping under Berlin and intentionally wake them to fight against the Axis, she told me it wouldn’t count as historical fiction.
One of the hardest things for a writer to do is to actually… put a book out there. After all, if a manuscript remains on your laptop for eternity, you can be an aspiring author. You never have to risk no one buying your book. You don’t have to endure the torture of reading reviews of worlds you created.
But once you put a book out there…
Can I fool people into thinking I’m an author long enough for them to read my book? Can I bamboozle them enough that they might even come back to read a second book?
That level of anxiety isn’t enough for me, though. No way. I needed to up my stress levels higher.
Let’s talk Kickstarter.
(Anne here- sorry to interrupt, but though he’s very humble, Jon’s books and short stories are awesome. His The Keeper of Tales was one of my favorite reads last year. 🙂 Also, if you’re not familiar with Kickstarter, here’s a link to their site.) https://www.kickstarter.com/about )
Why a Kickstarter?
Right now my middle-grade fantasy adventure series Madelyn of the Sky is on Kickstarter. Will enough people gamble on me to back an entire six-book series? Can I fool enough people?
As of the time of my writing this post, the answer is unknown.
What I can do is tell you why I’m going through this exercise that’s torturous to someone who’s pretending to be an author.
I have an entire six-book series ready for publishing. I’m already publishing a four-book YA steampunk series through one publisher. What insane publisher would want to put out an additional six books from me? I didn’t even reach out. All six books were ready to go. Even if a publisher was interested, they’d likely purchase just the first book, and then put out a book a year.
I could, of course, self-publish. I know a number of people who have gone that route. It sounded like a solid option for me. However, when you self-publish, you also self-market. Otherwise, the only people buying your books are your friends. I really didn’t want to become the literary equivalent of a tupperware salesman, so that would mean doing real marketing out there in the real world.
Or… hm. What about Kickstarter?
Kickstarter gives a few advantages for where I’m at. First off, Kickstarter itself advertises. There are many people (I’m one of them!) that visit Kickstarter regularly to look for projects to back. Simply by existing on that platform, the series would get more exposure.
On top of that, assuming the project gets backed, we don’t start in the red. The books are published, they’re out there in the world, and we’re not thousands of dollars in debt. Bonus!
But for my wife and I, personally, it’s even something more. See, both of us are avid readers, and we always have been. The problem with that in middle school is that most authors put out one book a year. When you’re an avid reader, that means books aren’t coming out fast enough. On top of that, middle schoolers will often age out of a series before it’s complete.
So we thought… since I’m able to write fast enough to put out six middle-grade novels a year… what if we formed a publishing company that specialized in releasing an entire book series over the course of a school year? Could we cater to that audience?
So for us, Kickstarter is a proof-of-concept opportunity. Do other people think this is a good idea?
Assuming Madelyn of the Sky gets backed, we think we’ll be able to pursue this project for further years. It’s a chance to reach an audience hungry for books.
And maybe, maybe, fool them into thinking I’m an author.
There are so many paths to being published. Traditional publishing? Small press? Self-publish? All of those have plenty of benefits. If you’re attempting to put your book out there, weigh those options.
But don’t forget crowdfunding, perhaps through Kickstarter, as a possible option.
UPDATE: This project is now fully funded, with 18 days left in the Kickstarter! Madelyn of the Sky made its funding goals and is now working toward “stretch goals” of bonus material. I’m so excited to check it out– I opted in for a set of paperbacks for my kids when the series comes out.
AND here’s a link to Jonathon’s site if you’d like to check out his other works including a number of excellent and FREE short stories.
Thanks for stopping by, Jonathon, and thank YOU Readers for visiting.
I’m curious—were you already familiar with Kickstarter? What do you think about non-traditional ways of funding creative projects?