For a while now I’ve been promising details of when the print version of The Oracles of Troy will be available. I’m glad to say I can now give a clearer picture of my plans and a timeline for publication, as well as how I hope to involve readers directly in the project.
First off, rest assured I haven’t been sitting on my hands since Oracles was published as an e-book last month. I’ve been busy researching how, where and when to get the print version produced and trying to decide on the best company to use. Most importantly that means ensuring the quality of the finished product. I spent over a year writing the story and many more months editing and re-editing the manuscript, so I don’t want all that hard work to be presented in a shoddy, unprofessional way (and who would buy it, anyway?) I want the book to look and feel as close to perfect as I can get it. I want to be proud of it. And I think I’ve now found a publisher with the experience and class to come up with the goods.
Such things come at a cost, of course, and it’s not an amount I’d normally be able to meet without increasing the price of the book. Thanks to the wonders of modern innovation, though, there’s a way to fund the project and keep the RRP at a normal level. It’s called crowd funding and involves a mixture of friends, fans and philanthropists giving donations through a third party website and receiving a copy of the book (or other “rewards”) in return. The most popular of these third party companies is called Kickstarter. Here’s a little of what they say about themselves:
“We’re a home for everything from films, games, and music to art, design, and technology. Kickstarter is full of projects, big and small, that are brought to life through the direct support of people like you. Since our launch in 2009, 5.2 million people have pledged $888 million, funding 52,000 creative projects. Thousands of creative projects are raising funds on Kickstarter right now.
The filmmakers, musicians, artists, and designers you see on Kickstarter have complete control over and responsibility for their projects. Kickstarter is a platform and a resource; we’re not involved in the development of the projects themselves. Anyone can launch a project on Kickstarter as long as it meets our guidelines.
Project creators set a funding goal and deadline. If people like a project, they can pledge money to make it happen. Funding on Kickstarter is all-or-nothing — projects must reach their funding goals to receive any money. All-or-nothing funding might seem scary, but it’s amazingly effective in creating momentum and rallying people around an idea.
Backers are supporting projects to help them come to life, not to profit financially. Instead, project creators offer rewards to thank backers for their support. Backers of an effort to make a book or film, for example, often get a copy of the finished work. A bigger pledge to a film project might get you into the premiere — or a private screening for you and your friends.
It’s supporting their dream to create something that they want to see exist in the world. People rally around their friends’ projects, fans support people they admire, and others simply come to Kickstarter to be inspired by new ideas.”
So that’s the proposal in a nutshell – check out their FAQs page for a clearer picture. But note the “all or nothing” principle. The project has a target amount and if the target isn’t met the project gets zip – which would mean no print version of the book. Add to this the normal 30-day window that projects have to reach their targets and you can see that nothing here is guaranteed. So to succeed I have to do it right, which means more research and preparation. To launch the project now would result in it looking rushed and unprofessional. It’d also mean competing with Christmas, so I’m delaying the launch until January.
If the target is met, the publishers estimate eight to ten weeks to first publication (April 2014). That’s a long way off for those of us who’ve been waiting years already, but it’s also a chance to get actively involved in continuing the series. Kickstarter also suggests offering different levels of “reward” in return for a donation. With publishing projects these usually range from an e-book for a small donation to a paperback, a hardback, a signed print of the book cover, or even having a character in the book named after the donor. Obviously, unless you’re Greek there’s not much chance of the latter with my book, but I’d love to hear any suggestions you might like to see for other rewards.
So, what’s in it for you? Firstly, a tangible copy of the book. I’ve been awed (and encouraged) by the number of people who have asked me whether a print version will be available. I want to say yes, of course, but it will only happen if the project succeeds. Secondly, you’ll have a print copy five months before it appears in the shops! That’s how long the publishers say their marketing and distribution people will need to adequately promote it. Thirdly, there’ll be a limited one-off run of 250 hardbacks. Once they’re gone, they’re gone, so for those readers who like hardbacks this is a unique opportunity. And lastly there’ll be other “rewards” on offer, such as the chance to have your name on the Acknowledgements page, an invite to the official book launch followed by a pint at the local pub (my round), or even my original working manuscript for one of the first three books, complete with editor’s notations. Let me know what you think.
Until then, keep an eye on the website of my facebook page for updates. Alternatively, send me your e-mail address using the Contact page and I’ll add you to my mailing list (if you received an e-mail earlier today, you’re already on it!)
And to finish an already over-long post, here are a couple of recent Q&As and reviews of The Oracles of Troy: