Funded! This project was successfully funded on November 20, 2012.

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A hilarious, unauthorized book-length parody of the British costume drama from the author of the Barry Trotter series.

UPDATE 11/12/12: The people have spoken—the parody is happening! Take a bow—then read to the end to discover a new reward, and a FANTASTIC stretch goal: a backers-only parody of Downton's Season Three.

The Downton Abbey Parody They Don't Want You to Read

Earlier this year, a big publisher hired me to write a parody of TV’s Downton Abbey. 

They loved my Harry Potter parodies, and since I’m a huge fan of Downton, the project seemed like a perfect fit. 

I wrote a book and shipped it off to my editor. There was much laughing and high-fiving and passing back and forth of contracts. 

And then somebody in New York started… thinking.

“What if Julian Fellowes gets mad?”
“What if they hire another company to publish the official
Downton Abbey Calendar/Tea Cozy instead of us?”
“What if I make the wrong decision and get fired?"

So even though Downturn Abbey is the most fun I’ve ever had writing a spoof, Mr. Big Publisher changed his mind and offered me a couple bucks to shred the manuscript. 

The hell with that! I like this book too much to kill it. Everybody who's read it tells me that Downturn Abbey is great, silly fun.

So I'm asking for your help. I need some dough to pay my illustrator and copy editor, and cover printing and production so I can get this book out into the world. Downturn Abbey is funny and people will enjoy it. And comedy is too important to be left to mega-corporations and their lawyers. (Too important to me, anyway, and maybe to you as well.)

If you’ve read and enjoyed my work — the New Yorker humor, the Barry Trotter series, Blarnia, or my YA novels — please help Downturn Abbey see the light of day. Like I said, I had a ball doing it and think it’s my funniest book yet. As with all my parodies, it’s a fan’s book — the more you love the show and its era, the more jokes you’ll get.

So if you're keen to read this parody, please support this project. And if, like Downturn's Mr. Baits, you're very keen indeed indeed, you can download the first chapter below. 

If you're flat broke, but still like the cut of my jib, please spread the word. Whether you LIKE Downturn Abbey's Facebook page, share a link or follow Lady Violent Cantswim's Twitter feed (@LadyViolent1842), every little bit helps us reach more supporters.

The pleasure people receive from my work means a great deal to me. Many thanks for your support now and in the past, and I sincerely hope you enjoy Downturn Abbey!

                                                                                  —Michael Gerber

Here's an illustration from the book -- a high-quality 8 x 11 reproduction is included at the HEADSTRONG EARL'S DAUGHTER level and above.

And as promised, here's the first chapter -- enjoy!

http://www.downturnabbey.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/DownturnAbbeyPreview_ChapterOne.pdf

P.S. For backers at the INDOMITABLE DOWAGER COUNTESS level and above, we're offering a custom-made one page humor piece.  Some of you may be wondering what on earth that would look like.  Answer: Like practically anything you can imagine. I've done TV Guide spoofs, newspaper front pages, and much more.  But to give you some idea, here's a project from a few years back:

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1999/08/the-periodic-table-of-rejected-elements/305046/

UPDATE 11/12/12: As a thank you, I'm announcing an insanely-ambitious stretch goal: If we hit $7,000, I'll parody Season Three. Every week as Downton Abbey broadcasts in the US, backers can watch the episode, then read a parody of that episode delivered via email. This new content is backers-only.

If you've already backed us, thank you, and any help spreading the word is much appreciated. Kate and I laughed our snoods off proofing the bookblock, and it would be great to spoof Season Three as well! --MG, 11/12/12

PS—You asked for it, so we've added a new reward at the $50 level: a custom apron. The art made me laugh so I'm pasting it below. Those already at $50 or above who would like to convert to this reward, have at it. 

Be the envy of your kitchen, refectory or commissary in this fetching new APRON.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Writing a book is one thing; producing it is something else entirely. First there's the layout (and if you're like me, the period-specific illustrations and typography). Then there's the copyediting, which most big publishers don't even DO anymore. Finally, you have to tinker with the digital files to make sure what comes off the presses is just right.

For over 20 years, I have been producing books and magazines for myself and others, and I can tell you: Downturn Abbey is a corker. (I thought the book was going to be in every bookstore in the US for Christmas, so I really sweated the details.) Readers of the US edition of Barry Trotter know that I show a level of care with my projects almost unheard of at big publishing houses. Sad but true.

As you read these words, I am already taking steps to publish this book physically and electronically, so that as soon as we meet our goal, we can pay the vendors and get this thing out to everybody. Ebooks will ship via email upon completion of a successful campaign; physical books will follow as soon as the printer can ship them to me, and I can ship them to you. Based on past experience, we fully expect to have these shipped in plenty of time for the holidays, if you're planning to give the book as a gift.

Now, some of you might be thinking, "Won't he get sued?" I've been doing this professionally since 1991, and so far, so good. Parody — particularly print parody — has a very robust precedent, and I've specifically written Downturn Abbey to fall within it. It's unauthorized and is not connected in any way to any of the parties associated with the real Downton Abbey, but I do hope Julian Fellowes and his creative team take it in the admiring spirit I've written it. I only parody stuff I like because I have to immerse myself in it, and authors generally perceive my affection. JK Rowling even stuck some Barry Trotter shout-outs in her books; perhaps a short, mustachioed American with a receding hairline will be tarred and feathered in Season 4 of Downton? A boy can dream.

A right only exists if you exercise it, and one of the biggest reasons I'm crowdfunding this project instead of taking the kill fee is to assert the right to critique our shared culture via parody. Media corporations will extend their rights relentlessly, so if you like parody — in any medium — it's important to support it in print, because this is where it is most vulnerable. Nobody's suing Jon Stewart, but if parody gets rolled back, that's the logical next step. Downturn Abbey is a harmless bit of fun for fans of the show and the era, but if it can be suppressed out of corporate risk-aversion, sooner or later that attitude will have a chilling effect on the rest of comedy.

So: save the world! Buy my book! :-)

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    HAPLESS TRAY-BOY - Every contribution, no matter how small, keeps this drafty manor running smoothly. You'll be rewarded for your devoted service with a gracious "Thank You" Tweet.

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    RESENTFUL SCULLERY MAID - Nothing smoothes the ruffled feathers of an underpaid drudge like an ebook of "Downturn Abbey," laced with witty comic ripostes, lashings of old-timey illustrations, and just the tiniest soupçon of naughtiness. Guaranteed to ship as soon as we make our goal! (Additional shipping costs will apply to international backers.)

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    SCHEMING LADY'S MAID - Don't believe a word you read in this handsome paperback copy of "Downturn Abbey," with an attractive color cover, stuffed with a savory admixture of jocularity, hijinks and buffoonery. Makes a thoughtful holiday gift for conniving domestics—and the people who love them! (Additional shipping costs will apply to international backers.)

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    LONG-SUFFERING VALET WITH A MYSTERIOUS PAST - Bury yourself in the arms of a strong, silent "Downturn Abbey" ebook as soon as we make our goal, and a jolly paperback will arrive a few weeks later, perfect for reading during a lengthy prison sentence! (Additional shipping costs will apply to international backers.)

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    AMOROUS TURKISH HOUSEGUEST - You'll be seduced by "Downturn Abbey" ebook as soon as we meet our goal, but within the month, an irresistible SIGNED paperback will burst through your bedroom door with unspeakable intentions. You can have the book signed to you, or that special Earl's daughter you've been courting. (Additional shipping costs will apply to international backers.)

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    HEADSTRONG EARL'S DAUGHTER - Who needs a husband when you have this high-quality print of the '80s Night flyer, two absolutely spiffing paperback books signed by the author AND an ebook that ships as soon as we meet our goal? (Additional shipping costs will apply to international backers.)

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    JUST ADDED!!! IRASCIBLE FAMILY COOK - Just botched another important meal? Never fear; boldly strap on this backers-only apron which declares, "Do not blame me. I am using heavily adulterated, black-market, war surplus ingredients." Plus an ebook, and one signed paperback perfect for flinging at the dogsbody. (Additional shipping costs will apply to international backers.)

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    WELL-MEANING AMERICAN HEIRESS - You'll bring all of the above rewards to your marriage to an impoverished English peer, PLUS have your name engraved in the "Jolly Good Eggs" section of the Acknowledgments. (Additional shipping costs will apply to international backers.)

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    INDOMITABLE DOWAGER COUNTESS - Vulgarity is no substitute for wit, so your generosity will be rewarded with a little of both. You'll receive all of the above, plus a one-page custom parody of your choosing. (See the links section an example.) Includes 15 signed, high-quality prints, suitable for framing.

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    EARL OF CANTSWIM - Without you, none of this would be possible, and so you shall have all of the above AND a walk-on role in Downturn Abbey, with a character named after you.

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