I'm going to write a book!
The working name is Triexta, but most of my titles change once the draft is finished and the book can whisper to me what its real name is going to be. Triexta is an urban fantasy (though SUBurban fantasy would probably be closer) and it's about magic being reintroduced into the modern world by a group of time traveling wizards. There's going to be dragons fighting jet fighters and sea monsters against carrier groups. There will be vampires and zombies and magic all wrapped around a mystery that the main character slowly unravels. And without getting too far into things that might ruin plot twists, I also intend to explore some of the genre's tropes like why magic has become an "elite" power in modern media (instead of something everyone can do) or the typical storytelling surrounding the chosen one characters. And I am really excited to bring in a typical white, male protagonist on a typical hero's journey and then just start shaking EVERY expectation.
It's going to be a fun ride. And just a little bit crunchy.
I've already got a rough plot map in my head and a very skeletal outline (though I don't like to plot out too much–my characters won't put up with it). And I've already written about thirty pages as well.
Why not just write it?
Well, I will. It'll get written one way or another.
My problem is time! Most weeks I spend 40-50 hours wrangling toddlers and teaching. And that's before I write a word. What's left over is enough to keep a few blog posts coming, write the occasional short story, and maybe muck about with a longer work for a few hours a week, but it's not enough time for those ten hour days that really get a novel written in a year.
When I move out (Aug 1st) I'm losing a pretty sweet living arrangement and job all at once. I'll have some teaching hours and some babysitting hours, and I even have some money I can count on from writing, but even added all together I'm going to be short by a few hundred a month. I'm looking at having to get a gig like Lyft or waiting tables or something to bridge the budget gap.
This is where you come in. I'm not trying to avoid all work or make any more than I need to cover my basics. I'm just trying to keep from having to pick up a fourth, time-consuming gig to make ends meet and take that time to write instead. If I can fund the difference between costs and income for a few months, I can spend that time with my head over the keys, clacking away for dear life, and hopefully crank out at least a draft.
If I fund only my basic Kickstarter, I should have a solid second draft by January. The process of revision and peer review might take me several months, and put the book release date in late 2017/early 2018. If I fund the stretch goals of the Kickstarter (to at least the third goal) I will have an abbreviated timeline, and the book's release will probably be closer to Summer 2017.
When this book is finished...
I have opted out of traditional publishing, and I just want to make enough to pay the bills, not live some capitalist dream of more cheddar than the super-sized nachos. My work is for the world and while I love donations, I don't charge for access. Once this book has reached its final draft, I will publish it in serial form on the blog at a brisk clip. (I won't make you wait a week to see the resolution of a cliffhanger chapter ending, or anything.)
If that endeavor is successful (or if our Kickstarter funds its furthest stretch goal) I will self-publish the book officially, and make it available through electronic media for as LITTLE as I can possibly charge. (I'm pretty sure that's $1)
If the e-publication is successful, I will look into print on demand costs, and provide the option of a physical copy for essentially only the cost I pay for printing and shipping.
The Math (Here's Exactly What You're Paying For)
Current Budget (Expenses)
Rent $450 (That's for just a room. Go Bay Area Prices!)
Car Stuff $300 (Payments, Gas, Insurance)
Utilities: $150 (This is stuff I enjoy having like water and stuff I totally need like Netflix)
Insurance: $400 (The days where Bohemian poverty was chic and I didn't need a dental and vision plan are in my rear view mirror. These days, prostate cancer is a thing.)
Food/Groceries/Dry Goods/Housewares: $500 (Shop smart. Shop S-mart.)
Sundry: $150 (They are really the best kinds of tomatoes. If a bit random.)
Current Budget (Income)
Teaching: $400/mo (two night classes)
Childcare Provider: $900 (Could be a bit more, but this is all I've been guaranteed)
Writing: $200 (It's sometimes a bit more, and sometimes a lot more, but that's about what I can count on reliably.)
Budget Shortfall: $450
5 months (Aug-Dec) until next semester = $2250
I added a little for Kickstarter's fees and a little bit more because Math for Liberal Arts was my highest level math class. (I did an oral report on fractals for a final exam. It was ridiculous.)
Flex Goal #1 $3500 [Funded!] (Football? Monday nights are for writing.): I've signed up to teach two nights a week. If I could make an extra $1000, I could knock my teaching obligation down to one night a week and spend that extra time writing. That would make the book come out much faster. I would still need to find a teacher to take my place since I've committed to the Fall schedule, but this far out, that's very likely. Unfortunately I'd lose my seniority if I gave up both nights, but I can do some pretty good damage with an extra night a week to clack away like the Bruce Almighty GIF. Five months of Mondays would put me nearly three weeks ahead of schedule.
Flex Goal #2 $7000 [Funded!] (Spring is for Revision) As fast as I am capable of writing when at a raging caffeine-fueled clip, a single semester isn't quite enough time for any but the most cavalier, quality-unconcerned self publishers to write an entire book from start to finish. It's enough time to draft a novel. It's probably enough time to write two drafts. That likely leaves at least one draft, one major revision and the process of peer review to go. This flex goal uses exactly the same budget numbers of the budget shortfall + Monday nights off + Kickstarter fees x 5 months.
Flex Goal #3 $9000 [Funded!] (Show me where the commas go!) While I can go through my own copy for mistakes, anyone following my blog knows I miss a few even when I strut out in my Sunday best. If we reach this flex goal, I can forgo the time it would take me to save up for this major expense out of pocket. This isn't just a case of periods and commas though. I'll hire the content editors that really help a writer make their work better than it is. I've priced some services, and it seems to run somewhere between $1500-$2500 for a typical manuscript. I split the difference.
Flex Goal #4 $10,000 [Funded] (The smell of books.) Like I said above, Triexta (or whatever its name turns out to be) is going to be published for all in serial blog post format. If that does well, I will offer the lowest price e-book I can. If that does well I will look into offering print on demand books for as close to cost as I can make them. However, the obstacles involved here are mostly logistical. That is to say, when I try to learn a new skill involving computers or something like "converting files," I become like that race in Star Trek: TNG that "looks for things to make them go." If we get this last bit of funding to round out the costs, account for anything I've mis-priced, and cover time to learn the necessary skills to do print on demand and e-reader publishing, I will invest in learning these skills by hook or by crook. This will add some rewards to a few of the reward tiers. (Be sure to check which ones.)
Flex Goal #5 $12,500 (Looking good Triexta. Looking real good!) Often one can really tell when they're looking at a self published book. The cover is nondescript and there are numerous formatting and kerning errors in the print. They just don't look as good as the books from a publisher. At this level I will commission a piece of professional artwork from A Grey Artistry for Triexta's cover. I will also solicit professional assistance in making sure that the formatting of both the e-reader and the print on demand version is as close to professional quality as I can get.
Flex Goal #6 $15,000 (Cross the T's and dot the i's.) I've been warned that a couple of my goals might be a little soft. And some Kickstarter vets have also told me to expect that about 5% of what I'm asking for might not be disbursed because of banking issues among backers. Plus Kickstarter takes its own 5%. Also, since these goals are not padded, as we get into the five figure territory, I have to start thinking of setting some cash aside for 2017's tax season. So this level of flex goal is really just to make sure I haven't boned myself by not asking for quite enough at all the lower levels.
Flex Goal #7 $20,000 (I guess I'm a real writer now.) With only five days left in the Kickstarter, it feels ridiculous to even write this, but if we get over $15,000 dollars, I still want you to know where your money is going. There is really only one way to get Triexta out any faster. I don't want to reduce the hours I watch the Munchkin. So it would take quitting teaching. I've thought about that before, but teaching is my permanent stable gig with the possibility of being a fallback career. I would really want to know there was a solid future for me in writing before I took this step. However, if for some miraculous reason, we go over double the current contributions here in the last few days, I will feel like that is a calculated risk worth taking.
Above and Beyond? I never expected to get even this far. (My first goal was only $1500; I had to be talked out of being that timid.) However if we begin to approach the current flex goal ceiling, I will add new ways to make sure that Triexta is a great product that comes out as fast as it possibly can.
Note: the online version of Triexta will remain free no matter WHAT happens. E-books can't be free, so I will be forced to charge the minimum amount (a dollar) for them, and run as many give-away promotions as I can. Print on demand books have a materials cost, however, and even though they will be cheap, I can't sell them for a dollar. If I come in well under budget for any of my flex goal purchases (after the $10K mark), I will put the extra funds towards a run of print-on-demand books that can be sold for a dollar.
Risks and challenges
Of course every purely creative team of one individual always has the risk of life intervening to a point they can't control physically or emotionally. I am part of a family with someone who has cancer, and I am one of the primary care givers for her two year old, which means the specter of hospitalization or even, let's hope not, bereavement might cause a delay.
However, I've been writing for a long time. And I have managed to keep writing blog posts almost every weekday through some pretty tough times–including the hospitalization and intense stress at the diagnosis of the aforementioned cancer. I have a pretty good idea of how much and how well I can write on timelines of months.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)