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Change writing forever, starting at just a buck a word. A democratic book experiment.

Technology has completely transformed nearly every aspect of our lives. It’s changed the way we work. It’s changed the way we shop. It’s changed the way we eat, pray, and love. But despite all these changes, the role of the author remains the same.

 The author has languished in solitude for centuries to create a thing that others use to combat loneliness. He toils away for days, weeks, months, years - a knight at the computer felling strange ghosts like character and plot - only to emerge red-eyed and squinting from his self-imposed mental cabin. A massive weight has been lifted, and in a hand that burns hot with carpal tunnel, he grasps the fruits of his labor: The Manuscript, aka “One Years Worth of Mental Labor That Seriously No One Cares About But That Will One Day Burrow In and Illuminate the Mind of Some Kid Browsing Google Books.”

But what if there was a way to use the power of technology to change the way writing is made? What if writing could be created with the same openness, the same transparency, the same spirit of boundless networked collaboration that dominates the rest of the web?

This is Consensus. A writing experiment that rewrites the book on writing books.

Consensus is the world’s first* transparent and collaboratively produced e-book. It’s like Congress, except you use your votes to write a story. Absolutely everything about it will be decided by the group through collaboration, discussion, direct participation, and polling data.

How it Works:

The process may seem a little confusing. To help explain, we asked Nick from our Operations team to create this short powerpoint presentation. Please follow along and take notes. You will be quizzed later.

The minimum length of the book will be decided by the amount of dollars received, at the rate of a dollar a word. 

Each backer will get to choose at least one word that appears in the novel, but the more you pledge, the more power and control you’ll gain over the project.  

For example, if you donate one dollar you’ll get to choose a single word. If you donate two dollars you’ll double your word purchase. What a deal!

For $5 you get your pick of five words, but you also get to vote in focus group polls. These polls will be conducted for every aspect of the book, from theme to setting to character development. 

Backers at the $10 level will become my muse. I’ll hang your picture above my computer as I work, and I’ll occasionally email you for suggestions. You’ll also get your choice of 5 words, and you’ll have a voice in the polls.

Can’t read? Don’t read? Won’t read? For $15 you’ll be able to chip in with the other Illustrators to create the book’s “less boring” half. Google doc’s real-time drawing tools are our medium of choice. Also included are the aforementioned awards, and your pick of 5 words.

Backers at the $20+ level will be rewarded the role of editor. In addition to all the previous rewards, all editors will get live 24/7 realtime access to the draft via google docs.  Junior Editors will get to leave comments, critiques, and suggestions, while Senior Editors will get COMPLETE EDITING RIGHTS. 

In addition to the tiers listed above, I’m offering a series of limited awards. This includes things like coming up new kickstarter tiers, impersonating me in an interview or press event, or even participating in the illustrious Consensus Internship Program!

How will the money be spent?

Should the campaign be successfully funded, the money will be spent on several things. 


1. It will be spent on a website to streamline communication for the consensus project. This is where the polls will be conducted, and where we’ll be able to communicate to backers at every level. This is KEY to making the whole process run smoothly. 

2. It will be spent on the various fees charged by the e-book distribution platforms (ie: amazon, iBookstore, etc.) I don’t know how long the book will be (it’s dynamic, remember—we’re writing at least one word for every dollar!), and these fees are very difficult to estimate right now. Note that ALL BACKERS at any level will get a PDF of the finished copy, and once the pricing for the distribution platforms have been figured out, I’ll offer free copies to the appropriate tier.

 3. The process of collaboratively writing may end up more interesting than the final product. The money will also be spent on the creation of a companion piece that documents the entire Consensus experiment from the start to finish. (This will be included in the pdf given to all backers.)

4. Finally, I’d like to make a physical edition of the book. Again, since the length of the book is currently unknown, the cost of this is unknown as well. Once these details have been figured out, I’ll be able to see how feasible this is, and, just like the e-book, will offer these physical copies to whichever backer level makes the most sense.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Like any participatory project, the primary challenge is getting and keeping people engaged. In my own previous participatory/interactive work (see http://blindsketch.com and my redubbing projects: http://iamchriscollins.com/piece/redux) I've learned a lot of lessons. The main thing I've found is that you should make participation as seamless, simple, and enjoyable as possible. Participation shouldn't be a chore, because when you ask for help from the audience, you're asking a lot from them. Similarly, you shouldn't ask more from the audience than they're willing to give, and you should allow them to engage on a level that they feel the most comfortable. I've kept all of this in mind when designing the structure of Consensus. We will create a site that makes communication simple and seamless, and the tiers are structured in a way where you can engage with the project on whatever level you feel comfortable.

The important thing to remember is that Consensus is an experiment, and like any experiment, the outcome is not guaranteed. Though myself and most all other participants will make every effort to ensure the process runs smoothly, there's no telling how this will actually turn out.

And to be honest, I'm even less interested in the final product. This project is more about putting together a bunch of engaged creative people and seeing what happens, embracing uncertainty and trusting in the collective wisdom of the group. I hope you'll join me!

FAQ

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    4 backers

    Contributor - Each contributor will get to choose a single word that appears in the novel. Choose wisely. you'll also get the PDF ebook, and your name listed in the Acknowledgements.

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    5 backers

    Super Contributor - DOUBLE WORD SCORE You get to choose TWO WHOLE WORDS that appear in the novel, any two you want! You'll be thanked for all your hard work with your name in the Acknowledgements and the PDF.

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    11 backers

    Focus Group Participant - Knowing your audience is an important part of any novel, So I'll be conducting many polls throughout the writing process. Expect polls regarding everything: plot, character development, and theme. Choose funding at this level and have your voice heard! You'll also get to choose five words, have your name in the book, and the PDF.

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    1 backer Limited (1 left of 2)

    Intern - Become involved in the exciting world of publishing! Participate in all aspects of book production while gaining valuable real world experience. If you're in school, we may be able to convince (ie: trick) them into giving you college credit. This is a great way to get your foot in the door in a challenging economy, and a great way for me to finally be able to tell people that I have an intern. Act now because this spot will go fast!

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    16 backers

    Muse - You'll be my source of inspiration. My guiding light. I'll hang your picture above my computer as I work. I'll occasionally email you with questions when I get stuck. You'll also get the five words, the focus group, and the PDF.

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    6 backers

    Illustrator- In addition to simple old boring text, the book will also contain a series of beautiful illustrations created by our creative and talented illustration team. Like the rest of the book, these illustrations will be completed collaboratively, using google doc’s realtime drawing tools. They’ll also get all the other stuff, too. (including the five words)

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    7 backers

    Junior Editor - In this role, you'll get LIVE REALTIME 24/7 ACCESS to the in-progress draft via Google Docs, and you'll be able to leave any comments, questions, and critiques. You'll also be able to propose questions to be focus grouped. And obviously, you'll also get everything else above: PDF, five words, polls, acknowledgements. all that stuff.

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    3 backers

    Senior Editor - This is a lot like the Junior Editor, only with way more responsibility. If you donate at this level, you'll get COMPLETE EDITING RIGHTS to the in-progress draft in realtime. You'll be an equal collaborator and primary creative force for putting together this book. It's a lot of pressure. Think you got what it takes? (you'll also get all the other stuff)

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    1 backer All gone!

    Treasurer - If you choose this reward, you'll immediately be put to work coming up with new kickstarter tiers and roles. Very meta! (you'll also get all the other stuff too, including editor access.)

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    7 backers

    Senior Senior Editor - SSE's will get everything that the Senior Editors get. But because you're SO IMPORTANT, you'll also receive a special individualized "About the Editor" page in the back of the book, complete with a (real or imagined) bio, and a portrait illustration from talented artist Michael Lopez.

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    1 backer

    Marketing Director - Promotion is probably the most important part of writing any book. What's the point in writing a book that nobody cares about? With this reward, you'll win the opportunity to impersonate me, Chris Collins, during an interview, live reading, or other press event.

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    0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)

    Titler - The Titler is the most important and coveted position in all of publishing. Without a title, a book would be nothing but a bunch of paper with words on it. (If this position is not claimed, titler responsibilities will fall on the highest contributor, as official line of succession publishing law 3412.2 dictates.)

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Funding period

- (30 days)