Everything Turns Out Just Fine
Everything Turns Out Just Fine will be an anthology of ten short stories. It will be upbeat and proud. It will have humour and pathos, wit and sadness, unexpected triumphs and averted disasters. It will cock a snook at the idea that literary fiction must be serious. It will not end its stories with failure and slinking off.
Besides, I did all that serious stuff with my last book of short stories. They All Die At The End was published in 2011 and, well, you can guess how each of those stories panned out.
The new book will provide balance. The colour of its spine will look good next to its predecessor.
Is this a sensible way to sell a book?
I don't know.
But I do know I haven't tried this way yet.
My hope is to get enough orders from Kickstarter for a modest print-run (300 copies - any more would be wonderful but maybe greedy).
I'm also hoping to get some exposure for my writing. Tweeting about my work, blathering about it on Facebook, writing a blog - these are all very well but seem about as useful as shouting in the street. It's not that most people ignore you - most people don't really notice.
But Kickstarter has a community of people interested in investing in something new. I don't have a high funding target. I'm not looking for large individual pledges. I'm trying to find people who will enjoy my work and are happy to pay a sensible price to read it.
Why haven't I got a mainstream publisher?
Again, I don't know.
Publishers aren't interested in new authors unless they are represented by a literary agent. And I haven't got a literary agent. And I have tried.
In other words, my books haven't yet landed on the desk of the right person on the right day when he/she was in the right mood.
How much of it is already written?
About six stories.
Occasionally, other extracts will be posted here until I give the new book its own website or microsite or whatever it is I'm supposed to call these website-lets.
That leaves four stories yet to write.
(Or, potentially, five stories if anyone puts up enough money.)
And then there will be further proof-reading, adjustments for consistency and, if anyone puts up enough money, renaming of characters.
Why don't I just finish the book and then sell it?
That is a very similar question to "Is this a sensible way to sell a book?" as answered above. (But I wrote both questions so that's my fault.)
I'll answer it differently.
It will take a little while to finish the book.
[ 'Finish' is a strange word to use for creative work (see Pixar's wonderful comment here). Please interpret this as "to make it as good as I'm able to make it". There will probably still be at least one typo (small prize for the person who finds the one in They All Die At The End). ]
Getting back to the question...
In the past, authors might have obtained a small advance from their publisher. It represented money for food but also expectation, confidence, a willing to succeed and a goading to quality.
I have no publisher and so no advance. But knowing people were waiting for my book expectantly and confidently and were willing me to succeed would goad me to producing something of quality.
You could be one of those people.
What else have I written so far?
I've written books for children, for example...
Timestand was used at a couple of local schools by five different year-7 classes (11-12 years old). The kids loved it and said things like...
- “…jam packed with lots of action, excitement and crafty surprises…”
- “…I really hope you get the book published because it was excellent to read…”
- “…it is one of the best books I read because it is something different: nothing like the typical boys’ book with a teenage spy trying and succeeding in dangerous missions…”
- “…well-suited to me and my friends’ age…”
- “…you did all the characters very realistically, I could almost feel as if Jack was my friend from my school…”
- “…I found the book really funny…”
- “…I was engrossed in it for a couple of days until I finished it…”
- “…it is a witty, humorous, action packed and overall amazing book which I think has potential to sell in many numbers…”
And you already know about the other book of short stories for adults...
They All Die At The End has been praised by indie e-book review. The full review is here.
And, if you wondered what it could sound like when read by the author:
Do people really want short stories?
Hamish Hamilton's publishing director, Simon Prosser, said: "The short story form is better suited to the demands of modern life than the novel."
On the other hand, when I wrote to Hamish Hamilton to hawk my work, flinging that quote at them quite shamelessly, the reply politely but firmly pointed out that "most publishers and agents struggle to make a commercial success of short stories in the UK".
They can't both be right.
I think there are people who would gladly read a short story on a Kindle, smartphone, tablet (or even from a book) on the way to the office.
Jammed into a train with a half-hour or so to fill, what could be better than immersion in a story that can be finished on that trip yet leave thoughts behind to marinade? It's that or the latest misery and/or celebrity tittle-tattle from the free tabloid.
But what do I know? You're the readers. I'm the writer. You tell me.
I've probably already written too much. Is there a statistic showing the optimum number of words on a Kickstarter project page, i.e. the word-count most likely to lead to successful funding?
I'll leave you with three thoughts.
1) I'd also love to be writing children's picture books. I can't draw so I concentrate on the words and live in hope that one day a talented illustrator will provide the rest. There are some samples here.
2) Occasionally I get frustrated by the state of the publishing industry. Then things like this can happen.
3) Having put the video together for this page, I'm now wondering if I made a better case in the out-takes. So, with me providing expert ukulele accompaniment, here is the alternative Kickstarter video:
Nothing was staged or scripted - and there wasn't anyone else in the room. That's just what happens when I try to make a business case by thinking up a few ideas and improvising.
Risks and challenges
Risks and challenges are difficult to quantify for this project.
The book is mostly written (a little more than six out of ten stories are fully drafted and awaiting revision). I foresee no difficulty in completing, editing and formatting it within the next few months.
I have used a printer for three different books - more if you count revisions as new books (which, in many ways, they are as far as the printing process is concerned). It will be simple for me to organise a print run of the new book.
Converting a digital manuscript to Kindle format or PDF is easy. Again, I have experience of doing this with other books.
And, as far as I am aware, I am in good health!
So, unless I am about to suffer from writer's block, this should be a very low-risk project.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)