It’s a book about baseball. And robots. And you get to pick what happens.
Rise of the Robot Umpires is a graphic-style novel about a not too distant future where Big Baseball’s leader, H.G. Commish, caters to public pressure and fires all the human umpires, replacing them with robots.
Flash forward a decade, and the game has never been better...until things start to go wrong. With his 100th birthday approaching, readers are taken on an adventure to decide how The Commish will handle the sudden rise of the robot umpires. Can baseball be saved?
Well, it can, if the reader chooses the right path along the way. In a throwback to the Choose Your Own Adventure books popularized in the 1980s, Rise of the Robot Umpires puts the decisions in the hands of the readers, choosing which path they think will lead to Big Baseball’s salvation.
Make one wrong decision...and it could prove deadly.
This is a look at the initial project flow chart. NOTE: This text is not extremely visible on purpose, as I didn't think it was in our best interest to share the story at this time. This is more to show the number of chapters and how the book flows. If you would like to see the full story stream before contributing, please contact me directly.
ROBOT PROTOTYPE - ILLUSTRATION
Here is a very early one-color look at the base illustration for the robot.
PROJECT FACTS AND INFORMATION
The book is (obviously) a work of fiction, but will be told through a series of essays written by some of today’s more notable sportswriters from outlets like: Yahoo Sports, Bleacher Report, ESPN, CBS Sports, Sports Illustrated, The Classical, Buzzfeed, Sports on Earth, SB Nation, Baseball Prospectus, Washington Post and more.
(See below for a list of some of the contributors.)
Rise of the Robot Umpires will be told by the writers—in their unique writing styles—throughout this whimsical baseball world. From breaking news stories to op-ed columns to even transcriptions of sports talk radio, many different types of sports media will be employed to take readers through this futuristic adventure.
The graphic elements will accompany the collection of essays throughout the book to enhance the story experience.
The book will be printed and perfect bound, approximately 6”x9” in size and full color throughout. In addition, readers will be able to purchase the book via digital download.
There are future plans to create an app for mobile devices, emphasizing the readers’ ability to choose the adventure as they read along.
Currently the project consists of 33 essays, including 12 unique endings to the story. These essays will be written by a host of writers, mostly sportswriters, including the following scribes (list subject to change):
Oh, and Dan Levy who is editing and compiling this whole project.
This list will grow in the coming weeks.
The lead illustrations are being done by Stephen Slesinski. You may know his work from such sports sites as The Pens Blog and such television programs as the critically-acclaimed FX spy cartoon Archer.
Here's a sneak peak at one of the early-stage mock-ups. This art will coincide with one of the endings.
WHERE THE MONEY WILL GO
Initial funding will pay for printing of the books, as well as fulfillment of the initial block of shipments. In addition, the initial round of funding will serve to fund the illustrations and pay the writers.
In truth, we need to raise upwards of $20,000 to make sure all the writers, illustrators and printers get paid. I set the threshold lower so we get at least that much and I will either find private funding for the remainder or fund it myself (if we don't reach that here.)
Risks and challenges
Once the project is funded, the money will go to the illustrators and writers, with the remainder set aside for printing. With the deadlines for each essay during the baseball season and the writers being predominantly baseball writers, there is a chance some of the writers who signed on will be unable to meet their deadlines.
If that happens, we have a stable of writers we plan to ask in their stead. Failing that, the lead editors (mostly Dan Levy) will pen the essays.
Another issue that could arise is hitting our printing deadlines, but we should allow enough lead time to make sure that isn't an issue. With more than 15 years in print design and publication, we got pretty good at hitting deadlines.
DOUBLE SIGNATURE + GOOGLE HANGOUT WITH WRITERS –– Everything above, PLUS the book will be signed by both the author and the illustrator. AND we will also offer a 30-minute Google Video or Skype chat with the author and up to two contributing writers. You can either record this video yourself or let us record to put on our official website.
THE HOME RUN –– This is by far our favorite level. You get everything above PLUS your book will be signed by as many contributing writers as we can get. You also get a special thank you section in the book.
THE GRAND SLAM - NAME A CHARACTER –– Now you're part of the story. You get everything above, PLUS you get to name a character in the book. As long as it won't get us sued, you can name a character anything you want. Anything.
THE CYCLE - WRITE YOUR OWN CHAPTER –– You get everything above, including naming your own character, PLUS you also get to write your own chapter. Yes, you can write a chapter in the adventure. Oh, and not only a chapter, but you get to write one of the endings! (Writer must agree to all terms and conditions and be subject to editorial approval.)
THE WALK-OFF WINNER - YOUR FACE, IN THE BOOK –– The top level is pretty amazing. Not only do you get EVERYTHING below. Not only do you get to name a character in the book... We'll make that character look like you! Yes, you can have a character in the book look like you or anyone you want it to look like. We will also give you a signed print of your character.