Hi, I'm Ben Lovejoy, technology writer by day, novelist by night.
On the tech journalism side, I started my career on PC World, the best-selling title of its day, and have written for dozens of computer and technology magazines, as well as numerous national newspapers, business and in-flight magazines. These days, I write mostly for the web (you may know me as EU Editor of 9to5Mac and 9to5Google).
11/9 is a fast-paced technothriller about terrorists attempting an attack bigger than 9/11. Here's the back cover blurb:
And here's how the novel opens:
The moment had arrived: in a little over two minutes, around half a million people would die.
Julian Fox was sitting in his car in the queue to board a ferry to Calais because in two minutes' time, air travel would cease to be an option. It would likely be months, perhaps years, before airliners would resume flying. Those that were left.
He connected his laptop to the wifi hotspot created by a smartphone. In the boot of the car was a second laptop, and in his pocket two further smartphones, each on a different network: nothing was being left to chance.
Fox typed from memory the IP address of an encrypted web-server hosted on a PC sitting alone in a serviced office they'd rented close to London's Heathrow Airport. When connected, the secure webpage prompted him with four input fields, labelled with nothing more illuminating than the numbers one to four, and a Submit button.
The first two fields required a username and complex password. Fox entered both from memory. The third field required a code generated by Google Authenticator using a QR code he’d destroyed immediately after use. The final one needed him to enter digits from the current date and time in GMT.
He entered each in turn and clicked Submit. The screen refreshed. The word Ready appeared, and below it a button: Activate. It felt almost too mundane that the final step, the activation of the devices, would be triggered by something as ordinary as clicking a button on a webpage in the browser of a perfectly standard laptop.
A combination of ebooks and print-on-demand has revolutionised the publishing industry. Today, anyone can be a publisher. That's the good news.
The bad news, as anyone who has tried it will know, is that the commercial reality is a little different. Sure, anyone can put a book up for sale, but without promotion nobody will ever know that it exists. And promotion costs money.
This Kickstarter campaign has both short-term and medium-term goals ...
The immediate aim is to give 11/9 a decent shot at success. I've set a modest initial goal for the campaign of just £1000 ($1500). That would pay for enough marketing and PR to enable the novel to poke its head above the sea of new books out there. Not very far above, admittedly, but enough to make a difference.
What would that pay for? A mix of sites that offer promotions direct to readers, and paid-for review sites (note that these only guarantee your book will be reviewed, they don't guarantee a good review).
For reviews, there are people like Kate Tilton who will email a whole bunch of book bloggers for $100, through to Kirkus Reviews which charges $425 for a single review (and an extra $299 for 'Pro Connect' listing).
The exact mix I choose will depend, obviously, on the amount raised by the Kickstarter.
I have a second technothriller, written and edited, ready to roll out next. Backers will be the first to hear about that.
But I'm hoping to do more than publish my own work. Sure, any reasonably techy person can do the work needed to create and market their own book, but not everyone wants to.
The current alternative is to try to get a book deal with a traditional publisher, which – even if you succeed – sees the publisher get far bigger share of the proceeds than the author.
So I'd like to create a new type of publishing company. One that offers a fair profit-share with its authors. What do I mean by fair? A 50/50 split, where author and publisher share equally in the rewards.
I'm not expecting to become Penguin Books. This will be a part-time enterprise. But it would be great to play at least a small role in helping independent authors get a better deal, recognising that the writing is what readers are paying for, and that writers deserve a deal which reflects that fact.
There are a very few 'fair-trade' small-presses out there, leading the charge. Ghostwood Books is one such, and they have been kind enough to offer me a great deal of invaluable advice. But by their very nature, each can only publish a small number of books a year. We need more, I hope to become one.
There are rather more reward options than I'd initially planned! I wanted to keep it simple, but decided it was more important to offer the opportunity to back the project at any level – from £1 ($1.50) up.
Shipping is a killer for paperbacks, especially international shipping, so I decided it made sense at this stage to limit physical book rewards to limited-edition signed copies. If the campaign were to really take off, I have options for both up-front print-runs and more cost-effective international shipping, but I'm not confident of being able to offer this from day one, and didn't want to promise anything I may not be able to deliver.
I'm stating June for all paperback rewards to be safe, but I'm hoping to deliver in late May.
Oh, and if you decide to choose the Name in lights + Postcard option, I thought it would make a nice touch for the postcard to be a photo I took myself, so this is the image you'll get:
I fiercely believe you should be free to use your digital content on whatever devices you like.
For this reason, ebook backers will receive the book in all four digital formats: iBooks (EPUB), Kindle (MOBI), Nook (EPUB variant) and PDF, free from DRM. Put the book on one device, or put it on every device you own, it's up to you (bonus points for uploading it to your fridge).
Sure, making it DRM-free opens up the risk of piracy, but you're all terribly nice people and I choose to trust you.
You've read this far! Thanks – I truly appreciate your interest. I hope you'll choose to back the project, even if just to offer a virtual high-five.
Risks and challenges
The novel is written, edited and formatted. The ebook files are ready. The paperback file is setup in a print-on-demand system, ready for me to press the button (or commission an upfront print-run in the best of cases). The sum raised will be applied first to meeting the costs of the rewards. There are therefore no risks beyond me walking in front of a bus before I deliver; I'll try not to do that.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)