JUST FOR FUN (23 March): Since we've already passed the $4,500 goal, let's see what we can do this final weekend of the campaign. If we hit $5,000, I will add two MORE free interviews to the launch bundle. The theme is vampires: Meg Cabot talks about her modern update on the Dracula story in Insatiable and Overbite, while Chris Farnsworth discusses his action series starring Nathaniel Cade, "the President's vampire," including the almost-out Red, White and Blood. (If we don't make it to $5,000, those interviews will still come out this summer, as part of the second or third premium issue.)
UPDATE (21 March): SUCCESS! Thank you to everyone who has backed the project, raising even more than the amount requested. This means that, when Beatrice is released in the App Store, the basic app will be free, as will the three interviews described below. My goal right now is to also have the first premium issue available for purchase within Beatrice as soon as the basic app is available. Who's in that issue? Stay tuned... 22 March: The first premium issue of Beatrice will feature interviews with Jodi Picoult and debut novelists Alice Albinia (Leela's Book) and Nick Dybek (When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man). Final pricing to be determined, but it'll either be $1.99 or $2.99.
(And don't forget Ad Astra Books and Coffee -- if they can raise $10,000 more by March 29, I'll head out to Salina, Kansas, to produce another free issue with authors interviewed at that store!)
UPDATE: I'm teaming up with Ad Astra, an indie bookstore in Kansas -- if both our campaigns succeed, I'll do a multi-author event at the store later this year!
Shortly after I launched Beatrice back in 1995, I focused the site on author interviews, and for nearly a decade, I had hundreds of wonderful conversations with fiction and nonfiction authors about the books they'd written and living the writer's life. I switched to blogging in 2003 because it was easier to fit around my work life, but in recent years, I've been plotting how to return to the intensive Q&A interviews I used to publish. The question's always been: How could I make that feasible?
For a long time, I thought the most viable solution was to treat the interviews as premium content. I'd been looking at the app format for a while, with an eye towards recording interviews on video, selecting highlights from each conversation to stream alongside feature-length transcripts, then bundling two, three, maybe four interviews into thematic "issues" of a Beatrice app which could be priced something like $1.99 or $2.99 apiece. It'd be cool to be able to give the interviews away for free, but I didn't see how I could afford to do it.
INTRODUCING THE BEATRICE APP
With your support, I can launch Beatrice as a free app, starting with an issue called "Life Stories" that's built around conversations with memoir writers. There's Darin Strauss, who won the National Book Critics Circle award for autobiography in 2011 for Half a Life; Deb Olin Unferth, who's up for the same award this year for her memoir, Revolution; and Alina Simone, an indie rocker who made her literary debut last summer with a collection of autobiographical essays called You Must Go and Win. Three fantastic writers, each of whom opens up about the challenges they faced in telling the stories of their lives. If you're looking for a great book to read, these interviews may just convince you to pick up one (or all) of these books. Or, if you're thinking about writing a memoir yourself, these authors certainly have great insights to share, and every conversation I've recorded for Beatrice so far has been like that--full of real talk about what it takes to write a book, and about what happens once that book is out in the world.
That's right: I've recorded enough conversations already to put out a few "issues" through the app. While I've set a modest initial goal that would enable me to release Beatrice with "Life Stories" for free, I'd love to give you more interviews before (or even rather than) switching to a premium content model. So, in the event that your generosity exceeds $4,500, I'll start talking about what could be in the subsequent issues, and I'm convinced you'll like what's on tap.
WHAT DO YOU GET IN THE MEANTIME?
Years ago, I pulled together some of the best interviews from the early years of Beatrice and created a book I thought was full of great advice for writers--again, not just about the writing, but about everything else that comes with it. Unable to find a publisher, I shelved the manuscript--then, around the time that I started seriously thinking about Beatrice as an app, I took another look at that collection, and started thinking: What if I bundled this within the app? Or published it separately myself?
Both of which were great ideas, but now I've hit upon another one: If you're willing to support the launch of a free app full of author interviews, you should be able to read a whole bunch of interviews straight away, right?
So I've started with the collection that I've already put together, and I'll give it away as a free ebook, without DRM. (I know from PDFs, so I'll start with that, and if I can create a presentable EPUB version, that will be an option, too.) For those of you who want to contribute a little bit more, I'm going to dig into the archives and collect even more interviews (some of which have never been published before).
For people who are able to contribute $100 or more, I'm going to offer some of my consulting services--as somebody who's been active in the book-related Internet for nearly 20 years, many of which I spent analyzing the publishing industry's relationship with digital culture, I have a lot to say about how authors can forge meaningful connections with their audiences, and I'm ready to share that information directly with you. (If you're not an author yourself, but you know one, you can totally get this reward for them!)
SO WHEN'S THE APP COME OUT?
If this drive is successful, my goal is to be able to announce the release of the Beatrice app, with the "Life Stories" interviews, at BookExpo America, which is taking place the first week of June. And if there's enough money to put out more free Beatrice content, I'll be releasing those additional interviews as quickly as possible after the launch, and keeping in regular contact with everyone who supports the app about how that's coming along.
I hope you'll agree with me that a Beatrice app would be a great way for people who love books to find out about writers they might want to read, and for people who want to become writers to learn more about making their dreams real. I've been very fortunate to have these conversations, and I'm looking forward to sharing them with you.
- (40 days)