Out of the Sea: An epistolary novel to be released in 2016 project video thumbnail
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$181 pledged of $3,500 goal
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By Margaret McNellis
$181 pledged of $3,500 goal
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About

The Backstory

Out of the Sea was originally dreamed up as a short story, about 1,500 words, in August of 2008. Writing the story was fun, but I knew even as I wrote it that it needed to be something more. I tried expanding it to a novel during National Novel Writing Month in 2009, but I got stuck halfway through the book (not an uncommon trend, I assure you!). 

I determined that my main character, William, wasn't enough of a fish out of water. So he went from being a seasoned sailor to being a cooper who makes his first journey with a crew setting out to hunt whales.

Disclaimer: I feel it's necessary here to share with you--I think that hunting whales is deplorable! 

I rewrote the book, with William as a cooper. But at that point, I lacked skill as a fiction writer. I didn't pick up Out of the Sea again until 2014, when I approached it from scratch as my Master's thesis while pursuing my MA in English & Creative Writing.

I received plenty of feedback and reworked the story--adding in the paranormal element--and then decided that the story needed to be in an epistolary format.

The Project Right Now

I'm working on the novel. I believe the story has a lot of energy and will make a compelling novel. I'd like to get the community--you--involved because I think the idea of being trapped on a ship for four to five years with a vengeful ghost will be a fun adventure while transporting readers back almost two hundred years.

Read a letter from the book!

November 7, 1838

To my dearest sister, Catherine,

I know I owe both you and our mother sincere apologies for the way in which I left home, as well as for not writing you before now. That I have already been away at sea these last two months is a strange notion, but sure as the sun rises and sets, here I am in November, sailing toward Cape Horn. Do you remember Father’s stories of those waters, or were you too young when last we saw him?

I must admit some trepidation in approaching those violent seas, if I am fortunate enough to even make it there. A week ago, Captain Matthews’ wife fell ill to a sore throat and high fever. I saw her but once, when ordered to bring her a fresh pitcher of water, but I could not convince her to drink. Her face and neck were red with a rash, her eyes glassy, and her hair, usually so finely coiffed, clung limp to her damp forehead. She was a sorrowful sight, but not for long, I regret to inform you.

Pray, do not spread word about the village of her death. I am certain the captain would not want gossip about his name in his absence. She was given the very best care a crew of whalers could provide.

I am coming to the point of my letter, I swear to you. Our carpenter, who hailed from Charlotte in North Carolina, was next to take ill. He’d been delivering tea and other amenities to Mrs. Matthews. Being that the ship was in such fine shape, he kindly sat and read to her each day from her library of novels--her only prized possessions aboard. He too fell ill, and passed yesterday.

We mourned him as the sun shimmered over the watery horizon, though it was not the proper day for Mass. The first mate, Tobias, had to give the sermon; our captain has not left his cabin since his own wife’s passing. The service was abrupt, and very seaman like. There is never time to dawdle, in Tobias’ eyes.

Now I come to the hard point of my news and I find my own pen hesitates to write the words. There is nothing for it; for these, in this very letter, may be my last words to you. The carpenter’s bunk was above mine. Both myself and another who shares our cabin woke today with a sore throat. Even as I write I feel my head heating up and I am fearful, nay, certain I shall meet the same agonizing end.

How poetic, that father and son should perish while sailing aboard the same ship.

Your adoring and sorrowful brother, 

William

 The Budget

I thought long and hard about how to produce this book for the lowest cost without sacrificing quality or reach. I can take on most of the work myself; I don't mind marketing it like crazy. However, there are a couple of big-ticket items that I just can't do alone!

The main costs are the cover design and ISBNs for distribution. 

I plan to look to Creative Indie Covers for the book cover. I want to provide Out of the Sea in multiple formats, so I will need an ebook cover and physical book cover. Their package, right now, runs for $829. It comes with one ISBN number, but...

I want to distribute to multiple channels, so one ISBN just isn't going to cut it. Bowkers is, I've read, the go-to place for ISBNs, and I can get a block of 10 ISBN numbers for $295. 

So you might be wondering, right about now, why I'm asking for over $3,000, and if you've added up all of the pledge options, you might see that they amount to even more than that. Part of this cost is for the rewards themselves. I priced everything using Zazzle and Lulu, though I am going to keep hunting for alternative pricing. I also need to ship the rewards.

Whatever remains from pledged funds through this project will go toward editing and marketing efforts for Out of the Sea. So here's the breakdown of my budget goals:

$3,500

This will cover the pretty book covers, ISBNs, and creation/shipping of all rewards.

$4,000

This will cover all of the above, plus a round of editing.

$5,000 +

This will cover all of the above plus the ability to market the book. I might have a book trailer made, get a standalone website for it, donate copies to libraries, etc. My capabilities will depend on the funds. 

Risks and challenges

Risks--oh no! These can be scary...but scarier than being stuck at sea in 1838 with a ghost aboard? Scarier than a Nantucket sleigh ride? Probably not.

The biggest risk is my not finishing the book on time. The best way I can avoid this delay is to keep working on it, every day, and I am. I've learned a lot about writing--short stories and novels--and I'm putting it to good use, primarily the bit about making a daily habit of it.

Another risk is that some of the rewards (bookmarks, keychains, totes) take longer than I planned. This is out of my hands, as I will order them once the project is fully funded. The best I can say is that I planned generously, and will post updates if there are changes.

The final risk that comes to mind is a matter of shipping. At this time, I am only shipping rewards to backers in the United States. If someone backs my project at a reward level that includes items to be shipped, I cannot guarantee fulfillment. I made this choice to keep things simple, and I hope it isn't a severe inconvenience. Should it prove to be, I will consider changing that decision.

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    My eternal gratitude! Seriously, every dollar counts and I really appreciate your support. You'll also receive an ebook of short stories based on characters from William's world.

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    All $1 rewards PLUS a reading list of sea-worthy books that I read to inform and inspire me while I worked on 'Out of the Sea.'

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    A project-custom bookmark, an ebook of short stories featuring characters from William's world, and your name listed as a backer on my website.

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    All $5 rewards, PLUS an early-release ebook edition of 'Out of the Sea.'

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    A signed hard-cover copy of 'Out of the Sea.'

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    The $1 reward, PLUS an early-release ebook of 'Out of the Sea', PLUS a short story featuring YOU set in the time of 'Out of the Sea.'

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    All $1 rewards, PLUS I will edit up to 50 pages of double-spaced, 11 or 12-point font text of your short story(ies) or book.

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    Name a character in 'Out of the Sea', and an ebook of short stories featuring characters from William's world.

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    All $30 rewards PLUS a choose-your-own-path short story (~10K words) set in the world of 'Out of the Sea' (electronic format).

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    All $60 rewards, PLUS all $25 rewards, PLUS your name listed in the Acknowledgments section of 'Out of the Sea.'

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    All $125 rewards PLUS a project-custom tote, PLUS a 30-min phone call with the author to discuss the project, writing in general, etc.

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Funding period

- (30 days)