Shattering Glass is an avant-garde romp through four students' first term of college, in which challenging coursework, expensive tuition, and romantic entanglements compete for attention with dangerous engines that turn memories into electricity. Samo has to overcome his poor high school grades, Ezzie is almost paralyzed by social anxiety, Dunya faces dropout if she can't obtain financial aid, and Monty is obsessed with the new college's secrets. The novel combines many features of my hometown of Flint, Michigan and my alma mater of the University of Chicago, in the fictitious city of Arkaic, Michigan.
The Rapid Rise and Fall of Shattering Glass
By the time 2011 rolled around I had written several novels and was just settling into a beautiful new house in my hometown of Flint, Michigan, to which I had returned after fourteen years in the Big Apple and the City of Big Shoulders. I was also coming off of publishing Hungry Rats, a grim and gritty noir novel that had taken seven years to develop and which was also the subject of my MFA thesis and self-published via Kickstarter. These adventures had been successful, but I was looking for something fun and easy and a little bit stupid, and Shattering Glass was supposed to be the answer.
Shattering Glass was intended to be a short, pulpy novella in which I could indulge in allusion, rhythms, and thematic sledge hammers. The setting would be the fictitious Arkaic University, based upon the University of Chicago where I had gone to college. If you don't know, the U of C is a cult of learning afflicted with both insularity and a fever of intensity. Everyone there is -- admirably, perversely -- obsessed with something.To paraphrase the first chapter of Shattering Glass, "visitors are novitiates; here tread experts." The city of Arkaic, Michigan has featured in other stories I've written and it, itself, is a much exaggerated version of Flint, which is an odd town, poor but inventive, cold but romantic, religious but radicalized, frustrated and frustrating.
In Shattering Glass, wealthy philanthropist A. Olan, heir and chair of the Olan Foundation takes advantage of dismal property values to acquire the abandoned Arken County Lunatick Asylum and rehabilitate it as his pet university, but powerful and unseen forces move in the background.
With this in mind, I started writing chapters and throwing them up online.
But it turns out that you can't rush a good idea and, more, that a good idea will demand that it receive the time it needs. When Sam O'Samuel, an aspiring astronaut with a high school GPA of 2.X managed to luck himself into the weird but prestigious university, he wasn't about to let me get sloppy with his future. After all, his real work had only just started. The same went for Monty, a brilliant student who bought into all of the most outlandish conspiracies; he certainly wasn't going to let me off without responsibly defending his research. Dunya, the California would-be dropout who accidentally discovered the answer to world hunger, wasn't taking any of my crap about finishing the book so I could "move on," and Ezzie, the confident playwright and confused ingénue kept me going with her silences. What secrets was she keeping from me?
And so the novel stumbled along, with chapters released sporadically over a year-and-a-half, and its small audience largely evaporated. However, when people did read Shattering Glass, they liked it. In fact, they liked it a lot. In this review, Critcal Winking was particularly kind:
"Coyne’s work has startling bright characters that ground a story that is prone to the fantastic. Strange things are happening constantly, but the characters stay very real in their reactions to these things."
I read that and I thought, this can work. But I have to do it right.
Help me "do it right"
I've been through this publishing thing before. I've helped launch three issues of the Paramanu Pentaquark literary magazine on half of a shoestring, and then published Hungry Rats with considerably more support. I'm still committed to stretching out each dollar, but I want to step up the game this time and give this flamboyantly theatrical novel an equally theatrical release. I don't want to choose between "this cool opportunity" and "that cool opportunity" anymore. I want Shattering Glass to be awesome.
Here's a concise breakdown of the $5600 goal and what I expect it to accomplish:
Documentation and Registration Needs (Barcode, Copyright Filing, ISBN Acquisition): $160
Editorial and Formatting Services: $300
Cover and Book Design Services: $300
Printing and Shipping Expenses (for a 160 copy print run of Shattering Glass):$1897.40
PUBLISHING / ADVERTISING / MARKETING EXPENSES
Book-Specific Materials (Press Kits, Promotional Materials, Envelopes, Postage): $418.30
Paid Advertising Costs (Chicago, Michigan): $300.00
Launch Expenses (Travel Expenses, Chicago Launch, Michigan Launch): $828.00
Kickstarter Fee, Processing Fees, Kickstarter Video, Reward Fulfillment: $1420.00
GRAND TOTAL: $5623.70
Now I know what you're thinking: "What about that extra $23.70?!" Don't worry, I'll be covering that out-of-pocket, as well as operating expenses, personal tour expenses (eg. coneys I eat while traveling), and the various other small things that come up.
I should sign off by saying that this project, while not a collaboration per se, nevertheless has been blessed with a lot of talent. Sam Perkins-Harbin designed eight beautiful covers for the original online-only release which I'll be making use of as much of possible during this campaign and through the book's launch. Reinhardt Suarez, who bravely edited the choppy, rough waters of the original manuscript will be formatting the thing for Kindle, Nook, and anyone else who will have it. Finally, the sharp video you see above was shot and assembled by Shane Gramling. It was soundtracked by Flint's #1 folktronica band Arlow Xan. Shattering Glass will be published under the umbrella of the Gothic Funk Press, Flint's own avant-garde publishing company.
Risks and challenges
Every artistic venture involves a certain amount of risk; that's the nature of the artistic enterprise. Publication, specifically, involves a lot of different components: registration, editing, cover design, book design, promotion, tour logistics, and so on... and while self-publishing has liberated writers from a contracting publishing industry, it does require an author to be something of a jack-of-all-trades.
I have striven to reduce the risk in this case by completing substantial edits prior to this campaign. Aside from a thorough proofread, the manuscript is ready to go right now. With the writing component largely taken care of, I'll be able to dedicate my time to over the next several months to publication and launch.
Once the campaign is successful, I'll need to figure out exactly *what* the launches are going to be. I'll have resources to provide for unique and enjoyable events (even with food and drinks!), but I won't have an infinite amount of money with which to spend my way to success. I'll need suggestions, from Flintstones/Flintoids and Chicagoans both on how to create genuinely exciting launch events.
Reward fulfillment was a bit of a difficulty with Hungry Rats, although I don't think anyone was stiffed or any feelings were hurt. For Shattering Glass, I've tried to space out reward fulfillment from August through October (with a couple complex rewards to be fulfilled in December) so that people are not kept waiting longer than they expect. I hope that backers will communicate with me about any problems they encounter and I'll fix the situation as quickly as I can.
Finally, the biggest risk is simply that the project won't "take" among its intended audiences. This is the one risk that it is largely beyond my power to address, as plenty of gems of novels fall undiscovered each year, and writers more talented than myself have languished in obscurity despite great effort and resourcefulness. Rest assured that I'm going to write, post, tweet, blog, read, and speechify about Shattering Glass until my voice is hoarse. But I hope -- indeed, need -- for you, its backers to match your financial investment with a spiritual investment.
Read the book. Review it. Tell your friends, family, coworkers, and enemies about it. In the end, that will be Shattering Glass' best chance for success.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (28 days)