Hello! I'm Jack Cheng, a designer and former advertising copywriter. I've worked in technology off and on for over a decade, and have been thinking about its role in my life for even longer. I co-founded a startup called Memberly, and I've written articles and essays on topics like Habit Fields and The Slow Web. My writing has appeared both online and in print, in places like Thought Catalog and Offscreen Magazine.
For the last three years, I've spent my nights and weekends working on a novel. The manuscript has undergone several revisions already, and I recently finished a new draft based on feedback from a few beta readers. Now I'm raising money to hire a professional editor and publish the book in a range of formats.
These Days is about Connor Vast, a guy who designs fake computer interfaces for plastic prop displays in furniture showrooms. He meets a girl who doesn't own a cellphone and is as disconnected as he is connected. As their relationship develops, he falls in with a group of entrepreneurs out to invent the future, but it's the same future she's rebelling against. It's a story about the human side of technology—the people who make it, the reasons they build, and the people on the other end.
Length and Sample Pages
The current draft is approximately 250 pages. You can read an unedited sample of the first four pages here.
Where the Funds Will Go
Your backing helps me do two things: it helps me make the book better, and it helps me get the book into the hands of the right readers. I don't have the resources of a big publisher, but that's not a bad thing. It just means that the constraints are in different places, and it'll take some ingenuity and a startup-like mentality on my part. It also means your support is crucial to making These Days a success.
More specifically, your backing helps me with the following:
- developmental editing
- line and copy editing
- allow printing in bulk to bring down the per-book costs
- purchase of fonts and other design assets
- obtaining ISBN numbers, paying registration fees, and additional costs associated with getting listed in various online bookstores
- envelopes, packing materials, postage
- extra copies in case of "breakage" (those that get lost in the mail, etc.)
- extra review copies
I'll be detailing the entire process via backer-only updates along the way.
Why I'm Printing a Physical Book
For all the distances we travel between the pages of the book, the physical object itself is a souvenir of that experience. Like all souvenirs, the object is a memory device, so that when our eyes glance over the cover on our shelves, we are pulled momentarily and subconsciously into these past worlds and emotions. The nicks and creases and tea stains that patina the object over time further ground it in our memories, reminding us of where we were when we read the book, what we were doing, who we were with. The object is a conversation hook, an invitation to friends who stop by before going out on Friday night, and strangers you meet on the train in the sweltering New York summer. And the object is a ticket to return, a ticket that never expires.
I buy physical books. I buy e-books. Both have their advantages, but I believe that at this moment in time, a physical book is still a vastly superior interface for the stories I cherish. These are the books I find myself reading over and over again. These books have hard covers but they are also soft and yielding—they are forgiving to our different ways of highlighting and annotating. They can be dog-eared and marked up and still work when you drop them. They may not have search boxes, but their contents are imminently discoverable, especially when you're not sure what exactly it is you're trying to find. And they never run out of batteries.
My goal for this project is to tell a story worth cherishing, complete with an artifact—a souvenir—appropriate for the experience.
Video credits: the background music is "Lattice" by Darren Harper. Nearly everything was shot on an iPhone.
- (21 days)