Update: SlitPod poster design revealed below! Check it out!
The last remnants of humanity cling to survival on the Grid, a narrow patch of the planet visible to the world’s only remaining spy satellite. A secretive group of Analysts use the satellite feed to warn settlements of danger before it strikes. But their view of the Grid is only refreshed every 30 minutes, and the demons that live on the edge of their vision are getting craftier in their raids.
Anyuka is on the verge of becoming a full-fledged Analyst, working directly under her father in their base hidden in the mountains. A base they never leave. Nor do they permit any form of wired or wireless communication for fear of giving away their position. To get their warnings out to the settlers before it's too late, they use Couriers riding armored SlitPods, the fastest tech left over from before the apocalypse. But the mounting price of their secrecy forces Anyuka to question her father’s stark moral calculus, and begin to doubt their entire strategy for protecting humankind.
Finn is a veteran of the war to protect the Grid, leading the team of Couriers on their Slitpods through this hellscape of bandits, demons, and mysterious outsiders in a daily race to save outlying settlements from destruction. The SlitPods they ride are immensely powerful machines but, built on old, forgotten tech, they are ticking time bombs. Once they suffer enough damage they instantly explode. Finn’s concern for the safety of his team is compounded after a number of incidents on the plains convince him that their presence is hurting the settlers as much as helping them. Perhaps even more.
An action-packed post-apocalyptic novel set in a world ruled by mutated monsters and shock-troop bandits, OFF GRID is the first in the Couriers trilogy. If you're looking for a touch point, think Mad Max: Fury Road with more advanced tech and deeper intrigue.
Hey there! My name is Jay Swanson and I’m a fantasy and sci-fi writer living in Paris (and trying to avoid all of the clichés that image conjures). You may have seen me wandering around the city over on YouTube - if not, check it out! When I'm not lost in France I'm lost to my writing, including books like Into the Nanten, Dark Horse, and Shadows of the Highridge.
I wrote the original draft of Couriers: OFF GRID three years ago after throwing around various ideas with a mainstream publisher. Sadly they weren’t looking for the post-apocalyptic coming-of-age action novel that Couriers turned out to be, so I set it aside while I moved on with other projects. But the story was always in the back of my mind, brewing in the darker corners and demanding to be brought to light. You can read the first two chapters here.
The last year of my life has been transformative and I realized that I couldn't sit on Couriers any longer. I went back, re-read it, and fell in love with the characters and world all over again. I'm really excited to give you the opportunity not only to read Couriers: OFF GRID, but to have a part in creating it.
Of all the things I've learned over seven years of self-publishing and 500+ daily vlogs, the biggest is how I most value a direct connection with my readers and subscribers. There's something very unique that transpires when you create something and hand it off directly to someone else with as little preamble as possible. Even more unique when those people come together to be a part of improving what you're making. I don't want to miss out on that opportunity here - I think Couriers: OFF GRID is the perfect book to produce with you, and give straight to you.
Couriers: OFF GRID. I’ve written it, re-written it, put it through developmental edits, beta readers, and incorporated notes from one of the most respected sci-fi publishers in the world. I don’t want it to languish in obscurity – books are never written to be hidden – I want to share it.
This is where you come in. I need your help to take it off the digital shelf and convert it into something you can hold, whether on Kindle or paperback. I don't have the funds necessary to send it for a full print run on my own. This is the first area I need your help.
If you want to get your hands on the limited edition, Kickstarter exclusive hardcover edition - then you'll want to jump on the 25€ level today. And as a bonus, you'll also get the eBook months before its official release so that you can read Couriers: OFF GRID before September. Go snag it now before you suffer choice paralysis!
Bonus eBook at every pledge level! More details and bonuses below. Grab a copy in the sidebar today!
You name a SlitPod, we make a poster.
The second way you can help is to tell a friend! Do you know someone who loves a good book? Action, intrigue, mystery, and post-apocalyptic shootouts? Let them know about this Kickstarter! The more people that jump on board, the better the finished product will get (and the hidden stretch goals will be worth it). Not sure what to say? I wrote this tweet especially for you.
Sweeten the Deal
Just to sweeten the deal, I'm including the eBook of my fantasy thriller Shadows of the Highridge in every pledge level. I wanted to make sure you had something to read while you wait for OFF GRID!
About the book: Moving along the soil is the quickest way to die; for Tolly to survive she must learn to stay silent. Life on farms like hers was difficult enough in the face of plague and a decade of drought, but something worse has come to the foothills under the Highridge Mountains. Something that will destroy everything she loves. Mere miles away, Vanig’s search for water to revive his farm is cut short when soldiers arrive bearing dark news of disaster striking farms throughout the region – and they suspect he is the root cause of it all. Those suspicions spike when a disheveled warrior appears hundreds of miles from home and takes Vanig hostage. Death looms in the shadows of the Highridge.
Meet The Team
I’ve been living in Paris for over a year now and intend to stay here forever because, if given the option, wouldn’t you? I’ve self-published seven novels over the last seven years including Into the Nanten, the world’s first real-time fantasy blog. When I’m not writing or hunting for nachos, odds are good I’m out discovering a new coffee shop or exploring Paris and putting what I find on my vlog.
Nimit has the ability to capture raw emotion with a few strokes of his pen, and his artwork has always stood out to me. Nimit created nearly 200 unique illustrations for me over the last few years. He’s also worked for more obscure outfits you might have heard of, like Marvel Comics, 20th Century Fox, and most recently the vinyl cover artwork for Playstation's Shadow of the Colossus.
Jenna has been my line editor since my very first book – slashing redundancies left and right while bemoaning my inability, to, use a, comma, properly. We met in Washington State as she wooed one of my post-college roommates. She currently lives in Indiana with her two kids and my aforementioned roommate.
Jake is a design stud who salvaged the cover of my book Shadows of the Highridge from certain ridiculousness and worked up early designs for the cover of Agnar’s Box. He'll be in charge of the interior layout as well as the cover design. He’s quick and his work is always sharp.
You Pledge - We Produce
I'm being optimistic and assuming we do well enough to go to offset printing, which is one of my personal goals (offset printing is when you do a full run of 500+ books in one printing, 750 with Blurb, as opposed to Print on Demand (POD) which only prints one book at a time - this guarantees higher fidelity and quality). I've also added a few weeks of buffer in the timeline to budget for unforeseen circumstances.
There are additional costs if we move up through our stretch goals (detailed below), but this budget is set to cover the basic production of the book. The most notable increase comes with an offset print run, which requires up-front payment and warehousing any leftover books (roughly $2,100 for printing and then $1/book/12 month period for warehousing), printing and fulfilling posters (separate printing/shipping costs), additional arrangements for recording the audio book (depending on how I produce it), and additional illustration fees for the SlitPod posters (another 650€).
More detail below.
More About Couriers: OFF GRID
Strangely enough, the entire Couriers series was launched with a scene that doesn’t even occur until the third and final book in the trilogy. As with many of my books, it was inspired by a song. I’ll tell you more about that in a campaign update, but the image of a high-tech motorcycle battling it out with an attack-helicopter style hovercraft in the ruins of a fallen civilization bored its way into my mind and refused to leave.
So much of the fun of this Kickstarter is in building out a little bit of the ephemera - the bits left over from before the apocalypse. These SlitPods were once luxury off-road sports bikes - expensive leisure vehicles. And now they've been re-purposed for war. The posters that we'll create with your support are the equivalent of if you walked into a Ducati dealership or shop today and saw posters of their bikes on the wall. These are the leavings of a world that no longer exists. A world that knew peace.
I’ve planned out a trilogy for the Couriers series, one I’ve begun writing again even as I prepared for this campaign. I have the outlines and in-depth synopses of the second and third book finished and ready to guide me forward. I'm looking forward to the additional motivation only a ravenous audience can provide.
The eBook will be released as soon as the formatting is complete in all formats (mobi, epub, and pdf) and delivered through Instafreebie. The paperback and hardcover will take some time to print, ship, and fulfill - longer if done in an offset run (12 additional weeks) so delivery is expected in September/October (international shipping introduces further variables). The hardcover will be a Kickstarter exclusive - however if we do an offset run, any extras leftover will be available for sale until we run out.
Bonuses unlock with stretch goals for each level. The digital wallpaper downloads will be uniformly unlocked for all 25€ backers and above (in other words, all of the wallpapers will be made available to everyone at that level and up). 35€ level backers will receive one printed shop poster of their choice once this level is unlocked. The audiobook will be narrated by myself and made available to all 50€ level backers and up once unlocked - I have been doing professional voice acting for France's national science and research division for the last year, among other projects, and would love to narrate my own book.
Name a SlitPod! These are the first of ten unique SlitPod designs that are going to be fully finished and turned into shop posters - promotional materials from before the apocalypse - and your name could be emblazoned on the side in style. The SlitPod's final name will ultimately be decided by Nimit and myself based upon one or a combination of: your name, your recommended name, or a derivative based off what you submit - in other words: we get the final say. No Boaty McBoatface type names will be accepted for this project -we'll have to turn it into something cool if you try. SlitPods are cool, dangit ;P
The above is a very rough draft of a poster, just to give you some inspiration. Need ideas for names? One of the SlitPods in the book's nickname is the "Yellow Bastard," emblazoned on the side from long before the Couriers put it to their own purpose. It has its own slogan and everything. Yours could even wind up in the book if you choose an exceptionally good one.
Stretch Goal Details
2,000€ - UNLOCKED: Digital Wallpaper Packs - An assortment of digital wallpapers for your phone and desktop will be created from the cover art, both with and without the book titling, and made available for 25€ Backers and up.
2,500€ - UNLOCKED: Hardcover Dust Jackets - Dust jackets not only look good, but they'll protect your limited edition hardcover for years to come. Unlocking this level upgrades the quality of your hardcover copy of OFF GRID.
3,000€ - UNLOCKED: Offset Print Run (ON HOLD) - At this level we'll order our first offset run of hardcover books from Blurb. ALSO: Unlocking this level revealed another stretch goal below! - Due to some weird error, the update relating to this was removed from Kickstarter, but basically it's on hold because the numbers didn't work out. In the end we'll probably stick to POD for a number of reasons, but the way it will affect readers is that the print quality level may be slightly reduced (Blurb assures us it won't be greatly affected) and you should actually get your book more quickly. I can re-write the full update about this if anyone is particularly interested, but overall it's only going to affect me behind the scenes, and sticking to POD is the wiser choice for now. Thanks to Wayne for catching the error in the update.
3,500€ - UNLOCKED: Map of the Grid - I've sketched out some maps for my own reference, but none that would be worth printing. If we hit this level I'll get a professional to draw up the map for the book so we can insert it.
4,500€ - UNLOCKED: Printed Slitpod Posters Reward Level Opened - A 35€ level reward will be opened for anyone who wants to order a printed version of a SlitPod poster as well as receive everything from the 25€ level reward.
6,500€ - Audiobook Reward Level Opened - A 50€ level reward will be opened for anyone who wants to order an audiobook of Couriers: OFF GRID as read by me, the author, Jay Swanson.
10,500€ - REVEALED: Signed Hardback Copies - Revealed once 3,000€ stretch goal is unlocked: I'll work directly with the printer to get the Kickstarter exclusive hardcovers signed before they're shipped to you!
15,000€ - REVEALED: Book Tour - Revealed once 6,500€ stretch goal is unlocked: If we hit this mark, which seems quite unlikely at this point (but who knows), I'll do a book tour to up to five cities around the world, to meet up and sign some books! We'll develop a polling system for this, but basically try to find the five most centralized locations where the majority of backers would reasonably be able to go.
Risks and challenges
I have successfully run a Kickstarter campaign for Into the Nanten - so I'm aware of and ready for the work that goes into completing a project like this. The main risk involved is in production, whether the printing and shipping happen on time. The book itself is written and edited. Since we're aiming to do an offset run, the standard potential for printing or shipping errors are the main things to keep an eye out for, but Blurb has a wonderful track record in this department.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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