There once was a time when the internet felt better than IRL.
Better Than IRL is a collection of true stories about finding your people on the untamed internet. This wild version of the internet existed in a time before algorithms, corporations, and terms of service made anything more than an emoji hard to come by. A time when the internet was still new, and huge, and unruly. No one knew quite what to do with it, but we built our little corners and made lasting connections. With 20 essays written by pioneers and participants from online communities, this paperback (or digital book!) looks at how this specific time on the internet changed us, and how we can take the elements that made it so much better than IRL with us into the future.
This book won't exist without your help! Please check out our amazing rewards and pre-order your copy of Better Than IRL today. Also! Please share this Kickstarter with everyone you know on the internet. And everyone you know IRL, too! <3
There once was a time when you could start a blog post with “Dear Magic Hotel” and find a couch to crash on in a town where you didn’t otherwise know anyone.
A time when you could find a place to put the writing that was too personal to print out for your writing group to critique. Which was great, even if you suddenly realised a lot of people were reading about you losing your virginity.
It was the good ol’ days of tweet-ups and meeting fellow nerds and wine lovers. It was a time when the internet meant never having to drink alone.
It was a time when you, a shy and unpopular kid, grew to be relaxed in your own skin and discovered you were famous on the internet, maybe because you got stuck in a hole with your dog and then Twitter had to save you.
It was a time when you could find friends who shared your passion for Digimon, no matter where in the world they were located.
When we felt disconnected or neglected by our partners, during this time we could have friends halfway across the world reach their digital arms around us as we cried.
There once was a time when the internet felt better than IRL. This book is about that time.
Better Than IRL will be a collection of true stories written by people who fostered connection and sharing on the internet. True stories like the ones above, which will all be included in the collection. The book will be personal and hopeful. It won't be nostalgic moaning about how the internet isn't what it once was—it will discuss how it made us into who we are now and how we can take the lessons we learned about inclusion and belonging to be better people going forward. With talented authors from Canada, South Africa, Pakistan, USA, Singapore, UK, and Liberia, the book covers a wide array of experiences with the beginnings of the Web 2.0.
- Jadzia Axelrod (The Voice of Free Planet X podcast)
- Kyle Cassidy (This is What a Librarian Looks Like: A Celebration of Libraries, Communities, and Access to Information, Geek Knits)
- Molly Crabapple (Brothers of the Gun with Marwan Hisham, Drawing Blood)
- Randell Zuleka Dauda (Wrap Your Crown)
- Melissa Gira Grant (Playing the Whore: The Work of Sex Work)
- Anaïs Escobar Mathers (Love Notebooks)
- Mohale Mashigo (Intruders: Short Stories, "Afrofuturism is not for Africans living in Africa" as published in The Johannesburg Review of Books)
- Sisonke Msimang (The Resurrection of Winnie Mandela, Always Another Country: A memoir of exile and home)
- Ryan North (How to Invent Everything, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl)
- Charles Pulliam-Moore (culture critic for io9)
- Leah Reich (How to Be Human column at The Verge)
- Phoebe Roy ("Iridescent Adolescent" appears in A Change is Gonna Come and "Whose Men Are These" appears in The Good Journal, Issue 1 edited by Nikesh Shukla)
- Kaite Welsh (The Sarah Gilchrist Mysteries) and Lola Keeley (The Music and The Mirror)
- Laaleen Sukhera (Austenistan)
- Damien Patrick Williams (Technoccult News, "Stealing The Light to Write By" appears in Spirits of Place edited by John Reppion)
- Jessica Val Ang (Spideyfriends on LJ)
- + FIVE MORE AUTHORS CHOSEN FROM OPEN SUBMISSIONS
£10 Digital Download! Get the digital version of the book in your preferred format.
£12 Early Adopter! Get the early bird price of the physical copy of the book.
£15 In Real Life Book! Get a physical copy of the book.
£25 Forums: Digital! Get the entire Fiction & Feeling catalogue (SPLIT, Becoming Dangerous, and Better Than IRL) as digital downloads and read about others' experiences with divorce, ritual, and the internet.
£25 I Can Haz <3? Get the physical book plus your choice of one of the three <3 cat enamel pins designed by Ben Cameron of Pin Badge Club. Soft enamel 1" pins with polished black metal and a black rubber clasp. Choose from one of the three designs below:
£30 Friend Request! Get two physical copies of the book, one for you, one for a friend.
£30 My Space to Put Stuff! Get the physical book plus a Better Than IRL tote bag and rep Fiction & Feeling while you carry your stuff around. (The final bag will be a bit different, but I couldn't find a mock up that looked exactly the same. It will be a more natural, eco-friendly bag, instead of white. But still with the navy handles.)
£35 Forums: IRL! Get the entire F&F catalogue (SPLIT, Becoming Dangerous, and Better Than IRL) as physical books and read about others' experiences with divorce, ritual, and the internet.
£40 I <3 Cats! Get the physical book and, for those of you who, like me, can't choose just one adorable enamel pin, get all three of the <3 cat pins designed by Ben Cameron of @PinBadgeClub.
£50 NSFW Molly Crabapple print! Get the physical book and an exclusive Molly Crabapple giclee print.Okay, I'm really excited about this one. Not only is Molly writing for this anthology, but she has also made a print exclusively for this Kickstarter. 'Naked Girls of the Internet' is an archival 8.5" x 11" giclee print and it's GORGEOUS. Molly Crabapple is an artist and writer in New York. She is the author of two books, Drawing Blood and Brothers of the Gun, (with Marwan Hisham). Her reportage has been published in the New York Times, New York Review of Books, The Paris Review, Vanity Fair, The Guardian, Rolling Stone, and elsewhere. Her art is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the United States Library of Congress, and the New York Historical Society. Incredible woman.
What? You thought I was just going to show you that wee little version of the print? Come on.
£75 Mods Only! For retailers: Get 10 physical books and 10 promo tote bags plus one A3 promo poster. (Must verify you are a retailer when choosing this reward level.)
£100 !!!!!11one! Get EVERYTHING. Get all three <3 enamel pins + the tote bag + the Molly Crabapple print + IRL book + digital download. Feel complete.
£100 Chat Room with the Editor! Get a video call from the editor of Better Than IRL, Katie West, so you can both chat about how much you miss being an emotional mess on the internet. Or whatever.
[Please be aware that none of the above reward images are to scale. At all.]
We believe in creating opportunities for emerging authors and always include new talent alongside established names. While most of the authors in this book have been curated to participate, a portion will come from open submissions gathered as the Kickstarter runs.
Want to submit an essay for publication in Better Than IRL? This is a well-paid opportunity. Essays should be 2000–4000 words. Click here for more information and detailed guidelines.
One of our favourite things about making books is paying authors what they're worth. Writing is not making many people rich, but it should be! Authors make us laugh, cry, and question; they teach us, they challenge us, they encourage us, they change us. At Fiction & Feeling we want our authors to feel loved, and we want that love to look like bigger payments landing in their bank accounts. With this in mind, all of our stretch goals involve paying our authors more and more and more!
£40,000: All writers get a 10% pay increase!
£45,000: All writers get a 20% pay increase!
£50,000: All writers get a 40% pay increase!
£60,000: All writers get a 60% pay increase!
One of the driving principles at Fiction & Feeling is that all creators are paid fairly; this accounts for why contributors' compensation is one of the biggest slices of our funding pie. But it's also why the cost for design and rewards are high: everyone who does a job for Fiction & Feeling gets paid what they're worth, and we think they're worth quite a bit!
We're also pairing up with Make That Thing to ensure fulfilment goes smoothly. Last time, shipping became a bit of a mess, so this time shipping and fulfilment are built into the budget.
Our initial campaign goal covers all printing, design, and editing costs; provides compensation for all of the contributors in the book; and covers shipping and fulfilment costs, reward production, and Kickstarter/credit card fees.
Here's the breakdown:
Video animation (the good parts): Jordan Willox
Book Cover Illustration: Jules Scheele
Book Cover Design: Cécile Richard
Risks and challenges
This will be the third Kickstarter I've run, and the previous two were quite successful. That being said, I learned some big lessons last time—this time things should run more smoothly. I am extremely communicative and transparent with status updates and any possible delays. These delays can come from manufacturers or shipping snafus, but they will all be dealt with as quickly as possible.
Please be aware that the authors are not required to submit their finished essays to me until after the campaign is successfully funded and their payment is guaranteed. Due to this time delay, it's possible an author may need to pull out of the project due to unexpected workload or commitments. However, there will always be the advertised number of essays found in the book, even if the authors may change.
- (30 days)