Help publish my novel The Parting of the Waters, the second volume in a science fiction trilogy set on an alien world.
We are funded!
Thank you, Team, you're awesome and I wouldn't be here without each and everyone of you!
Who am I?
I'm a storyteller, I always have been. I started writing at ten, teaching myself to touch type as well as how to use computers. I spent a decade working in journalism, as a blogger and a reviewer before chronic depression, anaemia and a combination of my physical disabilities pushed me into early retirement.
I even retrained as a teacher but my health issues mean I'm never going to be able to work again, which makes me sad but does nothing to negate the sheer exhaustion of suffering a chronic illness. I found writing to be cathartic, to be the one way I have to stay sane and I'm not going to stop. I wrote a novel, then I wrote short stories and now I'm publishing them.
I've always been visually impaired and this is no more obvious by the number of blind characters who crop up in my stories. In my case I have retinopathy of prematurity due to being born at twenty four weeks which left me with white matter damage to my brain from too much oxygen, a blind right eye and a blurry left one. I also have Asperger's though that can sometimes be more of a boon than a bane, especially when it comes to research. Three and a half years ago I qualified with my lovely guide dog, Unis, and she serves me very well, allowing me to go out safely as well as keeping me company while I write.
For nearly a decade I freelanced for everyone - seriously, the list is as long as my arm - from anime magazines like NEO and Newtype USA to games publications including Kotaku and Official Xbox Magazine to newspapers like the Eastern Daily Press and The Guardian. Now I am recreating myself as an author, specifically focusing on science fiction and urban fantasy.
I'm in the prime of life, apparently, so being retired as due to my disabilities is incredibly frustrating as I would love to work and put my skill sets to good use.
In February 2014 my debut Kickstarter campaign for The Changing of the Sun, the first book in the trilogy, funded at 115% of the goal. In April, I distributed a prequel e-novella called The Whispers in the Desert to my backers. In September, the novel itself found its way into backers' hands and it was a thing of beauty.
We also went on Radio Norfolk to talk about well ... everything.
I also went on the RNIB's Insight Radio to discuss being a visually impaired author, Kickstarter and writing.
Now it's time to do it all again. I've spent most of the year getting the first draft of the second novel, The Parting of the Waters, down on paper. I'm really excited about this one as it not only expands on the world I introduced in Changing, but allows me to explore different facets of my alien world from a whole new set of perspectives.
About The Parting of the Waters
My magnum opus is the Ashteraiverse, a multi-work tale of the future and the past set on many worlds. The Changing of the Sun trilogy is my opening gambit and now it's time to revisit the sun-battered world of Coronis with the second volume of the trilogy.
Coronis has changed so much since the Changing of the Sun, a cataclysmic event which saw a solar storm batter the planet and, guided by Saiara, their inexperienced Oracle, the people fled north and were driven underground, surrounded by rock and the protection of the ages.
Time passed and the people changed and then, just like that, the cataclysm ended and it was time to rebuild.
Eventually, of course, the exiles begin to return home. This is the story of the Reclaiming, when towns were refounded, cities brought back from ruin and fresh sets of eyes looked on the past and saw reason where there had once been blind faith. Now their eyes look not just to the land but to the stars and what might be waiting for them out there.
As with The Changing of the Sun, the book is narrated from multiple perspectives from the diver An'she to an alien girl cut off from her home, Maros the inventor and Jannah, the current Oracle. Some of them you've met before in other guises, others you'll be crossing paths with for the first time. Some you might recognise by other names and, like me, greet as you would old friends wearing new, less shabby clothes.
This is a story about rediscovery, about Contact and about how high a race can soar if given the room—and the chance—to fly.
Want to know more?
You can check out my Pinterest mood board for the book by clicking here.
The cover—one of the last Jason Gurley created before his retirement from cover design—is already done:
Isn't it gorgeous?
Why am I doing a Kickstarter?
I live on a fixed-income which is rather tiny. I could pay for all these things but it would take fives times as long and I love the communal side which comes with crowd-funding, I get to talk to my backers, to take them with me on each roller-coaster ride of a journey, knowing they'll queue up for the next go.
You can see the full breakdown of how much Kickstarting Changing and the prequel novella actually cost me. I've done this to be as open, honest and transparent about the figures as possible.
Team Changing was the reason my first Kickstarter succeeded and I remain indebted to each and every one of the sixty two people who backed me. I hope they'll become part of Team Parting too. I might write the books but I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the support and the faith of the kind people who took a leap of faith on my project. I want you to be a part of their journey, any financial assistance is just a bonus.
What is the money for?
- Editing Parting to make it publishable.
I've been lucky enough to find an editor who loves my work almost as much as I do and also happens to be a perfectionist. I insist on paying Ellen for her time and so the bulk of the Kickstarter is going to cover her fee to turn my pile of muddy rock into a beautiful shards. She's totally worth it.
While I was doing Changing I came across Ben J. Adams via his illustrations for Hugh Howey's Sand and Michael Bunker's Pennsylvania. I subscribe to the Michael Bunker School of Independent Authorship which mean making the best product you can because that's how much you care about it. As with Changing (which came out of my own pocket and was so worth it, I cried), I envision commissioning Ben to do panels which separate each 'act' of the book. To give you an idea, this beauty is what he created for Changing:
- e-book and print formatting
I heard about Polgarus Studio via Hugh and Tim Grahl (which is like the highest recommendation you can get in the indie publishing world). I hired them to format Whispers and Changing for me. I never regretted it; it's delegation, Jason Anderson does a wonderful job and I know he will take a lot of the load of me. He will do both the e-book (in .mobi and .epub) as well as the printed layout for me and it will look amazing.
As with Changing, print and ebook copies will be made available first to Team Parting and then to everyone else and I have Parting set for a Summer 2015 general release.
Wanna see how big Parting will be? If it's anything like Changing, it should be pretty big.
- The costs of the various rewards
Print copies, posters and art cards will all cost money and this is something that final amount has to include. I under-budgeted massively for this last time around and I'm not going to do that again. Also the print copies are large, bulky and heavy and sending one copy outside of the country cost nearly £10 ... so yeah ...
- Kickstarter and Amazon's fees.
Kinda obvious but if I reach my goal, Kickstarter get a percentage and so do Amazon for processing the payments. Go figure.
Here's a basic breakdown of where everything is going in a handy pie chart:
This time I'm going to learn from my mistakes. There will be a print version, I'm also making print versions of Whispers and Changing available so that anyone who wants one can catch up. Plus there's a bundle (anyone who orders the Oracles bundle will get the first two books soon after the Kickstarter funds) so people have something to read until Parting comes out.
The bonus anthology!
Because I'm asking for so much more, I wanted to make this Kickstarter special. I also have spent the last year writing stories set in the Ashteraiverse (the overarching universe in which the Changing trilogy is set) and this is something that is important to me.
I want to give you, each of you, a bonus anthology for backing me. A novel-length collection of Changing/Ashteraiverse stories called Beyond the Stars Beneath the Sea.
This will unlock in print and ebook when we fund at £3000. Everyone who pledges over £15 will get copies sent out (print and/or ebook, subject to the tier levels chosen).
Yes Jason Gurley has done the cover because I asked really nicely and he is awesome. It's one of the concepts from Parting but fits beautifully with the stories I want to tell.
The anthology itself probably won't come out until spring but I want to use this opportunity to reward you for your help, faith and financial support, to make backing me about more than just signed books and Team Parting. It will also give you something to read until Parting comes out in the summer.
I'll tell you more about that during the actual campaign but, for now, check out the glorious e-book cover:
Add-ons are something I've come to appreciate, having backed a number of projects where the basic model was enticing but the option to add extras in just sweetened the deal.
So, for example, let's say you really liked the art cards but got Whispers and Changing in the last Kickstarter? You're awesome! However what if you pledged, for example, for the £15 print or ebook edition of Parting but really want the art cards? You can have them!
Pledge what you can, that's the important bit. A couple of quid is better than nothing. Specify a tier if you want to be specific, then just select one of the following:
- Add in £5 for a copy of all three art cards and tell me you want them when I send out the backer questionnaire at the end of the campaign.
- Add in £15 for a signed trio of A3 posters showing the covers (plus £5 for shipping). I'll sign them too if you like.
The important thing is I want to give you guys as many options when it comes to formats/extras as possible. These are also the nicest and easiest, for me and my flagging energy levels, to get re-printed.
Then, at the end, when we come to the Backer Surveys, I'm going to need you to tell me what you want and I will thus brave the post office once more to ensure everything gets sent out.
7th October-7th November
- The campaign! NaNoWriMo! All the things! Once the campaign ends, there is a fourteen day delay before Kickstarter transfers the funds.
- I'll order the requested physical copies of Whispers and Changing along with art cards and any posters ordered.
- Any print copies will be mailed out along with add-ons like posters/art cards. Hopefully most UK-backers will get their copies in time for Christmas/Yule.
- Parting will be finished and handed over to be beta-read with editing to follow at the end of January.
- Beyond the Stars Beneath the Sea will be planned out ready for Ellen to start editing with the new year.
- I start talking to Ben about art (I will probably do this earlier but some aspects involve the layout being ... well laid out ... first). Not everything in publishing happens neatly one after the other but, instead, sort of at the same time.
- Beyond the Stars Beneath the Sea will go to Ellen to be edited and then to Polgarus who will work their magic.
January to April
- Rewriting, editing and stress. No seriously, it'll be fine. At this point I know what needs doing, when and how much it costs.
- Beyond the Stars Beneath the Sea will go out to backers in ebook with print to follow
- The manuscript for Parting will go to Polgarus to be turned into ebooks/print/Smashwords. I will try not to panic too much.
- Team Parting will get their ebook copies! Wooot! I will then order proofs, print copies and send them out to backers once they come in.
23rd June 2015
- The Parting of the Waters is released publically, ditto Beyond the Stars Beneath the Sea, in print and ebook.
- The Kickstarter campaign starts for The Shadow of the Stars (including the novella One in Green, the Other Blue)!
Risks and challenges
I didn't go into my first Kickstarter blind (pun so intended!) but I did learn shedloads about the processes, about what goes into e-book and print books, about the stress and the hell of will I/won't I.
I really hope this time will be smoother but things will still take longer than I envision they will because, you know, it just has to be like that. I might be able to control my own output but this process involves other people, layout, formatting, illustration and editing, those are my wildcards but each person I've chosen is reliable, is good at their job and it all comes right in the end.
Yes, I am asking for more money this time. However my reason for doing so is good: when I first started crowd-funding, I didn't know Michael, I'd only just heard about Ben and I wasn't thinking about doing a print edition, even if I had budgeted to get covers done so I could in future.
I lost money on my last Kickstarter (no matter how well you do your sums, exchange rates are variable, word counts change and extras always seem to cost more). I never expected to make any but I have a better understanding of costing now I've done this once.
I can buy printed books from CreateSpace, for example, but I do get them at cost. That said, shipping remains an evil and callous mistress and the Royal Mail, now a private company, seems to be making the cost of sending anything bigger than a stamp prohibitive.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (32 days)