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Everything you ever wanted to know about roller derby between two covers.
Everything you ever wanted to know about roller derby between two covers.
Everything you ever wanted to know about roller derby between two covers.
254 backers pledged $9,183 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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Derby Life: Stories, Advice & Wisdom about Roller Derby

$9,183

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If you’ve been bitten by the roller derby bug, you already know what an incredible sport it is. Roller derby has its own culture, even its own language. It can be confusing and frustrating at every level, but especially for new skaters and fans!

That’s why I’ve written this book. From the history of the sport to strategy to gear, Derby Life: Stories, Advice & Wisdom from the Roller Derby World will teach you what you need to know to get rolling. This book can’t teach you how to skate, but it will get you up to speed on everything else!

Veteran skaters will appreciate chapters on building mental toughness, dealing with derby drama, and getting back in the game after an injury.

But I don’t want this book to be just what I know. The book includes advice from derby greats. It will also include personal stories from derby people all over the world.

Who am I?

Good question! I’m Em Dash (aka Margot Atwell). I’ve been a skater with Gotham Girls Roller Derby for 7 years (and with Suburbia Roller Derby for six months before that). I skated with the WFTDA-champion Gotham All Stars for four seasons, and co-captained the Manhattan Mayhem to its first-ever home team championship victory in 2012. I’ve run Gotham’s PR and Finance committees, and laid more sport court than you can even imagine.

I co-founded Derbylife.com in 2011 and have edited the site for three years. I’ve written articles such as 8 Reasons You Shouldn’t Play Roller Derby, 10 Things I Wish I Had Known Before Strapping on a Pair of Skates, and Dealing with Injuries. I’ve also written for fiveonfive. My thoughts on roller derby have been featured in Ellen Parnevelas' book, The Roller Derby Athlete and Dr. Lynn F. Hellerstein's book, 50 Tips to Improve Your Sports Performance.

When I don’t have my skates on, I’m a professional editor and writer. I ran an independent book publishing company for seven years. The first book I co-authored, The Insider’s Guide to Book Publishing Success, came out in 2013. I have also written for The Huffington Post, Moviefone.com, Publishers Weekly and other print and online publications.

Me chasing Suzy Hotrod, photograph by Sean Hale aka Hale Yeah.
Me chasing Suzy Hotrod, photograph by Sean Hale aka Hale Yeah.

About the Book

The book will be a perfect-bound paperback, black and white, with both text and photos. It will be approximately 160 pages long and 5x8 inches. It will also be available as an ebook in MOBI, EPUB, and PDF formats. It will be published through Gutpunch Press.

Contents

Things might change a bit in the final book, but this is what the table of contents looks like now!

Introduction
Chapter 1: The History of Roller Derby
Chapter 2: Tryouts
Chapter 3: Fresh Meat
Chapter 4: Rules & Strategy
Chapter 5: Derby Culture
Chapter 6: Making Your League Run
Chapter 7: Diet & Exercise
Chapter 8: Injuries
Chapter 9: Levels of Competition
Chapter 10: How to Improve
Chapter 11: With Age Comes Wisdom
Chapter 12: Life After Skating
Chapter 13: Derby Stories
Additional Resources
Derby Dictionary
Derby Shops & Businesses
Derby World Calendar

Some derby memorabilia I've collected over the years.
Some derby memorabilia I've collected over the years.

Budget

I’ve been creating budgets for books for a long time, so I’m fairly confident about these numbers. That said, I’ve heard horror stories of cost overruns, shipping problems, and other unexpected costs, so I’ve included a little bit extra to cover those unforeseen costs.

Pre-Production: $2600
Includes copyediting, proofreading, typesetting, etc.

Contents: $1100
Includes licensing the cover and any other images in the book, and paying writers (other writers, not me)

Printing & Shipping: $2200
Includes printing and shipping 300 books, buying mailers and postage, etc.

Just in case: $500
I've budgeted a little extra in case of any cost overruns or changes in cost. For example, the cost of paper might change between now and when I go on-press. This makes sure I don't run into any problems fulfilling your rewards.

Fees: $600
The Kickstarter and payment processing fees will be 8-10% of the total raised. 

Total needed: $7000

Stretch Goal

Derby photographers are a wonderful part of our community, and I’d love to include photographs in the book, but it will cost more than I have budgeted for in the original goal.

If we hit $8000, I will include ~10-15 black & white roller derby photos in the book (approximately one per chapter). The additional $1000 will cover payments to photographers and the additional costs of printing and shipping the books, which will be around 160-176 pages instead of 144, as I had originally envisioned.

Photographers will be paid $30 plus two copies of the book for their images.

Photo by Sean Hale aka Hale Yeah
Photo by Sean Hale aka Hale Yeah

Schedule

I am planning to go to press in April 2015 and ship rewards in June. It's easy for delays to crop up in a complicated project like making a book, but I have tried to build enough time into the schedule that I can weather a few delays. That said, any time you're relying on other people for critical parts of your projects, some things will be out of your hands.

Rewards

Everyone who backs this project at any level—even a dollar—will be thanked inside the book. I appreciate every single person who helps make this dream a reality!

In addition to the book itself, I'm offering a few other rewards for the awesome people who help make this book happen. You can find them on the right side of this page. Feel free to send me a message if you have any questions about them!

Limited-edition Derbylife mustache bottle opener. You know you want one!
Limited-edition Derbylife mustache bottle opener. You know you want one!

New Reward Levels

A few years ago, I tinkered with the idea of creating roller derby athlete cards. At the $200 level, you can get your very own custom derby cards for yourself or a loved one. (You'll also get the book in print and e-book format and a mustache bottle opener keychain.) Here are some sample designs:

A book of Damon Runyon stories published in 1943. Only one is available!
A book of Damon Runyon stories published in 1943. Only one is available!
There are a few notes in the book but it's mostly clean, and in good condition considering its age.
There are a few notes in the book but it's mostly clean, and in good condition considering its age.

A Note on International Backers

I absolutely love that derby is a worldwide phenomenon now. I think this book will be useful for derby lovers anywhere.

That said, it is very expensive and challenging to ship overseas. For this reason, physical rewards that must be shipped have additional shipping costs. Backers who don't live in the US who select the $5 level will receive an e-postcard instead of a printed one. I hope you understand!

Submission Guidelines

I’m now officially soliciting stories and photographs for Derby Life: Stories, Advice & Wisdom from the Derby World. Stories may be on any subject related to roller derby and should be between 500-2000 words. I prefer original work that hasn’t been previously published, but if it has, please include information about where and when it was published, with a link if available. The writer must have the right to republish the story.

Stories should be:

  • Polished
  • Original
  • Emotionally resonant (funny, inspiring, sad, instructive—you get the picture)
  • Well-written, with a strong voice and sense of character
  • And represent a range of experiences within the derby world.I hope to get stories from skaters, refs, NSOs, jeerleaders, mascots, support staff and volunteers of all stripes, derby widows and parents, juniors and seniors, and everyone else who makes this sport great.

Writers who submit their work agree that it may be edited for style, length, and content. Writers will have the right to approve substantive edits (aka edits that don’t significantly change the meaning of the work).

Writers should send their stories to margot@gutpunchpress.com as a Word document or Google Document. There is a limit of 2 stories per person. Please include your name (derby and/or real) and the title of the piece in the body of the email, but only include the title, not your name, in the piece itself. I’m going to strive to read these without bias!

Now that we've reached the $8000 stretch goal, I will include black and white photos in the book as well! I'm looking for images that represent all different aspects of the sport, from action shots to portraits to photos of the crowd.

Photographers should send their best images (no more than 5 per photographer) to margot@gutpunchpress.com. Photos will be licensed for the book on a non-exclusive basis, so the images may be used elsewhere as well.

The submission deadline for stories and images is Monday, December 15th 2014 by midnight Eastern Time. All writers and photographers whose work has been chosen will be notified by January 31st, 2015 at the latest. Unfortunately I can’t reply to every submission, as I suspect I might get a few. Writers whose stories are accepted for publication will be paid $30 and two copies of the finished printed book. The photographers whose images are chosen will be paid $30 plus two copies of the book for each accepted image.

You can stay informed about the project by checking the backer updates or visiting the Gutpunch Press website or following Em Dash on Facebook or Twitter.


Cover image by TJ Chase, used with permission.

Risks and challenges

I’ve edited and published a LOT of books, but this is my first time striking out on my own. I won’t be on my own, of course (I've got a great team helping out!) but it’s still different to publish a book without the strength of a publisher behind you. I’ve done a ton of research, but I’m sure I’ll still encounter some unexpected surprises along the way. I’ve got a lot of smart, generous friends and I’m not afraid to ask for help, so I know I’ll get past any challenges, but there might be a few bumps in the road.

The biggest risk is that this book will take longer to complete than I expect. Some of this is in my control, and I’ve tried to account for possible delays in my schedule. But some things (weather disasters, slow contributors, printer problems, derby injuries) are impossible to predict. I promise to stay in touch with you and keep you posted about my progress and let you know of any delays as they arise.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me!

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    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    FIRST WHISTLE:
    Thanks for contributing! I really appreciate it. I will thank you in the book and send you a postcard in the mail.

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    MAKING THE PACK:
    I can't do this without you! I'll thank you in the book and you'll receive an e-postcard and a copy of the ebook in the format of your choice before it's available for sale.

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    LEAD JAMMER:
    Tweet tweet! We're rolling now. I'll thank you in the book, and you'll receive paperback AND ebook copies of the book before it's available for sale. You'll also receive a postcard.

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    THE WALL: Blocking is better with a friend, and so is reading! You'll receive two signed paperbacks, one for you and one to give to your friend (or foe!) You'll also receive two ebook copies of the book before it's available for sale, two postcards, and I'll thank you and and your friend in the book.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    POWER JAM: You're fantastic! To recognize your generous contribution, I'll send you a limited-edition Derbylife mustache bottle opener keychain, along with a personalized signed paperback copy of the book, an ebook in the format of your choice, a postcard, and I'll thank you in the book.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    GRAND SLAM: You want to help me make this book? Awesome! As one of my beta readers, you'll get a chance to read the manuscript before anyone else sees it! You can even suggest a topic to include. I'll also send you two signed paperback copies, two ebook copies, two postcards, one mustache bottle opener keychain, and an extra-special thank you in the book.

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    DAMON RUNYON: You'll receive a copy of Damon Runyon's Favorites, a book of short stories printed in 1943, along with two print copies of Derby Life, two ebook copies, two postcards, and a special thank you in the book.

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    Pledge $160 or more About $160

    WHIP aka the Team Package: I'll send you 10 copies of the paperback, 10 copies of the ebook in the format of your choice, 10 postcards, and I'll thank you AND your team or league in the book.

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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    STAR PASS: Thanks so much! You'll receive a set of 250 custom-designed derby cards with the picture and information of your choice. In addition, you'll get a signed paperback copy, an ebook, a limited-edition mustache bottle-opener keychain, and I'll thank you in the book.

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    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    GETTING GEARED UP: You rock! If you run a skate shop or other derby business, I'll feature it prominently in the "Additional Resources" section of the book. You'll also receive 10 copies of the paperback before it's available for sale anywhere else!

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    Pledge $1,200 or more About $1,200

    APEX JUMP: I'm humbled and truly grateful for your generosity. You will receive a HUGE special thank you in the book, and I will travel to you and coach a 3-hour practice for up to 25 skaters of any skill level at a time that's convenient for both of us. I'll bring copies of the book as well! We can focus on whatever skills you'd like to work on. (I can literally teach you how to jump the apex if you'd like and you feel up to it.) NOTE: If you are located more than 150 miles from Brooklyn, NY, you'll need to pay for travel and hotel costs. Send me a message and we'll work it out. This offer will be good for 2 years.

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Funding period

- (30 days)