Last year, I founded my startup, Hederis. We’re building software to help publishers make beautiful books, and to make them quickly (think SquareSpace + AI, for books). I’ve spent the last 7 years of my career building tools for publishing companies, using cutting-edge technology to make publishing faster and less expensive, without giving up quality. We’re helping to build the future of the publishing industry, so that publishers can create more books, take chances on more diverse authors, and keep up with the speed of the internet.
We need to print some books that we can give to publishers, to prove that this technology works. Hederis is a female-founded startup in the publishing industry, which means we’re fighting an uphill battle when it comes to funding and venture capital (check out this depressing recent report from Morgan Stanley). But with the help of amazing people like you, we'll be able to print these books and fund the final development push to launch our flagship product.
We're creating paperback and ebook editions of three classic literary works, made with our tools. To make things more exciting (and because I love comics :D ), we’ve partnered with three talented comic book illustrators to create original covers and interior art for these books. We asked the artists to each pick a book from literary canon, and they made some awesome choices:
- The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, illustrated by Eileen Chavez
- The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, illustrated by Alissa Sallah
- Dracula by Bram Stoker, illustrated by Patrick Keck
These books feature beautifully illustrated full-color covers, 10 black-and-white interior illustrations, and text laid-out using our typesetting technology.
Special "Thank You" Stretch Goal: Unlocked!
As a special thank you to all of our backers for helping us reach our goal and create these amazing books, we're giving every backer at the $18+ level one free project in either our Hederis:Convert or Hederis:Typeset products (up to a $250 value!). Been dreaming about writing the next great novel? You're helping us make our dreams come true, and we want to help you! You don't need to do anything to claim this extra perk - we'll send you a redemption code along with your other rewards, plus instructions on how to redeem it.
With your help, we'll now be able to put the finishing touches on Hederis:Typeset, and we'll use it to create custom interior layouts for each of these amazing books.
My cofounders and I have over 25 years of experience in publishing, and have seen the challenges that publishers face first-hand. Some fun factoids:
- It currently takes an average of a year (or more) to publish a book, and that’s after the author has finished writing.
- The changes in traditional book publishing tools over the past couple of decades have mostly made traditional book typesetting more complicated.
We’ve developed tools that use AI and bleeding-edge tech to create laid-out book files in seconds (a process that usually takes days or weeks), but still gives publishers as much control as they’d like over design and layout. While most of your funding will go to book printing costs (see the FAQ below), a small amount will also help us with the final push to launch our flagship product. We’ll use this technology to create these beautiful book files, which will each include 10 full-page illustrations from the book’s talented illustrator, and then we’ll send the files off to a printer for manufacturing.
Because we're female-founded, and because the tech world considers book publishing a niche industry, we definitely have something to prove. A successful Kickstarter campaign comes with an added bonus: we’ll be showing the tech funding community that books matter, that ground-breaking innovation can come from publishing, and that people from all walks of life can build great things. Every supporter of this campaign helps us prove that point.
About the Artists
Our mission at Hederis is to help create opportunities for people from all types of backgrounds, and we're putting our money (okay, your money) where our mouth is. We're so proud to be working with this diverse group of talented artists. Here's a little bit about each artist:
Alissa Sallah is a cartoonist originally from small town Ohio. She has worked in various anthologies such as the Bonfire Yearly Anthology (SHONEN TRUMP, BLACK WATER, SILK & METAL) and the BITCH PLANET Triple Feature. She has also been featured in the YAKUZA 6 SONG OF LIFE artbook and spends a sizeable chunk of time/money cosplaying. She was also the editor & colorist of the Image comic series SLEEPLESS and is currently working on her first original graphic novel. Her website is www.alissasallah.com and you can find her on Twitter & Instagram as @sallataire.
All photos of Alissa courtesy of Svet Jacqueline.
Patrick Keck is from Fruita, Colorado, but has been living in the Pacific Northwest since 2010. He’s close to finishing his first original graphic novel, entitled PEEPERS, the first four chapters of which can be read online. He likes frogs, turtles, nocturnal primates, and mini-comics.
- Patrick Keck's website: sinusproblem.tumblr.com
- Patrick Keck's webstore: patrickkeck.storenvy.com
- Patrick Keck's comics can be read at: studygroupcomics.com/main/category/contributor/patrick-keck/
Eileen Chavez is an Oakland-born, queer multi-media artist of Jewish-Latinx origin formerly based out of Portland, OR and now burrowing a new home in Chicago, IL. They specialize in fuzzy art mediums including watery-graphite comics, clay monster construction and scratchy guitar and saxophone loops. Their art focus involves dissecting mental health from a queer, non-binary, anti-capitalist and de-colonialist lens. They do this by opening up heavy emotional landscapes and creating new pathways through them by processing and healing from trauma.
They are a proud member of a group of Portland comics artists, 'The Sound Grounds Wreckin Cru', multi-media artists collective, 'The Midnight Variety Hour' and Portland's 'Women of Color' zines. You can view their work at greenmango227.tumblr.com or by following @sloris227 on Instagram.
About the Books
Nellie wrote a short, personal note about the significance of each of these books in her life, and the artists' interpretations of them. Here's an excerpt:
I read all of these books for the first time during the same phase of my life: I had just graduated from St. Johns College (where we followed a curriculum centered on reading), and was spending a year teaching English at a high school in France. I never had to help put food on the table when I was growing up, but my family was by no means wealthy and I had to work hard for the few luxuries I had. My life during the first half of that year was meager and lonely: I was a foreigner in a mid-sized country town, struggling to attain fluency with both the language and social customs....
...The local library carried me through many quiet nights. I’d challenge myself by reading the French editions of books I knew, but they had a small selection of English-language books, and I slowly worked my way through all of them. This was the first time I read all three of the books in this campaign, and all three of these books resonated with me and the isolation I felt during that transitory period of my life....
How big will the books be?
The beauty of this technology is that we can quickly test out different book layouts and dimensions to see what works best. We’re experimenting with a couple different trim sizes, but it’s looking like they’ll either be 4.25in x 7in or 5in x 8in.
Why can’t you just pay to print some books yourselves?
We’re still an early stage startup, so funds are tight. We launched an initial product at the end of February, but it’ll take time for us to build revenue. We’re exploring the world of VC funding, but we know that the odds aren’t in our favor (see the "About Hederis" section above). PLUS, we love the idea of working with artists to create something that we can share with everyone.
How did you come up with your funding goal?
We did some number crunching to account for all the fixed costs involved with this project, and this was the number we ended up with. The funds from this campaign will go towards printing costs (by far the highest cost!), paying the artists, shipping costs, and the final development costs to create the laid-out book pages.
$18 for one paperback book seems like a lot (especially for a short book like The Metamorphosis)
Firstly, that’s not a question, but we’ll let it slide ;). We averaged out the costs for each book to set one flat price for all three, but this is about more than just the cost of printing - you’re getting a print AND ebook (DRM-free) with all-new artwork, supporting an artist, and helping to build the future of book publishing.
More Details About the Rewards
Rewards almost all consist of a combination of the following items:
- Our special "thank you" stretch goal has been unlocked, which means that every backer at the $18+ level will receive one free project in either our Hederis:Convert or Hederis:Typeset products. You'll receive a redemption code along with your other rewards, as well as instructions on how to redeem it.
- One (or more) printed paperback copies of one or all of the three books: Bram Stoker's Dracula (approx. 300 pages), Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray (approx. 200 pages), and Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis (approx. 100 pages). Shipping addresses will be collected upon campaign completion - see shipping details for each reward for international shipping costs.
- One (or more) copies of one or all the ebook versions of the three books. Ebooks will be delivered as DRM-free EPUB files in a digital download.
- One (or more) screenprinted tote bags with a drawing by Patrick Keck (see image below).
- One (or more) name that will be printed on an acknowledgements page that will be included in the back of all three books (both print and digital formats).
- A custom dedication to be included in one of the three books. This dedication is limited to 280 characters, and should conform to Kickstarter's community standards. We're happy to work with you to craft something lovely, but we reserve the right to decline to print a dedication that we deem does not meet those standards, at which point you'll receive a full refund. There will be two custom dedications available per book, that will be printed on a shared page at the front of the book text. Dedications will be printed in the order in which they are purchased.
Risks and challenges
* Cover illustrations are already complete. Because we believe firmly that artists should be fairly paid, we won't be proceeding with the interior illustrations unless this campaign is fully funded.
* All text layout will be done in the Hederis app. We've already launched a fully functional basic version of our app, but this funding will help us add custom design features, which will be completed no later than the end of April, 2019.
* Hederis is a book typesetting tool (at least for now); we're working with third-party printers for final manufacturing, so our fulfillment depends on printer schedules. This means there's always a chance that our printer will be overbooked and will need to delay our printing.
- (30 days)