Draft Evidence: Essays About Design & Independent Business
Hi. My name is Nick, but my mom calls me nickd. I am making a book called Draft Evidence that provides clear steps on how to create a durable, sustainable solo design practice. I need your help to support the print run of it. That is why you are here, reading this text. This text is not part of the book. There is other text that will be part of the book. I am giving you this text for free. The book is mostly done, I think? I have, like, two more essays to write, and then I’ll be editing it, and then I have to print it, and then it will be for-sure done. All of that will happen soon, though – and it will be fantastic, because you helped support it.
Independent Work Doesn’t Have To Be Completely Horrible
I’ve been reading a lot lately about how work is drying up. How it’s harder to go solo. How people are only freelancing when they can do so between jobs. Draft, my consultancy, is a rare success story during these times. Last year, Draft made over USD $200,000 revenue as a solo, remote design practice.
Lots of people are interested in my business model and design practice, and I try to share everything I know – through one-on-one coaching, a podcast, and weekly letters that are routinely read, quoted, and shared by thousands of people.
Draft Evidence will teach you a lot of broad strategies for creating a sustainable design practice of your own – while reclaiming the notion that a business can serve the life you want, instead of the other way around.
Draft Evidence is a compendium of essays, letters, blog posts, interviews, and photos. It articulates a point of view about business, community, and life that could help you build a more stable and durable practice for yourself – which could, in turn, help you lead the life you want.
What is this Kickstarter project for?
Your money will go to fund a one-off, hardcover, cloth-bound, foil-stamped, letterpressed, offset print run of the book, which like I mentioned is called Draft Evidence. Then you’ll get a copy of the book. I’ll mail it to you. It will arrive in the mail. I’ll even sign it for you, because you’re very nice. It’s hovering around 250 pages right now. It’s about 4.5"x7”.
What will I get for backing it?
Once you get your signed hardcover, cloth-bound, offset-printed book called Draft Evidence, you’ll read it, and then you’ll learn a bunch of stuff like:
- How to create durable, sustainable business offerings based on what you know (on page 123)
- What the band Fugazi can teach you about refund policies (on page 96)
- Where the world’s best sandwich is located, and what it can teach you about running a business (on page 1, because it’s that important, and because so far I know 16 people who have separately flown to the sandwich shop and eaten it)
- Why I design the data model first, and how you can do the same (on page 174)
- Why it’s important to create business outcomes with your design, and why it sucks that people never learn that in art school (on page 110)
You’ll also learn a few other things, like the details surrounding this one time I got drunk in Canada, but you get the idea.
How do I know you won’t take my money and abscond to a private island?
My first book was one of the first-ever projects on Kickstarter, and I did it again for the second edition a few years later. I am good at what I do, and I guarantee you that this is a safe bet, as bets go. I’m not one of those projects that gets funded, takes six rounds of venture capital, gets valued at a billion actual American dollars, and gets eaten by Jeff Bezos like a breakfast octopus a year later. No, we’re just here to make a book, and nothing more than that. I’m not the first book creator on Earth. This is achievable. Eyes on the prize. We’ve got this. Easy.
If you remain unconvinced, here are some words that my friend Amy Hoy wrote about my work:
I got to know (and like!) Nick after I backed his first Kickstarter. Because he actually delivered, on time, an amazing book. How often does that happen?
The thing about Nick is he knows what he’s doing (rare), he’s excellent at explaining it (rare), and above all, he actually delivers (rarest of all). And sometimes he delivers 1,000 word essays on a sandwich, and makes you want to read them. Do you like learning and growing and business and sandwiches and actually getting what you paid for? You’ll want this book.
Or my friend and podcast co-host, Kai Davis:
After a few months, I realized that — thanks to Nick’s letters — I had gained a better perspective on how to run my own business. Not all at once, but piece by piece.
Across his letters, Nick peeled back the curtain and helped change how I saw owning my own business. By sharing his setbacks, his successes, and his experiments, Nick helped teach me how to be a better business owner and consultant.
Or what Ethercycle's Kurt Elster has to say:
I’m so appreciative of what Nick produces. I’ve unsubscribed from many other people because Nick's thought process and ideas are superior. He brings a uniquely philosophical perspective to his writing, without ever talking down to the reader. The result is fascinating and entertaining – no doubt by design.
Finally, mobile strategy consultant Jonathan Stark said these kind words:
There are two kinds of people: the ones who hate Mondays, and the ones who are on nickd’s email list.
Okay, that was really quite flattering, yeah? I’m kind of chuffed. Other people have called me their “design business dad” and “the mutant love child of Don Norman and David Sedaris,” which is pretty great, too, and also baffling.
Are a few things also worth noting?
A few things are also worth noting.
I’m going to print a couple hundred extra copies of the book, to account for things like lost or damaged copies – but beyond that, this Kickstarter will be the only place you can get this book, ever. I may have a few extra to sell after, but I would strongly caution against banking on that, considering once everybody reviews the book favorably (I hope, I pray), then others will want to buy it. You’ll have competition. The cards will be stacked against you. Do not let this happen to you. Just by reading this, you’re cool enough to get in on the ground floor.
There will be no PDF, Mobi, electronic Pub, PostScript, JPEG, PNG, Microsoft PIF, MicroGrafx Designer, or plain text file of Draft Evidence, in any form, ever. Not even if you ask very nicely. I’m very serious about this. We’re here to print a book, not create a PDF. I don’t need twenty thousand dollars to create a PDF. Here is one very small exception: this sample essay that I am giving you for free, to give you a sense of what is in the book. Please do not look at this and think “nickd has a PDF and is keeping it from us.” That is a PDF, yes, but I’m not giving you any more PDF. That’s between me and my printer. And we have a very special relationship. One that involves printing.
So, what now?
Please do the following right now:
- Back this project so hard that your actions somehow leave a crater in your desk. Preorder the book, or grab something a little extra. You can also get a copy of my first book, Cadence & Slang, for $10 off. Cadence & Slang is about interaction design, and it has been called “what Kickstarter is for” and “staggering” by other smart people. I’ll ship Cadence & Slang alongside Draft Evidence if that’s cool.
- Tell literally everyone on Earth about this. Example promotional tactics: flying a blimp over the city of London with “DRAFT EVIDENCE” written on the side, tweeting, mixing a bathtub full of napalm and writing “DRAFT EVIDENCE” in fire on your old high school’s soccer field, Facebook.
- Refresh this page incessantly. The number won’t go up if you don’t refresh. Trust me. I’ve been told this is how Kickstarter works.
- Subscribe to my weekly letters, as well as the podcast I co-run. You can do that here and here.
Is that it?
It is. If you are reading this on a computer, you should absolutely buy Draft Evidence. If you’ve ever wanted to go solo, and you want to read about it from someone who’s walked the walk, you should buy Draft Evidence. If you want to read a lot about interaction design from someone who has ten years of experience in the field, you should buy Draft Evidence. If you are my mom, you’ll buy Draft Evidence – even though I’ll give you a free copy anyway, because really, you’re my mom, why wouldn’t I do that, I’m not a monster.
Okay, when will I get my book?
If all goes well, you’ll get the book in about 4 or 5 months. You won’t be reading it on a computer at that point. You’ll put your computer aside and read Draft Evidence. You will probably learn a lot from it.
Thanks for reading, now and always.
Risks and challenges
As of this project's launch, I still have to write a couple of exclusive essays for the book, get it edited, and get it printed. Writing essays takes a couple of hours apiece, once I have the outline firmed up. Each outline takes a couple of days. I expect editing will take 1 or 2 months, and printing typically takes 6-8 weeks with the printer I'm going with.
Then it needs to ship to my house, I need to sign your copy, and then I need to ship it and get it picked up by USPS. I hope to be done with all of this by November worst-case. It'll probably be sooner, though. And you'll be apprised of every step of the process.
Anything can go wrong in a project like this, but I have done a good job breaking down my expenses and keeping people apprised in the past, and I will do everything in my power to honor my obligations to you this time.
There's also the matter of the consulting & coaching services that I'm offering. I have fulfilled other projects reflecting this work in the past – for everything except for the podcast sponsorship. Nobody has sponsored our podcast before, so that's new ground for me. Kai and I have a process in place for that, though, which should be reflected in the sponsorship's description.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (31 days)