Funded! This project was successfully funded on February 1, 2013.


This book, once edited & published, will help undergraduate students survive and thrive in the first semester of algebra-based physics.

Thank you all very much for your support! We did it!


The First Semester Physics Survival Guide will help undergraduate students survive and thrive in the first semester of algebra-based physics. Presenting both humorous discussion and and carefully crafted problem solving methods, it encourages the reader to change the way he or she thinks about science topics. Instead of guessing as to what the professor wants, the reader will be able to efficiently focus his or her efforts on understanding and mastering the important concepts and methods.

In addition to college students, however, the concepts presented could help high school students taking physics (either AP or non-AP), as well as those who would like to simply learn more about some of the basic (and wonderfully interesting!) physics concepts that surround us daily.

Progress So Far

I plan to self-publish the book using CreateSpace in late July or early August of 2013. I've written about 75% of the book's text, and the 25% that remains is extensively outlined. (You can see some examples of pages below; hopefully those will provide a feel for my writing style.) In addition, I have a first version of the book's cover completed (see below), as well as a formatting guide. Right now I could slap a version of the book together, throw it up on Amazon, and call it a day.

However, while I know I'm a competent writer I am also aware that sometimes the desire to be precise can interfere with the ability to communicate clearly. (From my experience this is an issue that plagues many physicists.) I want to produce the very best product I can provide. The purpose of this Kickstarter, then, is to provide funds to have the book professionally edited before publication.

Meet the Editors

I'll first be working with a developmental editor. While I have laid out the concepts and ideas in the text as clearly as I can, the developmental editor will help me further organize and arrange the text to maximize the presentation and overall clarity of the book's central concepts.

Dana Micheli is a NYC-based ghostwriter and editor. Over the past several years she has been involved with an assortment of nonfiction and fiction projects, including science fiction/fantasy, historical, young adult, and “slice of life” novels; as well as books on smart investing for the layperson, science, religion and spirituality, legal matters, and the trials and tribulations of daily life in New York City.

Before pursuing her writing career full-time, Dana served as an advocate for victims of domestic violence; she has also worked for several media outlets, writing and researching legal, political and human interest stories for print, online and television.

Dana has a B.A. in English from Southern Connecticut University and a Juris Doctor from New York Law School.

Once the developmental editing is done we'll be moving into copy editing to check for spelling and grammar issues and to correct any semantics or syntax issues. (Homonyms, for example, can unintentionally create a rather amusing reed if not caught.)

Proof Positive Papers ( will provide proofreading and light copyediting to ensure the manuscript is clean, error-free, and reader-friendly.

Laura Roberts of Laura's Proofs ( "I am a freelance copyeditor and proofreader. There is not much in life, outside my incredible family, that brings me greater pride than helping others to make the most of their writing. Holding degrees in English and Secondary Education, I have been a freelance proofreader and copyeditor for the past ten years.

I have experience with many different types of text including children's books, poetry, fiction, educational materials, business forms and manuals, technical manuals and guides, grant proposals, school and job applications, and various educational and marketing materials written by non-native English speakers.

I work closely with authors to develop their materials in a clear and consistent manner, and of course, correct grammar, punctuation, structure, spelling, wordiness, and so on. In addition, I am also familiar with HTML and will verify content on your websites (including links) is in working order and in a lovely format. While I will bring new life to your works, I strive to do so while maintaining your voice and sense of style."

I have established relationships with two copy editors because life happens. All of the editors I have contacted are freelance or self-employed individuals; as other work comes available they may become unavailable to work on my project. In addition there are a whole host of other events that could occur (either before or during editing) that would leave me without an editor -- sickness, accidents, family emergencies, surprise childbirth, or winning the lottery*. Contacting multiple editors gives me a built in contingency plan if such circumstances occur.

* If you find yourself in this situation, I have a wonderful Kickstarter you might be interested in backing!

Production Timeline

  • February, March, & April: Developmental Editing
  • May & June: Copy-Editing and Proof Reading
  • July: Final Preparations for Publication
  • Early August: Publication
  • August and September: Delivery of Rewards

A Philosophical Aside

(Skip this if you don't want to learn more about why I'm self-publishing this book, trying to raise the funds through Kickstarter, or working with freelance and self-employed editors.)

I have a Portfolio Life. I didn't exactly start by choice, but I've kind of grown to love it, even if it often feels like I'm dangling on spider silk in a thunderstorm. (And that has little to do with money.) Being exposed like this gives me an affinity for others who live like this, regardless of whether by design or chance; I want to help others as they explore what it means to be "freelance", "self employed", "a sole proprietor", or whatever.

This is why I am self-publishing. Not only have I had to learn lots of new things (which expands my skill set, and thus the potential for future Portfolio Life entries) and grow in surprising and unexpected ways, but it's given me a chance to help others (like my editors) who are dangling on spider threads like I am. Funds over and above the target will mostly go on to the editors, in the form of additional work or end of project bonuses. (See the section on "Stretch Goals" below.) My highest reward tier involves helping others avoid brambles, tripping hazards, and other dangers as they follow the road I'm walking. And if the book is successful I pledge to Kick It Forward by spending 5% of my net profits on other Kickstarters or crowdfunded projects created by freelancers, self-employed, and Portfolio Lifers.

Breakdown of Costs

Here is a list of what I intend to do with the money. A few things to note: First, the income taxes and SE (self-employment) taxes are calculated after subtracting out fees, failed payments, and the editor's pay. Second, although I have tried very hard to produce accurate values where possible, these are estimates. Third, and partially due to the previous point, these values include reasonable margins of error to reduce the risk of not having enough money despite a successful project backing.

  • $3000 - Pay for Editors (based upon estimates given)
  • $1500 - Reward Fulfillment
  • $444 - Federal, State, and Local Income Taxes
  • $340 - Social Security and Medicare (SE Taxes)
  • $300 - Payment Processor (Amazon)
  • $300 - Kickstarter
  • $180 - Pledges that fail to fund

Example Pages

Note that these pages are of unedited text; it is possible that things may still change during the editing process. The cover image will probably change as well although the basic idea will probably stay the same.

Thank you very much for your time!

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

(insert picture of snarling creature -- bear, dog, lawyer*, etc -- in mid-lunge)
(cue dramatic music)

I have tried very hard to create contingency plans for all of the possible things that could go wrong. For example, I have contacted and gotten quotes from multiple editors, in case one becomes unavailable or otherwise leaves the project. I've added a healthy margin of error to my operating budget, and spent weeks analyzing and refining my reward tiers to make sure that each level not only pays for itself, but also provides funds above and beyond the cost necessary to produce the rewards. I've read as much as I could about past Kickstarter projects, both successful and unsuccessful, and have tried to avoid the pitfalls that I and others have noted. Having said all of that, it's impossible for me to foresee and plan for every possibility.

The most likely setback will be delays. In particular, while I have confirmed with the editors that the timeline I've presented above is generous, it is still possible that unavoidable issues will come up that must be resolved. Although these will create pressure to push back the timeline, I chose my target publication date based upon the start of the school calendar; I am very aware that every delay in the publication date reduces the book's overall usefulness for students taking physics in the fall semester. I will do everything in my power to make sure that this book ships on time.

However, it is possible that something more catastrophic could occur -- something that would threaten the completion of the project. If, for whatever reason, this project does not complete I will do everything in my power to make sure every backer is refunded the total amount they donated.

In the interest of transparency, I also want to state that I can't guarantee that you'll get an 'A' (or a 'B', or a 'C') in your physics class, that physics will be "so easy" after you read the book, or even that you'll like my writing. The book contains concepts and techniques that, in my experience, help students succeed at introductory mechanics. Even with that, however, learning physics requires practice and work. If you decide to pledge towards this project, please do so because you support the wider ideals of science literacy and education.

*This is a joke. Please don't sue me.


Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.

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    ZETTA TIER: At this tier you can write the foreword for the book! This tier comes with advanced access to the book material for reference -- most likely in late March or early April. The foreword will come before the preface and acknowledgements and will be limited to two pages (approximately 500 words). Please understand that this foreword *will* be written in conversation with myself and the editors for clarity, conciseness, and appropriateness. Once finished you will receive a hardback version of the book signed with a note of thanks; you will also receive a paperback version of the book to give as a gift.

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    YOTTA TIER: I will spend up to 40 hours helping you (or an individual of your choice) self-publish your book! I will share what wisdom I've gained in the process of producing my book. This includes personally introducing you to the editors with whom I'm working, helping you prepare and format your book for printing, coming up with a timeline for publication, discussing the differences between print publishing and digital publishing, and providing up to three ISBNs (with a discussion on why you might want them). If you want to use Kickstarter to pay for your editing costs I'll also help you estimate how much you'll need to request to cover reward fulfillment, taxes, and fees. I'll also help as I can with some of the peripheral issues and concerns that might crop up. You will also receive a hardback copy of my book, signed with a note of thanks. Note that, because of time constraints, I may not be able to help you if your target publication date is before 2014.

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