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Kickstarting Novels by Matt Forbeck
Last year, I had this crazy idea to write a dozen novels this year, and I called it 12 for ’12. Although I’d had sixteen novels published by major publishers to that point, I decided I’d like to self-publish these books, mostly because no publisher was likely to be brave enough to accept a dozen yet-to-be-written books from me in the course of a year. I couldn’t afford to just take the year off to write the books, though, so I turned to a the world’s most popular crowdfunding platform instead: Kickstarter.
If you read BookSpotCentral regularly, you know that Philip Lee McCall II is running a Kickstarter of his own at the moment, to fund the production of his novel Dr. Daedalus and the Devil’s Army. I run my projects much like his, but since I’m tackling a dozen novels rather than one, I decided to break them up into four separate trilogies and run a Kickstarter for each one of them.
The first three trilogies have already been funded, and each of them did fairly well. I’m just about to wrap up the drive for the final trilogy, a set of young adult fantasy novels called Monster Academy. They’re based in a dark corner of a bright and shining kingdom, inside a reform school for young monsters that haven’t done anything truly wrong — yet. The drive wraps up on this Sunday, September 16, so you still have time to get involved if you move fast.
I went with Kickstarter for a number of reasons, and not just so I could line up the money for the books. While that’s wonderful — essential, even — it’s just as important to rally my fans and any other readers who might be curious about the projects and get them excited about the books as soon as I can.
With a traditional publisher, the books would come out, and we’d wait for people to find out about them and order them online or pick them up in a store. Since I’m publishing these books myself, there’s little chance of anyone stumbling upon them in a bookshop, so I need to concentrate on drumming up attention for the books online.
The enthusiasm a Kickstarter campaign generates works better than any launch-day publicity for a regular book. Part of that comes with the fact that a Kickstarter only runs for a limited time, whereas a regular book’s release is just the start of its life. You can put off grabbing a copy of a standard book until you have the time for it, but that Kickstarter’s going to end if you don’t move now.
The other great thing about Kickstarter is that it immediately tells you if writing the book is a good idea or not. If you can’t find enough support to hit your goal, no one gets charged a dime, and you’re only out the time and effort it took you to set up and run the drive. While that’s not insubstantial, it’s usually far less involved than actually writing and producing the book and hoping it will find a readership. With Kickstarter you get the answer to that question before you even start, and that’s both refreshing and useful at the same time.