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Getting from There to Here – by Rachel Saunders
BSC Review is pleased to present our readers with an insider’s perspective on running a Kickstarter campaign to finance a self-publishing launch in a huge way. Author Rachel Saunders will be keeping us abreast of her journey for the month of her campaign (which runs through September 2, 2014), and we are excited to learn if she succeeds – this science fiction epic definitely has us intrigued!
Getting from there to here: the journey to launching my Kickstarter
by Rachel Saunders
This is a tale of how I woke up one morning in January 2012 and decided that the best thing in the world ever would be to write a novel and self-publish it myself. Some of my friends thought me crazy for self-publishing, others said that I would not get an audience for my book, yet others gave me sage advice to help me along the path. In the end the Kickstarter project has been as much me finding out how to be a publisher as much as a writer, and this story I hope will inspire other people to take the plunge and make a go of it themselves.
For a long time I harboured the ambition to share a universe which I had created back when I was in school, and in order to do that I was looking for a way in for the audience. I realised early on that I needed a relatable character, as well as a compelling reason to tell her story, which is why I created Capted Sjelby Lochart and her team. If you would like more details about the universe check out: http://www.arz5a.com/about.html. The next step was to find a story which could serve as an ‘in’ to the universe, and after starting one draft, scrapping it, and starting over in the middle of last year I settled on the basis of the novel which I have ended up writing.
Once I had started the novel I looked at the literary landscape and personally felt that while it could be worth talking the chance to seek out an agent and/or publisher, I wanted more control over both the content of the books and the shape in which the books would be published. I harbour the ambition of getting games, television series, even films based around the setting made, and by using Kickstarter I feel that I can reach a wider audience than I may have done otherwise. Plus, by doing it this way I have been able to learn the basics of marketing, social media, art, project management, and so much more. I won’t deny that there have been a lot of long nights and slog, but for me it is wholly worthwhile as I have seen the universe come to life.
When I write about the universe, and the characters who populate it, it is as much about allowing ideas and concepts to grow organically as it is me trying to fit ideas and archetypes to it. This is why I have spent a lot of my time fleshing out the background, and why I wanted to get the art team involved in working with me on the images I have used on the website and the Kickstarter companion art book. This in turn has fed into my creative writing process, and it has been a joy to see the ideas I have in my head come to life at the hands of the talented team I have worked with. I love getting an email with the final piece of art, and often I am left speechless by the sheer quality of the work produced. Makes the slog worthwhile.
In order to make sure that everything was as ready as I could make it I have spent the last year finding the right publishing solution, building the website, getting an audiobook producer, finding manufacturers for the custom pen drives, and building a network to help promote the project once it is launched. Personally I think the key will be to have a wide enough reach to draw enough people in to view the project, and this is the biggest lesson I have taken from this, learning to self-promote.
There has been a lot written about the pros and cons of self-publishing. Marketing and editing are probably the biggest issues in my opinion. The major reason books are published through publishers is to both gain access to the marketing department and the professional skills of the editing team. This is why I have been careful to find an editor to work with me, and pitch the Kickstarter budget at the level I have, as I want to ensure the end product is of a high enough quality that the reader comes away with a book of the highest quality.
From a science fiction writer’s perspective this project something of a shot in the dark, as the majority of Kickstarter books tend to fall into other genres. Personally I think there is room for a cracking saga to fill this niche, and hopefully Arz: Seventh Circle will be the book to fill it. This is why I have pitched the rewards at the level I have, to give everyone who pledges something for their generosity, while at the same time enabling me to produce a science fiction setting rich and deep for all to enjoy.
In the end, the launch of the Kickstarter is just the end of the beginning for the novel, as now the hard work really begins. It has been a long road to get from the initial conception of the book to this point, and hopefully over the thirty days of the Kickstarter enough people will pledge that I can make it a huge success.
If you would like more details of the Kickstarter check out: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/rejs7/arz-seventh-circle