Monday, December 16, 2013

A Sawmill's Hope, or, Kickstarting Over the Snake River Canyon

You know, I'm starting to believe that an essential function of friendship is to enrich your life with people who think of - and DO - things you never would have.  If true, this would explain a lot about my marriage.  (Like, not only would I not have elected to draw a giant dick in the sand at a friend's beachside wedding rehearsal, it never occurred to me to WANT to.)

Case in point, though: one of my newest friends, David List, is currently Kickstarting a fantasy novel called A Sawmill's Hope.  This is currently blowing my mind.

He had me at "fishmen."
(image (c) David List and Tracy Flynn)
To be clear: the idea of Kickstarter itself, or using it to fund novels, is nothing exceptionally new.  I watched A Lee Martinez fund a short story collection earlier this year (and Robots and Slime Monsters is coming out soon, BTW!)  And although it's actually the first I've heard of him, Harry Connolly has done a great writeup about his recent success with funding a new fantasy trilogy the same way.

But see, those guys are are Big-Five multipublished authors, who already have a slew of books out on the shelves.  For our man David, A Sawmill's Hope is his brand-spanking-new debut.  He doesn't have 900 professionally-published pages worth of reputation to ramp up on.  He doesn't have a big established fanbase to rev up for this project.  That dude is running on passion, guts, and passion. And guts.  So like... I guess sort of a whole 80's action movie parfait, minus the obligatory power ballad.

That is pretty amazing to me, because Kickstarter takes the traditional self-publishing model and does a total 180.  Instead of putting your book up on Amazon and then spending years convincing people to buy it, you ask for their money up front, and have only Xty-two DAYS to convince them to ante up. If the funding goal doesn't make, all of your backers' pledges poof into the ether, and you got nothing.

I believe my chosen analogy is an accurate one.

So how do you sell people on a book they can't buy yet, written by an author they've never read?  (Full confession: this particular topic is of keen interest to yours truly.  I'm sure I don't know why.)

Well, so far David's taking a multimedia tack.  He's got the sample chapter and cover design up there, of course, but he's also got art, music, and the video too.  And - like the sand-phallus's tasteful, appropriate counterpart, this never would have occurred to me - he's giving out a secret backstory tidbit to all his backers, every time the funding hits another 10% mark.  Won't spoil the ones he's given out so far, but I will say this: it is really cool to hear about how his growing up in a granite-mining town, with all of the associated miners' hazards and diseases, has influenced the way magic works in his world. Totally encourage you guys to give it a look-see, if you're looking to tromp through a fresh corner of Fantasyland!
(c) David List

Bigger question for you-all in the meantime: what other tidbits or extras make a project like this one stand out to you?   Are there any Kickstartings or other indie drives that you're especially stoked about?

It was dumping rain, churning leaves like an unending applause.


  1. Tex, thanks so much for sharing this. Making my way through the blogoverse today and I'm glad I ran into it. It's served to enhearten me on a day I can certainly use it!
    Thanks, brother

    1. Hey dude - my pleasure! It's a hell of a project and one I am super excited about, so boosting the signal is a total no-brainer. Hold fast to optimism in the meantime: this too shall pass!

  2. Even if David's Kickstarter doesn't quite kick it started, I'm firmly convinced "A Sawmill's Hope" will one-day come to completion.

    It's a great concept and I was impressed with the opening chapter. I voted with my wallet -- I'm a backer!