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Letters from Proxima Thule

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Where We Go From Here: Announcements Concerning Prester John and Night Shade Books

So this is one of those things where I’ve been quiet because there’s a lot going on. I’ve put off announcing this part of it, but for obvious reasons I can’t do that much longer. So here goes.

Night Shade Books and I have parted ways. They will not be publishing the third book in the Dirge for Prester John series, and rights for The Habitation of the Blessed and The Folded World have reverted to me.

I continue to think that Night Shade puts out wonderful books and I hope for their success. I did not take this step lightly. But their recent troubles have made our business relationship difficult, and I could not in good conscience proceed with a third book given the circumstances. Obviously I’m being a bit vague–there’s no point in airing laundry in public. This was a very hard decision, believe me. It is not about ill will or some juicy internal drama I’m keeping on the DL. Nothing juicy about it. It was a business issue that we could not, finally, resolve. It was ultimately an act of self-preservation, and I’ll leave it at that.

What this means is that at the moment, The Habitation of the Blessed and The Folded World are for the most part unavailable. Some copies will float around for awhile yet, but most of the eversions are gone. I hope to fix this in the next week–I have relicensed the covers from the excellent Rebecca Guay and Night Shade has been very kind and accommodating with regards to physical copies and digital files. Very shortly you will be able to buy ebooks again from Amazon, BN, Apple, etc, and order physical copies directly from me.

As for the third and final book in the series, The Spindle of Necessity, I am committed to finding a way to make sure you get to see it. I owe you a finish. Oddly enough, Prester John is my longest series to date, and I want to bring it all to a close the way I planned to from the beginning. For those of you who have stuck with the story, don’t worry, I won’t leave you hanging. Given the market realities, the most likely avenue for this is a Kickstarter campaign to fund a self-published version. Because the real costs of producing an ebook/limited print edition of a quality that matches the rest of the series are actually quite high, I will be using this opportunity to illustrate those costs, hiring the content editor, copy editor, and cover artist who worked on the previous books and paying them their market rates. This is a hefty undertaking, but one I believe will be valuable as part of the ongoing discussion surrounding epublishing.

I’ve been gathering details on that and doing research–as I leave for Finland tomorrow, it will not begin until I get back. If anyone has any Kickstarter advice or help they’d like to offer, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I ran Fairyland off of my own site quite apart from what is now becoming the “traditional” approach to self-publishing. I’m a bit at sea with the standard tools. The novel was not set to come out until February 2013, and I think we can stick to that timetable.

So that’s the situation. I’ll let you know as soon as the novels are available again. I’ll be heading once more into unknown waters and hoping it all comes out well in the end. I’m very sorry to have had to take this step, but I believe it was the right thing to do.

Mirrored from cmv.com. Also appearing on @LJ and @DW. Read anywhere, comment anywhere.

Thanks for the info. I was wondering why the conclusions to your trilogy and Stackpole's weren't orderable from NSB anymore.

I know this was a long and difficult process. I'm glad you're moving forward and doing what's best for you, and I'm looking forward to seeing your updates on the new book.

Well, that somewhat sucks for you - insofar as I suspect your preferred part of the job of author is writing, rather than all-the-other-bits, this is going to make those other bits intrude more. On the other hand, you have to do what makes the best business-sense for you, because that's really what counts; whatever works best for you is quite important!

I have to say I'm (selfishly) incredibly glad that we will still be seeing that last instalment, of course...

Yeah, it does suck in that sense. I don't actually like having to wrangle all of that myself. But staying would have been more damaging in the long run, I think.

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I'm one of those folks Victor mentioned; with Autarch I've helped publish the Adventurer Conqueror King roleplaying game and two supplements via crowdfunding. The basic piece of advice is to offer the product itself at retail prices, with the feel-good of being thanked in the credits balancing out the backer's risk of paying now and waiting for something later. You'll then want to build on some extras to reward people who want to contribute more - this could be a personal experience like a videoconference Q&A with you, a handbound copy of the book, etc. You'll also want to think about what you might add as bonus goals if the basic funding target is exceeded. Feel free to contact me at tavis@autarch.co if you'd like to explore further.

I'm sorry it didn't work out with Night Shade but I'm glad you could part ways somewhat gracefully.

On Kickstarter...
The obvious: you need a killer video and text presentation (shouldn't be a problem, your book trailers have always been very good), and get as many mentions as possible from internet-famous friends who can get the retweet machine rolling. Update often enough, even to just let people know things are moving behind the scenes. Kickstarter needs a lot of PR machine even when you already have a following: Double Fine and Jane Jensen had very similar goals and a loyal fanbase, but one got funded in a day and the other took a month.
The less obvious: set your initial goal lower than you need, then mention all the extra things you can do with more money; don't make it too low that you can't actually do the thing though, and remember that 10% of it goes into commissions. Make rewards that will feel personal to the backer - a signature, a postcard, a hand-knitted scarf - but make the pledge more expensive than the effort you need to put into the rewards; they're gifts, not the object for sale, and you need to get a net income from every pledge.

I've been collecting various kickstarter links onto a Pinterest pinboard as a sort of primer for the whole kickstarter experience. You can find it here:


The intersection of you and Cat is.... smallifying my world

M.K. Hobson just completed a very successful Kickstarter for the third book in a series - the first two were traditionally published and she decided to go indie on the 3rd, while paying professional rates to designers, editors, etc. Her "pitch" was compelling enough that I pledged even although I had not read/wasn't invested in the previous two books.

Ooh. Ooh. Pick me! Pick me! You know you want to publish through Dybbuk Press.

Just kidding. I can't do nearly enough for you to cover what kind of a campaign you deserve. I don't even think I could afford the cover artist, etc.

But I really think you can find a publisher to publish the last volume without going the self-publishing route.

As far as Kickstarter is concerned, I was told that videos sell the Kickstarter campaign.

I'm sorry things didn't work out for you with Night Shade. I did a quick search online and it seems like a lot of people have had problems with them, although most of the posts I found about that were from a couple of years ago. I guess the situation hasn't improved all that much, which is sad, because they publish a lot of writers that I like.

Hopefully you'll be able to find a new publisher, so you don't have to handle all of it yourself - but if that doesn't work out, and you do end up having to fund it via Kickstarter, I'll definitely contribute!

Too bad about Night Shade, but I'm glad you're making decisions that will be best for you and your books. I feel like Kickstarter could be a good fit for your general fanbase. We've definitely shown that we're willing to toss money at you via the internet. :) I'll happily support any campaign you choose to embark upon, whether there or on one of the other similar sites. I think my only suggestions might be to be aware that it can eat time and energy in unexpected ways, especially if it gets extremely popular (700+ backers), and definitely compensate in your starting goal for fees and unpaid pledges.

Good luck. I know this is difficult, but I think you're going to do very well.

I'm glad you're taking the steps you need to take.


Kickstart, I mean. I will give you Dollaz.