Finally spotting the blindingly obvious

by Suw on September 22, 2009

Sometimes, I get stuck on projects and have no idea why. Then, like a log jam suddenly freeing up, I have an idea that sets everything flowing again.

I’ve been stuck fast on Revenge of the Books of Hay for longer than makes me happy, mainly because I hit a structural problem that my brain just couldn’t quite wrap itself around. I felt as if I had more backstory than story and the backstory also had a slightly different tone that make it feel as if the backstory and the story were really two different stories.

Talk about missing the blindingly obvious. If it feels as if there are two stories… then why not just split the thing in two and write them as separate, but related, stories? Not exactly rocket science.

Thinking about it a little bit more, though, I realised there are at least five related stories, possibly more. Having split them out, I now have 13k words in the first story, 7.5k of the second, 1.5k of the third, and 2.5k of the fourth and an idea for the fifth. And I’m very excited about actually working on the stories like this. It feels right.

So that’s good, that’s a problem surmounted. I’ll now focus solely on the first story, which I want to rewrite and get into Book Oven within the next couple of months. It needs quite an overhaul, I think, as it lacks structure, but I am sure that I can sort it out now that it has clearer boundaries.

The other aspect to this is that I want to publish each short story as a stand-alone project. Now, i could do it just as a PDF, but I rather like the look of what Robin Sloan is doing with his novella project. Robin is using Kickstarter to gather enough backers for him to be able to print up his 30k word novella, which he’s aiming to finish by 31 October. (If you haven’t read Robin’s short story, Mr Penumbra’s Twenty-Four-Hour Book Store, you really should.)

I’ve thought before about using a service such as Kickstarter, Pledgie, ChipIn, or Fundable as a way to fund various projects that I had in mind. I thought about trying to fund research into the way people use Welsh on the web, or to explore the attitudes and experiences of women in tech. But, as per my earlier post, I’d have to confess that those are Yetis. I never did them not because they aren’t good ideas, or that the community might not see enough value in them to pay for me to do them, but because my heart wasn’t really in it. Deep down, I knew they were Yetis.

My heart is in this though! I love the idea of doing a small, artisanal book that would be a gorgeous thing, the sort of thing you’d really want to have in your house. In fact, I’d do a matching set, with a new book for each story. Like Robin, I’d have different levels of support, so you could spend as much or as little as you wanted. Robin’s packages go like this:

Pledge $3 or more
DIGITAL PACK. Get a PDF copy of the book and follow along with behind-the-scenes updates.

Pledge $11 or more
PHYSICAL PACK. All of the above, plus get a physical copy of the book. (The more people who choose this level or higher, the better the book is for everybody!)

Pledge $19 or more
SINCERITY PACK. All of the above, plus your book is signed, and it comes with a little surprise.

Pledge $29 or more
PATRON PACK. All of the above, plus your name (or secret code-name) is listed in the acknowledgments.

Pledge $39 or more
SUPER OCCULT VALUE PACK. All of the above, plus get three more copies of the book (for a total of four), so you can give one to a friend, donate one to the library, leave one in a coffee shop with a line of hexadecimal code scribbled across the title page…

At the moment, the Sincerity Pack is the most popular. Robin has managed to raise more than double his initial goal of $3,500 with the pledge currently sitting at $8,714 from 334 backers. The pledge closes on November 1st, if you’re interested in supporting him.

Taking a step like this is a big motivation to write the very best story you can. An e-book can be quietly updated with amendments and corrections, so there’s always that nagging sense that you can go back and fix things if need be, but a book is forever. And a gorgeous book demands the very best words to go in it.

All I need to know now is how much it will cost to do a lovely artisanal little book and just how artisanal I can get whilst keeping the price reasonable. Any printers out there want to help me out with answering those questions?

Carl Morris September 22, 2009 at 8:37 pm

If you’re abandoning the Welsh ideas… efallai gallai rhywun yn parhau gyda nhw? Pa fath o syniadau? Basai e’n diddorol i rhannu syniadau bach – os ti’n gallu. Ond paid poenu iddo fe os rwyt ti’n rhy brysur.

Pob lwc gyda’r sgwennu!

Elaine October 14, 2009 at 12:49 pm

My friend has just gone through this process and is picking her first print run up today!

Check out and for the details. In the blog she mentions the very helpful printer that she used.

Suw October 15, 2009 at 6:28 pm

@carl bydda i’n danfon ebost i ti am y stwff Cymraeg.

@Elaine, oh thanks for the tip! I read Reb’s blog and it sounds very exciting indeed! I will get in touch with Information Press and see what they say about my little plan. 🙂

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