Announcement: THE KAIROS MECHANISM, an Experiment in Combining Self- & Traditional Publishing

I promised news, and here it is. I’m embarking on an experiment using indie bookstore-friendly services to self-publish a novella companion to my second traditionally-published hardcover release. I want to see how the two sides of the publishing world can be combined and support each other. So I’m publishing a novella called The Kairos Mechanism this fall, and I need your help to do it. The writing’s done, and I’m really pleased with the manuscript. But I need your help in publishing it.

The TLDR in advance: it’s a Kickstarter Project, and it’s here.

If this is as far as you get, just click the link above to go straight to the project home page.

My second book, The Broken Lands, comes out this September from Clarion Books, and to accompany it, I’ve written a novella that I am publishing in three editions:

  • a beautiful paperback edition with a brand-new cover illustration by the very-brilliant Andrea Offermann and designed by Lisa Amowitz. This edition will be created using McNally Jackson Books’s self-publishing services and Espresso Book Machine.
  • a digital edition through Google Play.
  • a special digital edition illustrated by tween and teen reader artists. Each artist will be given a chapter and commissioned to create one illustration of his/her choice, in the style of his/her choice. This edition will be available here at clockworkfoundry.com, pay-what-you-like.

To finance this project, today I’m launching a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds necessary to pay the contributors as well as the setup and printing costs. It’ll be a tiny printing; my budget covers 300 copies. The goal for the Kickstarter campaign to pay for all of this is a whopping $6500, and by the rules of Kickstarter, I need to raise the full amount within 60 days; otherwise no money is collected at all.

See where I need your help? I need backers, and I need folks willing to spread the word about this project. I repeat: with your help, I need to raise the full amount of the goal by June 9. If we raise more, I’ll first raise the artists’ paychecks; after that, I’ll print more books.

Want to back this project? Fantastic. Go here, as soon as possible. What’s in it for you, other than the satisfaction of being part of bringing this little book into the world? There’s a full menu of rewards for contributors at any level from $10 up. Those rewards include both digital and printed copies of the novella, signed copies of my books, signed prints by Andrea Offermann, school and library visits, weird mechanical ephemera you can use as paperweights, and more.

Got questions? Here are a few answers.

Q: Why are you self-publishing? Don’t you have a publisher and a book that’s coming out this year?

A: Very good question. I’m making an experiment. In part, it has to do with being curious about how authors can use the many platforms available for self-publication to support traditionally-published books. In part, it’s because I’m obsessed with the Espresso Book Machine. But the biggest reason is that I’m also obsessed with the worlds I write about. I never stop thinking about them, and I never stop having ideas about additional stories, and I’m curious about what I can do with that extra content. I’m hoping this experience will work well enough to continue doing something similar alongside each hardcover release. I’m calling this ongoing effort my Arcana Project. I’ll talk more about this in future posts in this series, but you can read a bit about my plans for the Arcana Project here.

Q: Why all this trouble to have a print edition?

A: Because I don’t have an e-reader, and I’m in love with books as objects. This could be done cheaper, but I wanted to make sure the paperback I wound up with was something I’d be proud to see on the shelf next to my traditionally-published books.

Q: If The Broken Lands is a companion and prequel to The Boneshaker, how is the novella you’re publishing related to those books?

A: That really deserves its own post, but the short answer is this: The Broken Lands is part of the backstory of the drifter Jack, who Natalie met in The Boneshaker and who, if I have anything to say about it, she will face again. However, The Broken Lands is set in 1877, and Natalie, obviously, isn’t in it. The novella is a self-contained Natalie adventure set just after the events of The Boneshaker. It’s related to both The Boneshaker and The Broken Lands.

Q: This all sounds kind of cool. How can I help?

A: Most importantly, you can become a Kickstarter contributor. Second-most importantly, you can help to spread the word. For instance, if you are so inclined:

  • You can post Lisa’s beautiful Kairos Mechanism badge on your blog or website. It links directly to the project homepage. The code is here.
  • You can invite me to your blog for tea and a discussion of this insanity I’m embarking on.
  • You can re-tweet, comment, re-blog, etcetera.

Q: Is there a mailing list?

A: Yes. If you’d like to be emailed occasional updates on the project, email me (kate (at) clockworkfoundry (dot) com) and I’ll add you to it. Press inquiries, please use (press (at) clockworkfoundry (dot) com).

Q: Is there a waiting list for the book, or a place to pre-order it?

A: Yes and no. Yes: if you contribute to the Kickstarter campaign at one of the levels rewarded by a copy of the book (there are several levels rewarded by either the digital or print versions), you are guaranteed a copy as a thank you, as long as the project reaches its funding goal. No: there is no separate waiting list or preorder system at this time, because right now I need to focus completely on making the funding campaign a success. To paraphrase: if you want a copy, back the Kickstarter project as soon as possible.

Q: Where will the book be available once it’s released? When will that be?

A: Kickstarter contributors will get their thank-you copies between July and mid-August. The novella will be released officially at The Broken Lands’s launch party in September at McNally Jackson. On that day, it will be wildly cheap with purchase of The Broken Lands, and free with purchase of The Broken Lands and The Boneshaker.

After that, it’ll be available in print from McNally Jackson Books, and I’m working on making arrangements so that it’ll be available as a print-on-demand title from other bookstores and libraries with an Espresso Book Machine. The digital editions will be available through Google Play and here at clockworkfoundry.com

Other questions? Comment here, or email me. In the meantime, the clock is ticking. Here we go!

  • Dave Bricker

    Why 600 copies? Use POD and print as many or as few as you need on-demand?

    Dave Bricker – http://www.theworldsgreatestbook.com

  • KateMilford

    Hi, there. The goal was to print a 300 copy edition, not 600, many of which were going to be sent to backers. After that, they basically are POD, just on the Espresso Book Machine. But to answer why I wanted to print them that way rather than doing less-expensive POD, it’s because I wanted a paperback that was as attractive and high-quality as I could manage. The Espresso Book Machine does better quality work than any other POD format I’ve seen. And the process gave me far better control over the final result. Thanks for asking!

  • jay wold

    Why don’t you just sell your book on line?

  • KateMilford

    It is available on line. But because I prefer to read physical books myself and because I love books as objects, having really well-made real-world versions was important to me. Just a matter of personal preference. :)

  • Mo Kane

    If you make the book available through Ingram, it will automatically be accessible through the Espresso machine. However, you have to follow their templates.