Those that know me know I love to write. When I was a little girl all the other kids wanted to be flashy things like doctors or astronauts, but when I raised my hand in 6th grade I wanted to be a novelist. I used to walk into my favorite bookstore and immediately draw my finger down to where I imagined my book would rest -- right after Mercedes Lackey, because in those dreams my pen name would be Amanda Mulberry rather than the unpronouncable Armenian name I had been gifted with at birth.
I wrote my first story when I was about five I think, and the bones of what would become my first novel first took shape when I was twelve. It was a princess story, because who doesn't love a good princess story? Over the years I would churn out little stories and work on that first novel, mostly pounding out pages on an electric typewriter my dad let me use. I still have the manuscript around somewhere, along with many, many moony teenager stories about mermaids and lost loves and the undiscovered potential of regular little girls finally shining like a beacon and saving the day.
I tell you all this so that you will understand how strange it is that I have reached what I would have considered success to my 12 year old self. If little pre-teen Mandy would have traveled to the year 2016, she could run her virtual finger down a very selective bookshelf and find a small unassuming title called Deus Hex Machina, and that bookshelf would be the rather impressive Sword & Laser Imprint on Inkshares.
Inkshares is a hot new hybrid publisher that combines the power of crowdfunding with the legitimacy of a traditional publishing house. Think of it like Kickstarter joined forces with TOR, so that once you were done with your crowdfunding campaign they would also put your successfully funded book into production. I have one of those successfully funded books, a cyberpunk tale set in dystopic Orange County, and yesterday my little book, the one I am still technically writing, was selected as the first non-contest entrant into a collection sponsored by the immensely popular speculative fiction podcast Sword & Laser -- think of them like the best geek book club on the planet. And they chose me, my writing, my characters and my story to publish with their logo on the cover. It's amazing.
The process of publishing a book through crowdfunding isn't a new one, but this new sort of hybrid model is providing a roadmap to what I think is the new future of the publishing industry. Much like indie gaming skipping the big publishers and heading directly into Steam Greenlight, publishers like Inkshares are giving small authors who haven't signed big contracts with agents to successfully build an author platform that will successfully publish their book. In my experience it was a baptism by fire because I found Inkshares through a Nerdist-sponsored contest, where I learned the hard lesson that good writing is not enough to get a book sold. You also have to learn to engage with the public.
This is a tough lesson, one that shatters some of my young dreams of living off my writing like one of those big name authors I used to admire. All I wanted to be was Anne McCaffrey, but not in Ireland, probably in Paris somewhere, enjoying the fat royalties that poured into my bank account from the milllions of copies of my books people bought. These days though you can't rely on the marketing teams of the publishers because book sales have fundamentally changed. Now you market yourself, you sell your books, you connect with the readers directly online via social media and in person via conventions. You become the brand, not the publisher, and that is much harder but ultimately results in a more gratifying experience. You can heard directly how readers react to your work.
I talk to my readers directly via email and Twitter, sometimes Facebook Messenger. They leave reviews online and tell me exactly how much they enjoy what I write. To date I am still a small author, having sold only 300 copies of my first book and nearly the same amount with my second. But I am an author with a second book on the way, and with a definite publishing deal that I didn't have to pay for, on an imprint that chose my book because it is good enough, published because nearly 200 people believed in the book enough to preorder it. That feels amazing.
Are you a writer looking to get published? Do you have a sizable social media footprint and think you know about 1000 people that would support your effort to get a book written? Then I highly suggest you check out Inkshares. It's not easy to crowdfund a book, but it is worth the time and energy it takes to get your writing into print. And with a crowdfunded book you know that people already like it. To date Deus Hex Machina has eleven reviews. That's the same amount as my first book, Shadow of the Owl, and DHM isn't even out yet.
If you're interested in more information about the process let me know in the comments and maybe I'll do a Q&A post later.