Mission 51 on Inkshares

I am so happy to have discovered a new book publishing house, Inkshares. It came to me through an unlikely source. I dabble in startup company investing. A few weeks ago I received notification that Shark Tank’s Barbara Corcoran had obtained an allocation of a funding round for a startup company called Inkshares, and had opened it up for investors on AngelList. The bio on this publishing company was right up my writing alley.

Inkshares is a startup publishing house that like most successful startup companies has found a way to deploy new tech into an industry with an older way of doing things. Traditional publishers have their way of identifying potentially successful writers and projects, and then taking a chance on them with publishing contracts and the associated investment that goes into those contracts. They provide services such as editing, proofreading, layout, printing, marketing, and distribution. All of that costs money, and it is basically a risk for them as there is usually no guarantee that the book will be successful.

Inkshares uses newer technologies to mitigate that risk. It works through their elegant online interface, where authors can start their project, upload samples of the project, and promote it to readers and other authors on the system. It also has a built-in interface with Facebook, Twitter and email, making it easy for authors to promote their work via social media.

The heart of the Inkshares system, though, is their pre-order system. When the project is being set up, Inkshares asks several questions. The title and genre is established. The length of the book is estimated, and therefore the cost of the book is estimated. A temporary book cover is assigned to the project. The idea is to then “pitch” and promote the project via Inkshares itself and through one’s social media contacts to obtain enough pre-orders to merit an Inkshares publishing contract. The goal is 250 pre-orders for their “light publishing,” and 750 pre-orders for the full-tilt boogie. That is how Inkshares identifies projects that are more likely to sell, which means more likely for their investment in the author/project to pay off. Also, if a project reaches the 250 pre-order threshold and the publishing contract is made, Inkshares uses the pre-order money to help defray the publishing costs. Crowdfunding for book publishing! Brilliant!

As an author who has self-published, this sounds wonderful! The readership I can reach through self-publishing is limited. There is nothing like a formal contract through a full-fledged publishing house. Yet those contracts are exceedingly rare compared to the number of authors out there. And I’m talking about authors with true dedication and talent, with interesting stories to tell.

So I have started my own project on Inkshares. It is a story I have been developing in my head for years now. It is in the science fiction genre, and specifically in the sub-genre Inkshares calls a “space opera.” The title of the book is Mission 51. I have already uploaded three sections of the book, and will upload more. I have my first few pre-orders and am very excited to push on with my project and hopefully reach the 250 pre-orders required for obtaining Inkshare’s publishing services.

Even if you are not an author, consider visiting Inkshares.com and checking out the amazing talent that is on display. “Follow” projects and “follow” authors. Simply following them is totally free, and you will get updates on the project while it is in “funding.” You can even participate in the project by making comments and critiques.

Better yet, support your favorite Inkshares projects with pre-orders. If you are a reader, you will be a part of the project as it evolves, throughout the development of the project. You will eventually get the book and it’s perks, according to the level of pre-order you have purchased. If the project does not reach 250 pre-orders, you will get your money back.

As you explore Inkshares I hope you look specifically for Mission 51, and that you support it and me with a pre-order. I would truly appreciate your involvement and your support! ūüôā

National Novel Writing Month

NaNoWriMo crest

Today marks the end of NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. It is the first time I participated, and it definitely won’t be my last!

The point of NaNoWriMo is a challenge to write 50,000 words towards a novel, during the month of November. That boils down to 1,667 words per day.

Well, I didn’t even come close to the goal. I will finish the NaNoWriMo today with 15,780 words, and I am actually quite happy with that!

I wish I could have written more, but work, a trip to visit family, and a visit by family, took precedence. We all have priorities. I’m not a full-time writer.

But wow, did I ever learn a lot! NaNoWriMo forced me to do several things:

  • To decide on a specific genre, topic and title for a novel.
  • To make a good guess at the eventual length of the novel.
  • To define characters, their internal and external conflicts, and their story arcs.
  • To write dialogue.
  • To choose pivotal scenes through which to tell the story.
  • To determine point of view and voice.
  • To establish my work flow, which for me was to first outline the story before I felt ready to start writing.
  • To find the right physical space, ambiance, and frame of mind for writing.
  • To set specific goals for each writing session.
  • To write in an interesting, story-telling fashion, as opposed to the precise, non-fiction writing that is burned into me as a result of my medical education and career.

15,000 words gets me a long way toward my novel, which I have estimated to be in the 120,000-150,000 word range typical of science fiction stories. Theoretically, at this pace I could finish it in 10 months. Presumably I would get better at it, and faster, so I could possibly finish it in less than 10 months. Then again there is the matter of editing, second and thirds drafts, etc., which could delay the novel’s completion by an unknown amount of time. In any event, I now have a road map for the novel, a growing toolbox of writing knowledge and skills, and a good start!

As a side benefit, I am again more interested in reading. That seems to come and go in my life. But now I will read with a better appreciation of the writers’ styles, and will hopefully learn even more about writing in the process.

If you have ever thought about writing a book, I strongly encourage you to consider NaNoWriMo next year! Start early by deciding on a genre, topic and title. Think about characters, settings, etc. Set up an outline if you like to work that way. There is a lot of prep work you can do before the NaNoWriMo actually starts.

Oh, and BTW, get Scrivener and learn how to use it! (This is not a paid advertisement. I just believe there is no better tool for writers than this outstanding software.)