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! 🙂

Drawing – our new hobby!

Our plans to attend the San Diego Comic Con later this summer have unexpectedly mushroomed into something new! First, I tried to catch up on the comics world a little bit. Then I read, and LOVED, my first graphic novel, Digger. I became enthralled by the idea of telling stories mainly in pictures, using but a few well-chosen words. This lead to my next read, Making Comics, by Scott McCloud. That was enlightening! It was great fun learning more about the technical and the artistic processes behind what appear to be simple comics. But the joy of learning this was balanced by the painful awareness that I suck at drawing and painting! I still remember my few efforts at this as a child, and I never received any formal education in this area. My art teachers and art projects in school never really explored drawing and painting at the basic instructional level. Yet I believe I do have an artistic eye, which I practice mainly through photography. This blog itself has seen many creative moments. So I thought I’d press on with this new interest. I found a little computer program called Comic Life. It allows me to import a photograph and to then apply filters that make it look like the picture was drawn or painted in various styles. The program also has easy ways to add captions, word and thought balloons, and special effects. It also has a wide variety of pre-made layouts, making the final product look like a comic book page. My first few efforts with this have been fun and turned out fairly well. I will for sure continue to use Comic Life!

But I was not satisfied with that. I thought my own drawings would be better than filtered photos, even if they were my own photos. So I began to explore the idea of learning how to draw at my late age. I was surprised to consistently read that ANYONE can learn to draw, that I was wrong thinking only those rare individuals with inborn talent had that special gift. I did a search for the best instructional books on the subject and came up with a list of my top five. Then Gail did the same, and we finally decided to use Drawing for the Absolute and Utter Beginner by Claire Watson Garcia. Gail did have some art background as a child and had talked on and off about taking some art classes. So doing this together has been a particularly fun and satisfying thing!

The day came when we drove to Michaels to buy all sorts of art supplies! That was a really fun date! Seriously! It felt like one of those turning point moments where life can take you in one direction or another. We were about to start a new hobby! The spark of interest had ignited into a flame of action! We bought the recommended pencils, drawing papers, erasers, etc. We took that first step that turns a thought into a reality! 🙂

Well, by now we have gone through much of the book. We started by simply drawing observed lines. We practiced drawing simple shapes like circles and ovals, then piecing them together into more complex shapes. We learned to notice lines and basic shapes in what we see in the world. We learned a few techniques about drawing what we see with accuracy. We are currently learning shading techniques. I am now starting to see things in my 3D life while imagining how I would draw them in 2D.

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Drawing is so far much more fun than I ever imagined it would be, and we are only a few weeks into it! I think it’s because I can already see the fruits of my labor and I can already see progress. I believe what they said is true. If I can draw, ANYONE can draw! 😀

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