When Norwood Press first told me they were thinking about doing a crowd funding campaign for my next hardcover, I knew nothing about Kickstarter. During the next several months, they concluded it presented an extraordinary opportunity to remake the publishing landscape.
Next year I mark my twentieth year in the business. These past two decades have seen the most turbulent years publishing has known since the mid-1400s when Johannes Gutenberg started the Printing Revolution: large publishing houses devoured smaller ones like sharks in a food-starved ocean and equals merged to eliminate competition, attain economies of scale, and preserve their profit margins at a time when commodity prices of publishing essentials—ink, paper, fuel, and real estate—rose precipitously.
Competition for eyeballs increased thanks to the Internet, blogs, game consoles, texting, smartphones—you know the deal. Readership declined, publishing costs continued rising, and the industry was left with an inefficient business model: middle men and distributors added substantial cost to the books you buy in the store—and booksellers and publishers consolidated further to try to stay afloat.
All the while, Amazon rose from nothing and changed retailing, lowering the prices of books; independent booksellers couldn’t compete and many closed their doors. Borders stumbled repeatedly with catastrophic business fumbles before ultimately going out of business, and Barnes & Noble struggled to weather the recession, closing dozens of stores and firing scores of community relations managers. The rise of eBooks put additional pressure on publishers and remaining independent booksellers.
Against all this, Norwood’s John Hutchinson presented the idea of Kickstarter. For a novel by a national bestselling author? I’ve seen it all in my 19 years in this business, but I hadn’t seen that. John was on to something. Once eBooks and digital readers entered the realm of publishing and became mainstream, I knew that publishing was going to change every six months—because the technology behind it changes every six months. New things would always be lurking around the corner. So why not use Kickstarter to publish a first-rate novel?
As John said (have you seen his brilliant video? If not, watch it here), this is a chance to give the reader a say in what gets printed. To those of you who haven’t yet backed the campaign, give it another look. The perks for supporting it are phenomenal, and even if you’ve already bought my books in the past, a signed collector’s edition like Norwood publishes make an awesome holiday gift come December—which will be here before you know it. So sign on and give this “revolutionary” campaign a Kickstart!