To Kickstart or not to Kickstart? That is my question

Friends, I have been working feverishly on my two books coming out next month: the 2nd edition of my comic thriller, Ain’t That America, and the first publication of my science fiction novel, The Act. Both worthy projects, of course, and both deserving of your custom when they are published. But there is another project upcoming, and I think I need your help with it.

You may remember that in this blog a week or two back, I plugged the Kickstarter project for The Walker Stalker Con, an all-things-zombie convention that will rise in Atlanta the first week of November. (You may remember me getting all frothy at the mouth over the fact that Judith O’Dea will be there.) I helped them get over their fund-raising goal, which in turn meant that I was going to be invited out to give some of my awesome “zombies in society” talks at the Con.

Well, shit happens. And it happens specifically that although they did make their fund-raising goal, they’re still not the most flush organization, and a plane ticket to come out and speak looks like it is, sadly, beyond their means. They broke no promises — I want to help zombie promotion organizations, and the Walker Stalker podcast is one of the best. They were more saying that they couldn’t do it if they didn’t make their goal, not that they could necessarily do it even if they did. Seriously, it’s all cool.

In fact, their frugality is actually kind of a good sign for the Con, because all of the money is going to make it fantabulous for all zombie lovers, and it’s not being spent on plane tickets for (admittedly awesome) zombie experts such as myself.

That said, I am still invited to speak and I still want to go make some magic at the three-day Con. I want to sell my books there — in fact, I will have my first actual ZOMBIE BOOK unveiling at Walker Stalker Con 2013. It will be called Reviva Las Vegas! and will feature four interlocking novellas about zombies in Sin City:

  • “Pawn of the Dead,” which shows how an unwitting group of Las Vegas reality TV show pawn shop workers unleash the Zombocalypse;
  • “Hoover Damned,” a story following a group of Vegas ne’er-do-wells as they try to save the city they call home from the rising dead;
  • “Dead Man’s Hand,” the story of a post-zombocalyptic drifter gambler who has to play a “sudden undeath” game of poker if he wants to leave Vegas alive; and
  • The title story, “Reviva Las Vegas!”, in which Sin City stages its last stand against the undead.

In addition to all this goodness, there will also be an extra section in the back with a transcript of all of my “Zombies! The Living Dead in Literature, Film, and Culture” lectures on iTunes U. This is the only place where these will be available in print form!

So you’re no doubt thinking, “Heck, Hoade, I’ll take one!” and while I appreciate that enthusiasm, hear me out for the rest of this. You’ll be glad you did, methinks.

This book, chock full of the zombie goodness you know and love, will be unveiled at the Walker Stalker Con in November. That is, if I can make it there, get a table to sell them, and so on. (You see where this is going. I’m thinking a Kickstarter project in order to raise said funds.) I have calculated the approximate costs thusly:

  • Round-trip flight to Atlanta (or vicinity): $400
  • “Artist’s table” at Walker Stalker Con: $300
  • Lodging for 4 nights at hotel holding the Con: $500
  • Meals for 4 days (3 at Con + 2 half-days of travel): $150
  • Production costs for books to sell at Con: $400 to $600
  • Miscellaneous: $150
  • WAY approximate total: $2,100

These estimates are kind of off the top of my head, based on other Cons I’ve had experience with. So you might be thinking, “Heck, Hoade” — that’s kind of a verbal tic you have — “why the hell should anybody support you to go make money off your own dang books? GET A JOB, HIPPIE!”

Okay, that’s harsh, but you’re a little emotional right now. I understand. But this is where the incredible bonus rewards come in. I’m thinking of setting up a Kickstarter of $2000, with the following irresistible awesomesauceome kickbacks for different levels of support:

  • Up to $24.99: An ebook copy of Reviva Las Vegas!
  • $25 to $49.99: An ebook copy and a signed hard copy of Reviva Las Vegas!
  • $50 to $74.99: The ebook, the signed hard copy, and you will be thanked by name in Reviva Las Vegas!
  • $75 to $99.99: The ebook, the signed hard copy, the thanking by name, and a character in Reviva Las Vegas! will be named after you (or given a name of your choice).
  • $100+: All of the above, plus ebook and signed copies of all of my books — the novels Ain’t That America and The Act as mentioned above, and also the literary historical novel Darwin’s Dreams and my crazy-ass collection of short stories, Inappropriate Behavior!
  • Any level of support: My sincere gratitude, OBVIOUSLY.

NOW HOW MUCH WOULD YOU … wait, sorry, wrong sales pitch.

With these kinds of incentives and the sheer amazingness of the project, do you think it is worth pursuing as a Kickstarter? Right now I plan to do it, but if everybody thinks it’s a damned bollocks of an idea, I could reconsider. So please share your thoughts — no obligation will be implied or assumed by your adding your opinion.

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A Tale of Two Fonts

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sample paperback font for blog2

I take a quick break from the 24/7 aural assault that is my 17-year-old daughter being obsessed with One Direction to share some book design stuff.

After the … shall we say, “slightly” … disappointing hard-copy proof I received of the new edition of Ain’t That America, I thought about fonts. I know that I wanted that pulp-fictiony font from the ’50s and ’60s, the kind that was in every paperback. So, in a stroke of partial awareness of the outside world, I searched for “paperback font.” And, um … there it was:

Paperback 12 Roman

It was free for commercial use, unlike the actual font used in those paperbacks of yore, which is called Times Ten and costs more than I expect to make from this book, so there ya go.

I was going with a font called “Bell MT,” which had a lot of the old-school I was going for, but wasn’t quite there. As in my first marriage, I was prepared to settle. Bell MT was good, although a little too classy-looking for what I wanted. The Georgia font I used for Darwin’s Dreams was really not what I need here … but since the hard-copy proof needed to be redesigned anyway, I took a little extra time and found the font of my dreams.

In this image, I’ve placed the old font choice on the top (the heading font is called “AR Darling”) and the new one on the bottom (here the heading font is my new cover font, “American Purpose,” a good ’50s-looking ad font I adore).

What do you think? I’ve heard from a blog reader who prefer the AR Darling over American Purpose, which is interesting because this person has read Ain’t That America and so has an informed opinion. Your thoughts are very welcome.

BTW, a couple of cool zombie posts coming up tomorrow! Stay tuned! Or logged on. Whatever you kids are calling it these days.

It’s time for the zombie community to horde up

Whether you identify more with revenants or with the people who like to shoot them in the head, there are times when the entire zombie community should come together to make something awesome happen. But down that leg bone, zoms; and lower your weapon, zom killers: There is a new zombie convention coming, and it needs your help.

From November 1-3 the Walker Stalker Con is coming to Atlanta — yes, home of The Walking Dead and just a hop, skip, and a shamble from Birmingham and Tuscaloosa and the University of Alabama. This con is brand-new and is put on by my kind of people, zombie enthusiasts, not some corporate entity trying to sell video games.

While that is great and amazing, it also means that the Walker Stalker folks don’t have a ton of dough. They do, however, have a Kickstarter page, and their project (the Con) is just about funded, with just $1700 left to go out of their $15000 goal, and there’s just 34 hours or so left to donate.

Sure, Hoade, that sounds great, but what’s in it for me? Let me tell you, friend — not only do James and Eric, the Walker Stalker podcast guys who are putting on this event, have fine incentives at different levels of support, but they also have a real deal-maker: They have told me that should they reach their fund-raising goal, they will bring your favorite zombie expert (and that had better be me, people) out to give talks at the Con. It’ll be like the Zombie Class at UA all over again, only this time there is SO much more to talk about: the World War Z movie, Warm Bodies, The Walking Dead, and advances in zombie-related research in different scientific areas!

And not only that — if Walker Stalker flies me out to speak, I am donating my speaking fee back to the Con. I’ll do it for free. That’s how much I believe in this event and its organizers. I am just beyond excited for Atlanta to have the zombie get-together it deserves.

DID I MENTION JUDITH O’DEA IS GOING TO BE THERE? IF NOT: JUDITH O’DEA IS GOING TO BE THERE! As my zombie class students know, she was Barbara from the original Night of the Living Dead. That’s “Barbara” as in “They’re coming to get you, Barbara.” So that’s another reason to be psyched about this particular Con.

And finally, here’s a final reason you should kick in a few bucks to Walker Stalker Con: James and Eric have said that even if they don’t make the fund-raising goal, the Con will go on anyway. This isn’t a stickup or a passive-aggressive holding your zombie convention for ransom. They just want to make it even more awesome. Tell me that right there isn’t a great cause to support this Kickstarter project. I’m donating my $600 fee. If you donate even $5, you will be my special friend at the Con and even in real life, and you know what that means! (I’m not going to say. I’m just going to let you think about it.)

Won’t you visit their website and also have a look at their Kickstarter page? We have the brains to pull this off! (See? Now both zom and zom hunters can feel complimented.)

Hey, that IS smaller and less readable! Nice work!

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Hey, that IS smaller and less readable! Nice work!

So when I looked at the page on the left in the WYSIWYG digital proofer, it looked great to me. I thought the white space looked tasteful. And the type — well, I could zoom in real good on that!

SPOILER ALERT: Real life does not have a “zoom” feature. Your book printed like this will look like a facsimile of a page from an “Edisonian” adventure from 1908.

Anyway, although the page on the right doesn’t have a header on it yet, you can see how much better it looks with (a) more text area on the page, for Chrissake;and (2) the use of a more readable font. I was trying to go for a font that was like the pulpy ’50s paperbacks I love, but … no, they moved away from that font years ago for a reason. FINE.

I’m currently in the process of adding and formatting the page headers, then reflowing the whole thing to see if it looks good on the computer, but, as the brilliant Cuscutis so pithily told me, “WYSIWYG isn’t.” I will be ordering another physical proof this time, obviously.

Whaddya think? Should I have stayed with the squinty page on the left, or caved in to the “readability patrol” with the version on the right?

Let’s have a look at your … oh.

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Let's have a look at your ... oh.

The evolution of a novel cover: On the left is the original cover for the First Edition, designed by an actual graphic designer. I think it looks great, although I don’t know if a dead deer in the road would actually get painted over, but hey, it was my first book publication — I was happy as a pig in [poopy].

But when it came time for the Second Edition with a new publisher, I said to myself, “Self, let’s get a new cover out there, something closer to the edgy subject matter of the book. How about a “grungy” typeface and a new, more gruesome “animal carelessly painted over in the road” pic…

It was a great idea in theory, but in practice… meh. The type just looked slapdash, and the part at the bottom with the five most important words in the English language — “a novel by Sean Hoade” was too close to the edge, but really couldn’t move without overlapping my dear departed armadillo. It looked like [poopy].

So I threw the baby out with the stitch in time, and counted my chickens before they hatched. (I’m not good with those sayings.) I went for a typeface the kind they used to use on 1950s advertising posters and propaganda about the atomic bomb and the Red Menace and such. Still with the bold yellow because HELLO IT’S BOLD YELLOW.

I found that by blowing up the size of the type and also rotating my name 90 degrees that it took on a feeling of urgency. “A novel by” was gone — now the canting of my name letters was all a reader had to go on. It’s just so very THERE. So incredibly PRESENT.

Now I move on to formatting the interior again, a tedious process made more tedious by my complete lack of patience. Luckily, Ann keeps me in line, and she’s a book packaging professional like for real, so I listen.

Any thoughts about the new cover? I’d love to hear them.