To all my friends and fans of my work, I need your help now. If you’d like to show your support for small press authors and artists trying to earn a living with their work, here’s a chance to do it. I’m running a Kickstarter campaign through the month of May to raise money to hire Angi Shearstone to do original artwork for my new book, Awake Chimera. It’s a science fiction novel due for release in July by the same publisher who released Archimedes Nesselrode. The publisher would, of course, provide artwork, but Double Dragon is a small press and can’t afford to keep a stable of professional artists on hand. They do a good job coming up with striking images for their covers, but not specialized artwork. (Please note: as a publisher, Double Dragon is great to work with, capable and conscientious, which is why they have been in business for 15 years, growing from a single imprint to eight, with over 1400 titles.)
We all know we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but the fact is, people do. Isn’t that what attracts you, a reader, to pick up an unknown author’s book and look it over? You might glance at the cover blurbs (for Awake Chimera, you’d see this: “Justine Graykin is a terrific writer, and Awake Chimera is a wonderful read. Gender politics, philosophy, and slam-bang action make for a heady brew in this first-rate story.” — Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo Award-winning author of Red Planet Blues). Then, intrigued, you might check out the plot summary (I’d have the following: “What does the asexual shape-shifting governor of a remote outpost in the swamp have in common with a hermaphrodite native struggling to fit into human society? Much more than either of them expected. United in their mutual dislike and distrust of the humans that dominate their world, their friendship develops into something more, something that might prove dangerous to them both. And when a deadly menace invades from the distant mountains, Shaka Mahdi and Prilock become the key to the survival of the very race they resent so much.”).
This would hopefully be enough to catch your interest and make you want to read the book. But first, that cover art has to get your attention. That’s where Angi Shearstone comes in. I met her at Boskone, a science fiction convention in Boston where we were both peddling our work at the Broad Universe table. Thanks to the suggestion of a mutual friend, I contacted Angi and we got to talking about various projects, including illustrations for Archimedes Nesselrode, possibly even a graphic novel version. But I’ve got a book coming out in July, and it seemed a logical first step to see how we worked together on the cover art for that.
Angi is a professional who makes her living by illustration and design. It’s not easy. And she can’t afford to give her work away for free. And why should she? Writers and artists deserve to be paid for their work. A lot of effort and struggle goes into what we create. It takes time and materials, not just to create the work but also to promote it. Publishers — even the Big Five — do next to nothing to help writers promote their work. If they aren’t on the NY Times bestsellers list (and sometimes even if they are) authors are expected to do all the promotional work themselves.
This is where crowdfunding comes in. As individuals, most of us can’t afford to become generous patrons to some promising talent. But we can kick in a little bit. This is the grassroots way of saying to heck with the big corporations telling us what we ought to be consuming. This is the consumer saying we want some control. We want to choose whom to support. That’s you, folks. Whether it’s a game developer, musician, playwright, director, performer, or writer and artist like Angi and me, you are helping to make our dreams happen. And you enjoy the benefits of it.
So follow the link to my Kickstarter project, read about it, and check out the video (it’s pretty cool, and it has cats). Then, if you can, make a donation. Some folks have already made some very generous pledges. But we’re still a long way from our goal, and if we don’t get there, we don’t get anything. Help us reach our goal. We’ve got lots of options at all levels with some pretty interesting rewards for donating. Check it out. Then share it with someone else who might be interested.
And for whatever you can help with, thank you, thank you, thank you.