Countdown : (

There’s one week left in my hybrid graphic novel Kickstarter. For most Kickstarter campaigns, the final week is where the highest number of pledges are collected.

As I’m only at 15% of the goal, that doesn’t leave a very high likelihood of success. But did you know that it’s still safe to show your support, even with the possibility of failure? A pledge is only a pledge; a backer’s credit card is charged if and only if the campaign is successful.

So if you were waiting, now’s the time to do it. If there was someone you planned to tell about it, now’s the time to do it. There HAVE been campaigns that went from 0 to 60 in the final week, but they are rare and it will take something special to make that happen here. I’m going to keep promoting the project until Day 35 when the campaign goes offline automatically.

A big thank you to everyone who pledged so far. Even if the project fails, I appreciate your votes of confidence.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/solonexperiment/solon-a-hybrid-graphic-novel-of-myth-and-science

How you can help my Kickstarter without spending money

 

Doing any one of these ideas would increase the chances that the project reaches its funding goal.
Most of them are independent of whether you have pledged or not, so you can also do them if you’ve already pledged something.

Link to the Kickstarter project

1. Pledge $1.
Not only do all little pledges add up, but the *number* of backers is one thing that determines ranking on Kickstarter’s home page. Higher ranked projects receive more clicks and are therefore more likely to succeed. And people might be more willing to donate to a project with a large number of backers.
Note that Kickstarter won’t charge your credit card UNTIL the project succeeds, and ONLY IF it succeeds.
At the $1 pledge tier, you even get listed on my website and in the ebook as a supporter.

And hey, the ebook reward itself is only $5. That’s an amazing deal.

2. Share
If you haven’t already, you can share a link to the project (or to solonexperiment.com) on Facebook, on other social media, on your blog, or through word of mouth.

If you know of a comic store or something with a bulletin board, ask them if you can hang up this poster:
solonexperiment.com/poster.pdf

Sharing is a great free way to help out a project. It increases the chances that someone new will pledge, it increases the chances that someone will do one of these free things, and it increases my Google ranking, especially if you hyperlink to the project from your own website.

Find something to retweet at https://twitter.com/carolynsolon.
You can focus on the rewards (some of them are great deals!), or on the novelty of the format, or on the subject matter, or simply post a link to any one of my resources and let them work it out for themselves.

3. Networking
If you know someone who has a blog, publication, or social media account with followers who might be interested in this project (comics, scifi, virology, geek culture), put me in contact with them. This is mutually beneficial, because blogs need content for traffic, and Solon needs interested eyes.

I’d be happy to write a guest post or have someone do a guest post here.
Remember that the campaign ends on February 7th.

4. Ask questions
Hit up my Facebook, the comments section of my blog, the “Ask a Question” button on the Kickstarter project, or email carolyn@solonexperiment.com.

People will see the increase in activity, or they might learn something that tips them from apathetic to enthusiastic.
Remember that “Solon” isn’t just about action. It’s about geek culture, about art, and about SCIENCE!

A corollary to this is: Answer questions. If you’ve shared the project and someone wants to know more, you can help by connecting with that person or pointing them my way.

5. Connect your Facebook to Kickstarter.
https://www.kickstarter.com/friends
You’ll see a notification whenever your friends back something interesting – and your friends will see that you support “Solon.”

6. Email the Kickstarter staff.
http://www.crowdcrux.com/become-kickstarter-staff-pick/
Kickstarter staff themselves recommend that people tweet or email them about projects they love.
You can show them this: http://believeinbristol.org/blog/view/bridgeforth-design-embarks-on-innovative-graphic-novel-project/201601130931306876
or talk about what the project might mean to you.

If Kickstarter decides to promote the Solon project as a staff pick, I should see a corresponding increase in hits.
7. Write a letter to your congressman.
Ok, this one probably wouldn’t work.

 

A big thank you to anyone, kin, friend, or stranger, who takes time out of their day to help make “Solon” a reality.

Loot! Kickstarter reward details

I have a pretty diverse array of rewards lined up for SOLON’s Kickstarter.
As usual, if you pledge at a higher level, you get all the rewards for the tiers below it as well.

Let me start at the top.
At the $500 level, we have custom canvases by the Bridgeforths. Maybe I can get them to do a blog post in more detail later. (Thanks Thor and Annie for pledging at this level!)

bridgeforth design canvas 1

These have the potential to be really cool. First of all, they’re big. Brian is usually the one who makes these, and he draws them on a 24×36″ canvas. If you have one of these in your house, it is going to draw attention from across the room.

bridgeforth design canvas 2

It’s customizable (within reason). Brian will do you a detailed ink drawing with a subject of your choice. A single character works best, perhaps with a supporting detail or two. When backer surveys are sent out, you’ll have the opportunity to describe your dream poster and, if I know how the Bridgeforths work, I bet Brian and his wife Marie will put their heads together to decide exactly how to bring your vision to life in exquisite detail. If there is a character from the book you like, you can request that.

bridgeforth design canvas 3

These beautiful items retail for hundreds of dollars. I’m also throwing in FREE SHIPPING.


Next is the $200 level (Thanks, Kristine, for pledging at this level already!)
I’ll write you something if you pledge $200+. It can be anything, except I’m not going to write any smut, and I’m not going to do your homework for you. If you take my advice, you’ll ask me to write you something with a little bit of fantasy or mysticism in it, but I’m willing to try my hand at anything.
I’m promising at least 5000 words unless you want it to be shorter. I’ll write you in as a character in a fantasy adventure, I’ll write a guest post for your blog, I’ll make up some technobabble for your steampunk world. Naturally, you’ll have my permission to use the work however you see fit and it will belong exclusively to you.

I’m throwing in free shipping again – obviously this doesn’t apply to the writing I’ve promised, but it applies to all the physical rewards you earn at the $125, $75, $50, and $30 levels.


I’m excited about the $125 level.
Carolyn Solon, the protagonist, is a microbiologist. People are always lathering up with antibacterial soap after shaking her hand. In the novel, she pioneers (or –reawakens–http://news.softpedia.com/news/A-5-Million-Years-Old-Virus-Revived-39314.shtml–) a virus in the HERV group which transmutes bone calcium into her signature fiery superpower. It is studded with little mushroomlike spikes (these are broadly called “envelope glycoproteins” by microbio nerds) and has winglike membranes on the sides.


This is the reward for the $125 level, your very own handfelted unique Phoenix virus, happily gnawing on a bone. They are made by hand from a variety of wools, so each one will be different. I’m hoping to let backers choose their favorite one, but I’m not sure how it’ll work yet.

The viruses are super huggable and squishable. I’m cuddling mine right now as I write this. As of this time, the plushies do not grant you any superpowers – maybe a stretch goal?

These take a long time to make (with appropriate loving care), so I think I can only give them out to the first 20 backers of $125+.

 


At the $75 level, BDS will make you a custom sketch to your specifications. You can send a photo of yourself to get sketched, or describe a character you’ve created, or choose someone from SOLON, or pick a meaningful memory to be sketched.

These sketches are no bigger than 8.5 x 11 and are not polished and perfect like the $500 level, but I’ve seen Brian whip these up and they turn out really good.

Alternatively available: you can request one of our concept art pieces in place of a custom sketch.


$50 – we’re starting to get into the more typical rewards. For $50 you get a SOLON T-shirt, based on the awesome logo in my profile pic. It will be slightly simpler, of course, to meet the two-color restriction.

$30 – get the book! This is what we’re all really here for (or maybe that adorable plushie).

$5 – ebook. Simple enough; you’ll get a digital copy of the physical book. Since there’s no charge per page of ebook, I can include some extra goodies in the ebook : )

$1 – Every little bit helps. Really, it does. It increases the visibility of the project, helps draw another detail, covers little expenses that can really sneak up on a guy, and combines with other $1 pledges to solve bigger problems.

Each and every person who helps bring this project to life deserves recognition. I’ll make a special section on solonexperiment.com listing every single backer, no matter the magnitude of their pledge. I won’t make you use your real name if you prefer an alternative.


That just about covers it. If you have any questions, comment or send me an email or post on the KS page
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/solonexperiment/solon-a-hybrid-graphic-novel-of-myth-and-science/comments

If you have some other reward to suggest, drop me an email!

Confidence

Confidence

Confidence is a key factor in deciding whether to invest in any project, particularly a Kickstarter project. When you back a Kickstarter, you take a number of gambles. Key among them is whether the creator(s) will deliver a quality product in a timely fashion with your money.
This is especially relevant when you are considering backing an unpublished creator – hey, that describes me! In this post, I’ll outline some of the reasons you can be confident I’ll turn your contribution into a fantastic book – SOLON.


Project

First, a recap of the project. The deliverable is a HYBRID graphic novel. The ratio of prose pages to full-page artwork spreads is about 8:1. The book is not quite as long as your typical prose novel – in my current mock up, it comes out to 300 pages, a total of 55,000 words.

Due to the nature of color publishing, the cost for a prose page is equal to the cost of an artwork page, and artwork can be freely mixed with text, so there will be smaller bonus illustrations in the margins in addition to the full-page spreads you’ve seen so far. The more the goal is exceeded, the more illustrations are possible.

We’ll have a lot less text in a panel than a typical graphic novel, since much of the dialogue and narration happens in the prose. There is a huge potential for smooth integration between the two mediums, with very short text boxes to remind you what exactly is being illustrated. I’ll talk more about that in future blog posts; here, I just want to make the case that I have planned this out thoroughly and to make sure you understand what you’ll be getting.


Logistics

Since illustrations will be placed exactly where they make the most impact, the timeline for SOLON is a lot shorter than it would be for traditional graphic novels. We’re in the neighborhood of 15-20% done with the initial draft of the artwork. In roughly two months, Bridgeforth Design Studio and I can draft and polish the remaining artwork (the digital painting process goes quite quickly with the techniques Brian has developed, and polishing is always easier when it’s done digitally).

Publication will probably be through IngramSpark or a similar service. I’ve been researching the various self-publishing services a lot recently, creating accounts and talking to representatives and ordering sample packs. I’ve also had some interest from some indie publishers, so that is also an option (though not a guarantee by any means).


 

The Creators

There are three of us working on this project: myself (Joey Collard) and the Bridgeforths at BDS (Brian and Marie).

The Bridgeforths have a great work ethic and an expedited strategy. When they receive a commission of this magnitude, they lock the door to their studio and buckle down on a project with no distractions, taking new commissions and visitors by appointment only. To measure their talents, simply look at their past work on their website or talk to one of their clients for corporate logos, advertising, posters, MtG card paintings, or fantasy sketches. Here is some recent work they did for my little town of Abingdon:

highlands-poster

http://www.vahighlandsfestival.org/event/signature-art-poster-signing
What about me?
This will be my first serious publication. But I’ve been through a lot of this sort of thing before. When I was a tween, I wrote and illustrated a how-to book for a hobby of mine. I sent it around to publishers, learning about query letters and editors and how to communicate complex ideas in only a page. This project is also what first taught me about marketing.

It came up again when I was in college, for I worked as a writing consultant at the University of Wisconsin (Stevens Point). I helped edit several works in a variety of genres and worked to get them ready for publication. Some of them made it into local omnibuses and such.

I’m a project guy at heart. I’ve always had something on the boiler at any given time since I was old enough to write. Not all of them were books, though – I’ve made comics, RPG adventures/rules, brand new board games, websites for my interests, little programs to assist in running games – basically anything that tells a story somehow. I’m the kind of guy who organizes things and sees them through, whether it’s D&D night or a trip to the movies or a new forum game to be played online.

I’m also the kind of guy who writes endings first. I had the ending of SOLON in mind since I first conceived the project. It’s one of the most interesting and thought-provoking parts of the story.

Though the art has a lot of work to be done, the prose is all polished and finalized, aside from any small changes to make it flow better with the art. I have rough storyboards and scripts for the art, too.  As the writer, I’ve completed my job, but as creator and project owner, I’m still working hard to bring you the best possible result…to prove at every step that your confidence in me was justified.

Welcome to the Solon Experiment blog

Kickstarter

Yesterday, the Kickstarter campaign for SOLON became available for viewing. You can click here to automatically subscribe to be notified when pledges go live. Alternatively, view the page. These links will not work once the campaign officially goes live, and rewards and stats are subject to change until then.

Our target for pledges to be live is January 4th, but the exact day will depend on how quickly the Kickstarter team approves the project.

Currently, I have 300 pages of prose writing polished, 35 pages of art storyboarded with stick figures, and 7 pages of artwork at publishable quality. Changes to the story will of course require changes to the artwork, but the quality you see in the posted example pages is the quality you’ll see in the book. Money from the Kickstarter campaign, if successful, will go towards illustrations (roughly 50%), publishing costs (around 30%), and rewards/kickstarter fees/shipping (< 20%).

My favorite KS reward:
Handfelted virus plushie


Further Resources:

If you want to know more about the plot, go here.
For more on this Kickstarter, view that page.
Artwork, click here.
Emailing me for any reason, use this email.
Bridgeforth Design Studio, http://www.bridgeforthdesignstudio.com/character.html.
Follow the Twitter feed.

Goodreads


About This Blag:

So far, I envision three major categories for this blog.

I will post Progress updates on here whenever anything significant happens in development. This includes Kickstarter-related material.

I will post a feature called “Unit of the Week,” providing entertaining history about some obscure unit of measure. This is one of Carolyn Solon’s hobbies.

I’ve also created a “Solon Culture” category. These posts might contain geek culture, virology culture, or other interests of Carolyn Solon.

Let me know if you have any questions or comments!