Well guys, I did it. I pulled the trigger. I’ve launched the Kickstarter campaign for my novel: The Wayward Astronomer.
This book is the most important thing I have ever created in my life. It’s been a long journey to get here, but now this is where the work really begins. I have spent almost every waking hour since this campaign launched obsessing over it, because if I don’t put my whole heart into making it succeed, then I will have failed myself, regardless of the final funding amount we reach.
A friend of mine on Facebook said to me recently: “I don’t quite understand the need for getting kickstarting funding. You couldn’t find a publisher for the book?”
It took me a bit off guard, because the answer was so self evident to me, I don’t think I ever seriously considered any other option other than self-publishing. I gave my friend a short answer on Facebook, but please consider this post “the long answer”
I think any person who creates something takes great pride in it, but when it comes to art, I think it goes deeper than satisfaction of a job well done. Because we artists, whether we’re musicians, or painters or sculptors or writers understand that we are not merely manufacturing something. We’re unleashing something from within our souls. Our melodies, our colors, our characters, they’re all something we’ve had inside of ourselves all along, and they become physically manifested through the process, not by the process.
My book is, on the surface, a sci-fi/fantasy/adventure story about an astronomer that gets thrust into a conspiracy to overthrow the government of his world. But really, at its core, this book is a story about me. My hopes and my dreams. My ideals and fears. My search for purpose, freedom, and acceptance. Each character came from my imagination, and as such they are all each aspects of my soul. Every character is a projection of me from a very deep and subconscious level. This book has showed me more about who I am than anything else in my entire life.
So, why didn’t I just find a publisher to pick up the book?
It would be less risky to me, that’s for sure. It would be the publisher at risk if the book was a commercial failure, and I could keep going about my life and say to myself “Oh, well that didn’t work out then. That’s too bad.”
A publishing company has one goal: make money by selling books to people. I too want to make money selling books to people. In fact, I’d like to keep all the money that’s made selling my book to people rather than hand it to someone who pressed “go” on a printing machine and loaded books onto pallets. Convenient financiers deserve none of the fruits of my labors. Not a penny. They did nothing.
But if money was really the only reason I was making this book, I probably would have picked up programming and made a nifty app instead of becoming a writer. You know, something designed for sharing cat videos on the cloud that gets bought by Facebook for $2 billion dollars. Way more potential for growth there. So… why self-publish this book?
Because. This book is my dream. This book is my life. This book is who I am.
A publishing house won’t fight for my book they way I’ll fight for it. They won’t care about it the way I care about it. They won’t drive around two cities all weekend handing out flyers to every single person who would give you the time of day. Because, in the end, they want to do well, but they aren’t inspired to greatness by something they love.
When I launched this campaign, it was sort of a manic-depressive first couple days. Extreme elation followed by the sobering reality that just because you build it does not mean people will come. At the time of this posting we’re 6 days in, and honestly, things have been going pretty well. But it’s not like everyone on the internet showed up at once wanting to know more about this story that created me.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and reading while lying awake at night, and I think I’m finally ready to accept a truth about the world that I didn’t want to believe at first. It’s kind of a big deal.
Are you ready for it?
Ok, here it goes:
The world doesn’t care about your dreams.
It doesn’t. It’s really pretty simple. The world just doesn’t care. Now that may seem like a real downer, I know. But allow me to explain.
In order to truly care about something you need to understand it.
The closest people in my life, my family, my friends… they may want to see me succeed, they may love me deeply, but they can never experience my dream. They are not the dreamer.
How could they possibly understand, except secondhand, what writing The Wayward Astronomer was like? How can they experience those sleepless nights, 10 point font at 3am, arguments like symphonies racing through a maze of gray matter? How could they understand all the rage, all the hope, all the pain and all the love that were thrown onto those pages. They didn’t cry themselves to sleep after killing a character they loved and only truly understood the moment they disappeared forever.
But, you know guys. I also figured something else out. And it’s really good news.
It doesn’t matter if the world doesn’t care.
Know why? Because we create art not for the world, not for other people, and not even for ourselves. Art is created for the sake of art itself. Dreams exist because they must and because they will. There is nothing more human and more beautiful than that.
I didn’t create beautiful art. It created itself. In fact, it was always there. But I can see it now because my fingers typed keys and the keys put letters onto a page and the pages collected themselves together into a story. What an amazing metamorphosis.
And even though people who read my story won’t understand everything that went into it, even though they won’t really be able to dream this dream with me, they’ll still experience a piece of it. And I think that’s enough. Even the smallest fragment of truth can change lives, open eyes, and reshape your world.
Who knows where the road will lead from here, but I am happy to be making the journey. I wonder, where will your dream take you?
Thanks for reading everyone! Cheers.
A big shout out to David Lillie for producing so much amazing artwork for this project and for helping it become a reality in the first place. Everyone should check out his work, because it has literally changed my life.