Having decided to reboot* the Axis of Time series, I'm now wondering about the best way to do it. Not about what books to write – I've already decided that. The first book in the new series will pick up at the end of Designated Targets. In other words, I will be writing the invasion of Hawaii and the death of Dan Black. The second book will pick up from Stalin's Hammer: Paris, i.e. it will be set over a decade later. If the idea works I can then advance the two timelines.
Narrative arcs are not what's bugging me at the moment. Its production schedules and budgets and all of the manifold pains in the anus that would normally be dealt with by my publisher. But in this case, I am the publisher. So it falls to me to bend over and pucker.
I laid out my writing and publishing schedule a couple of weeks ago. Once I get Paris drafted in a fortnight or so I'll be done with juggling novella length e-books for a couple of months. It will be on to Stronghold to catch up with The Dave, and into The Cruel Stars for my major trade published commitment. I'm committed to offering Stronghold in paperback. I won't be doing a print run, of course. The Dave's next full-length adventure will be available print-on-demand for those who need to kill a tree. I spent most of this morning investigating the costs and scheduling demands of that decision. It's not cheap, but it would be foolish to attempt layout and typesetting on my own. That's a service you have to buy in, just like cover art and final editing.
Doing my research on getting Stronghold ready for print has given me reason for concern over the costs of any new Axis of Time book. It will be another four or five months before I see any return on all the investment I've made on these independently published titles and there will come a point at which I simply can't keep throwing money into the hole. I'm pretty confident these books will all pay off but if I'm not careful I will run out of money to pay for them before I get there.
For that reason I'm thinking about doing a Kickstarter for The Invasion of Hawaii. I've always been wary of crowdfunding. The whole thing reminds me of Deyan Sudjic's description of property development: an edgy, maverick industry defined by “the naked realities of guile, bravado, aggression and ego”.
On the other hand, a buck's a buck.
If I went down this path, I'd probably keep everything pretty modest. There is no point offering the usual gimcrackery; T-shirts, baseball caps, stickers and shit. Every time I have to go to the post office to mail something out into the world of real things it costs time and money. If I had to send anything to the US, I'd lose money.
So, I dunno. What do you guys reckon? Production costs would probably run somewhere between about five- and ten thousand dollars for a professionally produced novel, offered in both the book and paperback format.
Is this something I should look at kickstarting, or should I just suck up the pain myself?
* I say 'reboot' but it's really just a restart. There is one major plot twist which sort of reboots a storyline, and that will be revealed at the end of Paris. But I'm not reinventing the wormhole.