Geeking Out When Kickstarting a Fantasy Anthology 

Reading Time: 4 minutes
Image: Melanie R. Meadors
Image: Melanie R. Meadors

Adrian Collins joins us today to tell us five things made him geek out while he was working on the Kickstarter for Evil Is a Matter of Perspective: An Anthology of Antagonists, a new grimdark fantasy anthology from his magazine, Grimdark Magazine, currently on Kickstarter!

Kickstarting an anthology is an absolutely mammoth undertaking. As the project lead, you’re responsible for every role in a major publishing house from accounting to marketing to contracting, all on top of the editing and project management to create the manuscript. It’s a full time job in itself.

It’s only right that throughout the process you get to have some pretty epic geek-out moments. In the nine-month lead up to the go-live of Evil is a Matter of Perspective: An Anthology of Antagonists, and to the day we funded, these were some of my most memorable moments.

The cover art…
That moment when you see your cover art for the first time is a magic one. You’ve reviewed some mock-ups, provided little bits of feedback or tweaks to make sure it hits the theme on the nose, and paced trenches into the carpet of your lounge room as you waited to see the final product.

So much rides on the strength of the cover art. It’s the first thing a potential backer (in the Kickstarter phase) and a potential customer (in the post-Kickstarter phase) notices. It’s a major differentiator between your project and others. The cover design, marketing collateral and the Kickstarter page can’t go ahead without it. Hell, it even strengthens your email pitches to potential contributing authors to have a completed front cover design included.

When I saw Tommy Arnold’s name pop up on my phone’s screen, my heart skipped a beat. This was it. Half of me was freaking out that I wouldn’t like it. The other half was so excited I could barely get my thumbs to coordinate well enough to bring it up on screen. IT WAS MAGNIFICENT.

Image: Grimdark Magazine
Image: Grimdark Magazine

The authors…
An anthology starts with a theme and a list of authors whose works and style would fit best with that theme. Naturally, as a passionate fan, you make sure your literary heroes are in your pitch list. You won’t get many of them, perhaps not any, but you might get one, so you just give it your best shot and bloody well go for it.

You obsessively draft your pitch email template, tweaking it over and over again, thinking about how to shape it to grab the attention of each unique author. You paste it into your email, write an intro specific to that author, say a quick prayer to the literary gods and hit send.

Days go by. Regretful rejections come in, one after the other. The first few are a little disappointing, but as each day rolls on and more trickle through you begin to question just what the hell you were thinking even trying. Why would these authors trust you, a comparable nobody, to publish their work in a way that will please current fans, introduce them to new customers and represent the level of quality they demand from their own massive publishers?

Then, BOOM. The stars align and R. Scott Bakker emails you and says, “I’m in.” My victory roar scared the cat so badly I didn’t see her again for hours.

The announcement…
When we made the announcement on the Grimdark Magazine blog that the Kickstarter would be up in a few weeks, support rolled in across our social networks and GdM’s many inboxes. I was absolutely blown away. From the comments on our pages, to r/fantasy, to groups and my personal pages, the announcement was received pretty damned well. But this wasn’t the main Kermit-flail moment for me.

Something that I’d hoped for, but wasn’t sure we’d receive, were comments from fans of non-grimdark subgenres of fantasy who were excited to check the project out. This was something I’d really been aiming for when Tom Smith and I first chatted about the idea back in September 2015.

The first message that really got me excited (I think it was on Reddit) sent me off to the balcony punching the sky. We’d achieved one of our major goals. We had come up with a theme that would appeal to more than just the grimdark crowd! Huzzah!

Pressing the Kickstarter Go-Live button…
There is a special feeling that goes with hovering your mouse over the go-live button on a Kickstarter campaign.

You’ve received automatic approval to go ahead from Kickstarter and the sweat is trickling down your spine. Nine months of work comes down to this.

A million last-second thoughts wrestle for your attention: are your numbers right? Is this the right time? Did a competing Kickstarter go live last week that you didn’t see? Will the potential Brexit change the AUD to USD exchange rate and drastically increase the cost of the print run? Is there enough marketing collateral? WILL ANYONE EVEN BACK THIS PROJECT!?

Hitting that button is that same feeling as your first cliff jump as your feet leave the rock and you begin to fall, as bringing up the nerve to say g’day to your hero, pushing off on a wave in surf bigger than anything you’ve ever seen, sending off your first novel off to an agent; whatever the metaphor, you know the feeling I’m talking about. And that feeling is what makes Kickstarting so damned awesome.

Funded!
Funding, for most projects, is something you pray to the literary gods is going to happen quickly, get excited about when you burst through to 70% in the first 28 hours, and then do everything you can to drag the project across the line in ten days. That last 30%, for us, was a killer.

However, the moment you get there is a brilliant feeling. You’re going to create some awesome!!!

Adrian Collins is an obsessive writer and reader. Beyond this, he’s also a lover of scotch, beer, cricket, rugby, and surfing. Tolkein’s The Hobbit began his fantasy addiction and Gemmell’s Rigante series honed the addiction into the world of grey characters. Abercrombie’s The Heroes gave that addiction a sharp grimdark edge. He is the editor-in-chief and founder of Grimdark Magazine.

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