I think I might be the luckiest writer in the world - I have not one but TWO books coming out this August!
Pet is a dark and humorous short story collection that explores our relationships with children, lovers, and other animals. In these 18 stories we meet a girl in a standoff with the neighbourhood goose killer, a druggy who turns possums into pop culture icons, and an emotional support animal gone wild.
Visit Goodreads to learn more.
Bruce Goes Outside
Kate’s tiny kitten wants to go outside. He struggles with the cat flap, annoys a bird . . . and ends up on the wrong side of the fence. What will Kate do? Bruce Goes Outside follows on from Bruce Finds A Home, which is based on the true story of Bruce the Cat.
Visit Goodreads to learn more.
I wrote and illustrated both of these books, which have both been labours of love. Bruce Goes Outside took me about two years to finish ... and Pet took a few more years than that! I hope you enjoy them.
Pre-orders will be available soon ... watch this space!
As a valued stakeholder of 'Kathryn van Beek: writer', please find your copy of my 2019 Annual Report below. The report is structured as follows: submissions, disappointments, successes, a tribute and a summary.
My goal was to make 100 submissions to journals, competitions, funding bodies etc, and I came close this year with approximately 81 submissions made.
These 81 submissions yielded 9 successes and 38 declines. Twenty-three submissions still await their fates, and I withdrew 11 submissions after the stories were accepted elsewhere.
Of those 38 declines, I would say that 35 were 'oh well' moments, while the other three led to full-blown 'what is the point in going on I should just impale myself upon my pen' crises.
I am also disappointed in myself for not finishing the illustrations for the second Bruce the Cat book (working on them now!).
A tribute to David
Writing the 'Best Book in the World' piece was one of the highlights of my year, and a real testament to the wonderful man behind the series - talented journalist and really nice bloke David Loughrey. Unfortunately David passed away recently. I don't know what to say except David, in the short time that I knew you, you really enriched my world. Thank you.
Summary ... and hopes for 2020
Though I didn't get the exact feather in my cap that I really wanted this year, I did pick up a bunch of other very nice feathers.
In 2020 I hope to publish both Pet and Bruce Goes Outside (my second children's book), and get a little further along on my doctorate of professional practice.
A huge thank you to everyone who has supported me this year. I love Aotearoa's literary scene - everyone I've met has been so generous and kind. Wishing all of you a happy and successful 2020.
I live in historic Port Chalmers, Otago, and my neighbour Andy Thompson happens to be a very talented photographer. We teamed up to create a photo essay about three historic Port Chalmers pubs that are still thriving today: The Portsider, Mackie's Hotel and Carey's Bay Hotel. After spending a lot of time interviewing the publicans and sifting through Papers Past, we are thrilled that our story, Local Legends, has been published in local magazine Down in Edin today.
Read the Local Legends story here
See more of Andy's beautiful images here
Thank you so much to everyone who came along to the Auckland book launch for Bruce Finds A Home - and to everyone who helped me organise it. An extra big thank you to the lovely ladies at The Dorothy Butler Book Shop who made the experience so special.
I'm looking forward to the Dunedin book launch this Saturday 17 February at the University Book Shop from 10.30am. All welcome!
I'd like to invite you to come on a crowd-funding journey with me.
On 24 May I'm going to launch a crowd-funding campaign to raise funds for my illustrated children's book Bruce Finds A Home. Over the next five weeks leading up to the campaign, during the four weeks of the campaign itself, and in the weeks afterwards (when I get into the nitty gritty of printing the books and fulfilling rewards) I'll keep you posted with insights and updates.
You're welcome to follow along and hopefully pick up some useful tips about crowd-funding and book publishing along the way.
In today's post I'll explain the rationale behind the decisions I’ve made so far, and fill you in on my secret weapons!
Why not use a traditional publisher?
I’m a writer of short stories that have found a small audience in journals and magazines. When I ended up with a famous internet cat, I suddenly had a much bigger audience – 28, 886 to be precise! Creating a children’s book about my cat Bruce seemed to be a good way to marry my love of writing and illustrating with an in-built audience of people who care about Bruce and feel invested in his story. I wrote the text, completed the illustrations and then looked into traditional publishers. After spending all that time on the story and the pictures, I really wanted to avoid the hassle of the actual publishing! But when I realised it might take a year or more to work my way through my list of traditional publishers, I decided to take matters into my own hands. This isn’t necessarily something I would have done if I didn’t already have an established audience – I feel more confident taking this approach because of Bruce’s existing fan-base.
I looked into self-publishing, but I was convinced that if I published the book myself I’d end up making a mistake somewhere along the line – and I want Bruce Finds A Home to be a quality product. So I was thrilled when I found out about Mary Egan Publishing, which enters into joint venture partnerships with writers. I contacted Mary Egan Publishing with my pitch and heard back from them immediately. It turns out that they were already fans of Bruce on Facebook and could really see the potential for this story. As an added bonus, they are well-versed in crowd-funding and have had considerable success with titles such as Tu Meke Tui and Feel A Little.
Thanks to this partnership I’m getting all the benefits of professional editors, award-winning designers and years of industry experience – but this kind of quality comes at a price. Bruce himself isn’t able to contribute financially to the book (he still owes us $3K for his vet bills!) so I decided to use crowd-funding to cover the book’s production costs.
There are some fantastic crowd-funding platforms in New Zealand, including PledgeMe and Boosted. Internationally, Kickstarter and Indiegogo are two of the biggest. I am super keen to try Boosted sometime in the future, but the Boosted platform doesn’t offer rewards – and a key aspect of my Kickstarter is giving people the opportunity to pre-order the book. PledgeMe is also a highly-regarded platform, but because Bruce has an international audience I decided to go with a site that will hopefully already be familiar to more of Bruce’s fans. The research I did indicated that Indiegogo is more geared at tech projects. So that led me to Kickstarter – which also has the advantage of having a large inbuilt audience. What’s the disadvantage of Kickstarter? When it comes to getting your money, it’s all or nothing. So if I don’t reach my target, none of my backers will get charged. That’s great security for them – but nerve-wracking for me!
My secret weapons…
I have three secret weapons up my sleeve: interns, sponsors and resources.
Interns. A couple of weeks ago I realised that it would be way more fun to do this Kickstarter with other people. Not only to help share the load of the work, but also to share in the excitement, the trials and tribulations, and the successes. I put an ad on The Big Idea asking for interns and have since connected with three amazing people who each have unique skills that will be incredibly valuable for this project. In fact, ‘intern’ doesn’t do justice to their skills so we are coming up with new job titles as we speak! I’ll do my best to make sure they each learn kickass marketing, crowd-funding and publishing skills… and that they finish the project with excellent references under their belts.
Sponsors. The research I’ve done tells me that crowd-funding campaigns are exponentially more likely to succeed if they reach 20% of their funding target within the first week. (This is because everyone loves to ‘back a winner’ – so it pays to put your best foot forward.) I’ve put together a sponsorship proposal and I’ve been reaching out to businesses that I think might be interested in supporting the project in exchange for reaching Bruce’s audience. An all-star cast of sponsors have come on board already – hopefully I’ll be able to spill the beans as to who they are in an upcoming post! These amazing businesses are essentially the ‘seed funders’ of the project, and if this we reach target it will be in no small part due to their support. Thank you sponsors!
Resources. The internet is a wonderland of crowd-funding and Kickstarter resources. Many of these can be found on crowd-funding websites themselves:
Reading about what other people have done has also given me some useful insights into planning my own campaign. Here are some blog posts and articles that I’ve found particularly useful:
See you next week in my Four Week Kickstarter Countdown post!
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A graduate of Victoria University’s Institute of Modern Letters, I am the winner of the Mindfood Short Story Competition and the Headland Short Story Prize. My short stories have appeared in The Sunday Star-Times, takahē, Fresh Ink and Bonsai. My debut short story collection, Pet, will be available from August, and is being released as a podcast. I have also written and illustrated two children's books about my rescue cat, Bruce.