Author Rob Kroese is a prolific novelist who operates in both the independent and traditional publishing worlds. Today I’ll ask him about his recent DIS trilogy Kickstarter (it was fully funded in a lightning flash but ongoing so you can still support it and get free copies of his novels and other cool rewards!) and his latest novel City of Sand, which is something of a genre-departure for him.
Richard: Welcome to the blog, Rob! First I’d like to discuss your latest Kickstarter project which has already topped its funding goal but is active with reward goodies through Thursday, April 9th, 2015. Please tell us a bit about the DIS Trilogy, which your kickstarter is fueling.
Rob: Thanks, Richard! In 2012, my satirical epic fantasy novel Disenchanted was published by 47North, Amazon’s sci-fi/fantasy imprint. It was a lot of fun to write, and it was well received by readers and reviewers. I’ve been meaning to publish more adventures set in the land of Dis for a while, and finally decided it was time. I’m doing two sequels, Disillusioned and Distopia. Both books will be independently published, which means I’ve got to handle the editing, cover design, marketing, etc. all myself.
The Dis trilogy is made up of three vaguely related novels that take place in the mythical land of Dis. Disenchanted tells the story of Boric the Implacable, an undead king who must travel across Dis to rid himself of an enchanted sword and finally get some peace. I’ll be following up Disenchanted with Disillusioned, which tells the tale of Wyngalf the Bold, a young missionary who realizes that he is the only one who can save the land of Dis from the scourge of dragons. Distopia, which completes the trilogy, follows a knight named Vergil who wishes he had been born during Dis’s heroic age, when men fought monsters and dragons–but soon has more adventure than he ever wanted.
Rob: Honestly, I’m a little shocked myself. It took just over three days to meet my goal of $3,000. Currently the project is just over $3,500, and we might actually hit $4,000 by the target date of April 9. Maybe the recent death of Terry Pratchett has left people craving more humorous fantasy? Whatever the explanation, it’s very gratifying to see this level of support for a project.
Richard: R.I.P Terry Pratchett. As an aside, a number of my readers have compared my writing (in a small way) to Terry’s over the years and I’ve quietly worn that as a little badge of honor. It’s tough to lose him so early. But enough about my ego and back to our discussion at hand. If you had an advice for Kickstarter project newbies, what would that be? What elements of your project were fails, in your opinion, and which elements proved the biggest successes? *(By the way, Rob’s DIS Kickstarter is still running and you can check it out by clicking on the graphic link just below.)
Rob: Beyond the basics of making a clear, convincing pitch for your project, I’d say it’s very important to offer compelling rewards to backers. I don’t necessarily mean expensive rewards; often the best rewards are intangible. For example, with the Dis Trilogy, I’m giving higher-level supporters the chance to have a geographic feature in the mythical land of Dis named after them. Ideally, you want each level to seem like a slightly better value than the one below it. For example, at the $5 level, the supporter gets a single ebook. At the $10 level, they get not two, but three ebooks (the two Dis books and an additional bonus book). So a $5 pledge is a reasonably good value, but the $10 pledge seems more attractive. And the higher you go, the more you get for your money.
Richard: Last but not least, let’s discuss your latest novel, CITY OF SAND (disclaimer: I was one of the development editors on the manuscript and I think it’s great, so there) from indie author collective Westmarch Publishing. It’s a mix of old gumshoe noir (Chinatown) and mind-bending Philip K. Dick, as you have described it. Can you give us a brief introduction to the novel?
Rob: As you mentioned, the idea behind City of Sand was “Chinatown as told by Philip Dick.” I’ve always loved stories where the protagonist’s own perceptions and memories of reality are called into doubt. I worked for several years in Silicon Valley, and I only found out afterwards how badly the groundwater is has been polluted in that area by tech companies. It was a disturbing sort of realization, that this supposedly “clean” industry is responsible for some of the most polluted groundwater in the country. It reminded me of the insidious corruption that characterizes noir movies like Chinatown. I thought it would be interesting to combine those two elements: a detective is trying to solve a conventional murder, but the truth is more horrifying than he can even imagine.
Richard: City of Sand is very different from your previous books – such as the humorous Mercury series – what was it like for you playing in this new ‘sandbox?” (canned laughter, applause)
Rob: To be honest, it was HARD. I like writing fast-paced, silly novels with a lot of explosions and jokes. Writing a novel like City of Sand is almost like work. I think it turned out pretty well, but I’m going to stick to jokes and explosions for a while.
Richard: You (and I) are both participating in a new (2014) author publishing collective called Westmarch Publishing. How would you describe your experiences with Westmarch so far, as compared to your fully independent and traditional publishing house (47North) projects?
Rob: There are advantages and disadvantages so independent publishing. The advantages are mainly that you have more control over the product and you net a higher percentage of the sales price on your books. One of the big disadvantages is that publishing a book is a lot of work, and requires several different skillsets, such as developmental editing, proofreading, and graphic design. Most people don’t possess all these skills, and it’s always a bad idea to try to edit or proofread your own book. A collective like Westmarch ameliorates those disadvantages by allowing us to take advantage of other authors’ talents and abilities. I’ve done two books with Westmarch so far, and both Dis books will be release as Westmarch titles as well. I think it’s a fantastic way to publish.
Richard: Now, just a few of my Actor’s Studio questions you need to answer, and then you may escape back to your writing desk. 1) What is your favorite restaurant? 2) If you could be reincarnated as an animal, which one would you choose? 3) If you could pick one line from one of your novels as your tombstone epitaph, what would it be?
Rob: 1) Waffle House. Well, maybe not my favorite, but it did sustain me on a motorcycle trip across the country last year.
2) Is this like on The Wire, McNulty’s boss asks him where he doesn’t want to be transferred, so he can screw him by putting him on harbor patrol? I don’t think I’m going to answer this one, because I’m afraid you’ll pull some strings and prevent me from being a fox. I mean ostrich. I want to be an ostrich. Not a fox.
3) “So it turns out my linoleum installer is in league with Satan.”
LOL! Thanks, Rob Kroese!
Author BIO and Contact Information
Robert Kroese’s sense of irony was honed growing up in Grand Rapids, Michigan – home of the Amway Corporation and the Gerald R. Ford Museum, and the first city in the United States to fluoridate its water supply. In second grade, he wrote his first novel, the saga of Captain Bill and his spaceship Thee Eagle. This turned out to be the high point of his academic career. After barely graduating from Calvin College in 1992 with a philosophy degree, he was fired from a variety of jobs before moving to California, where he stumbled into software development. As this job required neither punctuality nor a sense of direction, he excelled at it. In 2009, he called upon his extensive knowledge of useless information and love of explosions to write his first novel, Mercury Falls. Since then, he has three more books in the Mercury series; a humorous epic fantasy, Disenchanted; and a quantum physics noir thriller, Schrodinger’s Gat. His latest book is Starship Grifters.
Email Rob at email@example.com
Connect with Rob on Facebook
Follow Rob on Twitter