As promised here is my interview with Loren Rhoads, the editor of the upcoming Death's Garden Revisited.
Loren Rhoads is the editor of Death’s Garden: Relationship with Cemeteries and Death’s Garden Revisited. She is the author of 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die and Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel. She and her partner Mason Jones founded Automatism Press in 1991.
Melodie: How and why did you decide to fund Death's Garden Revisited on Kickstarter?
Loren: I’ve been wanting to experiment with crowdfunding for a while. I love the idea of building a community around a book before it’s published, instead of chasing an audience after a book comes out.
Death's Garden Revisited seemed like the perfect project for Kickstarter: a big group of contributors at all stages of their writing careers and a book that would appeal to my contacts in the cemetery world. I thought we would be able to find our funding pretty easily. I never guessed we’d reach our goal in the first 8 hours of the campaign.
Melodie: Was this your first time using Kickstarter? Was it difficult to navigate?
Loren: Yes to both questions! I’ve been on the other side of Kickstarter fairly often. I’ve funded science fiction magazines and horror anthologies, comic books, cemetery guidebooks, and all kinds of office gadgets. I even funded an anthology at a level that allowed me to submit a story to it… Not only did they accept my story, but that was my first (and so far only) story to go into a Best New Horror collection. I’m a big fan of Kickstarter as a “backer.”
The Death’s Garden project was my first time running a Kickstarter campaign myself. It was definitely a learning experience. I did a lot of research beforehand, but I still ran into instances where Kickstarter wanted me to “push this button to proceed” and I didn’t know what would happen when I pushed the button. That added an unnecessary level of anxiety. Luckily, everything worked out.
Melodie: How was this funded differently from the first book in this series?
Loren: Death’s Garden: Relationships with Cemeteries, the first book, was fully funded by Automatism Press. What that means is that I was working for the power company at the time and funneled my paycheck into paying the printers, payments to the contributors, trips to the post office: all the responsibilities that come with running a small press.
With Death's Garden Revisited, all copies of the book preordered through Kickstarter will allow me to print full-color paperbacks and hardcovers. I’m really excited about that. Color wasn’t even a dream when I published the first book.
Melodie: How did you determine the funding level add-ons and what were they?
Loren: I set the first stretch goal for $1200 – the conversion to color, which is what I really wanted funding for. After that, backers funded extra photos, extra essays, and an increase in pay for contributors. I’m really looking forward to setting up a contributors’ reading via Zoom for the book release in the Fall, which will allow the international contributors to participate. Last week, backers funded an additional book of essays from me – so everyone from the $5 level on up will get an ebook copy of a brand-new book of cemetery essays. For people who’ve preordered Death’s Garden Revisited, they’re getting two books for the price of one!
Now I just need to finish Still Wish You Were Here.
Melodie: Are you fully funded?
Loren: Yes. Death's Garden Revisited reached its initial funding on its first day. That was a relief.
Melodie: I heard author Brandon Sanderson funded you as well. How did that happen? How did you find out he'd funded your project?
Loren: Brandon Sanderson, in case people don’t know, is a fantasy writer who just concluded the biggest Kickstarter campaign ever. He made more than $41 million for a four-book set he’d written during the pandemic.
Sanderson and his team picked one day to donate to every publishing project on Kickstarter: 300 in all. The first I knew about their project was when a friend sent me a link to the video they made about it. Death's Garden doesn’t get mentioned in the video, but sure enough, I went through our backers and Dragonsteel Books – Sanderson’s publishing company – had preordered a paperback. What a great way to give back!
Melodie: What kinds of things have you learned from your experience with Kickstarter?
Loren: 30 days is a really long time! I wanted to start with a 30-day campaign (the longest they allow) to give Death’s Garden as long as possible to raise its funding, but as I write this – 3 weeks in – 30 days feels like a long time to keep trying to get the word out.
Melodie: When and where can fans and curious folks find Death's Garden Revisited?
Loren: Please watch for news about the book at LorenRhoads.com. I’m working on setting up the preordering system now!
Just as an FYI, the Kickstarter's last day of funding is Saturday, April 16th.