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‘SHADOWLAND’ FUNDRAISER and FAQ!!!

June 2, 2014

Brooke Burgess

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(by Brooke Burgess)

Q: What’s this all ABOUT?

Like the video says – I’m seeking support for my 5-book middle grade (8-12yrs) contemporary children’s fantasy series: The Shadowland Saga.

Q: What’s the quick and dirty way to donate?

PAYPAL or INTERAC e-PAYMENT (for Canucks) to my mail:

bb@brookeburgess.com

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paypal donation button

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Q: Why not a formal KICKSTARTER/Indiegogo?

Scope. The stats show that the formal crowd-funding campaigns that tend to be the most successful are related to tech, games, film/TV, and content with established brands (I’m looking at you, Reading Rainbow).  This is just a bunch of books – and the funding goal ain’t that high – so I wanted to keep the focus on close friends, industry peers, and hardcore fans of my previous work with this more personal approach.

Now…if the series takes off, and there’s a rabid audience eager to fund the launch of a full blown transmedia experience of the narrative world?  Then you’ll see Shadowland on Kickstarter in a big way. Count on it.

Q: Why NOW? The first book isn’t even published yet!

Heard of Wattpad? It’s Facebook for readers. Over 25 million of ‘em.

I posted the first six (unedited) chapters of the book there this spring to a great response. A month ago, an editor for the service got in touch and asked if the whole story was complete. It was. Then he asked if I’d be interested in FEATURING it on their front page for a month, and at the top of their Featured List for five more, starting this July.

So…it’s a chance to reach thousands (and potentially millions) of new readers who could evangelize the story’s ‘brand’ before it officially launches…but, I’d be giving away the first book for free. Which is a beautiful idea in theory — especially considering the themes of the story — and has the potential to drive more success later thanks to a loyal audience.

Hey, it’s worked before.

Q: What’s the STORY, morning glory? 

Thrills. Chills. Mystery. Drama. Magic. Adventure. Pirates! And CATS!!!

The Shadowland Saga is a story loosely based on actual events – and, more importantly, a series of life-altering dreams – from my childhood in rural Nova Scotia. Curious yet?  Here’s the bittersweet genesis of it all, which inspired one close friend to remark, ‘Jeez, Brooke…that sounds like the origin story of a pre-teen superhero?’  And there was an eerie kinda truth in her words.

The synopsis of the first book in the series, The Cat’s Maw:

In the sleepy town of Appleton, 10yr-old loner Billy Brahm follows a cat onto the road and is struck by a car. His leg is shattered, his summer ruined, and his brief life is changed forever. He returns home from the hospital, and the mysterious cat is waiting for him. That night, dark and prophetic dreams haunt the boy — visions that seem born of an impossible place. Is this strange realm the key to healing his broken body? Is the cat with the golden eyes there to help the boy, or to unleash the nightmares into the waking world?

Too frightened to share the truth with his strict adoptive parents, Billy realizes that the only ones he can turn to are the country vet’s tomboy daughter, the town’s ‘crazy cat lady’, and a robed, tea-drinking mystic from the other side…

The tiger named Tao.

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Q: Why do you NEED money? You’re living it up in Asia!

Interesting story, that…

Last spring, I was called back to Canada to do some narrative design consulting for a big multinational media company that shall remain nameless.  The collaboration was disappointing, to say the least – I was lucky to have my relocation and living costs covered when all was said and done.

Flash forward to last September. I was flown out to Paris for a meeting with another nameless media powerhouse to discuss a major collaboration. Dream gig with dream pay. They made an offer, and I was to receive my relocation and work visa paperwork the following March.  To save money, I had them fly me back to Asia so I could start writing the first book in earnest. At least I could finish that one before my funds and credit dried up, and I embarked on a new life in France…

I didn’t learn until the end of THIS February that someone was hired internally to save money.  Which left me dans la merde. 

Q: What’s your FUNDING GOAL, and what happens if you surpass it?

I’m trying to raise approx 30K for the entire series. As I outline in the video, this will cover:

  • Professional editing
  • Industry-standard layout
  • Original illustrations (cover and interior panels)
  • Audiobooks (talent and engineering)
  • P & P (publishing and promotion)
  • BASIC living expenses

If a miracle happens, and I somehow surpass this goal?  Then every cent would go into top-notch TRANSLATIONS: French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, and multiple Asian languages. Anywhere that cats and quality children’s literature are loved and appreciated!

Q: Okay…then how much are those LIVING EXPENSES, anyway?

Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and the like have been a godsend.  ‘Oh my Buddha!’ as the locals like to say.  Rents are cheap, food’s even cheaper (especially in the north), and wifi is free and abundant.  And that’s all I really need:

  • I can survive on $500/month.  (single room + 2 meals/day)
  • I can get by on $700/month.  (single room + A/C + meals)
  • I can thrive on $900/month. (room + meals + scooter + beer!)

So, yeah…I’m happy to plunk away on a laptop with a cracked screen and scribble outlines on a 50 cent notepad whilst snacking on local fruit, veg’, and a spicy curry or stir fry per day.

This campaign ain’t about lifestyle, friends – it’s about making a creative dream come true.

Q: What about BROKEN SAINTS? Didn’t you rake in the dough?

Okay — time to set the record straight on this issue once and for all:

  • During the creation of the web series (2000-2003), we self-funded the entire thing.  Fan donations and benefit concerts helped a little, adding approx 15K to our coffers.
  • In late 2004, we were awarded a 250K recoupable grant from Telefilm Canada – meaning that we had to pay it back.  The team swelled from 4 to 40, most working for ‘sweat equity’.  Sales of the original indie DVD barely dented that, PLUS we lost 60K on 2000 copies that fell into a black hole with a bankrupt distributor.
  • A year later, 20th Century Fox Home Video (yes, that FOX) agreed to worldwide distribution for the DVD set. Huzzah!  They gave us a low-mid 6-figure royalty advance, which we used for salaries, legal and licensing, and to pay back the lion’s share of the Telefilm grant.  By 2007, that bank account was a pleasant memory.
  • The DVD set has since sold 90K copies worldwide (not bad for no marketing spend!), but needed to sell – thanks to defective glue on the first run of cases and the classic rules of studio creative accounting (just ask Peter Jackson and friends) – 200K copies to ‘break even’ before they paid out a cent.

Q: Why not get a PUBLISHER ADVANCE like real writers do?

Publishers just aren’t forking out the dough like they used to.

The industry is in shambles, traditional powerhouse pubs in NY and London are tightening their belts and raising the gates, and debut authors (particularly in challenging genres like children’s fiction) are being offered tiny advances with draconian contracts that surrender all control of an original IP to their legal and marketing departments.  The days of Rowling-like success for new writers are over.

The more research I did, particularly surrounding fantasy and mystery/horror stories for young readers, the more I realized that self-publishing was simply the way to go.

Q: What if we’re LIKE YOU — too broke to help?  

That’s okay!  Here are some other great ways you can chip in:

  • Can you pimp the above video with a bit o’ glowing praise? 
  • Can you Tweet, Facebook, Tumblr, Google+, Reddit, re-blog, and bathroom-wall this post? 
  • Can you Like/Star and comment on the Wattpad chapters? 
  • Can you promise to say something nice on Amazon and Goodreads when the book comes out?  

Seriously, gang…every little bit helps!

Q: Who the hell are you? I ended up here by fluke. What have you DONE?

I hear ya’…we’ve all searched and clicked on questionable stuff before. No judgment here ;)

Scope out the PROJECTS folder if you’re the curious/due-diligence type. Oh, and here are links to two of my projects on Amazon, with a third due later this summer.

Q: How do we know you even like CATS, and aren’t just cashing in on the whole ‘I Can Has Cheezburger/Henri/Grumpy Cat’ thing?

I could explain, but I’ll just let my true love tell you with her eyes:

“He loves them almost TOO much…”

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Getting ‘Personal’…

June 23, 2012

Brooke Burgess

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These days, those ‘in the know’ say that it’s all about establishing your personal brand.  That potential partners and collaborators and clients need to know who you are, what you do, and where you stand professionally.   And this ‘you-ness’ needs to be infused in everything you touch:  your website, logos and imagery, promo materials, and especially your work.

And, as you can see from the shot above (and my url), I’m down with that*.  There’s nothing wrong with a little self-pimping, as long as it’s aligned with the spirit of one’s services and skills.  At the same time, I also believe that it’s okay to blur the lines between business and personality – hence ‘personal brand’.  By exposing different facets of yourself, you improve the chance of connecting on more (and perhaps deeper) levels with potential partners.  Which can only lead to a more satisfying relationship long-term, with fewer creative clashes and unpleasant surprises in the cards.

That’s why I’m not exactly shy with the social media presence.  Do I compartmentalize?  Absolutely.  But it’s not like the Facebook timeline is hidden (even if I do go on regular extended ‘hiatuses’).  And Twitter‘s out there for everyone to see, where I showcase my love of weird film/TV, mixed martial arts, and naughty comedians with wild abandon.  Which ties into a not-so-secret Tumblr feed, chock full of candid pics, short stories, and the occasional NSFW animated GIF.  And that page has been known to feature late-night ‘confessionals’ and small video experiments from my YouTube channel.

We all have so many sides to ourselves.  Combined, these tell our story.  And just like the transmedia principles I work with, I believe that the more we’re willing to share of ourselves – the more facets we cut, polish, and shed light upon – the more we’re able to shine.

* Logo/imagery created by (the Great) Dane Cypel.  MacBook/iPhone skins by Gelaskins.  Bizzy cards by MOO.

GAME OF THRONES (TCS)

April 9, 2012

Brooke Burgess

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As promised, it’s time for our first Transmedia Case Study (TCS).  In this bi-weekly series, I’ll be digging into a recognizable Big Media property – a major film, broadcast TV show, published book series, AAA videogame, popular comic book, indy/cult hit, or even a beloved consumer brand – and evaluating the effectiveness of its transmedia campaign.  To get things rolling, let’s start with an example of transmedia done right.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…GAME OF THRONES.

It’s a property close to my heart.  I read the first book in the early 90’s, and George R.R Martin’s fascinating tale of political intrigue, medieval warfare, and ‘mature fantasy’ captured me in its singular gravity.  Sadly, ‘life’ got in the way (as it so often does), and with no widespread Internets to keep abreast of series developments, A Song of Ice and Fire fell off the narrative radar.  But my time in Westeros would not be forgotten…

Flash-forward nearly 20 years.

I caught wind of the show going into development at HBO in 2007.  My biggest concern – you know, aside from the obvious ‘How the Hell are they going to pull off the sheer scope on TV???’ – was with audience awareness.  Sure, the books were best-sellers – and ‘fantasy’ had gotten a much-needed boost thanks to Tolkien going mainstream – but what about the masses? How were they going to reach the kind of audience numbers that would keep a show like this on the air, justify the hefty per-episode budgets, and make it must-see appointment television?

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