Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Using Kickstarter’s Drip Platform to Write a New Kind of Novel: guest blog by Craig Engler

The Last Days of Earth starts when everyone on the planet learns the world will be destroyed in six months. It follows the lives of six characters who are uniquely impacted by the news and who will find their lives changed and intertwined in unexpected ways.

It was inspired by a quote from Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, who said: “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” 

I originally wrote The Last Days of Earth as a TV pilot, but realized when I was done it needed to be a novel first. But not just any novel. The story felt like it would be best told in serialized installments. So I decided to write a serial.

Then when I began working on it I saw that it was going to be bigger than just a single novel. So, not just one serial novel but three short serialized novels that would be delivered with breaks between them, like TV seasons.

That felt closer to the shape of the story but still wasn’t quite right. So I decided that as people read the story, they’d also receive physical objects in the mail timed to arrived at key points in the narrative. 

Wait, what?

That idea might sound odd, but it actually has its roots in narrative theory. Specifically with an idea called paratext. 

Paratext is anything that accompanies the main text of a work but isn’t directly a part of it. Like a foreword or a blurb or the cover art of a book. While paratext is separate from the primary work, it influences how we experience the text.  

Literary theorist Gerard Genette suggests paratext can create “a better reception for the text and a more pertinent reading of it.” Paratext also asks the question, where does narrative end and the “real world” begin?

With The Last Days of Earth I wanted to push paratext to the extreme and create physical objects that would influence how people read the main narrative and help put them into the story, which is a present day thriller about the end of the world. That felt like the last piece I was missing.

But now that I finally knew how the story needed to be told, there was no mechanism to publish a novel like that. Readers wouldn’t buy the book in the traditional sense. Instead they’d subscribe to it. I needed a platform for both payment and digital distribution, which I didn’t have.

Then a chance encounter with my friend Margot Atwell, the Director of Publishing at Kickstarter, gave me just what I needed. Kickstarter was going to launch a new platform called Drip. While Kickstarter was designed for one-time funding, Drip was created as a venue for ongoing funding, such as recurring subscriptions.  

Even better, Kickstarter members can use their existing logins to seamlessly access Drip, giving Drip an installed base of more than 13 million members. Far more than something like Patreon.

So with the help of Kickstarter and Drip, The Last Days of Earth was born. It’s currently in its founding period, which means anyone who signs up now becomes a Founding Member. Founders get special rewards and will forever have a privileged status with the project. With The Last Days of Earth, Founders also become part of an advisory board for the project, able to influence how it develops.

You can sign up for The Last Days of Earth at

About Craig Engler:

Craig Engler is a TV writer who co-created the hit Syfy series Z Nation, currently in its fourth season. He’s written articles for publications like The New York Times and Wired, as well as comics, short stories, a non-fiction book and films. His new project The Last Days of Earth can be found at

No comments:

Post a Comment