Now for something different! My guest today is Kris Faatz (rhymes with skates). Her second novel, Fourteen Stones, is newly released, and her journey to publish this fantasy novel opened up new possibilities.
Writing Tip for Today: Kris outlines the process she went through to publish her sophomore novel:
Last week, my copies of my new novel Fourteen Stones arrived, and I got to see the book for the first time. Fourteen Stones is my second novel and my first full-length fantasy. I used to be an entirely “literary” writer, but this book was so much fun that ever since, I’ve tried to put a twist of magic into everything I work on.
Fourteen Stones had an unusual journey to publication. When I finished it in 2018, I was sure I wanted a traditional press, preferably a big one, and started trying for an agent. I found, though, that the novel was tough to categorize. It’s fantasy, but not Lord of the Rings-style swords and sorcery, or American Gods-style surrealism/horror. It’s set in a fictional world, and runs on adventure and its own brand of magic, but it’s entirely character-driven. Its central conflict and resolution are unusual too.
Just What Is It?
Agents didn’t know what to make of it. On the website Duotrope, I started hunting for indie publishers and stumbled on Patchwork Raven, a small press in New Zealand. They caught my eye with their unique style – they called themselves “the garage band of indie publishers” – and their passion for unusual, beautiful stories. A tiny press on the other side of the world was very different from what I’d originally hoped for, but I thought it might be worth a try. “Unusual and beautiful” summed up Fourteen Stones pretty well.
I sent them my manuscript in the fall of 2019. When Covid hit, I dug back into the MS in a bid for sanity and was in mid-revision that summer when I got an email from Jax Goss at Patchwork Raven. “I would be thrilled to publish this.” By then, being the work-obsessed writer I am, I had another draft. I sent it to her, she very patiently read it, and in February of 2021 told me she still wanted to offer me a contract.
From the first, I was impressed with her love for the story and her straightforward, down-to-earth approach to publishing. She explained that she used a different model: crowdfunding the release of new books. I’d never heard of doing that before, but it made a lot of sense. The first print run would be funded by pledges from people who would want the book when it came out. Neither Jax nor I had to put money on the line to make it happen. Neither of us would have to hustle to recoup an investment once the book came out, which is one of the big pitfalls of traditional publishing. And we would have a ready-made audience waiting for Fourteen Stones.
Crowdfunding A Dream
We crowdfunded it in August 2022. That process was a little scary (for me), but Jax promised we’d hit the target, and we did. Throughout, I loved having such an equal partnership with my publisher. She cared about the book as much as I did. I had a big say in all the artwork; Will Thompson, Patchwork Raven’s graphic artist, took my rough sketches of the countries in my fictional world and rendered them into real maps. We designed the cover together. When my books arrived last week, they were everything I’d hoped for. Visit Fourteen Stones – Kris Faatz to purchase your copy or for more information.
Had I done the right thing to walk away from traditional publishing?
After I signed with Jax, I did ask myself – many times – if by walking away from traditional publishing, I’d really done the right thing. I answer that now with an unqualified yes. Fourteen Stones had the kind of champion it deserved, and I’m thrilled to see our project go out into the world.
Kris Faatz’s short fiction has appeared in journals including Los Angeles Review and Typehouse, and received NELLE Journal’s 2022 Three Sisters Award. Her two novels are Fourteen Stones and To Love A Stranger (Blue Moon Publishers, 2017). Kris teaches creative writing online and is a performing musician. Visit her at krisfaatz.com.
Book page: Fourteen Stones – Kris Faatz
Patchwork Raven: www.patchworkraven.com
2 comments on “A Creative Publishing Solution–Guest Post with Kris Faatz”
Thank you for sharing this guest post with us. I am so impressed with your helpful emails…just sometimes struggling to find time to put your insights into practice. I have occasionally shared your wisdom with others and hopefully they also follow you. Thank you again.
Kris has had a fascinating path to publication, hasn’t she? I’m so glad you like the tips. We all struggle to make writing a priority–just keep at it!
And thanks for sharing with others!