UALR Student Funds First Novel Through Kickstarter

Note: Since exploring the world of crowdfunding with this cover story in May, we've decided to periodically check in with projects in progress on sites including Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Today, we look at book project by a University of Arkansas at Little Rock student.

Venture: "Son of The Solace," a young adult novel about Chance Sullivan, a graduate student who must come to terms with immortality after being attacked by a vampire. 

Progress: Raised $3,528 of a $3,500 goal by the July 6 deadline.

Backers so far: 74

Synopsis: Marc Gray, a senior at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, has used Kickstarter to crowd fund the publishing of his first book, "Son of The Solace." 

With help from 74 backers, Gray successfully raised $3,528 of his $3,500 goal by his July 6 deadline. Most recently, he has sent his 471-page first draft to a professional editor who will be paid $500 of the Kickstarter-raised funds.

After the editing process is complete, Gray plans to publish the novel through Outskirts Press of Parker, Colo., which allows authors to retain the rights to their works while offering many of the services provided by traditional publishing companies. Gray said "Son of The Solace" should be available in February. 

Gray said he leveraged an established network of family, friends and acquaintances to fund the project. He spent two months "digitally panhandling" on Facebook, and his efforts paid off: almost 95 percent of his backers are people he knows.

"I think Kickstarter provides a way to where people can help out a friend and feel good — like they're doing something to promote creativity in their community or just in an industry that they're interested in," Gray said. 

Gray's friendship with Charlie Cox, an employee at the CustomXM marketing firm in North Little Rock, also had an impact on the project. Cox oversaw the filming and editing of the video that appears on the Gray's Kickstarter page. Projects with videos have an average success rate of 50 percent, while those without videos only have a 30 percent chance of being funded, according to Kickstarter. 

In addition to funding his own creative pursuits through Kickstarter, Gray has also contributed to two successful projects based in Little Rock. He said the crowd funding platform provides a lot of opportunity for people with creative ideas when "the only thing that's standing between them and pursuing a portion of their dream is just the financial component." 

While he plans to enter the traditional publishing world at some point in the future, Gray said he will likely raise funds through Kickstarter to self-publish the sequel to "Son of The Solace."