Wellingtonian James Robinson moved to Boston in August 2010. Nearly a year later, he started Voyages in America, a blog documenting his experience as a Kiwi living in the US.
The blog had a good run as part of the Stuff website but was cancelled this month. So James decided it was time to take it up to the next level - by working on a book based on Voyages in America. And, like Uncle Sam, he needs you to help successfully fund his venture.
James last week launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund his new venture, the book based on the now defunct blog. The goal of the campaign is to raise US$15,000, which will allow James to be able to afford having the time off to write, as well as all the expenses that come with self-publishing (hiring a designer, for example).
In less than a week, the campaign hit $5000 and is now over a third of the way to being fully funded.
“It's been great. Really nerve-wrecking, but great. I didn't quite know what to expect. My blog readers really reached out and showed a lot of support to me when the blog was ended and that has translated into a really warm and receptive response to the idea of a book,” he says.
The blog had an average monthly audience of 45,000 readers and has over 1500 followers on Facebook.
He knew that, coming from a country of expats himself, his experience would resonate with a lot of people but he also realised he was coming at it from an unusual angle - something that ended up working in his favour. “Most of the attention in New Zealand is given to bemoaning the fact we can't keep more people on our shores. Not the journey those expats go on. So a blog that acknowledged the expat experience, the feeling of loving New Zealand but setting up shop and building a life somewhere else (my girlfriend, now wife is American, so I knew I wasn't going back), was a new thing that people were really into,” he explains.
James will self-publish the book, which he says will be more than a mere collection of his blog posts.
“The blog is my story and my observations but it's told in parts and fits and starts and I touch on something, come back to it later on, elaborate, rethink, revisit. I want to reorder the personal material into a narrative and then take this further, to make it deeper, more story based. I then want to take my best, crispest essays on American culture and life and draw them out, sharpen them, work on them too,” he says. “Blogs are written as a way to start an individual discussion on that day. Books are different. The tone, the relationship with reader, the pacing. I envisage it maybe being two-thirds reworked, reordered material and one third new stuff.”
The finished product should be ready in May 2014, according to his estimates. “For me, it is a matter of moving quickly and utilising the freedom of self-publishing, but not tripping over yourself,” he explains.
He’s expecting to spend three months writing the book, following by two months dedicated to design, editing, proofing, layout and one month for production, PR and marketing.
“It's going to be a lot of work. Sometimes it seems like an insane undertaking, but it's the most I've ever been excited about something. In many ways, this book feels like the culmination of all the learning and experience I've picked in 12 years working in the media,” the Kiwi expat adds.