David Bell, ex-creative director at Media Design School's creative advertising course and the recipient of the 2011 lifetime achievement award at Axis, has been on a mission to get his book The Dog Hunters in front of as many people as possible since it was published in July. Sales are building slowly as word spreads, he says, and so far he's been spreading it via social media and at shows like Armageddon. And now he's harnessing the power of Kickstarter to help fund an illustrated version.
Bell says the book, an "epic reworking of the legend of Gelert the wolfhound and Prince Llewelyn, in a sprawling, dog-infested medieval mystery", has already been getting five-star reviews. So he's obviously no slouch behind the keyboard. And, as the drawings attest, a life spent honing his craft in advertising means he's pretty handy on the other end of a pen, too.
"It started as an eBook, but paperback sales outstrip digital by five to one. I'm actively working to promote it worldwide, including doing publicity in the UK and USA over December and January. Meanwhile, many people have been pleading with me for the illustrated version. When I took the book to 'Armageddon', Auckland's pop culture expo, over Labour weekend, I did 'live drawings' and we sold nearly as many prints of drawings as we did copies of the book. Compelling evidence that there's a big market for the pictorial version."
He says illustrating the book is a big task as it's 330 pages long, and he needs to do a minimum of 100 more drawings to bring the narrative to life. So funds raised through Kickstarter will be used mainly to help give him time to finish the drawings and then prepare them for publication, which involves lots of scanning and fiddling around in InDesign and Photoshop.
"I will also import several hundred copies to New Zealand so that Kiwis can buy the book without incurring the extra, substantial postage costs. The rest of the money money will be spent promoting the book."
At present, he's up to 16 pledges and about $800.
"It's slow but steady and a fascinating thing to watch unfold. It would be great to reach the end $15,000 but even if it doesn't make it, it's fun and gets the book out in another way. Whatever happens, there will be the illustrated version, so it's more like an intellectual exercise than a desperate plea for cash."
Bell is also writing the second book in The Dog Hunters series and he says the drawings for the first book are "actually helping me write the second. Because drawing is a very different process to writing, the two complement and refresh and drive each other."