*Off on a Comet!* – Project proposal for Leanpub by First Frontier Press

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## who:

**First Frontier Press** is [Mike Despotovic](mailto:mdmaster250 AT gmail.com), [Tilman Queitsch](mailto:tqueitsc AT sfu.ca) and [Amanda Smith](mailto:thefrontlawn AT gmail.com). We publish old and new science fiction as a means of exploring a brave new world of digital book publishing.

## what:

Using the web-based digital publishing tool [LeanPub](https://leanpub.com) we’ll take an agile approach to publishing, building off a minimum viable product to produce a reissue of Jules Vernes’ 1887 sci-fi cult classic *Off on a Comet!*

Much like Verne and the science fiction genre, we’re exploring new territory and attempting to push boundaries with our methodology and practice. Our goal is to use LeanPub to build excitement around the wonderful world of Sci-fi and our reissued Verne classic while it is in the process of publication.

## when:

LeanPub is all about publishing early and often, and also about publishing quickly. Fittingly, we’ll produce our first title in five weeks.

>Week 1 – First Frontier Press is founded
>> First manuscript acquired

>Week 2 – Editing and production begin
>> First output

>Week 3 – Reassessment of serial strategy and, if necessary, pivot
>>Develop promotional strategy

>Week 4 – Develop distribution strategy

>Week 5 – Final product released

## where:

Because we’re working with a web-based platform, we can work from anywhere. We’ll make use of online conference tools like Google Hangouts and convene in our homes and coffee shops.

## how:

LeanPub is based on agile development principles and we’re going to borrow these—as well as other dev approaches—to produce our book. We will prepare our text in WordPress, not only because this is the prefered method for assignment submission but also because LeanPub lets us import blog posts as chapters. LeanPub automatically converts RSS feeds into Markdown for us, but to familiarize ourselves with markdown syntax we’ll (probably) produce our initial blog-chapters in markdown as well. We are currently considering publishing the book as a serial.

## why:

Science fiction is all about exploring something new and unimagined. Likewise, we’re experimenting with a new platform. Sci-fi readers are also voracious. We need a method for producing content almost as quickly as they can consume it. LeanPub is an incredibly efficient publishing tool. Because sci-fi is such a massive market, we’re fairly confident of a large readership. But LeanPub lets us find this out with relatively minimal risk up front. It costs nothing but our own time to publish and reader demand will let us know if we should continue. While we’re still working on later chapters we can promote our book—LeanPub conveniently lets us set up a promo page and sample download. Once the book is complete, it is already on a convenient distribution platform that takes minimal royalties.

LeanPub is designed for publication in serial format. In addition to its genre and topic, we chose this book because, like many books of the time *Off on a Comet!* was originally published in serial form. We will release five chapters at a time over 4 weeks, gauge the response and then reassess if it’s the right publication approach for this book.

## challenges:

We’re sure to run into obstacles on our way to successful publication. For example, will WordPress prove to be an appropriate tool for editing books? Will it offer the features we require and that our readers are looking for? What are the pros and cons of writing directly on Leanpub versus working with WordPress? What will be the best way to secure consistency and versioning with Leanpub and WordPress? Also, being able to choose from three default settings for technical, business and fiction seems handy at first glance, but what are the trade-offs of these presets when it comes to fine-tuning layout and design? Finally and most essentially, is Leanpub a good platform for republishing a title?

We’re certain the answers are out there.

One thought on “*Off on a Comet!* – Project proposal for Leanpub by First Frontier Press

  1. JMax

    An excellent start. I like that you’ve explained your goals and rationale.

    One thought: I appreciate what you say about using WordPress to prepare the text… but do consider the merits of working in plain text too. You might check in with your colleagues in Butler Press, who are also in a markdown-based environment.

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