I'm writing a utopian novel
And a newsletter imagining a more beautiful future. Here's how it's going to work.
Last September, I debuted my gothic novel Obscurity as a serial. I sent one chapter to my newsletter subscribers every week until it was done, and now I am holding the (very) first edition in my hands and have even sent it off to my paid subscribers at the Collector tier.
My experiment was a success, even if I tweaked it so many times as I went. My hypothesis was that serial fiction—where readers pay a monthly or yearly subscription—would be a better way for authors to earn a living from their work than putting their books on Amazon for $10. I was right!
Inspired by The Count of Monte Cristo, which was published as a serial with great success, I started with 1,700 newsletter subscribers and grew that to 6,066 over the course of the last year—262 of which became paying subscribers, earning my newsletter $16,707.85 in gross volume!!!
Now, exactly one year later, I’m getting ready to debut my utopian novel Oblivion as a serial and I’m tweaking my process once again. Here’s everything you need to know about Oblivion and how I’m going to publish it this year. I hope you’ll join me.
Oblivion is a utopian book project
Oblivion is a utopian book project that consists of two parts: a utopian novel and a collection of essays imagining a more beautiful future.
The novel can best be described as surrealist fantasy. It begins when a young woman awakes in a canoe, adrift against some tropical shore, with no recollection of her past or how she came to be there. As she ventures into paradise, we discover all the beauty the future has to offer, the past she has left behind, and a community of people very interested in why she’s there.
While I am writing the novel, I will also be publishing essays on all the research that will go into imagining that beautiful world. Some of the things I want to explore include: What is the ideal form of government? How can all humans be financially supported? What might the ocean be like if everything goes perfectly? How might humans evolve further? How might genetic modification alter humanity? Can we eradicate disease? Is everyone still looking at their phones in utopia?
Subscribers will receive a new newsletter every Monday, alternating between essays imagining a more beautiful future and the novel chapters that see that more beautiful future come to life. I am literally on the edge of my seat waiting to write all of it. (Can we skip the launch post and get to the good part already? Patience, Substack wants me to first ask if you’d be interested in following my Oblivion project.) Join me?
The Novelleist is a reader-supported publication. To follow the Oblivion project, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
As for the details…..
Free subscribers receive
📜 Every essay and novel chapter
This time around, free subscribers will receive every essay and novel chapter. I want everyone to be able to read my writing!
Paid subscribers receive
✨ Author commentary beneath each novel chapter
💭 Comment on posts and connect with other utopian thinkers
🏝 Private discussion threads in my online community
🔏 Paid posts providing a behind-the-scenes look at my publishing process
✍🏻 Writing prompts on utopian topics a month before I write about them. I’ll share links to your posts in monthly roundups I send on each topic and essays may be included in my print edition at the end. Let’s brainstorm a better world together!
For the cost of an annual magazine subscription, unlock the complete Oblivion experience ✨
There’s a little something extra for my subscribers at the Collector tier….
📖 Collector’s edition copies of the books when they’re done
🖋 Bi-monthly literary salon discussions on utopia
📲 Start discussions in my private community
💎 Attend quarterly literary salons about how we can create a more beautiful world.
I have beautiful plans for the Oblivion books—they will be white linen and gold embossed, but taller than Obscurity (which is black linen and gold embossed and shorter). I want my gothic book and my utopian books to look beautiful shelved together—the dark and the light, the past and the future.
I will print these books for my subscribers at the Collector tier—one book per year of subscription. Next year, for example, you might receive Oblivion: Volume One, the next year you might receive Oblivion: Volume Two. Both would be collections of essays imagining a more beautiful future. I’ll only send the novels as they are complete.
If the project continues for five years, you will have fine non-fiction books plus a novel or two. All books will be signed, and Collectors who subscribe before the print deadline will have their names printed in the acknowledgment section of the book.
Subscribe at the collector tier to get the print books, start discussions in the community, and join the inner circle.
✍🏻 The first subscribers to contribute $1,000 to my project will get to write the introductions to one of my printed Oblivion books. You might get there by being a collector five years in a row, or you might get there by penciling in whatever amount you’d like when you purchase your collector subscription to get there faster.
I wanted to add some special features for those who become longtime subscribers of my work. So the first two subscribers to contribute $1,000 to my project will get to write the introductions to Oblivion and the Oblivion companion. You might get there by being a collector five years in a row, or you might get there by penciling in whatever amount you’d like when you purchase your collector subscription to get there faster.
Inspired by so many authors who have found unique ways to collaborate with their readers on Kickstarter, I wanted to create a unique way those most supportive of my work could become part of the process (without launching a Kickstarter) and I thought this would be fun way to do that.
However you’d like to be part of this project, I’d love to have you.
My dream for all of this
By the end of this book I want to have written two books: a utopian novel and its companion, a collection of essays imagining a more beautiful future.
I also want to have created a collective of authors writing utopian novels—with so many of us dreaming up a more beautiful future that we literally create the utopian genre, finally tipping the scales away from dystopian fiction’s hold on the market. Maybe we even link to one another’s works in our chapters, or form worlds out of each other’s cities or inspire one another’s work with our essays.
If I’m really dreaming, I would also love to make a living doing it. To have a sustainable future writing novels and this newsletter, and to be able to take on another book project after this one (I even have an idea of what that next project might be!!!!). It may be a dream, but I’m very into reaching for dreams.
Thank you so much for contributing to this project as a free or paid subscriber. However you decide to engage with my art, I am beyond grateful. Just the fact you are here means the world to me.
The prologue of Oblivion, with author commentary for paid subscribers, is coming to you next Monday! I can’t wait!