Announcing 12 for ’12

Earlier this year, I had this insane idea, and I’ve been trying to talk myself out of it ever since. I call it “12 for ’12.”

It’s a year-long project in which I plan to write a novel every month in 2012.

Yeah, I know. It’s nuts, but I can’t get it out of my head.

It may not be as insane as it sounds. By novel, I mean a work of fiction that’s at least 50,000 words. The Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards each define a novel as anything over 40,000 words, but I want to be a bit more ambitious.

Fifty thousand words may seem like a lot, but most of my novels range from 80–100,000 words, so that makes these substantially shorter, more in line with the size of novels that used to get published before the publishing industry made the push for doorstop-sized tomes we see on shelves now that take years to write and months to read.

That’s also, not coincidentally, the number of words writers shoot for during National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo happens in November every year, which means it’s just around the corner. Last year, over 200,000 people gave it a shot, and 37,500 actually crossed the finish line on time. Of course, I’m hoping to take on not a month-long sprint but a year-long marathon.

I’m a full-time writer — this is my day job — and disasters aside, I write fast, often between 3,000 to 5,000 words per day. That makes 50,000 per month eminently doable. Toss in the other freelance gigs I don’t plan to give up, though, like writing the Magic: The Gathering comic for IDW, and that makes it a bit more of a press.

No matter what angle I attack this from, though, it’s going to consume a lot of time. Much as I’d love to, I can’t feed my kids if I take the better part of my year off to write a dozen novels. That’s where you can help.

I’m planning to launch a Kickstarter project on November 1 — right along with NaNoWriMo— to line up preorders for the books. This is a crowd funding system in which you can pledge a certain amount of money toward a goal that I establish. If we meet the goal, your credit card gets charged, and I get to work. If it falls short, you don’t get charged, and I go on my merry way.

This isn’t a charity, though, in any sense. In exchange for your hard-earned bucks, you can pick from a variety of rewards, including ebooks, softcovers, hardcovers, your name as a character, and so on.

For an excellent example, check out Tobias Buckell’s The Apocalypse Ocean novel, which just got funded last night. Or Jeremy Keller’s Technoir RPG. Or Gareth-Michael Skarka’s Far West RPG, for which I promised to write a short story as part of the campaign.

I’m still wrestling with the format of the project at the moment, and with the types of rewards I hope to offer. I might set it up as a series of four trilogies rather than as a single, massive challenge. I might offer the chance to look over my virtual shoulder as I write. In the end, though, the idea remains the same.

I’d like to write a dozen novels next year, and I want you to dare me to do it.