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University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Student uses crowdfunding website to generate backers for first novel

Perhaps it’s not unusual for a college student to dream of pouring his heart into writing the proverbial all-American novel. But it isn’t too often he actually completes that novel and then finds a “novel” way to financially propel it to publication, let alone handle its marketing and distribution costs.

marc9However, that is exactly what UALR senior Marc Gray has accomplished with his recently completed first novel, Son of The Solace.

Gray, a speech communication and professional and technical writing major, sought help through Kickstarter.com. The online business bills itself as the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects.

With help from his friend Charlie Cox, Gray made his best pitch and posted the video online in late May.

What started out as a classroom assignment to pitch a mock crowdsourcing project turned into the real deal. By July 6, Gray had 74 backers who each contributed just enough to help him reach his goal of $3,500 to be self-published, retain the book rights, and begin marketing his work.

“If I had gotten just $30 less, I wouldn’t have made it,” he said. “It truly was a collective effort and I am just so grateful to everyone who contributed.”

Just this week, Gray was able to send a $500 check to pay for a structural edit of his story about a young graduate student named Chance Sullivan, who is stripped of his mortality after being assailed by a vampire.

In the story, the lead character is confronted with finding new meanings in his existence as an immortal. He must make the poignant choice of how much of his old life he can take with him; whether his humanity, or the people he loves. As Gray puts it, in becoming a monster, Chance Sullivan discovers what it means to be human.

Marcus Gray's book, Son of The Solace

Marcus Gray’s book, Son of The Solace

Gray said Aristotle’s six elements of drama – plot, theme, character, dialogue, rhythm, and spectacle – served as a guidepost in telling the tale.

Additional funding will pay for copy editing and final packaging of the product, as well as purchasing additional copies to further distribute and market it. After that, any leftover amounts will fund an eventual book tour.

Gray expects the book to go to publishing by February 2014.