I recently got to chat with Tao Wong about cozy fantasy, food in books, and Kickstarter projects. Here is our conversation:
KRR Lockhaven- What made you want to launch a project on Kickstarter?
Tao Wong- Kickstarter is perfect for allaying the cost and risk of a project, which is important when breaking into a new genre. In addition, we're looking to find new readers all the time and the Kickstarter eco-system seemed like a great place to start on that.
KRRL- What drew you toward cozy fantasy?
TW- Food! I love writing about food and cooking in my other works, because I've got a personal interest in it. Combining food into a work has been something I've started and stopped multiple times, where most of the work shifted away from the food all too fast. On top of that, works like Restaurant from Another World and Dungeon Cooking from light novels and Travis's Legends and Lattes were so fun and relaxing to read, that I realised that this might be the format that allowed me to do what I wanted.
KRRL- There really is an interesting link between cozy books and food that just works! What do you think the future of the cozy fantasy genre looks like?
TW- I'm not sure actually. I think there's going to be a lot of writers delving into it, and if there is a future, I'd look at Japanese light novels which have been working 'cozy' fantasies for ages.
KRRL- I'm ashamed to say I haven't read a Japanese light novel yet. I'll have to remedy that soon! Tell me about your book, The Nameless Restaurant.
TW- I set The Nameless Restaurant in my Hidden Universe, which I first started writing in my Hidden Wishes trilogy. It's a low-stakes work that revolves around a single evening, structured around a series of dishes and the characters who come to eat in Mo Meng's restaurant. One of the central problems for Mo Meng, the proprietor, is that he dislikes interacting with people but at the same time, you can't really have a restaurant without customers. So, he struggles with the duality of loving to cook and wanting people to enjoy his dishes and having to actually, you know, deal with people. Especially when the people who come are all powerful supernatural forces who bring their own problems to his restaurant.
KRRL- What has been the biggest challenge of running a Kickstarter?
Even with a digital-only Kickstarter, there’s a lot that goes into planning before the Kickstarter and into distribution and logistics after the Kickstarter. I’m lucky that I have experience with distribution (I owned a game store in another life) and a team behind me to help, but it can still be a very time-consuming process. If you’re planning a Kickstarter, don’t rush, and make sure to over-estimate your timelines. That will also come in handy if any vendors or artists you work with experience delays, which happened to me with a Kickstarter I ran last year.
KRRL- What has been your favorite part about running a Kickstarter?
TW- Through Kickstarter, I get a chance to put my books in front of a new audience that doesn’t know me or my work. Finding new readers – and them in turn finding all my other books – and engaging with them is always an amazing thing.
KRRL- Any advice for would-be authors thinking about Kickstarter?
TW- Kickstarter uses all-or-nothing funding, so make sure to think about that when setting your goal. It’s better to set the official goal to something lower (but that will still fund your minimum expenses if you’re ordering a print run) and have a higher amount be your personal goal. Otherwise, you might have to fund the remaining project yourself or lose out on whatever amount you’ve raised!
KRRL- I wish I'd talked to you before launching my project! I worry at times that I set my goal too high. Do you anticipate using Kickstarter again?
TW- Yes, 100%! It’s a great way to create a reader base outside of Amazon/Kindle Unlimited or fund special projects like deluxe editions. I think a lot more authors will be using Kickstarter going forward.
KRRL- Well, as a backer of The Nameless Restaurant, I'm really looking forward to it! Congrats on getting fully funded, and good luck on your future projects! Thank you for taking the time to chat!
TW- Thank you!
The Kickstarter for The Nameless Restaurant only runs until Wednesday morning(3/29)! Get in while you can!