“Believe, by RKFDnews” is a 256 page book that I collaborated on with many regional artists and small business owners. I served as its lead director of chaos to build the brand and its content to gain a grassroots northern Illinois following. I led the initiative to publish a book; serving as its lead author, editor, illustrator and prankster under the imprint of “Life Artners Publishing” with my dear friend, Jason “Mossy” Vaughn. The book doesn’t exist without its digital origins.

Mossy, myself, and a few friends—Zak Rotello, notably—founded the website, RKFDnews.com, in the summer of 2012. It began with the intents of it becoming a collaborative public performance art piece—a social media experiment. It unraveled into something larger than we intended. The goal was to write stories (as stupid as they could be) about our hometown. “Inside baseball,” you could say. It took off, igniting a rash of attacks in our direction—fake news labels, etc. We were fake news before it was a trend with the biggest difference being that we are artists—not bozo politicians and scumbag marketers—who knowingly made an effort to share real stories. Our goal was never to be about fake news; our goal was to write the worst stories possible involving local themes to see what people in the community gravitated towards online. Sad to say that most people will believe anything they read on the internet, and we proved it more than once.

Online articles became so popular between 2012 until late 2014 that I needed to shut down the site a few times due to GPU server fees that I was accruing from traffic spikes. Advertisers were afraid to do business with us, and so gaining revenue from the site seemed nearly impossible to support it—and recouping money lost to cover the site’s popularity became a burden for me to manage personally.

I approached Zak and Mossy about publishing a book to assist with server spike fees. We also sold tee shirts, but there never seemed to be enough coming in to cover a story getting nailed 150,000 by readers in a 48 hour span. We discovered throughout 2015 that sales from the book couldn’t cover the immediate needs of the site’s server security and health. The joke was on us in the end—me, basically. I’m the one who pays for the site’s hosting. The tradeoff was simple—I pick and choose when to make RKFDnews.com public, often shutting it down for months at a time until recently, over two years until making it live again in January 2020 to celebrate the 5 year anniversary of the book. The moment another story goes viral, I’ll possibly shut it down again to avoid escalating GPU fees.

“Believe,” the book, was published in 2014 featuring our most populated online stories. It’s available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other online retailers. People either love it or hate it— I could care less either way because my friends and I wrote a book that sprouted from a terrible prank which most people can’t say they’ve accomplished at the end of their passionless work days.

ClientLife Artners Publishing, RKFDnews.comServicesPublisher, Writing, Editing, Art Direction, Owner, CollaboratorYear2014Linkrkfdnews.com

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