I know that people are visual and that they usually are only hooked by a picture or video.  But as the title implies, it could go either way…and I don’t have time to sift through pictures of happy or sad puppies/kittens to use to lure you in.  Especially considering a reader may become confused by seeing both a sad or happy creature to represent one story. Maybe my next blog post, the one that details the outcome.

For now, all I have is words…and all I’m here to do is describe the experience.

I have written past blogs about the self-publishing experience; how I’ve settled on Ingram Spark as my American on-demand printer, and how each book costs at least 9.00 to produce, plus shipping.  Once you resell, add in web costs, advertising, and shipping out, yet again…well, you pretty much figure out quickly that you need to join the rest of the big-boy publishers in choosing to print your finished work overseas.  Otherwise, there is no money to even make back what you have spent, much less “make” a living at trying to write.

But while you are trying to make a living at writing, you need to keep spending, to advertise what you have written, to keep websites up and running; to pay copy editors and book design teams.  Kickstarter seemed like a great idea…we could pre-sell our books, gather the monies needed for a first run…and go from there.

We did want to offer cool “rewards” in exchange for pledges and donations though, especially as we hate the idea of seemingly being beggars.  I had to talk my artist/illustrator friend into the idea, as she had no taste for it at all.  She and I have been co-partners in this since the beginning, sharing words and pictures, and equal monetary investments, as well as time towards our first two picture-books.

So we spent even more! A limited-run 200 count of 2015 calendars…at a cost of $1,600 just for the printing (Proudly done in the good ol’ U.S.of A.) The design production alone was $500.00…but you have to pay to play, right? The quality is as fine, if not better than what you find in stores.  And even though it was created using paintings based on a children’s picture book, it has appealed to every adult who has seen it.

Next went more money, spent on producing giclees (highly advanced ink techniques, on a canvas-wrapped frame, made to appear just like the real painting, and meant to last without fading, like forever…) of the actual paintings.  Ready to hang, no framing necessary!

Then came a video shoot…which cost roughly 3K.

Then a book launching/Kickstarter promotional party…to offer up a presentation of our physical wares.  It was a success, the food and wine outstanding…and only cost $900! Serving roughly 40 people, even fancy jumbo prawn cocktail, endless wine, and champagne…a very good deal! And let’s not forget the miniature cupcakes, and cookies…O.K., delicious, but yeah, another $100 bucks…

I then started self-promoting, when my publicist’s bill came to almost 3K owed…still…she takes payments, so even that’s cool…but here’s the thing about these “free” kickstarter events.  They are not really free, or easy to run.

We are taking orders to be able to produce two books…the cost at printing both, at only 1K copies each…is about $6,500.00 depending if we ship them all to one place or not.  Or air-drop some ahead of a three month shipping time.

Just the cost of having brought the paintings into a viable, digitized form, and the books into a published form, ready for instant printing, has cost roughly $8,250.00.

We decided to shoot for a seemingly reachable goal:  $7,850.

Our early test markets and printed batches have met with very rewarding praise.

And almost everyone knows about Kickstarter now…including the other 3,900 (I believe) self-published efforts, offered up as projects on the site.  I have witnessed the absurd, “Please donate money, I have connections in the publishing industry, so only need your money so I can buy a camera and then write a book!” Which was a total fail, with not one donor amused, or moved by her plight.

To the amazing, a real (and by that I mean, already big published children’s author) writer asking for the whole enchilada…she too was asking for funds to go towards the development of a new children’s series, and an app, which we too have eventual plans for…but was asking for 100K! I was, like wow! She had amassed 48K in ‘pledges’, and had only 4 days to go, but did not get past $55,824! But had actually almost raised 56K! Wow!

The thing about Kickstarter though, is that unless you reach your funding goal, which for her was 100K…none of that money can go towards you or your project! I felt sick to my stomach just watching her clock run out on her campaign.

And here I am, at having reached 38% of our goal, but like with eleven days to go!

Bottom line, Kickstarter is not an easy nut to crack, especially at Christmas time…and especially if you have friends and family (the main contributers to any Kickstarter event) who are old-school, not up to speed technologically, or are just plain busy…but “I’ll get to it soon!” A lot of these same people kind of even led us on, at our Kickstarter launch party, bringing two to three, or even more…of their friends to “sample” our wares, give their opinions, and promise to buy, at the very least, a $20 book, or calendar.  (Shipping included!) They have not, thus far!

If I had a twenty for each time someone asked me, “Where can I buy your book?” our campaign would be funded already!

It’s also frustrating when a friend tells you, “I just bought it on Amazon!”

People have told me that others can be jealous and not want you to succeed…they really want you to have to do it the hard way, all by yourself…I even read that that’s what happened to Anthony Robbins, when he first started his business, even coming from his own family.

I’ve learned through the years just to plow ahead, get the work done and just get it (or yourself) out there…and not worry about the outcome…so it will be interesting–and if it turns out we picked a wrong time of year to approach Kickstarter, I guess we will just pick a new date, like the maker of ‘The Coolest’ did…who failing the first attempt, netted close to 11 MILLION in his second go-around, the highest grossing product ever to date in Kickstarter history.

*Our two children’s picture books are ‘Spoiled Pink, and ‘The Treehouse Treasury’, portrayed in our awesome video by a videographer who has worked for both Disney, and Dreamworks.  The first book is primarily for girls ages 3 – 8, and the second for both boys and girls ages 3 & up…It’s at Kickstarter http://tiny.cc/the-treehouse-treasury

Info also available at http://www.thetreehousetreasury.com

Laura Sidsworth

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