Posts tagged ‘blogging’

Kickstarter Success!

It’s been awhile since my last post.  Maybe five months…The nice thing I have seemingly accomplished, is that I have let go of the need to control a timetable for my writing.  When life gets in the way…let it! When you get a chance to come back to something, it’ll be right there waiting…and I find I might just have more to say. Of course, I never seem to be at a loss for words; you may know what I mean…especially if you’re a fellow blogger.

So to the point! Kickstarter! Awesome concept, wonderfully organized, and best of all – it works!

I did notice when I began my campaign back in November, for the recommended thirty-day run, that it has indeed become a fairly crowded playing field.  Lots of entries, even in my category, which was a children’s picture book.

I paid close attention to rules, suggestions, and was very lucky to have had an editor who not only is brilliant, but has, as part of her marketing team, a wonderful boyfriend who is quite the magician when it comes to filming. In addition to that, she had successfully masterminded another writing project on Kickstarter, shortly before I began mine.

So the secret to finding success on Kickstarter? I will offer up what may seem redundant, but you just can’t cut corners. The process itself, from a fundraising aspect, is an arduous one.  It’s not easy hitting up all of your friends, family, relatives and any stranger you pass on the street…constantly, for a whole 30 days…it’s very draining…

So be prepared!

One:  Please have an actual product! I could not believe the number of people who actually just asked for money, so they could THEN go write a book, or go take pictures on a trip that you finance for them.  Amazing.  Really, go check out your given field, and look at the competition.  See what they have submitted as both a project/offering, video, etc.

Two:  Your product/project should be complete! And as flawless, prototyped, edited and vetted by your peers, before hitting the internet, where you are seeking crowd-funded monies.

Three:  Yes, you really need a video.  Not overly produced, but a great angle never hurts.

Four:  If you can already have a copy or prototype already produced, this is the best option, as people can actually see this idea of yours isn’t just a pipe-dream.  In working in the Real Estate Industry, I was consulted on several large-scale developments.  It never ceased to amaze me that some builder/developers only wanted to use other people’s money to bring their projects to life…and had so little faith, or did not want to take the risk, in their own projects that not a lot was done to show, and give proof, that they were all in…on that particular project, first and foremost! Please be all in…show the world your passion, time, energy, and own money that has already been spent in trying to bring your baby to complete fruition.  Then everyone else will see it, feel it, believe it…and…hopefully – go all out on it with you!

Five:  Involve as many people who have helped you get to where you are at, in your video, and marketing.  So that the rest of the world sees that you already have other people helping and believing in you.

Six:  Be rested, healthy and ready to hit it – as soon as your campaign is posted!

Seven:  Do not despair early, or continuously check for results…as this is maddening! Just relax, try not to have expectations, try not to be overly aggressive in your requests for attention, and of course…Don’t set too high a marker to realistically be able to meet your goal in the first place! In my campaign, I asked for just the bare necessities to enable us to reproduce our high quality book, which had already been published by Ingram Spark, but which we could not sell independently, as the cost of publishing in the U.S. was just too prohibitive to be able to ever turn a profit. We requested assistance in raising $7,800 and accomplished that with a bit left over…something like $8100 or so…

Eight:  Have worthy items to offer in exchange for the money you will be receiving.  People do expect to receive the actual product with the money they give you to bring it to market, and even those just wanting to donate something to help in whatever way they can, should be adequately thanked with the best you can offer!  We printed high quality U.S. printed calendars, and offered those, along with expertly reproduced giclees (prints) of our art work, the books themselves, and a variety of the above-mentioned, as package deals.

Nine:  Ask for help from your peers to share your crowd-funding campaign on their social sites.  This is not a time to be shy! We also threw a small dinner party for early donors, and for some bigger fish we still had not landed! Remember, it always costs money to make money – and this scenario is no different!

Ten:  Of course, be in love with what you are doing and with what you are trying to bring to life to share with the world.  Demonstrate that love as passionately as you can!

Good luck!  Anyone interested in our beautiful little book we brought into the world with the help of many generous and lovely people that we wish to thank, even this once more – our website for ordering is at http://www.thetreehousetreasury.com and our first book we were able to print at the same time as well, http://www.thespoiledpinkbook.com

Thoughts of darkness & light…(Part two)

Its been exactly twenty-two days since Anthony Ghiossi’s memorial service held at St. Francis Cabrini’s church in San Jose, California. It was just prior to that when I started Part One of this blog post. I wanted to write about dark days and more promising light-filled ones.
I thought I had seen clear through to the end of the story but the days have been dragging on…sometimes it’s hard to see any rays of light after the trajectory beams of the afterlife have pulled our loved ones from our sight. That scant visibility as it is, obscured by swollen, tear-filled eyes.
It does not feel good being stuck either…unable to move on, move forward, or even move at all. So for the purpose of moving this blog along, I shall try to find words that are luminous.
The Reverend Michael Hendrickson did an excellent job at handling the ceremony, and he tried his best to bring hope to those mourning a very dark day. He spoke of how we humans, despite our best medical interventions and technological advances, still are not infallible beings. We still can not fix everything. We can not save everyone. We can not thwart death. We, quite simply, are just not in control of these things. These things that go awry, those things that delve deeply into the night.
Life is about birth. About living. And, yes, about death. It goes on about this, endlessly…for as long as we have been aware of our existence here on this earth.
There is nothing to celebrate in death. But perhaps were we to be sure of heaven, of endless love and light, we might.
There are however, endless things to celebrate about life, about living.
The Reverend called out to Anthony’s two sons, sitting small, and up front. He bade them look around them, take in the entire church full, every last pew full, of people who had loved their father; people who had admired the way he treated life, his loves. He told them to always remember this day, and all of these people who had come to respect their father. For in seeing, and remembering, they could keep that love alive.
For those who must continue on, who need to feel love, who need to see light, and promise, and continued hope in living…it is around us.
I see it in a picture; his two sons, faint smiles while the sun gleams on their blonde heads as they play in the surf at the beach. The waves wash over them, hopefully cleansing them of their sadness…with the salty seawater so similar in composition to our tears.

Self-published (recently) with tips! *PART ONE*

This past November, I self-published my first title, a children’s picture-book…’Spoiled Pink’.  In learning several things regarding the publishing world, I decided perhaps if anyone were to read this, they could pick up a few tips, and perhaps spare themselves some of the angst I experienced in my first foray into self-publishing.  I will try to keep it quick, and to the point.

1.  I’ve been reading different people’s blogs to both motivate myself, and to glean the tips they freely provide.  I used to think it would be nice to connect to people as well, but I know that with a purported 77 million bloggers world-wide, the chances of me finding and connecting with people who could become friends is very limited.  Even with those odds! 77 million users! A serious writer must of course eventually realize that this is very much a solitary pursuit…and while becoming educated to the ways of the writers’ world…you should not expect much more.  Information and entertainment (limit your reading time, or you will find little time to hone your own craft!) are about the best one can expect.  And that alone is worthy of gratefulness.  So read other people’s tips! They can be motivational, educational, and save you time!

2.  On content:  Having said the above, take everything with the proverbial grain of salt. I have read a lot of people’s blogs regarding initial works you may feel ready to publish…and a lot of them say, just get it out there! Forget the fear! Push on…”My first book…I use now as a doorstop, but I’ve learned so much since then.”  A writer, they go on to say, is continually perfecting their craft.  While that of course is true, please take it upon yourself to make sure your best effort is exactly that — your best effort! Nothing cemented the concept of it being the best it could possibly be, until I read the Kirkus Indie review I had paid for.  The first words I read… “debut picture-book” immediately chilled me to the bone.  I was already labeled as a children’s author…and it had been duly noted that this was my first “attempt” at being a writer.  Traditionally, you were judged based on your first work.  And if that wasn’t the best and did not garner glowing reviews or sales…that was it.  One statistic I remember from somewhere is that most writers publish only one title in their lifetime. Not adding up possible life-times…this is not an encouraging stat! Bottom line…even though this is about self-publishing, and a lot of people are currently into just that…don’t discourage your future self from getting out that second title! Do hire an editor, a graphic designer for your cover art (Our Kirkus Indie review said the ‘Spoiled Pink’ cover was brilliant) AND, get yourself a Kirkus Indie review. The five hundred plus bucks is well worth it.  It can also clue you in as to what may need to be done to your work to get it even more polished.  The best part is being able to use it in all of your marketing efforts.  Maybe even if your reviewer happened to be off his/her game that day and gave your book a passing nod…sometimes this is all it takes for people to notice you. Hey, someone thinks, Kirkus said it was good…so it must be. Then, like the ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’, you’ve convinced not only someone to read your book, but perhaps already be preconditioned to like it!

3.  It’s ready…where to publish?  I myself opted for CreateSpace, right off the bat.  Seems everyone was using them, they were inexpensive; and as a subsidiary of Amazon…you got your title up on Amazon instantaneously, with a promise of possible world-wide distribution.  It seemed the route to go, and boldly I went.  I found out a couple of things.  The cost of publishing pretty much precludes a realistic partnering with any outside retailers because of one big rule. Traditionally and more importantly, because of our current economic climate, there is little room for pricing variables and booksellers need to be able to return any books they can not sell.  Amazon/CreateSpace does not allow for such a practice.  Bottom line:  You will not have anyone order your books to sell in their on-line businesses, or brick and mortar stores.  Other things that did not go well:  shipping practices.  The first copy I held in my hand had high-quality printing and binding, and beautiful rich color…but had suffered its ride to my home.  The first few pages were wrinkled and the front cover was creased.  I googled shipping problems, and found that they simply ignored all complaints, and never addressed the very real need to add protective materials to their shipping.  As for pricing, I was dismayed to see Amazon reduce the price of my book after only 24 hours.  Only then did I look at the contract between me and about fifteen of Amazon’s best attorneys, and read that they were free to price my title at whatever they wanted, at any given time. This ticked me off just a tad, as of course, our first and immediate sales are to the locals and to our relatives and immediate friends and sphere.  Here I was quoting them one price, and here was Amazon, offering it up at something else.  I recall an immediate discount of like 17% — overnight! In any event, that was enough to get me to drop them the very next day.  

*PART TWO* (to be continued) My new relationship with Ingram/Sparks!

*PART THREE* (to be continued) All I know (NOW!) about eBooks!

Above information garnered while producing http://www.thespoiledpinkbook.com 

 

 

A-hunting we will go…

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Last week, out of a deep slumber, I awoke to the sing-song voice of Elmer Fudd, saying “A-hunting we will go…” I literally sat up in bed, thinking WTH? Did that come from my friend Ron Yoder posting the occasional Bugs Bunny cartoon? I didn’t remember a recent posting. Maybe because it was duck hunting season and I had just visited with my son-in-law and heard how he hadn’t even squeezed off a shot, much less bagged a duck? (Daffy would be happy at that) Hmm…Elmer’s phrase that lingered in my head might even be attributed to those Duck Dynasty pictures floating around on Facebook.

Whatever prompted me to wake so unusually, even for me, a vivid technicolor dreamer…I let go of and decided to turn it into fodder for a blog. It’s not too far a reach, considering I’m in the midst of a just-released first book, that I then immediately pulled from the market. Now my book has no home, and I am hunting for a new printer.

My designer Randy has likened the process of self-publishing to being on Mr. Toad’s Wild ride…& I have to agree. Along with our own self-discoveries about our work dragging us down, my illustrator and I started with CreateSpace, a subsidiary of Amazon. The things we didn’t like? The fact that they cared so little about protecting our product during shipping was number one on the list. The first copy I held in my hand…which should have been a thrilling moment, was disappointing…with a big crease across the front, and an already bent corner.

I googled customer shipping reviews…and found horror story, after horror story. Boo! My next unpleasant surprise was the reduction in price in as little as 48 hours to 15% off our set list-price. Hey, I had a willing & eager buying public! Yay for the eStore set-up where I had listed my price, and was directing my friends & relatives to purchase…but a big NO to the Amazon web page where, while thrilling to see the book up on it’s ordering page…was again, a big disappointment when I saw what they put our price at.

So, a hunting-we-will-go, indeed!
But there’s a problem. Mr. Toad’s Wild ride won’t stop to let us off! We’ve finished our book, really! And we just want to list it with a fair and reputable company! But no, it’s not that easy, grasshopper. Which come to think of it, must be a pretty favorite food (grasshoppers) of Wild Toads. But that’s what it’s beginning to feel like. (I’ll stop here with my comparisons before I get into trouble like Tom Cruise always does.)

It seems that not only has everyone started blogs way before I have, but also they are way ahead on their book titles, and everyone who’s anyone is self-publishing right now. The company I am interested in is Lightening Source printing. But they started another sister company, Ingram/Sparks. Which one to use? What are the differences? Yes, the hunt is on, and these choices seem to currently be the best, but permits are not being given out easily. The company does not take calls…well they do, but only to say please contact them first via email. After which you receive your email back as undeliverable because they are currently out of space for accepting new emails.

I decided to also concurrently work the eBook route, and happily settled on BookBaby to be our aggregator to all the major distributors. Oh, a children’s book? Lot’s of pictures? Except for Apple’s version, that’ll need to be specially formatted by someone else. Off then, to Smashwords’ Mark’s list…where right off the bat the first choice guy says he can’t (won’t) take the time because he has so much business, he doesn’t want to turn away the easy stuff to bother with one that’s going to cut into his proceeds…Le sigh, I sigh to myself.

Long story short, I love Elmer Fudd’s catchy tune…but I sure do NOT enjoy the hunt! Funny thing, I don’t think ELmer likes hunting all that much either!

UFO’s over Fresno, Ca. (Not!)

On the night of November 02, 2013…my husband and I decided to walk the dogs. All around our neighborhood, were other dogs as well. Fresno State Bulldogs…the fans, to be exact. Parking their cars, they walked in packs towards the Fresno State stadium, where the Saturday night football game would soon commence. The Bulldogs were set to fight against other canines, the Nevada Wolf Pack.

The night was warm for early November, and I admit I grew jealous watching the groups of people walk excitedly together, their matching T-shirts and light jackets emblazoned in Fresno State colors.
“It’s a black-out night, they should all be wearing their black shirts,” my husband grumbled, in a dark mood himself, as he wasn’t headed to a college football game, right up the street…no, he was walking the dogs with his boring stay-at-home-on-a-Saturday-night ol’ lady.
“What’s that mean, a black-out night?” I asked.
“It just means that they’re rolling out their new black uniforms tonight…the fans should support the new color, and be wearing them in the stadium.”
Hmm, I thought, mentally counting the number of red shirts versus black ones I saw as I passed people on the sidewalk.

Our dogs are powerful walkers, and they pulled my husband far ahead of me. Our moods were certainly not good ones I thought and I felt a gap grow between us, as I got left behind.
Fortunately, my husband is good at switching things up and getting us both through negative thinking, so instead of just stalking on into the night ahead of me, he stopped and waited, hiding behind a fence with the dogs. I couldn’t help but smile as Teddi our pit-bull, chocolate-lab mix, peeked his head out at me from behind their hiding place. Since the gig was up, CLiff and Dude, our Golden-Doodle, came out from the shadows and we were all happy once more.

Just ahead of us, three boys scaled a fence and dropped down on the sidewalk, having apparently just explored the locked-down elementary school. They walked away in the direction we were headed and one actually turned around to wave, as if to say, don’t worry, we were being good. They skipped to the other side of the street, and then stopped short on the sidewalk. Something had caught their attention.

The lights in the sky got our attention almost at the same time, too. Red-orange glowing orbs appeared on the horizon directly in front of us. As if on a kite string, light after light followed each other into the sky. At first low, the UFO’s then headed higher, in a southerly direction, staying in a relatively close formation.

The boys gaped, pointed, and used their cell-phones as cameras. Lights flashed on their side of the street. But the lights in the sky did not blink as regular airplanes do. And this was definitely not a helicopter. In fact there were as many as ten to twelve unidentified flying objects, not really changing direction, not changing color, and not emitting any kind of noise at all. We walked to a house with no overhead trees blocking our view, and I too, took my cell phone out and began video-taping. The line of objects melted into the sky and completely disappeared in front of our straining eyes.

Right after watching this first group dissipate, a second platoon appeared, again low on the horizon, evenly spaced apart, and again following each other on a certain trajectory, one after the other. There were maybe ten in all in this second grouping, and we watched as they too flew high, rising in the cloudless, night-time sky. In less than a minute, maybe two–the lights disappeared. I could see something still traveling, making it’s way surely over the Fresno State Stadium’s airspace. The UFO had no visible lights now; was just a silver outline moving steadily away.

“So what do you think that was?” I asked my husband, putting my cellphone back into my backpack.
“Luminarios,” he answered, “what do you think?”
“I think I have a smart husband,” I answered, smiling up at him.
“They were so evenly spaced apart though, and followed the same path. Do you think they were strung together somehow?”
“No,” he said, “they just were released at certain intervals and then the wind just carried them along the same current.”
“Huh,” I replied, “pretty cool, though.”
“Yep, pretty cool,” he answered, “I wonder who set it up.”
“Evidently someone who was trying to get the attention of the stadium attendees by attempting a fly-over,” I replied.

We began walking back back towards home, as the show was over, and our dogs were growing restless.
We agreed that probably none of the luminaries, or luminarios, as my husband had called them, had made it over the Fresno State stadium, at least while lit. We decided that whoever had lit them and sent them up to the sky, were a little bit off their calculations. Still, we told each other, it would be cool to know exactly what the things had been made of, and who had released them.

Early the next morning, amazingly, we had one of our answers! One of the UFO’s had landed right in our own backyard! (Pictures below)

Now the only question that remains is–who had released them?

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