Posts tagged ‘children’s picture book’

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

Kickstarter success…or not!

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

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 

 

 

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