Posts tagged ‘printing’

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

Self-Published (recently) with tips! *PART THREE*

O.K., so I had been waiting to hear back from IngramSpark in regards to a problem I had encountered upon opening the remainder of a shipment I had received back in December of 2013.  The problem was that out of 100 hardback (known as Case Laminate) books in said shipment — roughly 75% were damaged.  They had wrinkled, wavy pages due to what looked like a too-tight roller during production…was my guess.  The order had cost me roughly $600.00 and some change, and I was not about to try to peddle books which had any type of flaw.  

Being as how I had not opened the last two boxes till I had sold the contents of the first box (TIP:  Always inspect full order immediately) it was sometime in late January that I discovered the rejects.  As there is no immediate customer service, as mentioned previously, I left an email I knew I could only wonder as to when it might be answered.  Maybe three or four days later, I received a reply, and an actual name, including a more direct email with which to correspond. I was asked to forward box info, as well as pictures of damage, so it could be forwarded to the print techs for them to substantiate damage, and perhaps figure out it’s cause.  The customer service rep explained that I would most likely have to rip all of the covers off, and send just those back.  I replied that that seemed like a bad jinx to subject my “babies” too…and besides that, I didn’t want to waste the time of doing all of that work to almost 70 books.  Shipping labels were emailed, printed out, and the shipment sent back.  

I next sent the tracking notice of when the shipment had been received at the Tennessee plant, and left an email with the customer rep.  That was February 14th, 2014.  Not hearing from said rep for almost another whole week, despite another reminder email, and a phone call…I again went back to the main email system and left a generic message for the company as a whole — stating of course, my displeasure with the companies attention, or lack thereof.  The rep called back finally, and stated he had sent me an email the past week.  I asked him to resend it, but he had some excuse as to why he could not generate that “sent” email.  He said they had decided to reship me a whole new batch…really? Wow, how nice! But then went on to say that if I ever received a shipment like that again, they could not guarantee that they would reprint my order again for me, as they were so graciously doing for me now…as it may just be that the color saturation was too much for the fast presses to handle, they surmised.  This sounded ridiculous to me. I asked, how can you offer a service/product, with no guarantees as to it’s quality?  He suggested perhaps I needed to move up a notch to the “premium color package” which really was nothing more than going from like a 50# stock, up to a 70# stock.  The cost? A mere extra $3.00 + per copy.  

O.K., I said, let me ask you a few questions.  I asked, how many picture-books do you print? Tons he answered.  And what type of package do they order? The standard package, he admitted. (Which is what I had ordered). O.K. I said, and final question, have you ever seen this happen with any of their orders? He answered no. I asked, why was an earlier order I had received fine, and why could they not then guarantee the quality of any future orders? He explained things about end rolls (paper) and how you might get variations in stocks depending on what orders piggy-backed on other orders.  But he kept returning back to the argument that any large order I may place, which suffers some type of printing disorder…would be subject to approval, and would not be guaranteed a do-over by the company.  I asked why would the company offer such a service if it could not back the quality of the printing order? He mumbled something about color saturation again…and picture-books being the problem.  And variations.  And variables.  Before he got off the phone, he promised approval for this one time at a do-over, and said he would send an email confirming shipment of my new replacements.  Almost a week passed, before getting that particular email, and at this point, it is now March 08th, and I am still not in receipt of any replacement books.

So, two things to consider:  1:  Picture-books, cook books, and anything laden with extra color, graphics, etc., may have extra problems.  2:  If you are just printing standard paperback, I am sure you would receive a quality product, and would encounter few problems.  Also, they have excellent shipping practices, and charge a very nominal fee for setting up your file, and only charge $12 per year to keep said file in their database, which is then available for printing year-round.

The only big set-back, especially for fledgling authors, is the stress and tension induced by not having any type of customer service.  DO NOT EXPECT ANY HAND-HOLDING! They do not even know they are dating you! You are one of many…and you can only be grateful for what they can deliver, when they deliver, and nothing more…as they very much play on a very large field.

It is nice to get quality printing, affordably delivered right to your very own door…and they do distribute case laminate books to online retailers (such as Amazon) which CreateSpace does not do.  So if you really want to see your book carried this way…IngramSpark is the only way to go.  They also advertise that they have 39,000 on-line affiliates, book-buyers/retailers, librarians, schools, etc., which you may catch the attention of, by having your title listed in their catalogue.  As of yet, I do not know whether this will be an advantage I will ever fully appreciate!

Many people, on finding out the particulars of creating an actual “print version” of their work, are choosing to solely go the route of eBook publishing–what my next blog will be about!

The above information was learned while producing the book ‘Spoiled Pink’, a picture-book for children 3-8.  More info can be found at http://www.thespoiledpinkbook.com or on Goodreads.

 

 

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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