This might be the best idea I've had. Tessalation! coloring pages! I am working with an excellent Fiverr designer to put together some simple coloring pages from the book for the Kickstarter party I'm having on March 1.
If you have kids, you know about coloring pages! So easy and fun to just print something out and whip out the markers!
I had my designer make a combination of the tessellation pages and the regular narrative pages so depending on your mood you can color away whatever your speed.
I have another goal with these pages, though. I'm making them for the party (and for my color-happy sons), but I also want to have them available to give to bloggers, especially mommy blogs, who are looking for activities to do with their children. So when the Kickstarter goes live I'll send the coloring pages with the information about the Kickstarter campaign!
It's always good to offer people something, don't you think?
I'd recommend coloring pages to anyone who's considering doing a Kickstarter for a kids' book. Who knows -- maybe the campaign will really get rolling and I'll have to make a whole Tessalation! coloring book!
Thanks for checking in with Tessa! Share these with your favorite little artist!
Last Friday I did something that felt very brave to me, and also a little crazy. I put out a blog post about how hard it was to develop my Kickstarter rewards for my forthcoming campaign for Tessalation! and asked my friends to comment on it before it goes live on March 1, World Math Day.
In retrospect, this wasn't scary at all. It was the smartest thing I've done. Doing so, I gave the very people who had encouraged me to do Kickstarter in the first place a chance to help me shape my campaign to fit their needs before I launched it. People like:
Frequent Kickstarter backers, prospective book buyers, an independent bookseller, fans and moms
Here are some of the things I learned from the Facebook conversation we had.
1. The price point for a children's book launched on Kickstarter should be about $25
People will spend about $20 on a hardback children's picture book, and will willingly support a friend's Kickstarter to be a part of that campaign and feel like part of its story. Anything more and it feels like the price isn't aligned with the true value of the product.
2. Prospective buyers do not want to donate to charity.
I had planned to have an option to donate to the organization Pretty Brainy, which supports math and science interest among young girls, but most of the people I interact with thought this wouldn't get a lot of interest, that the product is the most important part of the campaign. That's good news, since Pretty Brainy has never responded to my inquiries!
3. Supporters want a variety of rewards at a variety of price points.
It's easy to go completely overboard with ideas of how to make branded products around the Kickstarter campaign -- Tessa plushy doll, anyone? -- but the ones that gained the most interest in our conversation were a custom puzzle (fitting with being a piece of the Tessalation! puzzle) and a giclee print from the book.
4. Incentivizing multiple books received is a great idea.
My Facebook fans felt that asking a parent to donate a book to the library was too much of an ask, but giving them an option to order two books for a smaller price tag was an attractive option. So I'm changing that particular reward to allow Kickstarter campaign participants to have a book for themselves and for a friend for $45, which is an effective discount.
5. Friends like to feel like a part of the project
My friends, especially the ones who are frequent Kickstarter backers, have been uber-supportive of Tessalation! and its potential campaign. They are the ones who convinced me to do Kickstarter in the first place and they are the ones who helped me fine-tune the rewards. I respect and value their opinions above all else! Some of them have even done their own campaigns and were able to clue me in on little details I might have missed. One suggestion was to be very careful what I promise at the "Angel" level, the highest level. Otherwise, I might end up doing a school visit in Australia! Come to think of it, that doesn't sound half bad...
Have you tested your Kickstarter rewards before launching? What did you discover?
By far the hardest thing I've done for this Kickstarter campaign is to work on the pledge levels. Who wants what? How do I anticipate how many people want the book and how will I accommodate the ones who have already said they do? Here's what I've come up with for the Tessalation! Kickstarter pledge levels.
Tessalation! Pledge levels:
$5 Turtle (Our thanks, 25 available)
$10 Bee (Digital Bundle) + postcard (100
$15 Koi (Digital Bundle) PDF + postcard + stickers! (100 available)
$25 Tessalation! Hardback! (Limited Edition Hardback + Digital PDF + Postcard + Name on Website) (300 available)
$50 Mushroom (100 available)
Digital + Signed Hard Copy + Postcard + Donation in your name to Pretty Brainy
$50 Tessa in the Library! (50 available)
Digital PDF + 2 Hard Copies + Postcard
$100 Butterfly (10 available)
Digital PDF + Hard Copy + Postcard + Tessalation! puzzle
$500 Tessa in your school! (Oregon Schools only, 4 available)
Digital + 3 Hard Copies + Digital Copy + Postcard + Stickers! + author Emily Grosvenor will visit your school and lead a class on how to make a tessellation
What do you think? Do I need to offer some other packages in there to accommodate what people want?
After much thought, late-night nail-biting, early-morning fretting, mid-day obsessing and weeks of himming and hawing, I'm doing it.
I'm launching a Kickstarter campaign for Tessalation! on World Math Day, March 1, 2016!
This is a project that started out with modest intentions (as so many do). I was going to hire someone to do some illustrations, slap some text on that baby and publish on Kindle, you know, just wait for the money to flow in. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Let's call this the Bathsheba version of bringing a book into the world.
A lot has happened between then and now. For one, I got some early support from friends and family who were pre-ordering the book BEFORE IT EVEN EXISTED! And they didn't just want a digital book. They wanted a real, flesh-and-bones, go-to-bed-with-you book to love and keep.
Let's just say that the stakes rose very quickly for me, and I am glad for it.
So what does this mean for me in the next couple of weeks? Well, after talking to some great Kickstarter creators who have successfully brought their projects to fruition, I am making my plan for a Kickstarter launch on March 1.
Why March 1?
Well, I gave myself a deadline, which has forced me to focus. It was inspired by Jessica Abel's amazing recent blog post about focusing on The One Thing that will help you get your work out in the world.
I'm a journalist at my core and I *heart* deadlines, so I picked:
WORLD MATH DAY!
I'm going to be putting Tessalation! out there in a big way over the next couple of weeks, and I'm going to be overcoming the really, really uncomfortable action of the ASK.
Asking for social shares, asking for support, asking for someone to drop off some chocolate to get me through this.
I am so very thankful for everyone who has supported Tessalation! up until now, and I look forward to writing updates and making some amazing extras and rewards for every level of the campaign.
The biggest ask will be for launch day. The stats show that if you can fund your project at 20% on the first day, your chances of succeeding are greater. am going to be asking you to support the project in any way you can, either by committing to one of the levels or by sharing the campaign (or both!). Rest assured, I am thankful for any help I can get, and no amount of help is too small.
Thank you for staying tuned and for your support!
Since I reached out to 10 Kickstarter creators, I have heard back from the vast majority of them. I got a chance to chat by phone yesterday with William Heimbach, the author of The Whale Who Dreamt of a Snail. It is a testament to Kickstarter's community-drive nature that he took 45 minutes! out of his Tuesday morning to chat with me about lessons learned and ideas for launching my own Kickstarter. How amazing is that!
William was full of helpful information, and I'll share it here in bullet-point form, even if that means I won't be able to recreate his voice on the page. In other words, this is paraphrased :)
Also, it was heartening to hear from William about how doing the Kickstarter actually helped him launch his web-design consultancy, My Digital Land. William and his wife now work full-time at home with their kiddos on their business! To me, that's something you can't learn by just looking at the pages from successful Kickstarters. It's a multiplying effect thing -- putting yourself out there in a big way and not having any idea where the success where take you!
Thank you, William!
I also reached out to the creators of You're Doing Great, Baby! I love this book, and it has success written all over it from the get-go because it has messaging inside for both parent and child. I wish it had been around when I had babies! Here's what creator Beth Taylor told me:
Thanks so much for your kind words about our book. It is a real honour to
be included in your list.
Your project sounds great and it's fantastic that you're reaching out to
ask questions. Looks like you've had some good advice already.
Stuff to do before launch included finishing the book itself so that it was
ready to go to the printer, producing the description, video and graphics,
and finalising our reward levels and funding goal (we spent SO long on the
rewards and funding goal - good to have one or two people outside of the
project you really trust to help with this). I also had a lot of blog posts
in various states of draft so that I'd have blog posts to publish during
the campaign when we were busy with other stuff.
My advice for writing your description and doing your video is to write
them so that your personality shines through - it will differentiate yours
from all the others. Whether you use humour or it's a bit quirky -
personality is so important when there's a tonne of stuff out there.
Having a spreadsheet with every detail possible (printing costs, reward
costs, postage costs to a range of places and costs of packaging material
etc.) really helps you decide what your funding goal should be and helps
you track your progress.
Another thing I did before the launch of the campaign was to draft emails
to everyone I knew who could possibly be interested. The emails, which I
sent out on day one of the campaign, were personal (not to a group) and
invited them to check out the project and share it with others. I found
that for each person who shared the project on Facebook we would get about
one of their friends backing us. It really helps if people sharing the
project say something about why they think it's important/why they love it.
It's good to have a timeline ready that you can add to/change. I gave each
week a major theme so that the blog posts I published would have a theme
and then also included a post per week about something to do with the
process of writing or illustrating it.
During the campaign I'd say I spent 3-4 hours per day and my husband would
have spent 1-2 hrs per day inc. replying to messages from backers, writing
blog posts, producing and posting pics to social media, publicising
campaign on different Facebook group pages etc. I found the free graphic
design website Canva.com incredibly useful for graphics.
I don't think that Instagram and Twitter brought in many new people, but it
was useful to have a presence on there as well as on Facebook. I found our
Facebook page the most helpful.
We did the Kickstarter in August 2015 and we are still working on some of
the rewards in February 2016! We allowed a lot of time in the deadline for
people but we are still working on the last of the custom artworks and I
haven't done all the consultations with people yet. People always say to be
careful how involved your rewards are and to avoid postage as much as
possible and I'm sure it's true - but we also wanted to feel like we were
offering the best value for money for people and so we included some more
labour intensive rewards anyway. You've got to do what feels right for you.
It's not an easy way to make money by any means, but it's the best way we
found to get our work out there and find a community of people interested
in our project. Hopefully if we do another book we will have lots of people
already interested and on our mailing list.
Things we maybe should have done differently would be to put more time into
getting the project into other people's blogs and online publications. We
only had one (online) newspaper article and two blog posts written about us
and it would have been great if there was more. If there's any longer
lead-in stuff you can do (line-up a magazine article or guest blog posts or
an appearance on a podcast/radio/TV show) before launching that would be a
good idea because four weeks goes by really fast!
Wishing you all the best with your campaign! Looks like you've got all the
People can buy copies of our book here: http://www.doinggreatbaby.com/shop/
Beth & Jeff
Thank you, Beth and Jeff!
Can you tell I'm falling in love with Kickstarter? I already see my memoir now. Kickstart My Heart: A Love Story :)
I'm launching the Tessalation! Kickstarter on March 1, World Math Day! Wish me luck!
So much amazingness since I reached out to some successful Kickstarter creators for children's picture books. Within a few hours, half of the people I contacted had written me back with encouragement and advice about the process. I am including some of their responses here to pay the inspiration forward.
The Boy Who Spoke to the Earth
Dreamling Books says:
Thanks for reaching out to us. And thank you for including us in your 10 most inspiring Kickstarters for Children's Picture Books. Our goal from the beginning has been to inspire readers, so we're glad to hear it's working!
Dreamling Books is definitely a more collaborative approach to publishing. We ran the Kickstarter, but if you watch our KS video you'll notice that the author (Chris Burkard) is still very much at the forefront. And all of our updates came from us, Chris and the illustrator David. It was beneficial to present the project from our company, because that ensured backers that it would be a quality product. But if you don't have a publisher onboard for your book, it's not a necessary thing to do.
As far as advice, the most important thing you can do is gather email addresses before you ever launch your KS project. Use your blog to do that perhaps. But the more people you can get on a list the more likely you are to get a lot of backers right out of the gate. That will give you momentum and social shares, which will lead to more backers. But most of the hard work (harvesting emails) is done long before a project ever goes live. Also, realize that Kickstarter is a marathon, not a print. You need to be constantly updating backers, posting on social media, appearing in traditional media, etc. We'd suggest making a campaign timeline where you map out that you're going to be doing every day that your Kickstarter is live. There really are no days off. The majority of backers will come at the very beginning and at the very end. But you need to stay active during the middle portion.
Good luck! Let us know how it goes! Thanks for your support of The Boy Who Spoke to the Earth. If anyone is wondering where they can get a copy, you can send them to our website: https://www.dreamlingbooks.com
- The Dreamling Books team
B is for Brains
I'd love to help any way I can. :-) My biggest piece of advice is doing as much of the work pre-Kickstarter launch as you possibly can. So many little speedbumps, the more of those you can have ironed out before launching, the better. Our biggest speed bump has been getting the printers files ready. Because we're doing it ourself, and this is the first time doing something like this, it's a slower process than I thought it'd be. This is totally something that could've been done pre-launch.
The fact you've already started a blog and are gaining followers is huge. And obviously connecting yourself with printers in Asia will save you a ton of money. When I was price shopping, the printers I reached out to, printing without the middleman was going to save me thousands of dollars. And obviously that then keeps your goal amount smaller and easier to reach. When I hit the proofing phase with our printers, I'll gladly share the contact info of who we're working with. Navigating printers in Asia can be intimidating if you have never done it before. I thankfully have friends who have experience and are guiding me through it.
Keep your rewards easy to ship. Shipping costs derail many a project. I am personally still nervous about this one, hoping we estimated everything accurately.
For pre-ordering the book, we are working on the website still. I hope to have it up soon. The Web address will be www.bisforbrainsbook.com
Best of luck with your project! It looks great! You should definitely reach out to homeschooling groups with your book. (I homeschool and we're always looking for fun interesting ways to introduce math concepts to kids).
Thank you so much, creators, for sharing this knowledge! Kickstarter is so inspiring. What do you think are the important elements for a successful children's picture book campaign?
I've been tooling around with the idea of doing a first print run of Tessalation!, and am researching Kickstarter to see if the platform is right for my project. I thought I should put together a post that lists what my takeaway from these projects is as a potential Kickstarter-er.
Is that a thing? A Kickstarter-er?
To be clear, lots of children's picture books have been funded through Kickstarter and other crowd-funding programs. So when I say inspiring, I mean that I, Emily Grosvenor, would be inspired by this campaign to participate in the Kickstarter. Those are my criteria.
1. You're Doing Great, Baby
This Kickstarter campaign, for the book You're Doing Great, Baby, is interesting to me because it has a book aimed at two groups -- babies and the parents. The campaign was well laid out, and the message resonates with a wide group of people. The takeaway? This baby stuff is hard and we'll get through it together. I also really love the idea of including a visual representation of the awards levels for the Kickstarter. All in all, a bang-up job doing a Kickstarter.
2. A Whale Who Dreamt He Was A Snail
The cover image drew me in immediately to this Kickstarter, but once I read through the campaign, I was most impressed by how forthcoming the creators were about their own risks and challenges. When the creators say: We got this 100%, I tend to call shenanigans!
In my case, the book will be almost completed by the time I launch a campaign. That seems like a good model -- have the book's creative finished and launch to give you that extra bit of oomph to put it out in the world. You can read more about the book here.
I generally hate picture books with morals or lessons or any other overt reason to exist (even though my book has a few hidden ones, too), but this campaign for a board book starring a sweet and misunderstood pit bull just blew me away. Professional and compelling all the way through. No surprise here -- one of the highest funded picture book campaigns in the platform's history.
4. Dragons in the Library
I always tell my students that you often need only two words to tell a story. This one had me at Dragons in the Library. Dragons + Library = Easy to understand from the get go.
5. A Little Help from the Imps
This campaign, to get an old German fairy tale resurrected, translated and re-calligraphied, doesn't have many of the bells and whistles of some other Kickstarters. But the illustrations are absolutely charming beyond measure, and the idea of having the postcards sent out by The Imps is just perfect. Big on personality, and, therefore, high on emotional attachment from prospective supporters.
6. Thunder & Lightning
It's the little things that drew me to this campaign for a book about thunder & lightning -- especially the random inclusion of a little gnome in one of the drawings, the odd, atmosphere music, and the lettering, which looks oddly reminiscent of bauhaus lettering.
7. Tolliver Toad
I'm not attracted to the story line of this one at all, but that frowny face on the toad is just killer. It doesn't look like anything else on the Kickstarter page, which is a welcome element when you've been scrolling through Kickstarter projects waiting to fall in love...
9. B is for Brains: A Zombie Apocalypse ABC
This campaign, for a funny board book going through the ABCs of zombies, is the one that got me thinking that doing Kickstarter might be a great idea. This book is all concept, and a great one. But I especially like the approach the creator.used to make the video -- clearly shows that kids can get into zombies, which might be a stumbling block for some. I actually bought into this project at the level of $25, mostly just to see what the process was like.
10. The Boy Who Spoke to the Earth
It's easy to fork over money to people who clearly know what they are doing. Inspiring a level of confidence in potential backers is my major takeaway from this book, stunning in all respects.
Have you ever funded a Kickstarter project? Which of these would you have funded?