Why do anything unless you shoot for the moon?
I launched Tessalation! into the world on June 17, World Tessellation Day, a holiday I created. But I didn't do any of this alone. I had a lot of help, and half that helped seemed to show up a few Fridays ago.
I really don't like doing things small. If I'm going to take the time to create something, I want it to have impact, to touch people if possible, to be as fun as possible and to give fans and readers a real experience. So here's what I did to launch Tessalation!
1. There will be cookies
I would never think of having a party without food. In this case, Angie's Kitchen, our dedicated gluten-free bakery, designed and made these adorable tessellated hexagon cookies with tiny bees on them. They fit with the theme of the book and were sweet as all get out. I planned for 100 and there was only one left at the end of the event.
2. Hands-on play
I used Talking Math with Kids' tiling turtles at one station to give kids a chance to play with tessellations in a tactile way. I love these turtles -- I have bought three sets already -- and I never get tired of putting them in various patterns or exploring how they fit together.
Part of the fun of Tessalation! is how it inspires children to make their own tessellation. My bestie Jill ran the tessellation station, teaching kids how to make their own with a simple square pattern. It was so fun my husband sat down and worked on his for about an hour.
4. Up in lights
I screened the entire book by putting the pages in a powerpoint and beaming it onto the wall in the McMinnville Public Library's Carnegie Room. Did they like it? I don't know. But the kids definitely wanted me to keep screening more books up like that. Movies shmovies. There's something in this idea!
5. Color me happy
I set up a station where kids could color pages directly from the book. I had five coloring pages in all. Happy to report that the adults liked this station best of all. We had a few linger there coloring throughout the event.
6. Make it social
I made a poster where people could "tessellate," that is, try to fit themselves together like puzzle pieces with a friend. I love this idea, and a few did it, but it didn't really fly because the poster didn't explicitly tell people what to do. If I had this to do over again I would post the hashtag and make a sign inviting people to do just that. Live and learn, baby!
What have you done to launch your children's picture book?
Today is World Tessellation Day! Happy #WorldTessellationDay to You!
I'm happy to announce that we're partnering with WaldorfBooks.com to make the book available to the public before it is officially published on Aug. 2.
That means, if you want a copy, you can pre-order at WaldorfBooks.com! A physical copy will be sent to you mid-July, the second it becomes available.
If you've ordered through the Kickstarter and also want more copies for your friends, I'd be thrilled if you would order from this independent, family-run online site.
How independent and family-run is it? Well, it's run by my friend Angela and her family right in my hometown of McMinnville.
Pre-order Tessalation at WaldorfBooks.com here
It's coming! The first-ever World Tessellation Day celebration will happen this Friday, June 17.
Why June 17?
This date, suggested by math advocate John Golden, was chosen by a group of committed tessellation fans around the world and is the birth date of M.C. Escher, the Dutch artist whose tessellated artworks put tessellation at the forefront of art.
We have a Facebook community going where people are sharing images of their favorite tessellations in the run-up to this brand new holiday. But since this is a holiday-in-the-making, I thought I'd put together this list of simple ways you can be a part of the making of a global event.
Simple Ways to Celebrate #WorldTessellationDay #WorldTessDay
1. Take a picture of a tessellated floor.
2. Make Your Own Tessellation
Need a primer on how? Use this tutorial.
3. Wear houndstooth or other tessellated pattern
4. Make some hexagon cookies -- they tessellate!
5. Play with a toy that tessellates, like these turtles.
6. Post your favorite M.C. Escher tessellation
7. Find the nearest chain-link fence
8. Wear something with a beehive on it
9. Find the nearest tessellation station (like this one at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle)
10. Play Settlers of Catan
11. Read Tessalation!, my story book about a little girl named Tessa who hides in patterns
12. Discover how people have used tessellations
13. Color one of these tessellation coloring pages
14. Find tessellated tiles in a public setting (like these from Spain)
15. Explore how artists, such as Chris Watson, are using tessellation
16. Hug some friends under a tessellated quilt
17. Or: Plan your next quilt and make it a tessellation
18. Get patriotic with your tessellations (like with this box lid by Bruce Bilney)
19. Solve age-old conflicts with tessellation to show how we are all connected
20. Discover how people are using tessellation to solve problems, as in the creation of this Tessellation Pavillion
22. Explore this tessellation Pinterest Page
23. Declare your love of tessellations to the world on June 17!
Use the hashtags #WorldTessellationDay and #WorldTessDay to help create this holiday celebrating the beauty, wonder and practical applications of tessellation.
I'm speaking this August at the Willamette Writers Conference -- strangely enough, about memoir writing. Although now that I'm almost at the end of this Kickstarter journey I can see that I might have to put together a talk on how to Kickstart a children's book.
The conference has a silent auction associated with it. So many silent auctions. And for once, I have the perfect thing to contribute I'm calling it the Perfect Tessellation Playdate.
About a week to go before the first ever #WorldTessellationDay and things are getting busy over on the Facebook page.
Thanks to a group of dedicated fans the chances of this actually becoming a holiday are getting greater with each new "like."
Special thanks to Math Hombre John Golden for suggesting June 17, M.C. Escher's birthday, as the day we celebrate.
This holiday started because of a group of math advocates, a children's book author (me!), and a whole lot of pattern-loving people who wanted a day of the year to celebrate tessellations, tiling repeated patterns. What draws us to tessellations differs from person to person. Some people love the connection to math, the real world application, or just the beauty of the patterns. But nearly everyone recognizes just how cool tessellations are!
How you can help
In order to get the holiday registered as such, we need to prove it exists. Around the world, people will be taking pictures of tessellations -- making them, pointing them out, loving on them in plain sight -- and posting them with the hashtag #WorldTessellationDay.
We hope you'll join us in the creation of this holiday by posting a tessellated images to your social media accounts. Next week, I'll be writing about other creative ways to celebrate the holiday.
Will you help create a global holiday?
If you have custom puzzles as part of your Kickstarter rewards, I highly recommend the German company PuzzleYou.
The company allows you to make a custom puzzle from any image, adjust the background colors on the box, name your puzzle, pick the number of pieces it will be cut into (from a list of choices) and will ship everything to your backer directly through the site.
I ordered a custom puzzle of my favorite page from Tessalation! for myself last Christmas, long before I even imagined doing the Kickstarter for my book. I was curious, we are a puzzle-happy family, and I wanted to test the quality of a service like this.
I couldn't have been happier with what I got -- unless I had waited until I had the Photoshopped images from the book before placing my order! (There's pro tip #1, by the way).
There are surely cheaper options on the marker, but nothing can match the quality of a Made in Germany puzzle. And because I believe in creating things that have lasting value, not throwaway products that will be used once and end up in a landfill, I wanted a puzzle product that would feel so good in the hand and so satisfying to make that it would become a permanent part of the family's puzzling empire.
For marketing purposes, I am trying to get my puzzles to the backers in time for World Tessellation Day, so that they may post a picture of their completed puzzle to help celebrate the holiday.
But mostly, I just want to surprise people with a product that is well crafted, stunning to look at, and unique.
Which page of the book are they picking? Well, the odd thing is that with 12 puzzle backers and 16 pages to choose from, there are many pages being chosen! That tells me that I should never assume what people are going to find the most compelling since every reader responds differently to each of the pages. Some are picking tessellated pages, but not all.
But by far the most popular page is Page 14, the tessellated fish page.
Really, it's a great exercise in letting go for me, for the puzzle lover in me really wanted to direct them to specific pages that would make great puzzles. I prefer one that is no tessellated, a little more variety in each of the sections, no large expanses of the same color, and with interest at the sides to make it a little easier on the kids.
Always lean towards giving the people what they want! No one knows them better.
Have you ordered a custom puzzle before? What do you think goes into a good puzzle?
Why create something if you aren't going to get it out in the world? Tessalation! is going on blog tour!
What is a blog tour?
Instead of traveling the country with physical books in tow, I'll be guest posting and working with other content creators to build material for their websites. The tour will last two weeks, during which I'll be spreading the message about Tessalation! far and wide.
Why it works
Blog tours are great for books because they allow you to reach a targeted audience instead of throwing your book out there and waiting for the audience to find it. For my tour, I'm focusing on a number of blogs/websites whose readers might enjoy being exposed to a math learning story about a little girl who hides in patterns.
If you'd like to plan a book tour, I'd suggest reading a quick 99 cent Kindle book on how to set one up and then brainstorming blogs. If you're on Kickstarter for your project and have already done this, you should have a built-in audience of people who are excited to host you. Ideally you can follow up with them when you announce your blog tour.
1. Brainstorm possible blogs based on the audiences for your book
2. Brainstorm a list of ideas that you can contribute to their sites. Here was my list. I also offered specific people I know well something tailored to their sites.
4. Send an email introducing yourself and the tour and inviting blogger to join. Be sure to let them know they will get a permanent link on your site as well as broadcast through all of your social media channels.
5. Send them what you've worked on. It helps to have a variety of images and materials to send to bloggers. In my case, coloring pages, images, and tessellation tutorials.
6. When the blogs go live, share everywhere you can!
7. Thank the blogger for participating in the blog tour. Remember, they are the ones helping YOU out.
Above all, understand that this isn't a quick process but the rewards are many, from developing relationships to actually selling your books.
Have you done a blog tour? Do you have any tips?
I've written a number of essays and articles to give Tessalation! an afterlife beyond Kickstarter. Sure, it's great to engage backers and to have a built- in support network for your project while it is being created. But for small publishing projects the potential is there to have a lasting impact beyond Kickstarter.
I've started the Tessalation! media blitz, which involves places stories about the project in various media in order to get the project out there. The first one ran today: an article for Brain, Child magazine about the need for diversity in children's books. This was a driving interest in the creation of my project and I'm so thrilled to have this outlet work with me.
How did I get in Brain, Child? Well, I have already written for the publication three times. Established relationships will go a long way to having editors accept your writing. But I'm pretty sure the publication's editor would have taken this one even if she didn't already know me, because I have studied the Brain, Child audience by always following the publications and seeing what kind of other work they accept.
Brain, Child has a pretty specific voice. It is more about the mother and her journey than the child. This isn't to say that Brain, Child doesn't care about kids. It does. But it recognizes that the journey of motherhood is a powerful one and that women need an outlet for the extreme transformation they experience in the process.
Thanks, Brain, Child! What do you think about diversity in children's publishing?
Give back first. It feels good and it works.
This is my lesson for you today and to anyone who is trying to make something by building community on the Internet.
The new conventional wisdom is to give first and ye shall receive. But I'm going to go ahead and say that you give first because it feels really good and you don't expect anything in return. That way, you'll be pleasantly surprised if the world turns around and gives back to you.
Remember: When you are creating something, it is not about you and your ego. This is doubly so in publishing. It's about the idea, the art, the product, the book, the chance to have something out in the world.
For my project this has been easy. While being on Kickstarter, I very quickly learned that there was an excellent audience for Tessalation! in math advocates and people who like to do and support math play and other creative approaches to math learning.
And so, I give back at every opportunity. Today, for example, Parent Map, the Seattle publishing company, put out an article I wrote all about math play featuring several of the tessellation backers.
Does this article have a link to pre-order Tessalation!? You bet it does! But it also has something more important, which is useful information that makes the world better. I like to believe that my book fits within this idea -- making the world better because it exists. So any context I where I can show that happening helps my book and helps people.
What are your favorite ways to give back while doing book promotion?
Tessalation! is up for pre-order on Amazon!
Did you know you can put your books up on Amazon.com for pre-order? It's kind of a scary process. You can set up all of the parameters -- when it comes out, title, author name, files, cover, etc. -- but if you don't have the absolutely final this-is-it-come-and-get-it version, you can still launch a pre-order.
That's where I am. The book is done, it's at the printer, and I have a printer-only version but not yet the mobi file.
I have a number of math play stories and other media planned for this next month, so I knew it was time to get the pre-order up there so people with a connection to the book or backers who get the pdf early can post reviews well ahead of the launch date.
Also, any books sold in pre-order count towards the first week for the bestseller lists.
Also a good idea? Getting some testimonials from great voices to add to the Amazon site. For my project, I reached out to some wonderful backers who are big in the math play world.
Here is some early advance praise:
"I loved this book! An irresistible celebration of mathematics and nature, buoyantly and beautifully executed." – Dan Finkel, MathforLove.com
"Tessalation! is an invitation to view a beautiful slice of the natural world through the pattern-tinted lens of a child. Tessa and her vision are a gift to children, parents, math and art." – Christopher Danielson, TalkingMathwithKids.com
"Tessa Truman-Ling’s delight in patterns is contagious, and the book provides a wonderful jumping-off point for a variety of math activities." – Denise Gaskins, author of Let's Play Math: How Families Can Learn Math Together — and Enjoy It
"Beautifully vibrant, tessellating illustrations from Tessa's own observations show kids how fun mathematical patterns can be to make and find!" – Lucy Ravitch, blogger at KidsMathTeacher.com and author of The Pancake Menu
Please check out the pre-order page and tell me what you think!