It’s Friday afternoon. My Kickstarter fundraising campaign successfully ended last Sunday night. (More on this below.) My graphics designer is making adjustments to files for the book. And I just finished finalizing the photo gallery for Art of Winter to include all the images from the book. I feel as if I can begin to exhale. Even though there is more work to begin, two major hurdles have been accomplished, so I sigh with relief “We’re getting there.”
When this book was conceived last September I had no clue what would eventually be created. I thought it would be a dozen copies from a online POD for Christmas gifts for family and friends. But the local gift shops wanted copies to sell and my therapy clients and friends wanted their own copies.
Then in January, normal life came to a screeching halt. I’d been working diligently with Carolyn Walker, my editor, on polishing my memoir of my first year of living here on Shelter Island. Writing for this blog about my life and experiences ceased (temporarily). My client load at work lessened. Everything conspired to focus my energy and attention to creating my coffee table book, Art of Winter.
After doing lots of research I decided to self-publish. I knew that meant coming up with thousands of dollars. Where would it come from? Was I willing to invest my retirement savings? Memory flash-backs reminded me of a unique resource for fundraising– Kickstarter.com. A client had raised money for a project using Kickstarter; would I be able to raise the $20,000 I needed? I looked at other photography and book projects and realized that might be asking a lot. But $8,000 seemed reasonable.
Even with money in hand, I knew I’d need some help to do this right. With more research I put together a terrific team of pros.
The first player for my team was a printer. Again after lots of research I determined that print on demand (POD) was not feasible for a book with lots of color and full page bleeds. I’d need to print on an off-set press. That meant a small print run, at least initially, was going to be expensive. To print 500 copies would cost me about the same as printing 1000. Hmmm… easy math – 500 copies at $20 each or 1000 copies at $10. Those aren’t the exact numbers but they give you an idea of what I was considering.
I found that printers in the US are much more expensive than up north in Canada or across the ocean in China or Korea. A referral to one printer in Canada made sense, but they didn’t answer my inquiries in a timely or helpful manner.
“Codra Enterprises, may I help you?”
“I’d like to speak to someone about printing a coffee table book…”
“Let me connect you with Kari…”
Kari Miltenberger of Codra Enterprises, based in CA is my printing goddess. She happily answered all my questions and was extremely patient with me as I tried to decide whether I should self-publish or seek a traditional publisher. She understood that there were benefits to self-publishing (more creative control and bigger financial gains) and there were drawbacks (more financial risk and lots of work). She did not pressure me to make a decision and make the sale. She encouraged me to figure out what was best for me and my book.
Kari’s quote was about the same as the Canadian company. To print in Canada meant I could fly there for press checks when it was printed (this was recommended by a photographer friend). Codra has their books printed in Korea, so this would not be very feasible. But Kari won my business because of how helpful and supportive she is. And she always has a smile (on the phone) for me.
Next, I knew that if I was going to print 1000 copies I’d need a way to sell them other than word of mouth and out of the trunk of my car. Publicity would be needed, but I didn’t want to do it all myself. So I interviewed publicists. Most were daunted by the idea of doing PR for a coffee table book. “We’ve never done one before, but I guess we could…” “Social media? No we wouldn’t use that…” “We could come up with some clever ideas we’ve used for other books, but I’ve never done a coffee table book…”
Within minutes of first speaking with Linda White at BookManiaOnline.com it was readily apparent that she was going to be on my team. Linda was enthusiastic and full of ideas. The idea of a photography coffee table book was not new nor daunting. What she presented to me was what I had envisioned and more!
Next was finding a graphics designer with book and photography experience to turn my images into high-res print-ready files. I knew who I wanted, but I wasn’t sure if she was available. I’d hired her years before for some web design work and we communicated very well. Allison Gritton of Gritton Design knew me; what I liked, my style, my message. We hadn’t talked in years. I called her with my fingers crossed. “I’d love to Julie!”
My team was in place – Allison to design the book based on my initial layout, Kari to print the books in Korea and Linda to get the word out. Next was the fundraising. I studied other projects and created my campaign. See Being a Kickstarter for more ideas on a successful project. My goal was $8000 in 30 days. I thought I could do it. I hoped I could without pissing-off too many people when I would inundate them with pleas to pledge to my book. I spent countless hours online promoting my campaign on LinkedIn, Facebook and with emails directly and through Constant Contact. Being tenacious and follow-up in a timely manner were imperative. And it paid off.
In 30 days I raised with lots of help $8882 through Kickstarter and more than $500 from checks mailed to me to be pledged for rewards. The book itself will cost about $8000 to print. The other expenses are Kickstarter’s fees, the designer, the publicist, promotional materials, Kickstarter rewards (books, prints, canvases, note cards), ISBN and UPC, and more. The rest will come from savings, with the anticipation that I’ll be putting it back in as the book sells.
I’ve also been drumming up endorsements from professional photographers. The expression of “It never hurts to ask” is paying off. Jim Zuckerman, Chris Winters, Rob Benchley have all endorsed my book. See “Endorsements” under “Art of Winter” tab. I have four more photographers who have said they would write something for me. When they do I’ll let you know.
I will continue to pre-sell my book, prints and canvas images until June 1, 2012. Check out the Kickstarter page and the rewards; most of them are still available. Instead of pledging online, you can send me a check or I can bill you through PayPal. Contact me directly at Julie@JulieMcKay.net if you’d like to take advantage of this.
With the files in Allison’s hands, I’m going back to my “regular life” for a little while until Linda starts needing me to do stuff for the PR campaign, which she starts working on in May.
And while I’m thinking about it, if you’d like to be involved in my upcoming book review blog tour let me know.