Should I Run a Kickstarter Campaign During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

should i crowdfund my book coronavirus

Last week, we heard from children’s book author Nikki Filippone about why she canceled her book’s Kickstarter campaign after reaching 50% funding in 13 days.

This week, we’ll learn from children’s book author and wildlife photographer, Dennis Glennon, about why he’s continuing with his all-or-nothing Kickstarter campaign for his book, Buddy’s Magic Window.

Below, you’ll find Dennis’ reasoning for why it’s important for writers to not give up on their dreams even in times of economic uncertainty.

Reasons to Continue Marketing Your Books During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Well, there are a lot of reasons. The most important being is that I believe my book is worth fighting for.

I believe it will bring smiles and inspiration to both children and adults. I know it will inspire children to read and want to help animals and the environment.

Despite the current circumstances, I believe that positivity, inspiration, and smiles are needed now more than ever. This book has all of that.

I also believe that when you put enough force and drive behind something that is good, and you work extremely hard to make it happen, it will find the right people to support it.

I also know this will be tough work, and it might fail to reach its funding goal. This is a calculated risk, but I still believe it will get funded.

“Despite the current circumstances, I believe that positivity, inspiration, and smiles are needed now more than ever. This book has all of that.”

Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs Need to Fight Extra Hard

Another reason I kept the campaign going is that I want more than anything to be a full-time children’s book author. It has been a dream of mine for a long time.

This book has been just about ready for over six years. I had health setbacks, which forced me to put the whole project on the back burner.

Whatever the next few weeks or months forces me to deal with will pale in comparison to what I went through to get healthy.

I also believe that when you own a small business, you must be creative, fight, and be persistent to succeed.

Owning a small business and running it full time is no easy task. By continuing a Kickstarter campaign at this time, I will need to fight and scrape for every dollar.

See it as a Learning Opportunity

I am learning new things every day. This campaign is forcing me way out of my comfort zone. The things I am learning will be invaluable as I go forward on my goal to be a full-time author.

The biggest take away is that you will always need to be thinking creatively to sell and market yourself. There are endless opportunities to market, even under the worst circumstances.

Just imagine, if I succeed in bad times, how much better it will be when the economy gets back to normal.

No certainty when that will be, but I will have books and be ready to go.

In the meantime, I will be building an online store and start branding my book. I am going to offer a whole merchandising line.

I will start offering puzzles later on today because they are in high demand since everyone is stuck at home.

With Amazon currently only delivering necessities, it is the perfect time to drive sales to your website where the profit margins are higher.

buddy dog coffee dennis glennon
Photo credit: Dennis Glennon Photography

The World Needs Artists to Continue Working

On a more philosophical note, we are artists, authors, and creatives. We take the time to pour our lifetime of thoughts into a book.

To me, it is a higher calling that we must get our stories, which we are so passionate about out into the world.

Keep in mind that this is a business, and you need an excellent book, a solid following, and a great plan to make this happen.

Competition is more fierce than ever.

To that end, we must work even harder and smarter to get people to buy our books and fund our creative projects, no easy task at the moment.

Advice if You Plan to Crowdfund Right Now

Here’s my advice if you are going to launch a campaign soon: Get professional help!!!

This is no time to play around and try to figure this out on your own. You need a solid plan and following to make this happen.

I hired Lisa Ferland to help me. Her expertise is priceless.

She will put you in the best position to succeed. She has a ton of knowledge and is super generous in helping her clients succeed.

I could not have done this on my own. An added bonus to having Lisa on your team is that she alleviates a large amount of stress. You’ll know you have proper direction or will be re-directed if things start slipping.

I also talked with and follow children’s book author, Jay Miletsky. His business advice is sound and will put you on a path to profit. His groups are awesome, and there are a lot of resources there to help in your book publishing endeavor.

Keep in mind that running a Kickstarter campaign will be a ton of work and more complicated than you think.

At this point, you might want to consider lowering your original goal (before you launch) a little and aim to go over.

I had no way of knowing this Corona scare would happen, but, in hindsight, I wish I would have gone with my original goal of $6,500 and then gone over to the $9,500 that I really need for the 2,500 copies.

I chose 2,500 copies because there is enough profit margin to be able to get a second print run paid for and sustain an adequate profit margin.

buddys magic window dennis glennon

Keep Asking for the Sale

So then there is another question “How do you ask people for money in this time of economic uncertainty? “

Ultimately, it is a personal decision, and there are no wrong answers. However, my response is, “How do you not?”

Keep in mind that this is an unusual period, and we should be diplomatic, sympathetic, empathetic, and know our audience, as we do not want to alienate anyone.

The economic uncertainty is brutal, and people are understandably stressed and holding onto their money.

Imagine that this is your full-time business. What would you do? Would you just fold up? Or would you fight for survival?

I think we are safe if we politely ask for the sale and support. People either can and will support, or they cannot at this time, and they will not, and either way, it is OK.

But without asking, we will fail.

Artists Can Help Others Heal in Times of Crisis

I will give you an example of what happened to me post 9/11 when I had an Art Show shortly afterward that may shed some light on the current situation.

I live in NJ. When 9/11 happened, I had an art show scheduled in Montclair NJ not far from Manhattan. I knew people who died in this tragedy, including the priest who baptized me, Father Mychal Judge, who was the Fire Chaplin and a family friend.

I struggled with a lot of things, and one of them is, “Do I go do this art show? How can I possibly ask people for money at this time of tragedy? I struggled with it. Not an easy decision, but I went. That is what artists do. We show up and support.

My reasoning ended up being I will set up my booth and just be there for anyone who needs the support. I will provide a pleasant distraction for anyone that was there, figuring if they were out, that is what they needed.

I did not push for any sales for those two days but talked about my work and certainly accepted the sales that came my way. I learned that people really appreciated the artists that showed up.

We help heal in a time of crisis.

Yes..sales were probably horrible, but I did make some money and provided some much-needed relief. So with that in mind, I could not give up on my current campaign.

Crowdfunding is Tough No Matter When You Launch

I truly believe I can be there for people in need of something positive, a welcomed distraction, and my book has value and that people will feel good about the purchase.

Then when July rolls around and the books are delivered, they will be thankful they helped support the campaign.

Will it be tough? Absolutely!! I was funded 50% of my $9,500 goal the first week.

The second week, when the pandemic started to become more of a reality, and people started getting sent home from work, I only gained 7%. SCARY.

I will have to gently push harder and be even more creative to get to the finish line. I realize that not all people will agree with me on this, and I respect that.

But if you gained just one bit of wisdom or insight in this article, then I have provided value, and I wish us all success in our book publishing journeys.

It is a tough journey, better traveled with the support of good friends and fellow authors who understand the difficulty.

Would I recommend launching a campaign right now??? I would consult with Lisa and Jay’s group to get a better pulse.

Ask me in 2 weeks.

Best wishes to all. Keep up the fight. Most of all, be safe.

Stay healthy and be kind to yourself and others. These are tough times. We need to come together and support one another.

Keeping it positive!

dennis glennon photography

Dennis Glennon is a professional dog, wildlife, and nature photographer. He has photographed some of the most beautiful places in North America including most of the U.S. National Parks. His focus has been on photographing landscapes and wildlife, but once he started photographing dogs it took on a life of its own.

Click here to visit and support Buddy’s Magic Window on Kickstarter
Click here to follow Dennis Glennon’s Photography on Facebook

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Crowdfunding Lessons 101: Is Crowdfunding Your Book a Good Idea?

Enroll in Lisa’s free mini-course on Crowdfunding for Authors to find out if it’s right for you

Insider Perspective, Nikki Filippone: Know When to Cancel Your Kickstarter Campaign

When to cancel…

The heartbreaking decision to cancel your Kickstarter campaign after months of research, preparation, and backing other campaigns is difficult for every author.

Sometimes, authors need to cancel because they need a larger audience to support their campaign goal. Other times, there are external forces beyond their control like illness, national tragedies, and weather disasters.

Nikki Filippone is no stranger to Kickstarter and she understood the potential of using the platform to launch her book to a broader audience.

But, what nobody could predict, was that a global pandemic would force a drastic prioritization of limited personal financial resources.

In this interview, you’ll hear more about what went into Nikki’s decision to ultimately cancel her Kickstarter campaign.

It is our hope that more authors will understand the amount of work involved in running a crowdfunding campaign.

Deciding to cancel your Kickstarter campaign is never an easy decision and perhaps, Nikki’s experience can help you decide the right way forward for your book.

Can you describe a bit about your vision for Rosalee the Seeker and why you decided to run a Kickstarter campaign?

I created this book because I saw a significant gap in children’s literature when it came to the topic of Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). My vision for this book is multi-faceted.

First and foremost, I want to empower young sensory seekers. I also want to help parents better understand their sensory seeking children, and offer my book as a tool to help them explain SPD to other family members and adults.

I also believe my book will be an excellent addition to any elementary school classroom so young children will better understand their sensory seeking classmates. 

Launching my campaign was an excellent way to get my book in front of a wider audience while simultaneously giving me an opportunity to print it in hardcover. I would love to offer a more durable book that families can cherish for longer and even pass down to their grandchildren. 

Can you describe the type of prep work you did before you launched?

Because of my limited personal resources (time and money), I focused my efforts on social media marketing.

Instead of working on an email list, I developed one-on-one relationships with those who expressed an interest in my book.

This allowed me to follow-up individually through FB Messenger on launch day. This proved to be extremely effective and I was able to get to 38% funded in under 2 days. 

Honestly (and I’m not just saying this), I found Lisa’s blog and other resources extremely helpful in understanding the whole process of crowdfunding. I incorporated a lot of her advice into my strategy. 

What went into your decision to cancel your Kickstarter campaign?

Unfortunately, my campaign launch coincided with the early days of Coronavirus in the US.

As the days progressed, so did the severity of the Coronavirus situation. I became less comfortable asking people to help fund my book.

I know a lot of people are currently unemployed due to the Coronavirus. Many are unsure if they will be able to pay for basic needs. 

Lisa’s note: Nikki’s campaign was ~50% funded on Day 13.

What surprised you the most about crowdfunding your book? 

Honestly? It was harder than I thought! And, this was my second attempt! (I canceled my first campaign after three days because I knew nothing about crowdfunding at the time. I quickly realized that I would not meet my campaign goal.)

What I’m saying is that even knowing everything I know now (exactly a year later), I STILL wasn’t fully prepared for just how much work it was!

What advice would you give an author considering crowdfunding their book?

All you can ever do is your very best.

If external circumstances throw a wrench in your efforts, try and find ways to learn from the situation so your efforts will not have been wasted. And, don’t allow yourself to feel like a failure. If you’ve learned something, you’ve already succeeded. <3 

Do you think you’ll relaunch your campaign?

I’m uncertain at this point. I’ll most likely reassess when the Coronavirus situation is behind us. 

Anything else you’d like people to know?

If you’re planning to crowdfund, do NOT expect it to be easy, and do NOT expect to be able to “wing” it.

My first campaign taught me not to wing it. I applied what I learned over the past year to my Rosalee campaign planning.

I am 100% certain that if the Coronavirus hadn’t hit, I would have met my goal, and it would have been because of the very intense planning and prep that I did. 

Bio

Nikki Filippone is a fiercely passionate writer and educator. She is also a fiercely passionate mom, daughter, wife, and friend. About a year ago, she found her way into independent publishing.

She has published one book as author/illustrator, and two books as an illustrator since. She plans on creating a series out of this one. Feel free to stay tuned by following Nikki on Facebook.

Click here to visit Nikki’s Rosalee the Seeker Kickstarter Campaign

Go Deeper

10 Reasons Not to Crowdfund Your Book
Surprising Lessons from Two Kickstarter Campaigns
5 Things Crowdfunding Authors Want You To Know Before You Launch

Enroll in the Crowdfunding Mini-Course for Authors for Free here

2019 Advent Calendar for Kids—Children’s Book Recommendations

2019 advent calendar for kids lisaferland

Create your 2019 Advent Calendar for kids with a new book every day.

Give the gift of books  to your favorite young readers this holiday season.

You’ve already read The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, so add these  independently published children’s book to your bookshelves this year.

Below are my recommendations to create an Advent Calendar for kids of children’s books for your kids to open every day of December. 

All of the links below are Amazon affiliate links to which I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Budget-friendly options for book Advent calendars 

I know that not everyone has the budget to purchase 24 books in a month, which is why I propose the following budget-friendly options:

  • Create an ebook Advent Calendar for Kids

    • Sign up for Kindle Unlimited on Amazon US here
    • Or purchase the Kindle version of each book at a discounted price from the physical books
    • Kindle Unlimited is $9.99/mth and there is even a 30-day free trial if you’ve never tried it before
    • Nearly all of the books below are also available on Kindle Unlimited
    • To create an ebook Advent calendar for kids:
      • download all of the ebooks beforehand to your Kindle-reading device and place the title of the book on a slip of paper in an envelope so your kids have something to open.
    • Reading the ebooks are also a great way to see if your kids love the books before you invest in buying  physical copies.
    • The authors will still get a small royalty for your Kindle Unlimited read.
    • Be sure to leave a review!
  • Blend old and new books into your Advent calendar for kids 

    • Select some of the books on the list below that interest you the most and wrap some existing books from your children’s bookshelves into your Advent calendar collection.
  • Borrow books from the library to supplement your Advent calendar

    • If you can’t find the books below in your local library, then supplement them with another Christmas title. Your librarians will be happy to help you find a favorite.

Children’s book recommendations the 2019 Advent Calendar for kids 3-8 years

1—A Silly Milly Christmas by Sheri Wall

Is Milly naughty or nice? Does she get a glimpse of Santa Claus?

Available here: https://amzn.to/2Kvd5iS

2—The Mouse in the Hammock: a Christmas Tale by Bethany Brevard

A book that teaches children how Small Acts of Kindness can make a big impact.

Available here: https://amzn.to/33YOx9Q

3—Tomten Saves Christmas by Linda Liebrand


With just two more days till Christmas, will an invite for Christmas coffee be enough to melt Farm Tomten’s grumpy heart so Farm and Yule Tomte can save Christmas together?

Available here: https://amzn.to/2qmZHXa

4—When the Clock Strikes on Christmas Eve by Lisa Ferland

  It’s the most wonderful time of the year and kids can’t wait for the fun of Christmas morning! 

Available here: https://amzn.to/2OmUUwT

Shameless plug, I know 😉

5—Where Would Santa Go? by Julia Inserro

If you could travel the world, where would you go?

Available here: https://amzn.to/2rVTzWr

6—Humphrey’s First Christmas by Carol Heyer

We’ve all heard the story of the three wise men who brought their gifts to Baby Jesus. But what about the camels who carried them? 

Available here: https://amzn.to/2CYX3d8

7—My Teacher is an Elf by Joey and Melanie Acker

 

It’s that time of year again and Ms. Holly’s class thinks she might be an elf!

Available here: https://amzn.to/2Ok3cWq

8—Never Let a Unicorn Meet a Reindeer! by Diane Alber

A story about a little girl that wants a reindeer for her birthday!

Available here: https://amzn.to/2NWR3aO

9—Santa’s Story by Will Hillenbrand

Santa is ready to leave on Christmas Eve, but he can’t find the reindeer anywhere.

Available here: https://amzn.to/2KzoEWd

10—Zetta the Poinsettia by Alma Hammond

Zetta is excited about the holidays but before she knows it, its over.  What will Zetta’s purpose be then?

Available here: https://amzn.to/2NZGTq5

11—Secret Santas and the Twelves Days of Christmas Giving by Courtney Petruzzelli

 

This heartfelt story has inspired a movement of anonymous giving across the nation.

Available here: https://amzn.to/2OpIvIC

12—Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson

Bear’s friends are determined to keep Bear awake for Christmas!  Bear stays up—by discovering that giving is one of the best Christmas presents of all!

Available here: https://amzn.to/2XqYdr6

13—Little Squirrel Squish Gets his Christmas Wish

Little Squirrel Squish wished all his life to be part of Santa’s flying crew but only reindeer were allowed.

Available here: https://amzn.to/2rXSY6G

14—The Elf Who Couldn’t Read by Sonica Ellis

Santa wants Jingles to help read the Christmas list, but Jingles doesn’t know how to read yet.

Available here: https://amzn.to/2rZXhOZ

15—Lulu and Lainey: 12 Days of Christmas

While baking holiday cookies, Lulu and Grand-mère amuse themselves by singing a clever rendition of the beloved Christmas carol using knitted items as the gifts.

Available here: https://amzn.to/343fiKm

16—The Magic Friendship of Snow by Andi Cann

Jojo looks around and everyone seems to have friends but her. She feels sad and lonely. How do you make a friend?

Available here: https://amzn.to/35biCD2

17—The Christmas Crocodile by Bonny Becker

When Alice Jayne finds a crocodile under the tree on Christmas Eve, her family goes into an uproar!

Available here: https://amzn.to/32WKQA1

18—Mission Fat Hearts by Rebecca Yee

Are your kids ready to be secret agents? If they are, here is a Christmas mission the whole family will love!

Available here: https://amzn.to/2KDfh8e

19—Christmas Farm by Mary Lyn Ray

Year after year, Wilma and Parker nurture their trees, keeping careful count of how many they plant, how many perish, and how many grow to become fine, full Christmas trees.

Available here: https://amzn.to/2puQnjC

20—The Animals’ Christmas Eve by Gale Wiersum

A sweet rhyming story in which a group of animals recounts the events surrounding Jesus’ birth in the manger, and the parts some of their ancestors played in it.

Available here: https://amzn.to/2XppF8I

21—The Amazing Snowman Duel by Yossi Lapid

There is a new snowman in town! Or is he a bully? This charming story will teach your little ones that bullies do not always win and force is not the only way to settle disputes.

Available here: https://amzn.to/2XrORvf

22—The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola

This Mexican legend tells how the poinsettia came to be, through a little girl’s unselfish gift to the Christ Child. 

Available here: https://amzn.to/2OrDpvn

23—Dasher by Matt Tavares

Dasher is an adventurous young reindeer with a wish in her heart.

Available here: https://amzn.to/2r8GCbe

24—The Night Baafore Christmas by Dawn Young

Bo just wants to fall asleep before Santa comes, but when the sheep he’s counting rebel and wreak havoc around the house, Christmas Eve starts to go baa-dly wrong.

Available here: https://amzn.to/2KAdn82

I hope you enjoy these new Christmas stories and discover some new favorites.

As always, authors always appreciate your reviews! 

2019 advent calendar books for kids lisa ferland
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Animal lovers take over Kickstarter: Opossum Opposites by Gina Gallois

Opossum opposite cover square

Gina Gallois knew she wanted to launch Opossum Opposites on Kickstarter.  She knew she had to build an audience and keep them engaged during her campaign.

We worked together and in only two sessions, Gina was on her way creating funny opossum memes and articles that her readers love.

In this interview, I asked Gina about her experience building an audience from scratch, her Kickstarter campaign, and her plans for her future books.

What surprised you the most about running your Kickstarter campaign?

It really is a lot of work. I was surprised about the amount of upfront work, before the first backer has even pledged.

I would not have done near as good a job making sure all of my links were consistent and working together if I had not had Lisa’s help.

It takes a long time to get all of the advertising materials together – even though I didn’t do any paid ads, I made a lot of memes and graphics to post throughout the month.

Also, the work that went into the “simple” video, the Kickstarter page was a lot more than I expected. 

However, it was a great exercise because now I have all kinds of info ready to go, and I basically pinned a post to the top of my blog with all my lovely Kickstarter info so people who visit the page will see that first.

What was the best aspect of crowdfunding your campaign?

We made our goal and went well over, so now I can invest in my Spanish translation and my French editor.

It was great to see how many of the backers came from the Kickstarter community—over $1K of the funding.

What was the worst aspect of your campaign?


Being obsessed with checking my numbers for several days! Then, thank goodness I calmed down a bit once I reached my goal at the start of day 11.

I still kept pushing through the month, but I let off a bit for about 2 weeks to give people a chance to breathe before the final call for pledges. I didn’t want people to get sick of me.

What were the best strategies you did to build your audience before you launched?

I started pushing my email list really hard, and that worked pretty well—for my particular case, I promised special exclusive memes about opossums.

I mostly needed email subscribers since I was pretty much starting that from scratch, but I already had over 1000 Facebook followers, and I’m still building that audience all the time.

I think it also helped that I wrote on Medium and got my call to action out there in lots of articles related to my book (that was Lisa’s idea, and was really helpful).

You said you build your audience from zero.

What strategies did you use to build you readership before launch?

So, I am in five or six different private Facebook groups about opossums and each day of the week for several months, I made my own memes with pictures people had posted of their rescue opossums (I always credited the photos on the meme).

I posted the memes on my IG which simultaneously posts on my FB page.

Then I shared that FB post in each group with a different little quip in each new post.

People in each group saw my FB page each time I posted and sometimes they mosey on over and follow me.

Even if they only go to my page and like a post, I could scoop them up that way by inviting them to like the page later. 
 
I think the secret is that I was always giving them something entertaining and sneaking a little info and/or link in with the meme, so it didn’t annoy the crap out of people that all I was ever doing was pushing my book.
 
I rarely shared direct marketing things for my book in these groups—only to announce the beginning of the Kickstarter and maybe one to say it was about to end.
 
Otherwise, I usually got my link in the first couple of lines, but the star of the show was always the original meme.
 
I was getting over 200 new followers every month for several months.
 

What advice did you receive that helped you the most?


To write related articles, to have things ready in advance (although I could have done much better with that, I had time to do it during the month, too, luckily).

I also emailed about 200 people individually, and I think that helped even if a lot of people didn’t reply at all.

Some people I didn’t really expect to hear from were super excited about my book.

What advice would you give someone thinking about crowdfunding their book?


Get help from Lisa Ferland! Read as much as you can, study the projects that are not working and figure out why, look at the ones that are and analyze that too.

Make it yours, make it clear, make it great.

Would you crowdfund your book again?

I would if I had to, but it was so much work (and since I did pretty well), I plan to use the funds to get my publishing empire rolling and then reinvest in my next couple of projects.

I finally found a day to draft most of the next book I’ve been percolating, so I want to use all the money the first one brings in to keep going and hopefully not annoy my friends and family with guilt trips for cash anymore. Don’t want to run out of goodwill.

Although, crowdfunding is a very good way to get to people you wouldn’t normally have reached. Those super backers are nothing to sneeze at!

Final thoughts?

I learned and am still learning so much from all of this that I wouldn’t have necessarily learned so easily if I had not gone through the process of crowdfunding my book.

I could not be happier with my results. I feel prepared for anything!

Bio

Gina Gallois bio

Gina Gallois is a longtime opossum enthusiast. She recently left teaching college French to be at home with her infant daughter and to write.

In addition to children’s books, she also writes humor and personal essays on Medium.

Gina is the proud, incredibly lucky mother of two bilingual children. She’s married to an imported Frenchman who recently became a US citizen.

Connect with Gina on her website: https://livingimperfection.com/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/LivingImperfection/

Instagram @artemisopossum

 

Are you interested in crowdfunding your book in 2020?

Do you want four weeks of free coaching, an accountability group of fellow authors, video tutorials, email templates, and resources to help you save time?

I have a new program that is perfect for you but I’m only taking in a few authors.

Want to know more?

Email me at admin@lisaferland.com with the email headline,

“I want more info on group coaching” and I’ll get back to you right way.

Seats are limited, so email me TODAY if you’re interested.

Translating Your Books Into Foreign Languages

translating childrens books pirate ship

Want to reach more readers by translating your book into foreign languages? Be sure to read this article to see if it’s a good idea for your business.

Translating books


Many indie authors are interested in translating their books into other languages to reach as many readers as possible.

As the publishers of our work, we own the rights to translate our words into any language, which is pretty amazing.

However, translating books can become an expensive endeavor with very little return if you don’t think through every aspect of the publishing process.

Foreign publishers contacting you

Sometimes, a foreign publisher will contact you offering their translation and publishing services of your book into their language.

I recommend hiring a foreign rights agent to help you negotiate these contracts so you get the best deal possible.

Contacting foreign rights agents

John Penberthy received almost $40,000 in advances when he sold the foreign rights for his motivational self-help book, To Bee or Not to Bee, to multiple foreign literary agents. 

He researched the email addresses of foreign literary agents and sent them a descriptive email, including a link to his book trailer. 

This effort resulted in offers and translation rights in Korean, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Slovenian, Chinese, and Romanian. 

He said, “I strongly recommend using literary agents (as opposed to contacting publishers directly); they are worth their weight in gold.” 

If you’re interested in learning more about translating your fiction/nonfiction, head to ALLI’s blog on how to sell your foreign rights.

For children’s book authors, keep reading.

You’ve been warned—this is about to get ugly.

translating childrens books pirate ship
Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

Translating Children’s Books—especially those that rhyme

Working with foreign rights agents may work well for straightforward fiction and nonfiction, but it’s a different story when it comes to children’s books—particularly books written in rhyme.

Balancing proper rhyme, meter, story plot, and reader interest is difficult to do in any language and often doesn’t translate well.

Rhyming books will never translate directly between any two languages (nothing ever does), and the language for children needs to be applicable.

This always results in the creation of a new storyline.

Oh, and you’ll need a snappy new title with market appeal in your target language.

A revised storyline requires one of two approaches:

—commissioning new illustrations ($), or
—shoehorning your new story to match your existing illustrations.

Translating a rhyming children’s book can become quite expensive for the indie publisher and difficult to market if you don’t know the language.

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My experience translating English rhymes into Swedish

When I originally planned to publish my books in two languages—my native English and my adopted language Swedish—I didn’t fully grasp the consequences of my idea.

I was naive in thinking that since my books were short children’s books, we could find words that rhyme in both languages.

It doesn’t matter if your books are 300 words or 3,000—if there is rhyming involved, you might want to reconsider taking on this arduous task yourself and pay a foreign rights agent their hard-earned 20%.

Merely finding a Swedish author to help me take on this task took a few months.

I reached out to numerous children’s book authors who wrote in Swedish rhyme, but nobody seemed interested. It’s a tough job!

I finally connected with a local author, Veronica Linarfve, who was a delightful collaborator and relished sinking her teeth into a new project so different from her novels.

Veronica had to do the heavy lifting as I could not offer intelligent alternatives to improve the meter. I can barely trust my ears to hear meter cadence in English, let alone detect it in my second language.

Fortunately, Veronica is super talented and stuck with me. We found words that worked and Swedish kids and parents absolutely love the book. 

Veronica Linarfve o Lisa Ferland
Photo credit: Veronica Linarfve

Ohh, but merely translating the words does not a book make. 

You may need new illustrations ($$)

Fortunately, I was able to crosswalk most of the existing illustrations from the English version and repurpose them for the Swedish book.

VI FIRAR HALLOWEEN spoke

Kevin the ghost needed a new costume with the words “Bus eller godis” but otherwise remained the same

Other considerations included a new book title, book cover design, title page, copyright page, ISBN, updated sales page description, and a marketing plan.

You’re definitely going to need a new title

Your translated work may have a completely different title based on the market appeal and genre of your book.

“When the clock strikes…” is a well-known phrase in English, but it doesn’t mean anything in Swedish.

The new title has to mean something to potential readers, so we changed it to, “Vi firar halloween” (Swedes don’t capitalize their titles like we do in the US/UK) which translates to, “We celebrate Halloween.”  

It doesn’t have quite the same gravitas as “When the Clock Strikes…” but Swedish readers are enjoying it and that’s the most important part.

How are you going to market your translated book(s)?

Oh yeah, marketing, don’t forget about that! No book sells itself, and neither will your translated book(s).

If you don’t know the language, you’re going to struggle to get it in front of potential readers. Google Translate will only take you so far.

Writing persuasive copy in your native language is tough and now you’re in charge of doing it in a foreign language? Ehh, ok. 

I live in Sweden, so I can take my book around to markets and stores and sell it in-person.

If you’re translating your book into Korean and you live in the US, how are you going to get it in front of Korean readers?

My long-term solution is to get my Swedish books into the Swedish version of Amazon (bokus.se) via a local fulfillment center.

Until I can get the books in circulation, I’m selling them on my Shopify website, which has been quite simple to set up and get moving.

I’m directing traffic to that site via Facebook ads.

None of this is remotely easy as I’m working in my minority language.

Again, Google Translate can only do so much.

US-based solutions, like Shopify, are super helpful but their buttons aren’t in every language so some English may remain on your page.

Here’s what my Swedish book looks like on my Swenglish Shopify page.

An Alternative Solution for Rhyming Books

But wait! I don’t come to you with only problems, I also offer potential solutions.

Tamara Rittershaus is an experienced poetry coach and editor living in Mexico.

Her family is trilingual, and she understands the need for books to be available in multiple languages.

“You need a translator and editor experienced with stories for children, because translating stories is it’s own art form,” Tamara explains.

“The translated text not only has to convey the story itself, but the jokes and puns still have to be funny, the language rich and beautiful, and the vocabulary simple and accessible to children.”

Tamara has teamed up with other bilingual professionals to offer translation services for children’s book authors in English and Spanish.

If your story is in rhyme, you have options: 

1. The story in verse can be translated as a story in prose. A good translator can use rich language to bring your story to life without using rhyme and rhythm.

2. The story can be translated to have a lyrical, rhythmic feel, but not be in rhyme. This is a step harder for the translator. He/she will need the freedom to change small details, like the order of words or the details described, to make the meter work. 

3. The story can be translated into poetry in the target language. Most likely, this is only possible with straightforward texts. It will probably require editing some details of your story and maybe even changing the illustrations. Depending on the topic and tone of your story, it may not be possible. 

Note that Option 3 is the path I chose for my Eng-Swe books. I wouldn’t really recommend it to everyone.

Be sure to contact Tamara about these options and discuss your manuscript with her team. 

They can help you decide which option is best for your story.

Pro tip: Wait until your manuscript is FINAL before attempting any translations whatsoever

If you’re publishing two separate editions —an English edition and a Spanish edition— wait for translation services until everything in your original version is finalized. 

If you’re still making changes to your text or illustrations, it’s not time to start another language edition yet. 

If you’re publishing a bilingual edition, you need to have your bilingual text ready for the illustrator early on so he/she can create the space required for the text within each illustration. As you make changes, you’ll need both an English and a Spanish editor to review the finished manuscript before publication. 

Tamara and her team offer a complete translation & editing service: 

– Professional translation services 

– Professional editing in English and Spanish 

– Digital text placement for your bilingual or Spanish edition 

They also offer marketing assistance to help you sell all of those beautiful books you had painstakingly translated.

Tamara’s website: https://www.picturebooktamara.com/

I will admit that I was a bit ambitious with my first books and eager to get them to market despite it taking an entire year. 

It will take time for me to get the books into Swedish circulation but I know that it’ll be successful once it does. We learn by doing, which is often a bit painful and expensive, but that’s how we make progress.

Whew! Ok!

So how are you feeling about translating your book?

Ja? Nej?

 

110 Backers on Launch Day: Advice for Getting Your Personal Network onto Kickstarter from D.K. Ackerman

princess pirates

D.K. Ackerman went into her book’s Kickstarter campaign with a very small social media presence.

By connecting with people individually, Dana was able to connect and leverage her personal network to make a big impression on Kickstarter. 

She exceeded her a goal of $5k and raised $7,085 from 214 new readers on Kickstarter for her children’s illustrated book, Princess Pirates.

Knowing the importance of launch day, Dana conducted extensive audience outreach and education prior to launch.

Find out how she secured 110 backers on Day 1 of her campaign while avoiding social media entirely in this interview with D.K. Ackerman. 

Establishing an Audience

In terms of reaching outside of my own personal network of friends and family, I didn’t do very much. Full disclosure, I hate social media!!

So, while I did get a professional Instagram and Facebook page and even looked into hashtags and did some “follow for follow” stuff, it didn’t do very much.

Probably because I just hate posting all the time though!! It’s something I’m realizing I especially need to work on now, though!

“I sent somewhere close to 300 emails or Facebook messages the week leading up to my launch date.”—D.K. Ackerman

Pre-launch campaign preparation

I did quite a bit of research into other successful campaigns in the children’s books genre. I looked at their campaign pages and videos and even messaged a few of them to ask their advice on what were the biggest things they did to gain momentum.
 
I joined author Facebook groups which were super helpful and I still learn a lot from. I talked with my brother in law who ran a super successful campaign himself about what he did, and his approach is what I really owe my success to. 
 
So, as a preface, I already said I was pretty bad at getting an audience before the campaign started, but just so you understand how small even my personal network is: I was home schooled my entire growing up years, went to two years of community college as a teenager and then transferred to a University and graduated from there after just two years. 

I married really young and had our first child and decided to stay home with her very soon afterwards, so I didn’t have any connections in the workplace really.
 
I’ve been a stay at home mom for years, and my average Facebook post gets around 30 likes or so. Not so encouraging when you are about to launch something like this!!
 
But, something my brother in law did was he sent individualized e-mails to friends and family. So, that’s what I did!
 
I sent somewhere close to 300 either emails or Facebook messages the week leading up to my launch date.
 
I tried to make as many messages as personal as I had time to.
 
I asked everyone 1). if they would back my project on DAY ONE and stressed why that was important and 2). share it with people they thought would appreciate a project like mine on day one as well.
 
That really made the biggest difference and I think was the biggest reason I was able to do what I did on my first Kickstarter. Not all of those people responded or could back my project, but a lot of them did and shared, too. 
princess pirates
Click to pre-order

Surprising aspects of the campaign

I was actually really surprised at 1). How much support I got on day one! I really stressed to everyone how important it was to get momentum on day one, but I was still so excited to see how many people paid attention ha!

And 2). I was surprised at how much support I got from Kickstarter itself.

Over 20% of my sales came directly from Kickstarter’s platform.

I was selected as one of their favorite projects and was able to become really visible.

I chose Kickstarter because I thought it would be a good way to launch my book, but I never imagined I’d get that much support just from people cruising the site!

Best advice for others

People underestimate the power of their own personal network and overestimate how much of that network sees their Facebook posts.
 
Friends and family WANT to support you, but don’t get discouraged if you post about your book and no one responds–they either didn’t see it, or didn’t realize how important it is to you.
 
Let people know what you’re doing in personal ways so they can recognize the work you’ve actually put into your project and of course they will want to support you!

Worth doing again

It is a pain in the butt getting everything done, not gonna lie!

But, not only did Kickstarter offer me a way to reach a whole set of people I couldn’t find on my own, but it also gave me the push to make sure when I launched my book to pre-order, I did it right.

Lessons learned

Oh man, this being my first Kickstarter there are so many things I’ve learned!

Next time I would make my page more fun and focus on adding graphics so it looks more engaging.

Due to a lot of complicated reasons, I didn’t actually know my start date until two weeks before I launched, which meant I couldn’t really reach out to a lot of outside sources with enough time to get the word out.

Next time I’d have a fixed launch date months before and so I can go to news organizations, influencers, and other outlets with enough time for them to get my messages and be able to create content that can come out during the Kickstarter.

As it is, I’m getting responses from people who want to feature my book now that my Kickstarter has ended.

I am also looking forward to creating a bigger following on social media (as much as it pains me to say!) before my next launch.

Advice for other authors

Having a book launch, whether through Kickstarter or on your own platform is invaluable!!

It forces you to do so may vital things like solidifying your message and why your book is important; creating content that helps people connect with your book; seeing if there is actually a market for your book; not to mention not having to invest your own money before you jump into something this big!

Kickstarter is especially awesome for finding new people who are interested in your book, but I recommend have a really clear message if you’re going to go that route.

You can have a successful pre-order launch on your own site and use your own personal network.

However, if you want to reach other groups of people Kickstarter can offer that, but the only way those other people are going to see your project is if you have a fantastic first day and make your message clear and important.

I really feel like there were so many more things I could have done.

Bio

Dana Ackerman headshot

D.K. Ackerman was schooled at home by a stay-at-home feminist and a dad who always encouraged her to chase her dreams. She graduated from BYU-Hawaii at age 19 and was married and started a family soon after.

She is now mother to three girls and boy and spends her day going on adventures with them. When she’s not with them she is helping her husband run his businesses and writing about her children. She is passionate about letting children be children and believes that creating spaces where their creativity can be limitless means their futures can be too.

Click here to pre-order Princess Pirates: https://dkackerman.com/

Need more help?

Schedule a free 20-minute session with Lisa to get customized help for your book’s crowdfunding campaign.

Click here: https://go.oncehub.com/lisaferland

Why We Need More Kids’ Books About Farts

Ask any kid if they think farts are funny and 99% of them will giggle and say yes. 

Despite a clear flashing green light from our target audience (KIDS), many children’s book writers respond with strong negative emotions when confronted with farts in kid lit.

“I will never buy a book like that for my kids. Not ever.” 

“We don’t discuss those things in our house. It’s not proper.”

“Literature doesn’t need to stoop to such levels to entertain. We need better kid lit than this.”

Clearly, even talking about books about farts makes people uncomfortable.

If you’re a parent or a writer (or both) who thinks that fart books are gross and inappropriate, please hang in there with me and read until the end.

In this essay, I’m going to present 5 reasons why we need more fart books in our kids’ lives. 

1—Laughing about taboo topics opens a dialogue between adult and child

Having frequent conversations about small issues (like farts) paves the way for parents to have future discussions about much more important topics.

Life changing topics like sex, pregnancy, rape, homosexuality, abuse, and other things that are much weightier topics than stinky airy flatulence.

If a parent struggles with talking about natural bodily functions, how do you think future conversations about the darker topics like sex and rape are going to go?

I volunteer with my local women’s shelter and believe me, we need to be having lots of conversations about sex, rape and abuse with our daughters and sons. 

Reading books that make your kids laugh about a silly taboo topic (like farts) shows them that you’re open and willing to have these conversations with them.

You become and remain their safe space for these types of things.

By reading to them about all topics, you’re telling your kids that they can come to you about any problem they may be facing.

Reading a book about farts at age 5 can lead to a conversation about teenage pregnancy later one, which might prevent one and wouldn’t that be great?

See? Books about farts may prevent teenage pregnancy albeit, in a very indirect but important way. 

Conversation starters about farts may lead to other interesting conversations you didn’t know you needed to discuss.

As a parent, it’s our job to have these difficult conversations with our kids regardless of how uncomfortable we feel.

2—Silly books improve literacy

Stinky things are funny.

Kids like to laugh. Kids like to watch movies and read books that make them laugh.

Do we need poetic books with elegant prose? Of course. But we also need books that kids like to read.

My mother has been an elementary teacher for over 35 years and as soon as I became pregnant, we instantly acquired an extensive children’s library in our house.

Her most consistent advice about developing literacy in children is to first develop a love for reading.

When it comes to books, parents should take the fun job—make reading as fun as possible for your kids and they’ll learn to love to read.

Make the teachers force the boring literature onto our kids.

If your kid will devour books about underpants or farts then stock the library up and watch them read. In my opinion, it’s better that the kids read something, anything than nothing at all.

There will be plenty of time for the classics but without a foundational love of reading, they’re never going to want to read the classics.

3—We need more books that normalize our body images and self-worth

Fart books are really good for girls to read. Why? Because girls aren’t supposed to fart.

Uh huh, riiiight.

The sooner girls accept their bodies as they are, the sooner they stop hating their bodies for how they are made.

We’re not supposed to acknowledge that everybody farts because it’s taboo.

As a result, we have girls thinking it’s wrong and boys thinking girls who fart are gross.

Proud mama moment: My 8 year old son had his friend over to play and they were sitting together when she let an audible toot slip out.

“Oh! I farted. I’m sorry!” she said, embarrassed.

“No problem. Everyone does it.”

And they went back to playing as if nothing happened at all.

There was no body shaming, no guilting, and no weirdness at all. Total acceptance of something totally natural.

We need more books that normalize the human body for kids. 

4—There’s a huge gap in the market for funny books

From a writer/business perspective, this should get your attention. There is a huge hole in the market for smart humor that is well done in this genre.

Traditional publishers are looking for high quality work that makes kids laugh.

We’ve already established that kids laugh at fart books and pee jokes are always crowd pleasers.

If you have a smart idea and execute it well, your book on farts should perform really well.

Just look at I Need a New Bum which has 450 5-star reviews on Amazon at the time of this writing. 

Walter the Farting Dog has 600 5-star reviews.

Every writer knows how difficult it is to get reader reviews on Amazon and there’s no denying that these books are a hit with tons of readers.

While some writers may turn up their noses at fart books, they are overlooking a very viable marketplace that could pay their bills.

Pay the bills with fart books and write your less lucrative high brow literature on the side. 

The market is telling you what it wants.

5—There is power in having fun with your kids

The time you have with your child in your lap is limited and precious. Reading a funny book that makes your kid giggle can relieve tensions and stress at the end of a long day.

The time before bed is some of the best parent-child bonding time we have during the day. It’s nice to fill it with books that are fun.

Books represent safe fun—nobody can get hurt reading a book and they’ll learn something new about themselves or others.

Making space in your child’s life for fun at the end of their day is a great way to heal some of the stresses or worries they may have experienced at school or while you were at work.

Don’t underestimate the healing power of laughter.

Takeaway message:

Don’t take farts or books about farts so seriously. They will help you bond and connect with your kids which will help you have rich conversations about important matters later on in life.

What do you think?

Sound off in the comments below.

Angela Castillo Launches a Little Narwhal on Kickstarter

Angela Castillo has authored 30 books ranging from Christian fiction, random fairy tales, and now children’s fiction.

She decided to launch her latest children’s book on Kickstarter with a modest goal of $1200 and I wanted to find out more about her experience.

But even modest goals require a TON of work and effort and Angela details her work below.

You’ve successfully published a lot of other books—mainly adult fiction—what made you decide to set up a Kickstarter campaign for your children’s book?

I chose to launch a Kickstarter for this book mainly because kid’s books are more expensive! Since I’m not an artist, I needed help with funding for art and formatting. Also, I’m a marketer at heart, so I saw Kickstarter as an excellent way to reach a new audience.

What type of research did you conduct before launching?

I grilled authors who had done crowdfunding projects similar to mine. I also spent hours and days scrutinizing other Kickstarter campaigns, studying their reward tiers and videos.

The great thing about Kickstarter is they keep a project up for all eternity after it ends so that you can look at thousands of projects relating to yours.

I also read tons of very helpful blog articles, including several by an amazing Kickstarter Queen. Lisa, what was it? Ferland? You might have heard of her. Anyway, she’s great.

What was the most time-intensive part of the planning or crowdfunding process?

My established audience was primarily adults, so I started from scratch to find an audience interested in children’s books.

I spent about five months before my Kickstarter campaign launched creating giveaways, writing blog articles geared toward parents, and sending out a kid-related newsletter.

I was building my kid-focused audience while trying to maintain my adult audience. Not easy!

What surprised you the most about crowdfunding on Kickstarter?

Even though my goal was to reach new readers, I was amazed by the number of backers who were drawn in by Kickstarter alone–about 60 percent.


(Lisa’s note: 60% Kickstarter-only backers is fairly high for books. Most book campaigns garner 1%-20% new folks from Kickstarter)

You received a Kickstarter Project We Love recognition—do you think you saw an increase in backers due to that?

Kickstarter has a nifty tool that shows you where your backers are drawn from. I had exactly one supporter because of the Projects We Love. Not complaining—every supporter counts!

Even though it was an honor to be chosen, it’s something they give out to a lot of people, so you end up being one of maybe a dozen per day. I was still thrilled to receive it. Very validating after working your guts off on something.

What advice would you give someone considering crowdfunding their book?

a. Listen to advice from people who’ve had success and failure.


b. Make sure you have an excellent product with commercial appeal.


c. Do the math. Have someone help you run through every possible expense.


d. Prepare for international backers. I charged extra for international shipping and I had over a dozen backers from other countries who paid way more than I would have expected for a little paperback book. But you have to prepare; otherwise, international shipping can eat up your profit very quickly.


e. Set realistic goals. For instance, let’s say you want hardcover copies, but that would add 3,000.00 to your budget. If you think it’s doable, go for it. But publishing your book and paying for illustrations out the gate is more important, set your focus on that. You can always do hardcover as a stretch goal.


f. Remember, you have to deliver. I only had to ship out about 50 books but manually package, address, and stick on the postage. It’s a lot of work and was rather daunting.

g. Set aside a few months of your life. It takes a ton of time and effort to do this right. Don’t expect to launch it and let it run by itself.

Do you think you’ll crowdfund your books in the future?

I’m too fresh off this one right now. Ask me again in a year!

If you could do anything over again, what would it be?

I would not stress so much in the middle. I was freaking out because I hadn’t fully funded in three days.

It’s really a marathon, not a sprint.

Anything else you’d like fellow authors to know?

This publishing journey is an expression of art and creativity.

When we get caught up in the finances of fundraising, I think we can lose sight of that.

It’s important to take time and remember why we are creating this book. In my case, it’s because I love it. I don’t ever want to lose that passion because of stress.

Check out Little Narwhal's Day on Amazon

Bio

Angela Castillo is an Amazon best-selling author from Bastrop, Texas who loves to ramble in the woods and explore eccentric shops. She writes Christian fiction, children’s fiction, and random fairy tales, as well as freelance blog articles. Her work has appeared in publications such as Thema and The First Line. She homeschools four little explorer/creators. Click here to find her books on Amazon. 

Click here to check out her Kickstarter campaign.

 

Avoid these common mistakes—click here to get more info

10 Lessons Learned from Launching on IndieGoGo

Sheri Wall, children’s book author, recently finished her IndieGoGo campaign that raised over $5k for her book, Maiden Mermaid, a folktale in Salado, Texas.

Here are the lessons learned from her IndieGoGo campaign.

Please note that Sheri ran a flexible funding IndieGoGo campaign, so even though her goal was $9k and she raised $5k, she gets to keep the funds. If you have questions about the different types of crowdfunding platforms, click here to read more.

My IndieGoGo campaign is over. Thank goodness! 

While I’m very pleased with the orders I received and the amount I raised, it was way more work than I anticipated. 

I lost sleep. I lost confidence. 

Then the mood goes back up and you feel invincible, and you know your book is amazing. 

Then tears. 

It’s an emotional roller coaster, at least it was for me. 

Ten things I learned from my IndieGoGo campaign in no particular order, not sure any of them are original, and not sure these would all apply to other campaigns, but here goes:

#1 Keep your campaign page as simple as possible

I LOVED how my page looked and all the clever names I came up with for perks. I asked some folks a question like, “Did you see (something on the campaign page)?”

They had to come clean and say they didn’t read anything as it was too confusing and overwhelming. They looked for a dollar amount they were comfortable with and clicked it.

#2 Assume your audience knows nothing about crowdfunding

If it’s your first campaign, underestimate your audience’s understanding of crowdfunding—I had no idea so many folks had never heard of IndieGoGo. I would then follow with “What about Kickstarter?”

Blank stares.

#3 Don’t rely on influencers

Don’t put too much weight on outside influencers’ influence.

I had three influencers with large email lists that were on board to share my campaign at least once with their newsletter subscribers.

They were “so excited” to help, really loved the book, and “couldn’t wait to be part of it!”  

Not one of them actually included the campaign in an email. I got a few shares on Facebook, but that reach is just not the same.

#4 Watch your email open rates

Carefully calculate how many email reminders you will send. Your open rate goes way down the more you send.

I felt I was very conservative, but in the end, I just stopped sending them as they weren’t getting opened anyway.

#5 Be flexible with your social media plan

I had a calendar mapped out that basically went out the window. Sometimes until you’re “in it” the creative ideas don’t come (for example,  my video with the statue).

#6 Upload your campaign video directly to Facebook

Facebook prefers “native video uploads”—meaning, you upload the file and don’t link it from YouTube and will show it more.

I didn’t know this when I started, but when a friend told me, I uploaded my campaign video as a post and the views shot up in comparison to a post with just the link to the video.

#7 Don’t be afraid to reach out to acquaintances

Don’t be afraid to message folks that you don’t talk to on a regular basis. I’m going to have to be extra nice at my high school reunion.

I was blown away by distant folks that preordered and some that even just donated funds. I also messaged folks that “Liked” a post but didn’t comment. Many responded favorably to my private message.

#8 Some promises will be broken

Know that some folks will never follow through on their order or pledge—even after they call you and ask what they can do to support you.

Sigh, but life happens.

#9 Focus on the why

Educate your friends on how to share your campaign. Kindly remind them to always start with a personal message as to why they are sharing and just don’t hit the share button.

#10 Engage early and often on social media

Start engaging early with your friends and followers on Facebook so your posts will be seen by them later.

The more you comment on other’s posts, the more likely Facebook is to show your posts back to them.

At least it seemed that way.

Instagram is all about engagement as well, but I did very little on Instagram just because I’m not that familiar with it.

In conclusion

Will I ever do another one?

It’s too fresh in my mind to say.

I started producing books in my empty nest stage, and it was never actually with the intent to be able to live off the income or grow a large network. But it is all a bit addicting.

If I do ever have a repeat, I will at least know what to expect and be able to prepare mentally.

When Sheri’s not writing, she likes to cook, eat, decorate, bargain hunt, and stay active.

You can see all of Sheri’s titles on amatterofrhyme.com and follow her on Instagram @sheri.amatterofrhyme.

Bio

When Sheri’s not writing, she likes to cook, eat, decorate, bargain hunt, and stay active.

You can see all of Sheri’s titles on amatterofrhyme.com and follow her on Instagram @sheri.amatterofrhyme.

Sheri’s Books

If you like children’s books, be sure to check out my children’s book, When the Clock Strikes on Halloween, now available for pre-order on Kickstarter until May 15.

Click here to check it out! 

How to Build a Collaborative Author-Illustrator Relationship

A great book is always created in collaboration.

There are writers, editors, designers, illustrators, and printers who all work together as a team.

An essential component of the team is the relationship between the writer and the illustrator. If you’re not the illustrator yourself, you have to explain your vision for each page.

If you don’t have a vision for your book, you should hire an illustrator who has a style that you love. By hiring them, you are asking them to create your vision in their style.

How to build a strong collaborative author-illustrator relationship

Short answer: develop a relationship built on mutual respect and trust

Long answer: read below

Synchrodestiny

Synchrodestiny, coined by Deepak Chopra, is about taking advantage of unpredictable moments in your life.

“You need to notice things that happen in your life that are out of the ordinary,” Dr. Chopra. “Seize that moment of unpredictability and ask ‘what’s the opportunity?'”

What are your goals?

If you are writing a stand alone book and you aren’t going to have a long-term relationship with your illustrator, then “dating around” might not be as important to you. Finding the right personality fit isn’t as important as finding an artist with the style you love and budget to match your bank account.

If you’re going to create a series, you’ll want to have consistent illustrations in all of the books, so finding someone you can work with long-term is important.

Finding the right person who is open to building that relationship with you takes time, effort, and energy, but it is so worthwhile.    

Work with people you trust

So many indie authors are looking for illustrators and they search portfolios, scan websites, and proceed with necessary caution and hesitation.

There is a real fear of intellectual property theft and copyright infringement on both sides of an author-illustrator relationship.

You also have to balance creative style, personality, method of working together, and of course, budget.

When people ask me about how I chose my illustrator, I tell them that we had a relationship established first.

That’s quite an unpopular answer because most people don’t want to invest the emotional labor in creating that relationship.

Finding an illustrator

You can search Facebook groups, Instagram, or artists’ websites and portfolios but in all cases, I recommend casting the net far and wide.

There is the right illustrator out there who matches your style and budget perfectly, you just need to find them.

I’m a firm believer in serendipity, or as Dr. Chopra says, synchrodestiny, because the best collaborations in my life have all sort of “fallen together.”

Over the past few months, I’ve been contacted by authors and illustrators asking for help and advice with their Kickstarter campaigns.

Pei Jen, a new illustrator on the scene, contacted me when her first book went live on Kickstarter. She had some questions on how to get more eyes on the campaign.

Building a relationship

A few weeks turned into months and we communicated back and forth via Facebook Messenger.

We chatted about the business aspect of self-publishing, as it’s not always straightforward, and over time, we developed a relationship built on mutual respect and trust.

Because I knew I’d be working closely with my illustrator over the next year to develop the three books in my series, I really wanted to be sure that I had a collaborative relationship with my illustrator.

I also wanted them to be somewhat interested in the books they were illustrating and not just a transactional “gig” like you find on Fiverr.

Building something together

Once you start working with your illustrator, be sure to understand each other’s work flow.

  • Are you going to communicate via email, messenger, WhatsApp? 
  • Will they send you a sketch first?
  • Will they place the text on each illustration or will you hire someone else to do that?
  • Talk with them about empty space for text as they’ll need to accommodate that into their art
  • Do you want single page or full page spreads? Maybe a combination of both.
  • Where will they place the final image files?

Pei Jen and I discussed the concept of the book and the direction of the entire series as a whole. She immediately had ideas and brought her creativity to the table.

“I want to be sure there are diverse characters in the story, so please include kids of different races and ethnicities.”

“Of course. Every child should see themselves in the book,” she replied.

Perfect.

New sketches and illustrations came through Facebook Messenger and my heart raced every time I got a ping from Pei Jen.

The book was coming together in ways that I never could’ve imagined.

She took my vision and brought her own creativity to the book to elevate the entire story.

She was incredibly responsive to my suggested edits and together, we found a harmonious way of working together.

Nurture relationships—both professional and personal

You never know who will become central in your life and when you’ll need their help the most, so my advice is to nurture relationships and see where they lead.

Build trust through communication, consistency, and generosity and you may be surprised what happens.

Take a look at Pei Jen’s artwork in our first collaborative effort together:

When the Clock Strikes on Halloween