Something amazing happened last weekend. My little math picture book, Tessalation!, got added to a global compendium of math picture books called Maths Through Stories.
Forgive me the 's.' The Brits call it "maths," not "math."
After a tweet that got retweeted like a hundred times, I got to thinking about how, when you're writing a children's picture book, you really need to know whose world it is going to chance. You MUST think about the category you are writing in.
Think of it this way: You aren't just writing a picture book. You're writing a bedtime story. Or a math picture book. Or a daddy-daughter bonding picture book. Or an inspirational Go the F*ck to Sleep picture book.
The category matters, not just the age group. You need to know the context where you book has a use. You need to know how it will change a specific child's life in a specific moment.
Knowing what category your book fits in will help you figure out how to find the right readers.
What's your book category, beyond children's picture book?
Ok, I'm going to write about the elephant in the room: Money. Is it worth it to self-publish a children's book, or any children's book, through Kickstarter?
If you read this site often, you know that I had really modest plans for my own Kickstarter book. In the first place, it wasn't going to be a book, and it wasn't going to be on Kickstarter. I just wanted to publish an e-book, get it out in the world in a digital form and get on with my life. Some Kickstarter backers encouraged me to go on the site, and well, here I am, completely changed and with a book that is selling.
Money and creativity are a weird thing. When I wrote the Ultimate Guide I got some kickback from one Kickstarter creator who absolutely did not want me to mention her book anywhere ever, with this project. The idea was that you shouldn't make money off of creative projects.
But here's the truth. Money is part of impact. I am a professional writer working on professional projects. I seek to have an impact on readers and change their lives through my work and to do that, I'd like to sell a few books, sure.
Time is also money. I probably spent six months preparing my Kickstarter launch, time I could have spent contacting influencers or doing other paid work. It's an opportunity cost. So I wrote my guide so that no one else would have to waste the time that I did researching all of this stuff every second of the day. I hope to save people time in this process.
How is my book doing after nine months? I've sold about 700 copies, gotten my first royalty check, connected with people all over the world, got listed in a math stories compendium, taught a TON of people about tessellations, the subject of my book, and will probably have to go into a second printing because I have an order for a math subscription service for a couple hundred books.
Not bad for a little self-published math picture book.
So to answer the question: Can you make money through Kickstarter? I'd say, don't go into it thinking about that. Think about what you're willing to give your project, the best birth into the world possible. If you do that, then yes, there might be rewards down the line that are even more powerful, but can also include, getting paid for your work.
Final judgment: Can you make money through a Kickstarter book? Yes, yes you can. But your project won't work if that's your primary goal. The goal for every creator should be to make the super awesome thing for the people who need the thing and will be changed by it. If you do that, you will probably make money in the process.
Do you have any questions about this process? Post in the comments!
I used to think that everyone had a novel in them. Now I understand that everyone really does have a children's book in them -- a story they have told their children again and again, a book idea they long to see out in the world.
Not everyone is going to make writing children's books a lifelong career. Many people, professional writers and non-professionals alike, just want to explore what they can produce themselves and give it a little life out in the world.
That's why I wrote the Ultimate Guide. I am convinced that crowd-funding is the perfect solution for small projects and the best way to make a dream happen without committing to becoming a full-time children's writer. I have this drive to see more projects with more interesting characters, hooks, writing, illustration and design on Kickstarter in the children's book category and I've committed myself to helping people do it.
Both the Ultimate Guide to Kickstarting Children's Books and the accompanying workbook are now available.
Want to see if crowd-funding is right for your project? Sign up for my free, 5-day E-course in the signup box at the upper right of this blog.
I just added the final version of the workbook to my store. Hooray!
Why do you need it?
Well, it pays to stay focused and to have all of your dreaming and inspiration for your Kickstarter campaign all in one place. That was my own impetus for putting this thing together.
I read a ton of e-books myself, and somehow the actionable items always end up getting highlighted on my Kindle and then forgotten. With this workbook, readers will be able to organize their thoughts and have a devoted space for exploring their ideas around their Kickstarter campaign.
I hope you love it as much as I enjoyed making it!
Get the workbook here.
How do you know whether kickstarting is right for you? How do you actually pull the trigger on your creative work by taking it to Kickstarter.com?
It's hard to know whether you really want to go through the process of Kickstarting a book. I get it. It seems like a lot of work. That's been my motivating for chronicling the experience in this book -- to really break it down into steps so you don't have to feel as overwhelmed as I did.
But for people who are on the fence, I've put together this free course (5 days) that will help give you a sense of whether you're reading to do this.
How do you launch it? Sign up at the upper right of this page. Over the next five days, you'll be getting an email from me that will teach you a little bit about Kickstarter and inspire you to test your idea a bit before you take your project to the crowd.
Easy peasy. By the end of the 5 days, you should have a good idea of whether or not this is something you actually want to do.
To sign up for the 5-day E-Course How to Kickstart a Children's Book, put your email into the form in the upper left corner of this site.