Two of my writerly friends, Julie Hedlund
and Susan Eaddy
(illustrator) have teamed up for a grand experiment. Their next book, MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN
, is being funded through Kickstarter. In today's changing world of publishing, it's always interesting to follow ventures like these to see how they do. Julie and Susan stopped by to chat about their daring adventure.
Q: Hi Guys! So why did you decide to forego the traditional publishing process and try Kickstarter for MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN?
That would be Julie. She had the vision for this hybrid form of publishing and I was lucky enough that she invited me to come along.
I was lucky Susan agreed! Her work is perfect for this book. I didn’t forego the traditional process so much as tweak it in order to get a book that might not otherwise have been published come to fruition. If your readers want more detail then they ever thought they’d want to know, I did a five-part “Why I Am Crowdfunding My Next Picture Book
” series on my blog.
Q: How did the two of you come together on this project?
We met at the 2012 Bologna Book Fair. The SCBWI booth is the hub of activity and meet -ups for members from all over the world. Sarah Towle, from Paris, was giving consultations in the booth, and I believe she met Julie that way. Sarah saw my showcase in the booth, and said,"You two need to know each other!" We shared coffee and later dinner, and a year and a half later... here we are!
Yes, we met in Bologna but then ran into each other again at the LA-SCBWI conference in 2012. It was there that I saw Susan’s book, PAPA FISH’S LULLABY. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was that book (and how much my kids adored the illustrations) that got the gears turning in my mind about asking Susan to illustrate MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN.
Q. Julie, since entering the children's book industry, you have wowed my socks off with your marketing skills. How did that come into play on this decision?
Wow, Elizabeth! I’m blushing. Thank you so much for the compliment. I come from a business background (electronic payments and banking, believe it or not), so marketing does come a bit more naturally to me than perhaps it does for other authors and illustrators. But I think the reason I’ve had as much success as I have with it is because I am truly passionate about this business AND helping other writers in their journeys. That’s way easier to promote than a business case for a new Internet banking product!!
Certainly the existence of my network through 12 x 12 and other children’s writing communities, SCBWI included, influenced my decision (and my publisher and agent) to pursue this particular path to publishing. Even though hitting the button on that campaign was one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever done, I was confident we’d get the funding. I just never imagined it would happen so soon!
This is why I am such a strong proponent of writers building their networks and platforms. They are not only useful for marketing published books but can also open up all kinds of opportunities that might not otherwise be possible.
Q. Susan, you've done one sample spread for the book so far to give an idea of the finish. How did you decide which spread to mock up and tell us about your medium! (How long does it take you to create one of these fabulous pieces?)
I LOVE the verses in this book, and am so excited about them ALL. There were no bad choices here!
It took me a few weeks to create the thumbnails for the book, and Julie and Stacey and I each weighed in about which spread would be a good start. We decided to go with the river spread, because the idea of FUZZY baby ducks being guided down the river was just too irresistible. And I knew I would have lots of fun with the Mom's wing patterns. Then it was another couple of weeks to work out a tight sketch. Lots of research during that time, what kind of ducks, what setting, time of day etc.
Then the clay... about 5 days to lay the clay (and lots of re- doing in that process), then I photograph it, put it into Photoshop, and prepare the files. It takes about 10 days to 2 weeks for the whole process, after the sketch.
Q: You've now met your goal for Kickstarter funding, so what's next?
Any extra funding that comes in will be used for publicity. We all know that getting a book published is just the FIRST part of the process. Getting it into the hands of readers is ongoing.
Susan is right! In addition, I’ve pledged to do one free school visit (in underfunded schools) for each $500 we raise over our target. So far, we’ve got one, but I’d love to do more!
Q: Do you both have other projects going on. Julie, tell us about 12x12 and your Italy writer's retreat. Susan, what's your latest?
My first authored Picture Book, Poppy’s Best Paper comes out in 2015 with Charlesbridge. This was not a good fit for the clay and is being illustrated by the delightful French illustrator, Rosalinde Bonnett
Beyond that I have many other manuscripts that I continue to polish until they are ready to be sent out into the world.
My 12 x 12
is a picture book writing challenge where authors and illustrators try to write one picture book draft per month through the year. There are lots of extras like giveaways from featured authors, the opportunity to submit to agents at the top level, and an amazing community of supportive writers. 2014 will be my third year running the challenge, and registration opens in January.
This is my second year running the Writer’s Renaissance
retreat in Florence, Italy, and it promises to be just as amazing as the first year! The retreat is less about writing volumes of material and more about filling the creative well (with all-star faculty to support that process). I only have one space left though, so if anyone’s interested they should act quickly.
I’m also in the midst of promoting A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS
, which was recently released in print after coming out first as an app (with its companion A SHIVER OF SHARKS
). I know you know all about that process Elizabeth, having hosted you when LULA’S BREW was released in print.
Beyond that, I am absolutely itching to WRITE. My writing took a backseat this year to my myriad other activities. I don’t regret that decision because it’s been an amazing year! I just need to find a better balance between my writing and my business endeavors in 2014.
Q: How do you plan to launch MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN to the world?
That’s a great question Elizabeth! We’re not entirely sure yet, but one thing I’ve learned from running the Kickstarter campaign
is how much of a difference it makes to think strategically BEFORE launching. I know that probably sounds obvious, but I did a great deal more specific planning for the campaign than I did for marketing the other books. I want to take that wisdom and apply it to planning the launch for MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN, along with Little Bahalia of course, months before the book comes out. So watch this space!
Thanks for stopping by!!
Julie and Susan have kindly agreed to offer one free copy of MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN (when it comes out) to one of my lucky commenters. Must live in the US to win. Enter below...
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