Kids Activities, side hustles

How I Wrote and Self-Published a Children’s Book using Kickstarter!

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With small children, my days are filled with requests to read a book.

Especially before naptime or night time!

As a book lover, perusing stores for wonderful children’s stories has been a fun part of parenthood and I hope to instill a love of reading in my children with beautiful stories and rich imagery.

Do you remember in elementary school getting the little scholastic flyer with books you could order, and you’d get so excited waiting for your order of new books? Ahhh, such a good memory (if you liked reading of course!)

There are some amazing childrens’ books, and I’ve taken to buying independently published books like this incredible book by adventurer and photographer Chris Burkard. Check out his Instagram account, by the way!

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The Boy Who Spoke to the Earth, my Favourite Childrens Book That I Found on Kickstarter!

Truth be told, there’s some shitty ones on my bookshelf as well.  And my kids pull those to read alllllllll of the time, and I catch myself moaning and promising I’ll get rid of them secretly.

As a side note, never be afraid to get rid of the books you don’t like.  The whole point is to actually read to your children and if it’s a book that YOU don’t enjoy, it’s pretty unlikely you’re going to read it to them, right? 

Here’s the process of how I self-published a children’s book (step by step overview)

There are so many things we can decide to do with our money.  We all make decisions around where we want to spend it.  What if you took some of your money you were going invest in your child’s education, or toys, or clothes, or whatever, and created a permanent, long-lasting legacy for them, by writing a book just for them?  Honestly, it is such a cool thing to do, regardless of whether you want to sell the book later on.

I personally couldn’t find any beautiful fantasy-inspired children’s books with gorgeous artwork (I grew up loving fantasy stories, mermaids, Pegasus and other magical creatures) so that got me thinking, it would be nice to have one for my children.  I also wanted to impart some really important lessons to my children.

We all raise our children hoping to share the truths we’ve come to discover in our time on earth.  What legacy do I want to pass onto my own children?

-A beautiful, creative and magical imagination they can tap into and escape to.  I want my children to have a vivid inner world. I believe magic exists if you believe in it.

-A sense of stewardship and love for the natural environments they have the privilege of growing up in.  Our next generation are the caretakers of this earth.

A sense of adventure and playfulness.

-A connection with bravery and courage.  I want both of my children, both male and female to know that courage is being afraid and doing it anyways, and that the greatest rewards & growth come with the greatest challenges.

-The knowledge that they have a deep inner well of innovation and creativity.  I believe this is something no computer, no technology could ever replace, and it is our duty to encourage each generation to tap into their brain’s potential (the human brain is not used to its full potential yet, we have far to go.)

The importance of lifelong learning and the constant pursuit of gathering knowledge and wisdom.

Big stuff, right? I decided to put these into the story.

 

The project was daunting and in all honesty, I didn’t know where to begin. But it felt right.  And that’s an important point.  You can have the biggest bucket list in the world but you also need to have an intuitive sense of when the time is right for one of those projects, and the patience to wait if it doesn’t quite feel right. I thought about this for 2 years before I did it, and felt ready in 2016.  I consider this the biggest check mark off of my maternity leave #2 bucket list (I started it on mat leave #2 and finished it just before mat leave #3.)

 

SKETCHING OUT THE STORY LINE & WORLDS OF KINTARA + FIND OUT A WAY TO BRING THE IMAGES TO LIFE

I started with sketching out some visual representations of the images I had in my mind for this story (many are based off of recurring dreams I have had since I was a child.)

I turned to Deviant Art.com, an incredible community of artists, and found a spectacular fantasy artist who took commissioned work and who had a beautiful visual style that matched my vision for the book’s artwork.  Over a number of calls and emails back and forth, we decided on 8 different worlds and renderings for a negotiated price.

BOOK COST RESEARCH

Next, I researched how much it would cost to put the whole thing together and print it, using different size dimensions and options.  I went with a Canadian company to start with, because it felt right to do so for the first edition print which was for my Kickstarter backers, and it was also my first time doing it.  It worked out to a few thousand dollars.  On-demand printing seemed to be in the $30-$40 range through blurb.ca (eventually I’ll find a more affordable printer but in the beginning my priority was to just get it done!)

RAISE SOME FUNDS TO PAY FOR ARTWORK AND A FIRST PRINT RUN

Obviously, I don’t have thousands of dollars to throw around on mat leaves, lol, so I decided to put myself out there and launch a Kickstarter Campaign to raise funds to pay for the artwork and print about 50 copies for backers.

I set the reward to be a copy of the book. It was my goal to cover the graphic design and printing with my campaign, which I set at $2000.  I really didn’t research Kickstarter a lot, I just figured it out as I went and looked at campaigns for books that I had bought for my kids and studied what they did.  I’m sort of glad I went in there so naive and overly confident.  It’s a lot of work to run a good Kickstarter campaign and once it got going, I threw myself in with daily updates, sharing of the story and development as it went along.

The Gates of Kintara Childrens’ Book Kickstarter campaign was successful.  To be honest, you really have to hustle hard on Kickstarter and social media to raise funds in time (Kickstarter prefers you stay within a 30-60 day window btw.)

Kickstarter also works on an all-or-nothing basis.  You have to meet your stated goal.

I was so grateful for my network of family and friends who were incredibly supportive and generous – they were the primary source of startup funds (95%) , with a few random donors  (5%) from the Kickstarter world!

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DEVELOPMENT OF THE ARTWORK:

The process was very fun, taking each image, developing the structure, then the colours, and sending each written page to the artist with an outline of the message I wanted to convey.   It is a surprising amount of work.

I spent every lunch time at work, over the course of a year working on the book, but what a cool way to spend lunch hour!

Here’s an example of the forest world.  In this world, the little girl (in her dreams) meets a magic being who encourages her to take her magic talents (caring for the natural world) back to her earthly life.

 

The little girl in this book is actually my daughter (I sent a photo of her to the artist) and each world is the landscape of recurring dreams I’ve had since I was a child.

PUTTING THE BOOK TOGETHER, FORMATTING AND PRINTING:

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This is where things got technical and if I’m being honest, super frustrating because this is where I hit a wall with technical ability. I simply couldn’t get the hang of how to use the Blurb Book formatting software or In Design software, and the terminology for the book dimensions and setup was like another language entirely to me.    Not to mention at this stage, I was very pregnant and about to go on maternity leave #3 and wanted to be done!

My brother has graphic design knowledge and totally helped me out with the formatting,  I pretty much sent him the artwork and he managed to get it all into the dimensions and pdf format for printing through Blurb.  The thing with blurb is that they offer discount codes of up to 40% so WAIT until one comes out and THEN print.  A 40% off code was conveniently released just in time and the second it came out, I jumped on it.  WITH the code it still cost over $30 per book, so anyone serious about self-publishing and selling printed copies should definitely consider other means, as you simply cannot compete with the children’s book market at those prices.

GETTING A BAR CODE IN CANADA:

In Canada, you have to register (free) for an ISBN Code (ISBN = International Standard Book Number) and all of it is done through the following Government of Canada website for no cost. Simply follow the steps and it is a very quick (less than 2 weeks) process start to finish.  I did this step right before formatting the final book for printing, as you’ll want to put the ISBN on your book cover (I put it on my back cover.)

PRODUCING AN E-BOOK

Once the hardest part is done (formatting for printing) I had to think abut formatting for an E-Book and possibly selling on Amazon.

I approached the project as three parts:

1.) Develop the book (1 year)

2.) Get the first edition printed and Kickstarter pledges fulfilled (2 months)

3.) Share the second edition with the world 🙂

     This third and final step has a lot of pieces to it:

– Edit a second edition (I am picky and want to edit the fonts and story now that i           have read it to my children many times!)

– Find cost-effective printing to make it commercially viable.

-Share it on my Podcast, the Great Parental Leave (read it for the kiddos!)

-List the 2nd edition on Amazon as a paperback and E-Book

I hope this gives you some inspiration!  Of course this is a major bucket list item and isn’t for the faint of heart but truly, you can do anything your heart desires and if you approach it the right way, it doesn’t have to cost a small fortune to self-publish a children’s book.  I did mine for less than $500 net cost when all was said and done.

I have a beautiful book written for my children now (my daughter loves that it is her in the book!) and a permanent legacy to leave them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Book Club, Happiness, Organization, Productivity, The Projects

What I Learnt from Laura Vanderkam’s Book I Know How She Does It – And How I Became more Productive on Maternity Leave

What You’ll Learn:  Some of the best things I learnt from the book I Know How She Does It by Laura Vanderkam – and how I applied it to maternity leave.

Reading time:  5 minutes

This is part of the Great Maternity Leave book club series, where I share some of the most influential books that have shaped 2 great maternity leaves so far. We all have 168 hours in a week and there is so much diversity in our daily schedules. It doesn’t matter what we do with our time, just that we are doing it with mindfulness. With this post I hope to contribute to a larger dialogue on maternity leave and living it with intention.  Using our time on this earth to do something.

Laura Vanderkam’s book was a fantastic opportunity to address my time use and shift the way I look at things.  Below I will outline some of the key points that I took away and how they translate to real life.

The Points That Shifted my Perspective:

I often mention that in coaching, that to take different actions you must experience a shift in perspective. That creates lasting change and lasting results.

I had several ah-hah moments with this book that shifted my perspective, for sure.

Did you know:

From Monday to lunchtime Thursday is only HALF of the week?!  

How does that land with you?   Think about that.

On maternity leave I lose a bit of my day / time awareness, but as a working Mum, this one point revolutionized my perspective.  It is so easy to write off Friday-Saturday-Sunday as “weekend” and be less intentional with our time and how we use it.  Knowing that an entire half of a week is left on Thursday has influenced me greatly.  I am much more of an active participant in deciding what to do with the second half of my week rather than just writing it off as weekend and haphazardly finding something “fun” to do with the kids.

A Constant Reminder That Flows Through My Life After Reading This Book:

Through a comprehensive analysis of mothers’ schedules Vanderkam nails home the point that you can either haphazardly gather up the scraps of time left over in your day, or start the day with clear intention and mindfully assigning chunks of time.  And in those chunks of time are tasks that get you closer to your goals.

She also draws a clear line between busy work and growth work.  These are my own unique terms for them – which I’m trying to come up with at 5 in the morning, lol – so bear with me. I’ll explain.

On maternity leave my little guy sleeps about 2-3 hours in a day.  Multiply by 7 days and that is 14-21 hours a week, where I can have some say in what I do.

For sure, there is housework that is routine and that will always be there.  But I also need to decide what I am going to do with that time that will align with my goals for the future.  I also resist the temptation to do housework which is not going to last (ie: cleaning the living room in the middle of the day when I know I’ll be doing it again at night when the toddler is in bed.)

Even if it’s just 1 hour of each day, am I taking that one hour and getting myself closer to where I want to be?  Or am I filling the time with something else?  

This perspective has helped me a TON. When I feel drawn to an activity in a spare moment of time, I ask:  Do I straight up need some downtime, or shall I use it to get me closer to the vision / goals I have for this mat leave?  I go through this quick decision making process each time I switch activities.  The goals are below.

Some of those days are just coping / napping / sleeping, because on materity leave the wind changes direction and we must adjust the sails.  Last week with teething and very little sleep for either of us, I had to reduce my blogging and just get through it and nap where I could.  It was a temporary pullback from growth activities.  That is okay too.

But the key is readjusting the sails after the windstorm to get back on track to the destination and travel toward the port of call you want to arrive at in 2016.

Here is my own Port-of-Call / Destination:

-Continue to dedicate 5 hrs / week to my online jewelery shop as a steady income source for trips.  My goal is to pay for one trip this year.

-Build the “bricks and mortar” foundation of my coaching business (online presence, brochures, contracts, worksheets, materials, etc.)

-Add a voice of “growth, confidence and self-identity” to the dialogue around maternity leave.

-Being present with my children outside in nature

-“Date” my husband again

-Cultivate my close friendships & be a supportive listening ear

-Reduce my body fat percentage through gluten free, paleo-style eating

-Fall in love with running again

A key component of getting to my destination is the “fuck yeah or no” approach which I learnt from Derek Sivers.  Open this in a new tab and save it for reading.

I Practice saying “fuck yeah” or “no” to every “ask” I get – if my reaction isn’t an excited “fuck yeah” I say no.

Laura mentions in her book that we all have 168 hours in a week.  If you can practice saying no to things that aren’t important, you would free up a ton of time and “feel like the millionaire at Safeway.” I’m not actually sure what she meant by this, but I assume it means feeling pretty good.

The result of this practice is you wind up with more free time and less “busy time” filled with auxilliary projects.  I like these “underbooked weeks” – I feel like I am not a slave to my calendar. As a P in the MBTI Types I naturally rebel against that anyways.   It’s a pretty cool feeling being able to embrace life as it comes and take up things that align with my goals and are simply part of the grand experience of being alive.

I carry that list with me, both in Evernote on my iPhone and in a journal in my handbag (I use iCal as well as an old-school journal.)  I have it memorized, and check in with it constantly – in each decision I make in my day.

Especially in the morning as I decide what I am going to do with this beautiful time on this earth.

Tell me, what are you going to do with your time on this earth?  What is your maternity leave port-of-call in 2016?

 

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