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Crowdfunding a Picture Book 101

Emma Walton Hamilton / Blog  / Crowdfunding a Picture Book 101
Crowdfunding a Picture Book 101

Crowdfunding a Picture Book 101

First completed illustration (by Susan Eaddy) for Julie Hedlund's "My Love for You is the Sun"

First completed illustration for Julie Hedlund’s “My Love for You is the Sun”

My friend, fellow writer and editing client, Julie Foster Hedlund, is conducting a unique experiment in hybrid publishing – a process that may well become a model to help small publishers increase their lists and authors and illustrators find opportunities beyond self-publishing.  She’s launched a Kickstarter campaign to pre-fund the production, publication and printing of one of her picture books – even though she has a traditional publisher committed to the project.

The book is a beauty – one I’m proud to say I served as editor for. “My Love for You is the Sun” is a love letter from parent to child, written in verse and expressing that timeless and unconditional love through metaphors from the natural world.  My Love for You is the Sun, a Tree, the Rain, a River… but of course, it’s also about more than familial or parental love, it’s about the universal, infinite nature of love itself, and as such, will hold crossover appeal for all ages. The book is being illustrated by Susan Eaddy, whose three-dimensional clay illustrations provide extraordinary depth and texture. Julie’s goal is for the end result to be a beautiful book in every way – from design to paper to binding, worthy of becoming a family keepsake for generations. If her crowdfunding efforts are successful, I have no doubt this will be the case.

This hybrid publishing concept is very intriguing, and in my view may well become an industry standard in the very near future.  Stacey Williams-Ng, editor and art director at Little Bahalia – a small indie publisher with a laser focus on quality – liked “My Love for You is the Sun” and wanted to publish it, but her list was full. Julie proposed the idea of crowdfunding the initial production and printing costs, and a new contract model was created.

What’s really interesting about this project, though, is that Julie is documenting her process to help other authors and illustrators.  A couple of weeks ago, she posted a five-part series on “Why Crowdfunding?” on her blog, and recently shared the Top Five lessons she’s learned so far, as follows:

  1. If you are going to crowdfund, make it count. Select a project you are passionate about so your passion permeates every aspect of the campaign.
  2. Crowdfunding is a TON of work and is by no means an “easy route” to publishing. Another reason why having passion for your project is critical.
  3. WHY are you crowdfunding? Know the answer to that question, because you will be asked to answer it hundreds of times.
  4. Give yourself way more time than you think you need to pull everything together. Everything I did to prepare for the launch took longer than I expected, and there is SO much more I wish I could have done.
  5. Build a team. Even if you are crowdfunding a self-publishing project (mine is hybrid), pull together a group of people who will give you timely feedback on your video, your rewards, and your project description/pitch. You’d never publish a book without critiques and edits, so don’t launch a crowdfunding project without them either.

The good news is that within 24 hours of launching her Kickstarter campaign, Julie was already 60% funded – so it looks like this is going to fly.

If you are remotely interested in self- or hybrid publishing, it’s well worth following this project. You can find out more and become a part of Julie’s team (not to mention get an advance copy of this beautiful book once its published) here:

Emma Walton Hamilton
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