So for anyone following along from that last post, the Kickstarter for my book was successful (hooray! huge sigh of relief! and thank you, thank you to everyone who supported me, financially or emotionally!)
It seems like the thing to do once you’ve run a successful Kickstarter campaign is to write a post with Kickstarter tips. Mostly, I want to write an introvert’s guide to a Kickstarter campaign, but I’ve already gotten a couple of requests for some basic tips, so I thought I’d start with those since I had already written them up. I do want to say that much of what I learned came from people who I turned to for help when I was first getting started. Kickstarter seems to inspire people to want to help others have successful campaigns. But I wanted to give a huge, huge thanks to Jessica from Eye Power Kids Wear who gave me all sorts of great advice and help along the way. In fact, that might be the first tip: Find someone who has done this before who believes in your project and wants you to succeed. Their help will be invaluable!
A couple of caveats: I am no expert at this. I’ve done this once, and while I was successful, the campaign was not a runaway success. These are the basic tips for people doing their first Kickstarter. If you’re on to your second or third, you probably don’t need my advice. Also, there’s a ton out there written about this already. You should really read more than just this post if you’re planning on doing this.
- Start getting your Amazon accounts linked now. You might get rejected a few times. I did, with no explanation. I called and they said they’d look in to it, 2 days later, it was approved, but you can’t start your Kickstarter until that is complete, so you might as well start now.
- Once you have your Kickstarter page mostly set up, submit it for approval. You don’t need to have the video recorded or all the rewards entered. Your Kickstarter can be updated after it’s been approved before it is made live. It only took them 1 day to approve my campaign, but I’ve heard from others that it can take up to a week. You might as well get it approved early, so once you’re ready to go, you can just push the button and go!
- Make sure you pay attention to Kickstarters rules, both for the products and for the rewards. If you have a question about whether something will be allowed, send them the question. They were pretty quick to respond to me.
- I have no idea if the video was particularly helpful or not. Kickstarter will tell you that campaigns with a video are more likely to fund than those without. But they may be mixing up their cause and effect. There’s a whole lot of Kickstarter campaigns where the creator obviously didn’t put much effort into it. Those don’t often fund. They also tend not to have videos.But either way, I felt like it was expected, even though I almost never watch the videos when I browse Kickstarter. My video was not sophisticated at all (you can watch it if you want). I went for a simple and direct video. I wrote the script and memorized it in a night. My father-in-law shot the video. The one we used was our second take. Chris edited it. There were no special effects. The video is just one shot. The good thing about having done it, is that I had to memorize the script, which means I had a pitched memorized that I could use if someone asked me about the campaign. In the end, about 48% of the people who visited the Kickstarter page watched the video all the way through.
- Have someone (or two) look over your Kickstarter page before you launch. There’s a way to share the preview page before it’s live so you can get plenty of feedback from others.
- Look at other Kickstarters for similar projects and see what they have for rewards.
- Make sure you have a $1 reward (even if it’s just a “thank you”), and that you have at least a few other options under $25. I tried to find things that were related to the project, but were less expensive with little to no shipping costs, like electronic copies of the book or bookmarks or note cards for those levels. Others do handwritten thank you notes. I think that’s a nice thing, but I’m bad enough with thank you cards as it is. Adding more didn’t seem like a good plan.
- You also want some higher level rewards. If anything, I think I had too many low cost rewards, but I did have at least one backer at each level, so I don’t know what I would have removed.
- Think about whether you’ll have backers that will want to support you, but aren’t going to be interested in owning your final product. Can you come up with a reward that they might be interested in? I did a reward level that donated a copy of our book to a library or daycare center, but I didn’t get that up until half way through the campaign. I probably should have had that option to begin with.
- Don’t forget to account for shipping costs. For domestic shipping, it should be included in the reward cost.
- International shipping costs are crazy high – they just are. It can really turn off potential backers, and Kickstarter doesn’t let you differentiate between countries. I made a separate reward tier for Canada that was a little higher than the domestic price, but not the full international shipping costs. I did try to facilitate some group purchases where 10 people in the UK or Australia would get together to buy the book and split shipping, which brought it down to less crazy levels, but that was a lot of work for me and others to pull off and didn’t actually work as well as I’d hoped. Offering an electronic or no shipping costs option helps with that, too.
Also worth noting, the money that gets added in for international shipping will count towards making your goal. That’s great for making your goal, but if you just make your goal without much wiggle room, it will not leave you as much money for your other costs. I don’t know what the solution to that is.
(this is where I had the most trouble. Tune in for part 2 for my thoughts on how to deal with this if you’re intrinsically not the type of person who is comfortable doing promotion stuff)
- Have a website and a facebook page (and Google+ and Twitter and whatever other account if you’re doing those) set up before you go live. Start inviting people to follow the accounts about a week or so before you go live with the Kickstarter to start getting the word out.
- If you’re using facebook (or Google+, I suppose) to promote, have some different images to use to post. I felt like I was posting a ton and always posting the same image at first. And it’s really sad when you start getting sick of pictures of your daughter. But most people won’t see every facebook post you do, so you will end up posting a lot.
- You will get to see through Kickstarter where backers are coming from and that can help guide you on where to put more effort. Most of my backers came from facebook, though others have reported that they get more backers from emails.
If you’re friends with me on facebook, you’re probably well aware that I’ve started a Kickstarter campaign. The project is making a board book for babies and toddlers in glasses. It’s an idea that has been rattling in my brain for a long time now. I hear a lot from parents at Little Four Eyes that their kids love seeing pictures of other young kids in glasses, and so that’s what I want to do: make a book with photos of babies and toddlers wearing glasses and playing or otherwise doing things that kids love to do.
I read up on Kickstarters. I researched Kickstarters for other board books. I watched some other Kickstarters run – and succeed. At CONvergence, I went to a Q&A session about Kickstarter projects that featured a panel of successful creators. I was starting to feel like I had a good handle on what was involved, and was starting to feel pretty optimistic about how it would go.
And the Kickstarter has gone … well … I think it’s gone ok so far. I knew going in that most projects get a lot of funding in the beginning, and then slow way down in the middle, and then often pick up again at the end. And that’s definitely been the case, there is no question the campaign is in the sluggish middle section, though it has picked up again, now that it’s less than 2 weeks from the end, and it’s more than half funded, so that’s not bad. I think.
So I shouldn’t be surprised by how any of this has gone (though obviously I was hoping this would be one of those that funded in the first day). But what I wasn’t expecting – what none of the articles about Kickstarters seem to talk about – is how emotionally wrenching this whole thing has been. Though perhaps I read the wrong articles, Beth Teitell wrote an article for the Boston Globe about this very thing all the way back in April.
Putting the idea out there in public was scary enough, but since then, it’s been this crazy roller coaster of emotions. One day, I’m riding the wave of excitement at seeing new backers, or reading someone’s post about the project. Later that same day, I’m in despair because there have been no more backers and I’m not sure what to do next. One evening I’ll be jumping around with 50 different ideas of ways to promote the campaign and the next evening, I find myself staring at the computer, hitting refresh on the Kickstarter page hoping that the numbers will just magically rise on their own. I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for all the support I’ve received for this project (118 backers! That’s crazy awesome!) and terrified of letting people down if it fails. And that doesn’t even begin to touch on how difficult it is to ask friends and acquaintances for money repeatedly. There’s a reason I’m not a sales person. Heck, I work in a library because that way I can give people things for free.
So that’s where I’m at. If I were to give advice to anyone starting a Kickstarter — well, first I’d question why you’re taking advice from someone who hasn’t yet successfully funded — I’d say make sure you have some solid emotional support. I’m so lucky that I do. And then I’d say go read all the advice that’s out there and think a couple times before hitting the launch button to be sure you’re ready. And then I’d say to make sure you have some wine (or grappa) handy for the ride.
This weekend was the Monarch Festival. There’s a fun run for kids, and kids are encouraged to wear costumes. Luckily for me, my parents were visiting the weekend before the festival, and my mom is a miracle-worker when it comes to pulling together costumes — actually, she’s pretty much magic when it comes to anything fiber-related, and she loves figuring out how to make things.
So Zoe and my mom worked together to design and create her wings. Zoe and I made her mask. Zoe and I both I love how the whole thing turned out..
When I posted pictures to facebook, I got a lot of requests for instructions. Of course, when we were working on the costume, we didn’t write down the steps, or take notes, or even many pictures. So I wasn’t sure that I could give much in the way of instructions. Then mom surprised me with a written set of instructions. And I was reminded that not only is she amazing with all things fiber and fabric, she’s also a great teacher and writer.
So here’s the butterfly costume instructions, written out by my mom. I wish we had good photos to illustrate.
Instructions for making butterfly wings
- Photo of a butterfly for reference if you’re going for realism (we used this one)
- Large paper to draw wing pattern – as big as you want the wings to be
- Thick 1/8“ aluminum wire (easy to shape, jewelry area Micheals)
- Stretchy fine tulle netting, (this one was orange and had glitter all over it, JoAnns)
- Thread (colors should match the felt and the tulle).
- Sewing machine
- 2”X 8” corrugated cardboard (the backbone for supporting the wing wires, cut so the corrugation is crosswise for sticking the wing-wire into)
- Black felt pieces
- Black permanent marker
- Other felt pieces
- ¼ inch Black elastic for straps
Draw the shape of the wings you want, (we were looking at a pair of fairy wings for comparison), it’s good if the upper and lower wings overlap a an inch or so
- Cut backbone from corrugated cardboard 2 inch by 8 inch
For each set of wings:
- Cut and shape 2 wires with 2 inch extensions for attaching to the backbone.
- Using the wing cut a double layer of tulle about a ½ inch bigger all the way around the wing.
- Stitch with a wide zig-zag, open stitch (should look like wwww so it will stretch) ½ inch seam allowance, leave open about 2 inches at the backbone area
- Turn the tulle-wing right side out, with the seam inside
- To insert the wire into the stitched tulle you will have to collapse it from some point, so the wire looks a little like a large bobby pin. Once the tight fold is inside the tulle you will need to adjust it so all the wire goes into the tulle. Then you should be able to reshape the wing to your pattern. Don’t worry if the tulle is a bit loose, all the stitching and gluing will fix that.
- Repeat for each wing.
- Insert wing-wires through the corrugation, into the backbone. It will all probably be floppy, don’t worry too much. Pull the tulle tight over the cardboard and stitch the tulle to the cardboard, to hold the wire ends in place in the backbone.
- Using a butterfly photo begin to lay out black felt to cover the top edges and mimic the outer markings of the butterfly. Let the black felt extend a ¼ inch or so past the wire edge. Just overlap pieces by an inch or so. (Black felt can hide a lot of mistakes)
- Hand stitch the outline felt pieces on the backbone and the tulle shaping the wire a bit more as you go.
- I had to hand stitch the overlapping areas top wing over bottom wing, to add structural integrity.
Now the fun part of decorating the wings!
Cut lots of ½ inch wide stripes of black felt for the wing markings.
Zoe placed the black felt lines where ever she wanted them on the wings. Grammy pinned the felt in place and stitches them down.
Grammy’s part again:
I was short on time. I was able to do this on the sewing machine by always starting at the outer edge of the wing and stitching towards the backbone.
Some of Grammy’s thoughts on this:
- Hand stitching would be easier
- Putting the markings on before attaching to the backbone would also be easier but harder for the child to imagine while it is in separate pieces.
Use a wide permanent black marker to draw on the back side of the tulle over the stitching and the black felt. This made the black lines stand out better on both sides of the wings.
Glue on felt spots wherever you want them on to the black felt. We tried gluing on to the tulle on the back side of the wings and that didn’t work, but we were able to put the dots where ever there was felt.
Sew on the elastic straps to the backbone. Crisscross is probably best.
I also sewed a few of the dots down that weren’t staying on well with glue.
I will say that these wings were very bendable, so they’d get bent whenever Zoe hit anything with them (which happens often when you’re at a crowded festival). They were very easy to bend back into shape, but depending on what you want to do with the wings, you might need less malleable wire, which might be harder to work with.
Instructions for making the mask
The mask is based on this fantastic design that a friend came up with for kids in glasses – the mask simply slides on to the glasses, so it stays in place perfectly. It’s genius! There’s a tutorial for the general mask here. But for the butterfly mask, I cut the foam so that there’s a very thin border of foam around the bottom of the glasses and a thicker bit over Zoe’s nose. We threaded a pipe cleaner into the nose and Zoe shaped it to be the proboscis. The whole mask is cut from one piece of foam, but the antennae were a little droopy, so I stitched a pipe cleaner into the back of the mask to give it a little support.
If your child doesn’t wear glasses, you could do a similar mask with sunglasses, especially if they’ll be outside in the costume. There were also a lot of kids wearing headbands with antennae. Zoe was the only kid with a proboscis.
So it’s looking like I’m going to be encountering some big round numbers this month.
The first is likely to be my car hitting 100,000 miles. It’ll probably happen by Monday. My sweet, little purple toaster car. It’s a 2005 Scion xB. The second car I’ve ever owned, and certainly the car I’ve driven the longest and the furthest.
I’m also about to hit 1,000,000 views on my Little Four Eyes blog. That’s coming in about 7-8 days. It’s a little crazy to think how much that little blog took off. I’m kinda proud of it. Ok. Really proud. (It’s possible that the Little Four Eyes facebook group could hit 3,000 members this month, but that’s far less likely).
And then, in just 10 days, I’ll hit that big, round number birthday. That’s right, I’ll turn…
just look at how big and round 38 is:
Today was Zoe’s last day of kindergarten. For the past few weeks, she’s been oscillating between being really excited about the end of the year, and then really sad about the end of the year. Last night, she excitedly told me that when she left the school today, she’d be a first grader. This morning, she told me she was going to wear “sad clothes.”
She was pretty chipper after school, though. Especially since she now knows that her best friend would be in her class again next year.
It’s crazy to think back over the year about all that she’s learned: She’s reading now, and writing. She’s started doing adding and subtracting, and lots of pattern recognition. She did her first library research (a report on horses). Her drawings are getting to be as good as mine (not that I’m a particularly amazing artist. At all). She asks great questions and is curious about things. I can’t wait to see what she learns in first grade, but for now, she gets a bit of a well-deserved summer vacation.
Watching Zoe learn to read has been one of those crazy things. In a way, it’s very reminiscent of when she was first learning to talk. Before starting kindergarten, she had one or two words she recognized (“no”, “on”, and “zoo”), but then she started coming home with small simple books, and she’d work hard and slowly and we’d get through them. And then the books got more complicated. And thank goodness, too, because listening to Zoe read the first one, that first time was awesome, I think I may have been more excited than Zoe was when she got through that first book. But after listening to those really early reader books for the twenty-third time? Well, it was a bit tedious. Now she’s reading books that have actual plots – they’re still short books, but with real stories, not repeating the same phrase over and over again. And in just the last couple of days, she’s started reading a ton of other things and I’m realizing just how many words there are all around us on signs and boxes and papers and bumper stickers and buildings…(“Why does the cracker box say ‘open for fun’?” “Does it say ‘Amazon’ on that box?”). It really is like language acquisition all over again. Oh, and now that she’s reading, she does have her own library card. I will admit, I had tears in my eyes when she checked out her own books for the first time.
I haven’t gotten a video of Zoe reading, she’s still self-conscious about it, even though she really does a great job. But Hazel wanted to get in on the action. So here she is doing a very dramatic reading of “No No Yes Yes” by Leslie Patricelli.
(Edited: Update at the very end, also some minor edits, I should have proofread before posting. I also wanted to note that I cannot take credit for the ideas here. They all came from our library department, I’m just documenting. Ann Z)
So those who know me on Facebook have probably noticed that many of my status updates have to do with the adventures of our staplers at work. Those updates seem to interest a lot of my friends, it’s even been suggested that I write a book on the topic. But writing a book is intimidating, so instead, I’ll just put down our hard-won wisdom in a blog post…
For those that need a bit of background: I work in a library at a small college – but a college that expects its students to write a lot. And to hold their papers together with staples. Also, at this particular college, the library gets a lot of use, and so, our staplers get a lot of use, too. And not all loving use. Also, some students walk away with our staplers. What this boils down to is that we go through a lot of staplers. A crazy lot of staplers. Enough so that we started investigating ways to encourage our students to be a little more gentle with them, and to leave them in the library.
Voter #633 at my polling place, ballot cast at 9:30 am.
Chris went shortly after the polls open and found a long line, but our polling place is pretty efficient and he got through quickly. We had a conference for Hazel this morning (she’s all good), and I went after that and found no line to get in. There was however, a line to put your ballot in to the ballot reader.
In Minnesota, our ballots are paper, machine-read ballots. You mark your choice by filling in a bubble. You can choose to go to a booth, or just sit at a table and make your votes. There’s something about filling in a bubble on multiple choice questions, the scantron paper, sitting at these long tables, with a flimsy paper folder for privacy, that takes me right back to elementary school and standardized testing. I feel guilty when I pull out my paper where I wrote the names of the down ballot people I wanted to elect (judges and soil and water conservation board elections). Like somehow I’m cheating.
Everyone in the room is very Minnesota nice. People are pleasant, and even put up with the long line to enter your ballot with good humor. The election judges are helpful, and nice, and fair – they’re pretty much democracy super heroes in my mind.
I hope that everyone who reads this will vote, or has already voted, if they’re eligible! I won’t go all dramatic on you, but these things matter. Your vote matters.
For those in Minnesota, I voted No on both amendments (marriage amendment and voter id), and I do hope that you will, too. I believe that two people who love each other and are willing to make a commitment to becoming a family deserve to be celebrated and supported and protected, regardless of their sex. And I believe that there are already too many barriers to voting, as evidenced by the poor turnout at many elections. Minnesota has had very high profile recounts recently where votes were closely scrutinized, looking for fraud. There was no fraud that would have been prevented by a voter id restriction. But there are cases where eligible voters would be turned away at the polls due to not having a valid id.
I’m a bit late here … the girls turned 6 and 2 in the middle of October.
Zoe’s now 6, and full in to being a Kindergartner. It’s astounding how much she’s learning now, though she’s exhausted by the end of most days. She brings home books from school and slowly works through them, working out the words on her own. I think I was more excited about her starting to read than she is, though she does enjoy it. She also loves playing with her sister and helping her sister with things.
Hazel is 2, and rapidly leaving all the baby things behind. She’s talking a lot, and will entertain herself for a long time playing with her bears or her doll, and she’s always asking to, “read more book, Mama!”
I..ah, took lots of rock hammer for scale pictures this time around…
I was cleaning up after lunch and Hazel was happily and quietly entertaining herself. A little too quietly, come to think of it. I stepped around the corner to find this.