The Bewundering World of Bewilderbeests is a children’s picture book created by George Brown College School of Design Alumna, Bailey Fort. Inspired by the likes of Shel Silverstein and phonetic word play, Bailey describes her book as “a charming adventure that introduces us to a colourful cast of strange and silly creatures.” Her book is a smorgasbord of humourous poems and illustrations that acquaint readers with different whimsical animals, each with their own quirks and distinct personalities. The book has received critical acclaim by Graphis New Talent Annual Award, Applied Arts Magazine, Specialty Publisher’s Weekly, Kindle Book Review and Online Bookclub.org.
Bailey self published this book after running a successful Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign. We talked to Bailey about her Kickstarter experience.
Why did you decide to run a Kickstarter campaign?
Prior to launching the Kickstarter campaign, I had already released the e-book edition, which proved a good way to gauge reader response and solicit some professional reviews before proceeding with the print edition of the book. The market for children’s picture e-books is fairly limited—understandably, people still prefer ‘real books’ for this genre. However, the positive feedback from the e-book encouraged me to pursue a print publication. I’d done my research concerning costs and logistics, but wasn’t in a position to afford funding the entire venture myself.
A crowdfunding campaign seemed like an ideal way to not only raise the needed funds, but also ensure a number of pre-sales and build an audience for the book.
Additionally, it was a low-risk option as Kickstarter does not charge a fee if the goal is not reached and the project is not successfully funded.
How difficult was it?
Kickstarter’s guides are very helpful in walking you through the process of setting up your campaign, with plenty of good tips and step-by-step instructions. That being said, there’s a lot of work involved in figuring out all of the logistical details regarding costs, rewards packages, shipping, potential profit margins, plus preparing the pitch for your product, promoting it, seeing your project to completion and finally delivering it to your backers. It’s an accessible process, but there are a lot of moving parts and details to manage, and ultimately, it’s up to you how much effort you put into it.
What was the biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge for me was probably the promotion of the campaign—and figuring out who to target and how, once everyone I knew personally had already pledged their support. Honestly, the campaign’s momentum was most often reinvigorated by others (usually friends and family) sharing it on social media, sometimes by request and sometimes unprompted.
How long did it take to reach your goal?
Kickstarter advised that short-term campaigns tend to be more successful in reaching their funding goals because they run less risk of losing momentum, so I set a 30-day goal to reach the target of $5000.00. The campaign was successfully funded in 25 days, but went on to raise a grand total of $6235.00 by the end of the 30-day period.
How did you feel about promoting yourself and your project?
I struggle with self-promotion and still find it a tricky process to navigate. However, the Kickstarter campaign was easier because it was goal-oriented and time-sensitive—and both of these factors provided an impetus for its promotion. Also, I owe a great deal to the people who shared it on social media, which was largely attributable to the momentum of the campaign and a clear goal, as opposed to trying to promote and sell individual books. The Facebook page for the book was my main media outlet, plus my personal page, and the book’s website. The local newspaper from my hometown ran an article about the campaign and the book. I also produced a press release (which probably just floated around the backwaters of the internet). Additionally, Publishers Weekly/BookLife happened to request an interview for their Indie Authors series that ran during the Kickstarter campaign. They graciously made mention of it and included the link to the book’s Kickstarter page.
I heard that you were selected as one of the Kickstarter team’s high profile, “Projects we Love”. How did this happen and what did this mean for you and achieving your goal?
I was delighted when it was selected as one of Kickstarter’s “Projects We Love.” It was also the featured project one day on the landing page for their publishing projects.
Both were a surprise to me, as there’s nothing additional you can do to earn these spots. People at Kickstarter keep an eye on newly launched projects and highlight the ones they like. It certainly brought the project to the attention of more people casually browsing Kickstarter and prompted a spate of pledges from more people I didn’t know personally and from locations around the world.
Would you do this again or recommend this to other young designers?
As long as the designers are sure they’ll be able to deliver the project to their backers, I’d absolutely recommend launching a Kickstarter (or similar) campaign. I would also consider it again myself. It is a great way to gauge interest in your project and to generate pre-sales. The positive feedback and excitement surrounding your project can be invaluable to providing reassurance you’re creating something worthwhile that appeals to people. Alternatively, I suppose an unsuccessful campaign could highlight a project’s flaws and areas that need improvement before you proceed or try again. Viewed from that perspective, it’s a win-win.
Bewundering World of Bewilderbeasts is now available in the IN store!
Article | Connie Wansbrough & Katrina Atienza
Photography | Shing Leung
Photo Design | Katrina Ateinza