A Travelers Guide to Crowdsourcing a Children’s Book – Updated with eBook
So, you are on this amazing adventure in a place you can’t properly pronounce. Over a few local beers a crazy thought comes to you. I should write a book!
As travelers ourselves we had the same thought and we decided to write a children’s book for young adventurers using our son’s as the main characters.
We weren’t sure if we were qualified to write a book much less write about publishing a book. Then we were reminded that Gandhi once wrote “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever”. With this quote in hand we began learning the art of self publishing with The Adventures of Cash and Cortez.
A little background on our family story. We are on a grand adventure and we wanted to share our boys’ stories with our friends, family and their classmates back home in San Diego. As traveling parents we are trying to create meaningful memories, guide our children’s escapades and try to teach them about the different experiences that people live day to day around the world. Our personal goal is to tell a story about learning and growing through travel and share some anecdotes as they present themselves on the road.
We learned that writing an illustrated children’s book is really hard so we had to come up with some creative ways to record our stories and figure out a workflow that could help us create more effectively.
Our workflow is based on crowdsourcing creative artists from around the world. The value is you get to own all of you content and get your story out at a lower cost and a timeline that is quicker than traditional publishing models.
Here’s the thing about crowdsourcing; much has been said about it yet very little is really has been shared when it comes to publishing children’s or travel books. Harnessing the power of the Internet to get an eBook or a physical book to your readers could be another source of income or a unique way for travelers to share their adventures.
Our 10-step workflow is relatively easy to begin and action oriented but you will need a great story and ambition to see this through publication. Our simple 10-step workflow will help you figure out and solve the confusions which everyday book publishing enthusiasts encounter everyday such as:
- What crowdsourcing platforms are best for your vision?
- How to structure crowdsourcing incentives so you don’t end up wasting your time and resources?
- A repeatable workflow for crowdsourcing a book?
While this blog post promises to be very informative, we have written a more detailed eBook that we will be giving away on our Kickstarter campaign. The following steps helped us publish our first book “The Adventures of Cash and Cortez – A Baja Adventure”.
Like many travelers, we didn’t have the skill set required to write and/or publish a children’s book. All we had was a desire to do it and a willingness to learn through trial and error. If you are in a similar boat and want to spend more time creating stories and less time learning how to publish then assume the role of a book director and crowdsource your book.
A book director, much like a movie director, is a person who directs the making of a book. Generally, a book director controls a book’s artistic and layout qualities, and visualizes the story while guiding the crowdsourcing resources in the fulfillment of that vision.
Having shared our story and background, here is a sample of our actionable easy 10-step workflow. The eBook we are using for our Kickstarter campaign has more detail but this should get anyone started.
- Story Inspiration: Every great book begins with an even greater story. Robert Mckee, the world famous writing coach once said, ‘Stories are how we understand the hardships, lessons, and beauty of life.’On the road we encounter tons of inspiration and many great stories so don’t be afraid to put them down and share them with the world. At worst you have a great memoir of your journey!
- Storyboard Concept: In order to find a good collaborative creative writer, we came up with a storyboard concept for our campaigns. The storyboard highlights key stories in our travels and imagery. The concept of your story must be laid out and driven to your prospective partners on the crowdsourcing platforms. As a book director, it is your responsibility to properly relay your requirements to your partners (illustrator or writer) and guide them to a creative goal. The right partners will understand your requirements and work towards fulfilling your vision. The wrong freelancers, however, are difficult to manage because there is just so much noise in the crowdsourcing market so you need to fail quickly to find a good match.
- Write the story: The least time consuming for our projects has been the storying writing. We are able to get our story into draft in a few weeks which isn’t the case for the illustrations and layout. Our advice is even as you have a storyline in mind, you must be opening to adjusting your storyline to align it with the illustrations and book layout. One thing to keep in mind is your word count and page count with children’s books. Our eBook provides insights about how we went through this process and through trial and error we were able to write our second book much easier.
- Storyboard Illustrations: When it comes to children’s books, your target audience (children) enjoy great illustrations so balancing your story and your illustrations is going to be a challenge for anyone. It is, therefore, important that your illustration ideas align with your story. Once again, we use a storyboard concept to drive our creative ideas and thoughts so we can get the right vision for our campaigns. In our eBook we talk about failing fast and failing quickly and only running mini campaigns. We encourage you to do the same by using storyboards to drive successful crowdsourcing campaigns so you can get to your illustrations.
- Illustrate, Illustrate and illustrate: A picture speaks a thousand words. Let the fun begin with crafting your illustrations. This will be an exciting and a defeating process as you try to get your illustrations to look and match your story. Plan on failing many campaigns to find your illustrator. Without a great illustration, everything else in this workflow will more likely produce a book you won’t be happy with. Our eBook provides tips to getting the best illustrations out of your creative illustrator on crowdsourcing platforms.
- Book Cover: The reality is, covers and book titles drive the initial curiosity. Most of these books are found via the internet so you have less than 3 seconds to grab your audience! Keep in mind that readers are constantly being bombarded with high and low quality content so take this opportunity to win them with your cover and catchy title.We live an era where people purchase hot sauce, wine and beer by the label treat your book as you would a craft product.
- Rewrite your Story: It is important that your story aligns with your illustrations and rewriting your story is a good way to ensure that your story is tight and flows with your drawings and page turns.If there is one very outstanding fact about book covers and illustrations, it is that they can unveil an entirely new side to your story.
- Book Layout: A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. We underestimated how important the book layout really was in the workflow until we tried to lay the book out. No matter how great your illustrations look in their raw format and as great as your stories reads if you can’t lay it out you will lose your opportunity to create a great experience.When designing a book layout, you must keep consider how the readers will flip through the pages and how you build your story. Children are incredibly bright and so are their parents when they read these stories and take the time to purchase your book. It really doesn’t take much to turn them off with all these moving parts in your story symphony.We have put together an eBook and in it, you would find out how we successfully crafted a good book layout for our children’s book “The Adventures of Cash and Cortez”. Hopefully you learn from some of our mistakes.
- Book Media: Content is king right?Well if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? That is great question to ask about your new book you are about to share with the big world web.Your book is going to be drowned out in a sea of noise so your job is to maneuver around that noise. That, folks, are what marketing is for and you are going to need a book media campaign.Video owns the people. You are going to need to produce and crowdsource things like book trailers, book infographics and stories about your adventure through blogs just to get a start. These are just a few ideas that are very accessible in the crowdsourcing market for a low cost as opposed to traditional marketing companies.
- Publish: For all the effort you have put into your children’s book, it is important to know that publishing the right way also has its own dynamics. A common mistake people make is to publish on just one platform or in certain cases, self-publishers neglect the importance of their illustration source format and how it affects the quality of display of their book on different platforms like iPads, computers, or even in print format. It is important that your books quality does not diminish when you convert it from one format to another. So if it looks great in eBook format, it should be great in print too.We have detailed in our eBook, the tools we used to effectively publish “The Adventures of Cash and Cortez”.
In conclusion, if you found the information in this blog post helpful and/or enlightening, then you are in for a great experience when you read see your first eBook or hard copy and share it with friends.