Sunday, December 20, 2009

Taking the overseas print run plunge

So you'll probably remember the original problem from an earlier post: I needed $6,000 to print the book I'd started the press to do.

I wasn't any richer.

But I did have one somewhat successful book. Even though I wasn't making enough money to fund the second, I felt a lot better about this whole venture.

So I decided just to do it. Even though the bank had turned down a loan, they had given me a low-interest credit card. I wanted to be brave. I wanted to make this happen. And so I did it.

I was halfway through production on In the Company of Angels, using photographs I'd already taken and models for whom I already had releases, trying not to spend any money until I knew what I was doing. I sent out a notice that I'd love to have additional children pose as angels for the book, as long as the families had a pregnancy loss in their history. I had an idea that to make the book really special, I wanted the parents who filled out the book to feel a connection with the images in this precious album. I had to get it right.

So shooting resumed, and I contacted the broker for the good overseas bid to start production.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Barnes and Noble backs the book

Our first book, Kids Show Kids How to Make Balloon Animals, was off and running, and not doing too badly. Hilariously, Klutz made a balloon book that came out almost simultaneously with ours. I watched the Amazon ranking of both with a bit of stalker glee, and was a little surprised at how well they both did.

We bought the Klutz book and loved the colorful images and fun designs. The book was much harder than ours, though, and soon the reviews reflected that.

Our Magic Camp connection came through during a week of promotion at one of the big Barnes and Noble stores in town. One day was dedicated to balloon twisting, so the authors were invited to assist in a demonstration on how to make basic balloon shapes.

Barnes and Noble decided to stock the book in their store, with 10% of the profits going to help raise money for kids to get scholarships to Magic Camp. I checked the Ingram account a few days later and saw -- gulp -- they'd ordered 50 copies. Visions of returns began dancing in my head. But we'd do the best we could to sell them.

We fixed a few mistakes we'd made at the festival. The girls dressed in their outfits from the book so they'd be instantly recognizable. We brought easier pens to sign the books with (Sharpies only, people!)

What a great event. Dozens of kids showed up. The girls worked the crowd and helped the kids as the Magic Camp instructor explained the steps to twisting. Elizabeth got on stage and showed everyone how to make a balloon bee.

We sold a good chunk of the books. They probably had 15-20 left.

(Update: Barnes and Noble kept these books in stock and never returned them. In fact, after we altered the cover many months later, I went back and bought a few of the originals--I'd sold out of stock suddenly and had no first editions--and the sales lady went on and on about how the girls had come out to the store last fall and how adorable they were--and this was definitely the best of the balloon books--perfect for birthday gifts. I could not have stepped any more lightly as I left.)