in Kid Lit, Monstrous Me

The Making of Monstrous Me

Between January and December of this year, I conceived of, wrote, collaborated on, ran a Kickstarter for, and successfully published a book called Monstrous Me: An Illustrated Guide to the Monsters Inside Us. Though I’ve long wanted to write a book of some sort, this particular one didn’t come from some overarching plan or a New Year’s Resolution; the idea grew from a short artistic exercise that was nourished by a wonderful illustrator.

Given my uneven history with long-form collaborative projects, I am laying out everything that went into creating this book so Future Me can learn from my mistakes, and Present You can see if this is something you’d like to take on someday. In short, it was far more work than I expected, and completely manageable. Also, I didn’t lose money, so that’s neat.

Before we begin, I will say I found the process gratifying and I believe I was successful. My goals were not New York Times Bestselling Author status, or financial independence from selling so many millions of monster books. Instead, I wanted a productive collaboration, that is, an artistic relationship that culminated in a tangible product. I wanted to write. And I wanted to run a crowdfunding campaign. By having a hardbound, full-color book funded by the support of others, and now printed and in their hands, I achieved what I set out to achieve. 

That’s the short version of it. If you’re interested in the details of conceptualizing, writing, re-writing, editing, designing, revising, collaborating, marketing, printing, recording, and shipping a book, then read on.

I’ve Been Writing in Rhyme for a Very Long Time

Once upon a time, I wrote rhyming stories about everything from gingerbread men to romantic cat ladies. Sometimes these were written in collaboration with illustrators. Other times, I wrote them by myself. Whenever I’d share them, the most common comment I received was on the story’s supposed appeal to children. Despite hearing that for years, I didn’t fully act on the idea of writing for children until this past summer.

I became a card-carrying member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, took a course called Making Picture Book Magic, joined two writing groups, and began reciprocal critiquing relationships with a handful of fellow writers. I made serious and consistent steps toward writing children’s literature. In 2018, I will continue submitting stories to agents in hopes of traditional publication.

Despite all that, I chose to self-publish Monstrous Me. The main reason was how strongly I believed in my collaborative relationship with Elizabeth, the book’s illustrator. Most agents will tell authors not to submit their books already illustrated. Finding the artist and art directing the story are part of their publishing house’s job (the road is different for author-illustrators, of course). I wasn’t interested in submitting a manuscript and having another illustrator take it on – the idea had grown with Elizabeth, and I wanted it stay with her.

The second reason is the book’s format. Monstrous Me isn’t a traditional 32-page children’s story with ~500 words (both industry standards). It’s a collection of 40 rhyming stories about monsters based on personal shortcomings, bad habits and strange tendencies. There isn’t much precedent for a book like this, making it a hard sell, even if the publisher were in fact interested in both Liz and me as a team.

Finally, I’ve long been curious about the process of making a book, and when I considered the first two reasons, the added potential for getting hands-on experience creating and marketing a book were too compelling to pass up. With that, I decided to go ahead and make the book myself (with the help of others).

As I’ve mentioned, I am still writing stories in the more traditional format. Self-publishing wasn’t borne out of a frustration with rejection; it was a chance to create and collaborate and build something from scratch.

This process was as much about making a book as it was writing one. While the writing and revision process were always going to be the heart of the project, the art notes, cover design, layout, marketing, promotion and production were all essential, too. I recognize that the self-publishing world is fraught with poorly assembled books, hastily edited stories, rushed printing and decisions driven more by ego than the market. To offset that, I focused on collaboration, and worked to allow the art and words to influence and strengthen each other. I sought out editors. I paid designers. Though I was involved in every step, I know my many limitations, and allowed collaboration to make this book far better than I could have hoped to do on my own.

So with that understanding of Why I Made It, let’s get into the How This Book Got Made.

Starting Small Is Better Than Not Starting At All

Aunt Eek Draft

The first draft of Aunt Eek, the first monster for Monstrous Me

On January 15th, I received this email:

“Great news: You’ve started an order on Fiverr”

The gig in question was to draw “a cute monster” based on a short poem I’d written called “Aunt Eek” about a monster obsessed with all things old-timey; the dustier, the better! At the time, I had no side projects and didn’t like feeling that my day job was my only creative outlet. It’s normal for me to work on a bigger creative idea each time I’m off of work, but I have found time and time again that I can’t sustain those projects once work picks back up. Rather than scale back those grand ambitions, I’d shut them down. 

Recognizing this history of biting off more than I could chew, I went small. In January, I wrote a handful of short rhyming stories about monsters inspired by my own bad habits. Then, I went to Fiverr in search of an artist who would illustrate them. In a sense, I was rewarding myself for having written. Having a tiny completed piece was the carrot at the end of the stick.

Working with Liz on these first few illustrations was a delight. She brought in her experience with folklore and fairytales and injected each of my stories with life. From her sketches, I revised the story, and then paired it with her finished piece. We repeated this process every few weeks through March. 

Aunt Eek Color

The finished version of Aunt Eek

On March 3rd, after four back-and-forths on one-off monsters, I suggested something bigger. With the goal of “[piecing] them all together and [putting] them into a limited edition printed book, and ebook” I asked if she’d be interested in contributing somewhere between 40 and 50 illustrations. Fortunately for the book’s sake, she was! She agreed, and with a modified version of  this illustration commission agreement, we worked out terms for four payment installments, how many physical copies of the books, the royalty percentage, and set art deadlines for May, June and July.

Now all I had to do was write it.

First Drafts Were The Worst Drafts

Dandy Lion

The majority of the brainstorming and writing took place over trips to Thailand and Nicaragua. It’s not that I wasn’t also writing in the evenings after work, or during the weekends, but I found (and created) more swaths of time on long days away from my regular responsibilities.

The first step was to get a working list of monsters. To do this, I followed James Altucher’s idea method to brainstorm monster after monster after monster. 10 here, 10 there. Then another 10. Until, after a few weeks, I had over 130 monsters inspired by my own worst tendencies and bad habits, and as often was the case, a rogue pun or two. For those who’ve read the book, you’ll see one of the names below made it through the entire process unchanged, while four others from these two lists made it to the book in different versions. Sadly, whatever The Lolly Gaggle was did not.

Monstrous Me Idea Lists

These lists had the monster’s name and a line about what its monstrous characteristics were, like The Gossip Pollinator, who takes little tidbits from social circle to social circle; The Snacky Grabber, a tentacled critter that helps itself to anything you’re snacking on; or The Wannabee, who can’t enjoy life/job/friends because he’s too enamored with all the things he wants to be.

The book itself wouldn’t just be lists on lists on lists. To expand on each idea, I employed the Pomodoro Technique (25-minute focused batches) and got to writing. What I needed from these batches were drafts that would reveal to me if there was a story worth telling. I knew the drafts would be terrible. I knew they wouldn’t rhyme, and even if they rhymed, the meter would be way off. I knew I’d lose a lot of these monsters in the first culling. Still, it was important to write them to see what kernels of truth I could find. If the monster was based on some negative quality I had, could I find in these binge-written drafts a way to make it more universal? Or tell a story of how that quality came to be?

Ultimately, I wrote around 100 of these drafts. By using 25-minute blocks, I didn’t think about whether or not I had anything to say, I just went forward with it. I titled a page with the monster’s name, then wrote by hand to remove any distraction. With the exception of a few stories, I limited myself to a sonnet-length 14 lines, with three verses setting up the monster, and then a final couplet to end it. By not worrying about the initial quality, and setting a finite length, I had confines within which to create.

Monstrous Me Notebook

Then, I typed everything up. That binge writing produced 55 pages. 14,046 words. All of it in rhyming stanzas. Most of it … not good.

Then between April 15th and April 24th, I read through the manuscript five times. I cut out monsters that were based on wordplay (sorry, Henvestigator). I cut out monsters that weren’t relatable (the Untannable Man). I cut and cut and cut.

I sent the first draft of 57 monsters to Liz on April 24th as a Google document. While I knew 57 monsters would be too many, I wanted to get her perspective. If a monster was too cerebral, then maybe it wouldn’t be worth pushing to illustrate it. With each story, I included a line or two about how I thought the monster would look, and we wrote notes back and forth as we zeroed in on the appearance and the background and the characteristics.

Carnivalore Draft - Monstrous Me

There’s No Better Part Than Finally Seeing the Art

Together, we whittled the list down from 57 monster to 50, exchanging art notes and suggestions and inspirations until we had an agreement on each monster’s background, pose, details and color.

With that, it was time for her to begin the pencil sketches. She suggested it’d be better for her to work on all the monsters simultaneously in order to maintain a consistent look, which meant doing every monsters’ pencil drawing first, then getting feedback on those before beginning the color, and the background, and the finishing touches.

Below are two examples of how monsters changed from pencil to color based on how they’d be laid out in the book.

Up-Close Cyclops & Far-Out Cyclops – Pencil & Color

Cyclops Near and Far

Because these two cyclops are the only connected monsters in the book, we thought it’d be great to include them on the same spread. With every other monster, it’s a monster and story per spread; with these cyclops siblings, we combined both stories and monsters. That also allowed for the luscious background Liz created below, an iconic look that we also used for the Kickstarter’s header.

Late Night Snake – Pencil & Color

The Late Night Snake pencil

With the Late Night Snake, I loved the idea of seeing the snacks inside the snake’s stomach. Since we had settled on the book’s dimensions at this point, Liz had the final snake stretch the length of the pages, leaving whitespace in the middle.

Late Night Snake Color

What I loved about our process was working in batches. She finished a stage of the artwork then sent it over. After I returned the notes and she began the next phase, I could then focus on a new task – putting together the Kickstarter, contacting printers, relearning InDesign – without much start-and-stop. These forced breaks gave me a fresh perspective each time Liz sent back a new phase. Though I was living with the book every day, I wasn’t living with the same piece of it, and that was invigorating. 

 

Feedback Is Not An Attack

As a younger creative person, I was often frustrated by feedback. One recurring issue I had was sending pieces out to multiple people, and then being annoyed when they harped on the same note. Another was sending out a piece, then continuing to work on it before I’d heard any response, so that by the time I received their feedback, I’d have already changed the work substantially. As annoyed as I was, I’m sure my editors were turned off by my curt attitude and immaturity. Plus, if I’d already caught the mistakes they’d caught, I was then less receptive to their notes, and would become borderline defensive. Truly, it’s a wonder people even respond to my e-mails at all. Though this was a younger version of me, I recognize my shortcomings may still linger, so I created a better workflow for revisions and editing during the production of this book.

The editing process was broken down into chunks. I revised as well as I could with passes guided by specific themes. One time it was a story pass, making sure each monster had some reason for being as monstrous as he or she was. The next time it was to punch up descriptive words. There was, of course, a rhyming pass, to avoid near rhymes, repeated words, or overly simplistic choices.

After taking the manuscript as a far as I could on my own, I sent the draft to three editors with guiding questions for them, like “Do you connect with this monster?” and “Did you get hung up on any lines?”

In the time while they were editing, I focused on other aspects of the project, like coordinating with Liz, or laying out the campaign, or creating small promotional animations. 

The majority of my editors tracked their changes in Google Docs and returned them that way. Some sent back hard copies with handwritten notes. Only when I’d received all the feedback from a round of editors did I sit down and go through the book one story at a time. That way I made sure to address and reconcile all their line edits at once, and see if multiple people had picked up on an issue.

The process itself was trying. When writing something of this scale, there are parts of each draft that I had not thoroughly considered, and it was difficult to admit that. A word choice here, a rhyming line there, a monster’s name. Some things slipped from draft to draft without much thought, and being called out for that was humbling.

Then, when an editor points something out, suggesting that monster may not in fact be that monstrous, or that the rhyme scheme you’re using doesn’t work for them, it creates a necessary pause in the work. Why did I choose that word? Why am I rhyming that way? If I didn’t have a satisfactory answer, or couldn’t arrive at one, I would make a change.

When I found myself in situations where I didn’t have an answer, I was grateful, as the notes helped solidify my own understanding of the book. When those notes came up against problems I’d already tussled with, my reasoning (hopefully sound!) allowed me to feel confident in leaving those notes unaddressed. One note suggested changing the entire rhyme scheme from ABAB to AABB, which is the sort of seismic shift of changing a novel from 2nd person to 1st. While the latter scheme is a form I have used in a lot of my writing, the former, I think, helps achieve a more fluid story rather than one that draws all its energy from the rhyme, since the reader is looking for it in every line.

It was after the first round of editors that I realized even having 50 monsters was a little bloated, so I trimmed a few weak links and got the manuscript down to its final 40. Though I knew there was a possibility of only being able to produce the book with 30, depending on the success of the Kickstarter, I believed strongly in the final 40 and pushed forward to have the manuscript fully polished. I went through this process three times, with a final line edit version done on the proof of the book.

Putting the ‘Fun!’ in Crowdfunding Campaign (Okay, There’s a Little ‘Pain’, Too)

Monstrous Me Kickstarter Campaign

From the beginning, Liz and I had our eyes set on a Kickstarter campaign. The original goal of our campaign was to create a 30-monster book, fully color and hardbound. Of the many pieces of advice I read about crowdfunding, the one that resonated the most was setting a funding goal that would be tough to reach, but not impossible. Though I wanted a 40-monster book, the cost to produce it pushed our campaign goal higher than I believed we could reach.

Once the campaign was underway, I was contacted by Puffer Print, whose rates were better than the other printers I’d contacted by enough that I could offer the ideal 40-monster book at the same price point. Though I had done a good amount of research into printers, I can’t recommend sourcing as many quotes as possible because it drastically affects what you’re able to offer your backers.

Of the $5,000 we campaigned for, we got $6,038 thanks to 124 backers.

There were two spikes in the fundraising. The first was from all of the individual emails I had scheduled to go out on the campaign’s launch day. I sent out over 200 to friends, family, and former coworkers letting them know what I was up to and how they could help.

The second spike was thanks to an irreverent video we made celebrating 75% of our goal, featuring tiny plastic shot glasses filled either with orange juice or screwdrivers, and I had to drink them all. Because this was on Facebook, and I tagged the friends who had donated so far, the video got over 1,000 views and encouraging around $1,500 in contributions, including the pledge that helped us get our initial goal of $5,000.

Monstrous Me Campaign Video

While I had posted about the campaign on Facebook before, it had been difficult to get much traction. The links to blog posts, the campaign itself, people sharing the campaign on their pages, the animated versions of the monsters – none of that moved the needle. This, for being silly, and for having so many people tagged in it, worked very effectively.

What didn’t work, despite people’s likes and comments, was Instagram. I had almost no luck converting from the many animations of the book’s monsters and book production posts I put together. Many people to this day still didn’t understand that it was a book that I was putting together – it wasn’t until I held up a hardbound proof of the book that it became clear.

Monstrous Me Proof

For the campaign’s timing, I had hoped to launch mid-July and have it completed by mid-August. The TV season starts up in August, and our day-to-day can be unpredictable, so I worried that if I had to do too much heavy-lifting with the campaign during the launch of our season, I would not be successful. Though the launch was delayed till early August, we met our goal before I went back to work. The campaign went on for an additional two weeks, but I wasn’t able to tend to it much at that point.

One purely anecdotal note: competing against news on social media makes its returns unreliable. I don’t have a fan base, per se, but posts about whimsical monsters and stories and Kickstarter campaigns don’t elicit the same emotional reactions as a potential nuclear war in North Korea, KKK marches in the South, or back-to-back devastating hurricanes. News cycles aren’t something you can plan for, but it’s something you should be very considerate of when figuring out how much to rely on social media for your promotional efforts. As many people will tell you (and Contagious is a great resource), you need an emotional trigger to get things to spread on social media. I did not do that well.

We Got You Covered

Monstrous Me Cover Options

While I believe Liz could’ve made a killer cover all on her own, running a contest on 99Designs to have a designer create a cover for Monstrous Me was a great decision. Because the designers are competing to win, they are extremely responsive, as their willingness and ability to address notes puts them closer to the prize. I did not have a clear image of what I wanted the cover to be, so instead of providing too many specifications, I included much of the finished monster art for them to incorporate into their designs. As you can see from above, there were many variations.

This contest was also an entertaining way to incorporate feedback from the backers for the campaign. As Liz and I whittled down the cover options from above, we were torn between two covers. We both enjoyed the clean look of the first, but when we put it out to the crowd, they voted nearly 2:1 in favor of the Ogre Scheduler for the color, the playful look, and how the designer had incorporated many other monsters into the design.

Cover Poll

While the cover was ultimately delivered in a Photoshop file that I could edit, having all of the heavy lifting taken care of in advance was a relief.

Breaking Even On Art You Believe In

Now let’s talk about money!

Total income: $6,038

Total costs: $5,755*

  • Commissioning the art: $1,200 (We agreed on double the rate of her Fiverr gigs, plus a bonus for the custom monsters)
  • The Kickstarter:  $507* in fees + transaction (this is not a cost, per se, but if you’re running a campaign, you need to know you don’t get the entire sum)
  • ISBNs + 1 Barcode: $320 (Because of Bowker’s system, it makes more sense to buy these in bulk, so this cost covers the next book)
  • Printing 250 84-page books + fee: $1759
  • Shipping from printer to me: $788
  • Mailers: $93
  • Shipping to others: $541 ($150 of this was for shipping 10 books to South Africa, which is part of the illustration agreement)
  • Thank You Postcards: $68
  • 99designs: $399
  • Audio: $80 (to clean and mix the audiobook)

At this point, the digital and audio versions of the book are online, and there is no further cost for me. I do have additional hardcover books available that I will sell through this site. The costs associated with selling through Amazon, either with Fulfillment, or as a Seller, are too high to make a small project like this feasible.

The Ongoing Stress of the Printing Press

The book format and printing costs are a fundamental part of publishing your own book. Deciding on the book’s physical size, the number of pages, and the quality of the materials all affect the cost. When you are raising money to publish something yourself, these decisions will affect the likelihood of your campaign being successful, so while as much as this section is about the printer, it’s also about how I decided what format to print the book in.

I looked into Blurb and PrintNinja and MascotBooks and others. I made spreadsheets with different page counts and book sizes and paper weights and cover styles.

What it came down to for me was a choice between 30 monsters and 40 monsters in an 8” x 10” format. 40 monsters was my stretch goal because it meant including the entirety of the completed manuscript. Having just 30 monsters meant cutting where I didn’t want to. When I priced out 250 books at 64 pages (enough for each monster to have a full spread), along with shipping to me from the printer, and then re-packaging and shipping out to each backer, as well as the fixed costs like cover designs and ISBNs, it led me to a $5,000 campaign. The price difference between 64 pages and 84 pages was something I could cover with an additional $1,000, so $6,000 became a stretch goal. 

After quite a few quotes, the most reasonable one came to $2,800 to have 250 64-page books made. Then, if I made it past $5,000 and to $6,000, I could afford to print the 84-page books.

Here are some example costs showing different dimensions and page counts:

Book (84 pages, 8.5 x 11, hardcover)
Printing 250 $3,383
Printing 500 $3,638
Printing 750 $4,107
Printing 1000 $4,602
Book (84 pages, 6 x 9, Hardcover)
Printing 250 $2,424
Printing 500 $2,636
Printing 750 $3,004
Printing 1000 $3,434

 

Book Creation (64 pages, 6 x 9, Hardcover)
Printing 250 $1,999
Printing 500 $2,179
Printing 750 $2,505
Printing 1000 $2,923

I played around with 6″ x 6″ softcover books, too, thinking they’d be adorable and fun, and much, much cheaper. Ultimately Liz’s art was too impressive to put into such a small, flimsy format, so at the risk of needing to clear a higher funding bar in our campaign, I went forward with a more traditional children’s book size.

In the middle of my campaign, I heard from Puffer Print, a company run by authors who’ve made books before. Their prices for a 64-page book and 84-page book were about $2,200 and $2,600, respectively, and included shipping to me.

At the longer version, printing 500 instead of 250 would’ve dropped my price per book from $10.26 to $6.76. Though the difference in the grand total would only have been $800, I knew there’d be a psychic weight to keeping the books around since those additional 250 books weren’t yet spoken for. Given my other professional obligations, I didn’t believe I’d have the time to sell off the additional books in the near future, and lugging around hundreds of books sounded unpleasant. Though there are fulfillment centers that offer to store books, they are expensive. I made the call at the last minute to only produce 250, knowing that I can print more in the future.

At the risk of leaving people wanting a book, I plan on creating a separate mailing list for those who missed out on the first print run. If that list proves that another order is viable, then I’ll proceed at that point.

Design and Layout  (With a Side of Self-Doubt)

Monstrous Me Design Process

Given my one-and-done year of high school journalism editing experience, I felt irrationally confident that I could layout a book. Thanks to Classroom in a Book, along with plenty of trial and error, I was not wrong. The layout is not overly complex. Often it is art on one page, words on the other, with a few exceptions where the story is split over both pages.

For anyone looking to do this, InDesign is a straightforward tool that offers much in the way of failsafes and rules and guides to keep your work consistent. Then, once you get to the point of working with a printer, it will be easy to tweak the document, and so long as you’ve ordered a proof, you’ll be able to make sure everything lines up how you’d like.

I can’t encourage you enough to get a proof printed. Not only is it a delight to see a sneak peek of your work, but having it in your hands will allow you to see alignment and placement issues you might not otherwise have noticed. While I’m sure professionals have ways to catch this, if this is your first project of this type, you won’t regret spending a little extra money to have a proof made. The peace of mind is priceless. 

I also can’t stress enough to not make creative changes to the text in the InDesign document. Even if it’s a little annoying, make the change in your original document, then copy over the new text to InDesign. It might just be a letter here or a typo there, or pressing return, or deleting a double space, and it won’t seem like a huge deal in the moment. But if you get to another draft or two down the line, and you re-input from the original document, your little changes are lost. Save yourself the future stress.

The Tools

These are the tools I used to create Monstrous Me from start to finish.

  1. A notebook and pen – Nothing helps me focus better than not having apps I can command + tab to.
  2. Late 2012 13” MacBook Pro Retina – I am still blown away that everything I need is on one computer, and backed up on the cloud. Having 8gb of ram is helpful, especially if you’re using InDesign, Photoshop and Premiere simultaneously. 
  3. Google DocsMonstrous Me began with a shared Google Docs folder. It’s still littered with drafts of campaign notes, manuscripts, and sketches.
  4. Dropbox – When we needed many more gigabytes of space for each individual monster, and the finished manuscripts, Dropbox’s interface was more straightforward.
  5. Adobe Photoshop – For creating all the social media graphics, for pulling out monsters from background layers to create animations with, and for tweaking the final cover.
  6. Adobe Animate – For creating short animations of monsters to create attention on social media.
  7. Adobe Premiere – For layering in audio, for cutting together the Kickstarter video, and for editing the audio for the audiobook.
  8. Adobe InDesign – For laying out the book.
  9. Quicktime Pro – For quick and easy audio recording.
  10. Blue Yeti Microphone – For recording the audiobook.

I used InDesign in high school, Premiere extensively in college, and Photoshop regularly over the last 10 years. Animate was new to me, but since it exists in the suite, the controls were familiar. I got Classroom in a Books for Animate, InDesign, and After Effects (which I ended up not needing). My experience with these helped me make the call on which of them were worth my time to focus on and improve already existing skills, and what I should pay for and outsource and collaborate.

Verse and Rhyme Mean It’s Audiobook Time

Given the sing-songy nature of verse and rhyme, Monstrous Me called out to have an audiobook recorded. Fortunately, I was familiar with ACX because of a fling with audio narration a few summers ago. I fully expected to work with a friend to create the audio version. I’d direct his performance, then edit the book myself. 

While my friend’s voice was interesting and entertaining, listening to his takes on the first quarter of the book unsettled me. I would play a story, cut out dead air, then play it back. Though the book was coming together, I felt worse and worse. I appreciated his voice, but I realized that I had lived with the monsters for too long to have someone else read them. I’d written and rewritten every line. I’d read and reread every story before sending it out for review. With all that I’d poured into it, I knew I needed to read it with my own tone and inflection, and to fully own it. It went against what I had hoped would be a totally collaborative endeavour, but it was the right decision for me.

So I got my microphone out and went to work. I recorded the raw audio in Quicktime Pro, then imported it into Adobe Premiere to trim it and balance it. It took a few nights of recording and re-recording to get the pacing right.

I felt confident in the end result and uploaded it to ACX. I waited a week, then checked back. To my dismay, the audio had been rejected for reasons including “high noise floor & Low RMS.” At that point, I didn’t have the patience to sort out the technical issues, so I hired an audio technician (thanks again Fiverr!) who normalized and corrected the 42 audio files. I resubmitted the book, and it was accepted.


Getting These Fiends to Digital Screens

One of the rewards for the Kickstarter is a digital version of the book. If you look up eBooks, you’ll soon see just how many file types are possible. The simplest is a PDF. MOBI is Amazon’s standard. EPUB is a standard ebook file type. The list goes on and on. Ultimately I narrowed it down to two: PDF and MOBI.

Currently, the book is available on Amazon. There are plenty of other outlets for ebooks, and I will look into them in the future. My attention for marketing is limited by the time I have available, and my main priority was making it easily accessible, not trying to wring pennies out of each copy, or making many different versions.

At Long Last We Let Them Loose

I left my work’s holiday party early to come home to 14 boxes filled with copies of Monstrous Me. In a matter of hours, the books were unboxed and repackaged in mailers and I was in line at the post office ready to send them to their backers.

As I found, there are services you can pay for at every step of the process of making and distributing a book. Given the quantity of orders, and only needing to pack up ~200 books, I knew I could handle it myself. The majority of packages fell in three categories: one book, two books, and five book bundles.

I had the address printed and ready to go, so the production line was straightforward. As a bonus for backers, I had a Thank You postcard created, and I dropped a pair in with every book. Then, in a matter of hours, 100+ packages were taped up, addressed, and ready to go.

After two hours in the post office, all the books were off.

Just like that, after months of writing, editing, designing and waiting, the books were sent out into the world. The project was officially out of my hands.

Now What?

You can get the digital version of Monstrous Me on Amazon right nowThe audio version is available through Audible. There are still a limited number of hardbound copies still available. Feel free to contact me if you’d like one.

If you have read Monstrous Me, I encourage you to leave a review on Goodreads and Amazon to help other readers find the book. 

Seeing photos of Monstrous Me in the hands of readers is thrilling, and I hope that after people read it, they’ll pass it along. For me, I plan to promote it the best way I know how: by continuing to work.

I will be putting more time into traditional children’s literature this year as I seek representation. I do have another book that I have started on and am excited about. This process has been edifying and encouraging.

Until then, thank you. Thank you for checking out this recap of a yearlong project. Thank you for reading the book. Thank you for supporting the Kickstarter. Thank you for your time.

With that, it’s time go to make some more.


Also published on Medium.