Little Zō had followed Mama and Papa Zō all his life, and he had places he liked to visit. Walking through one of his favorite spots in the bamboo, everything seemed different. He heard the chi-chi-chi chattering of things around him and noticed the sunlight swimming through the stalks. The colors were everywhere, twisting around the bamboo, chasing after the waves of sun. He spent a great while looking at the colors up close, because each one was different. One had curly hair, another was really tiny. One sprouted two heads and another he thought was sleeping because it hadn’t opened its eye yet. One smelled like fresh fruits, another like the rain. Pointing with his nose, he spoke softly to each one as he tried to choose a favorite.
You’ll probably notice the writing isn’t really for “little kids”. I suppose when this all started it was just the lyrics to the song Zōsan, which were much more simple:
You have a very long nose
Yes, my mama has a long nose too.
When I wrote, I found myself writing detailed descriptions — imagining sounds, and putting myself inside the head of a little elephant. It ended up being more in the in the spirit of E.B. White, Holling C. Holling, or Lewis Carroll. (If I may be so bold.)
So it’s not a book for wee ones to read, but one that you can read to them. When I read to Eliot, I ham it up, make of characters voices to characters (hence the audiobook version). But that’s how my book was written.
The illustrations are a nod to some of my favorite artists — Maurice Sendak, Robert McCloskey, Edward Gorey — black and white only. I thought about color, but decided I wanted to focus on this pen-and-ink hatching style because it leaves the color to the mind’s eye.
The audiobook was brought about by how I read to Eliot & Marcel, but also by all the books-on-tape I listened to as a kid — most notably those made by a company that called themselves Jabberwocky. I still have a few of those, among them is my favorite, a double-sided cassette of “Alice in Wonderland”.
I also have one tape I cherish read by Jack Nicholson and performed by Bobby McFerrin of two Rudyard Kipling stories. Since I heard these, it’s always been in the back of my mind to do them myself – with other voice actors.
Sample – Chapter 1
But enough chat. Here’s a draft sample of the first chapter, which sets the stage for the rest of Zochi’s adventure.
You can also hear the first chapter if you like!
“Nothing matches the feel and the smell of a book”
This sums up why I’m pursuing a printed book, and more specifically, a letterpress version.
“The books just look better,” says paper industry analyst Thad McIlroy. He notes that publishers are paying more attention to such tactile qualities as a book’s cover and the quality of paper. “Those are the kind of things that are going to keep books with us for some time to come.”
When I started this endeavor, it was a song that inspired a series of illustrations. That morphed into a full blown story with new illustrations and an audiobook. I’m doing all of these among a full time job and two young kids… so, suffice it to say, it’s been a challenge to stay on the boat!
Will this thing be done after the kickstarter is complete?
I’d love to say yes, but it won’t be. The illustrations are done, the story is 99% written, but the reality successful funding means that the production begins.
The only thing I can deliver almost immediately is the digital download of the book. I’ll be working on that throughout the campaign, and can set up download codes for recipients. So maybe within a week or two I can have that ready for everyone. There’s a possibility the book might change before the print production has started, in which case everyone will receive a new download code with the new version.
What about the printed versions?
I’ll start working with Clare at Tiger Food Press and Charles at Eberhardt to get the pages properly laid out for printing. I’ll start production of giclee prints, and compile the list of funders and what they’re receiving.
Production of the letterpress book will take a while: it has to laid out, plates made, prints created (over 800 impressions by hand), then shipped to me to deliver to the bindery. After the books are bound they can be shipped to everyone.
The offset book is slightly less complicated. All the printing and binding are done by Eberhardt printing and then books are shipped to me for distribution.
What about the Audiobook?
The audiobook won’t be done until the books are ready for shipment. I could rush it, but I’d rather take the time to make the most of it. There’s editing, music, sfx — it’s a involved process to create! And again, being electronic, if I need to release an update, I’ll generate new download codes for everyone.
Hopefully this sets everyone’s expectations… you’ll definitely be able to read the book in electronic format soon after the campaign, but everything else will take some time to bake.
I’m sure there are some out there who have maybe heard of Kickstarter, or crowdfunding in general, but don’t know exactly how it works. I’m sure there are still others who have no idea what it is, so let me quickly explain.
If you’e considering contributing to my campaign when it launches, please sign up for Kickstarter if you aren’t already!
In a nutshell, the idea is that you present your idea to the masses, and the masses like your idea and trust you enough to give you money. There a time limit and it’s an all-or-nothing proposition. More on that below.
Isn’t that a handout or a donation?
No. Crowdfunding isn’t a one-way transaction. Usually the expectation is that those giving money get something of comparable value for their money. And while some crowdfunding campaigns are for causes, where the funders get something small in return (i.e. a keychain) the greater return is the cause itself. But Kickstarter specifically forbids that projects be merely a donation to charity, with nothing given in return.
Personally, I think this the new world order: the internet gives the ability to tap into an audience that was unheard of even a decade ago. It doesn’t undermine the existence of publishing companies, or music labels, because these can do the work to find you an audience — but it I feel it democratizes the ability for anyone with passion and an idea to find their own audience.
So are you going to rich off this thing?
Not likely. When I put together my project, I figured out how much it’s going to cost to make the book(s), factored in shipping, and then set my goal accordingly. That’s why it took me so long to launch — not only was I just working on finishing the book, but I had to work out all the logistics and get cost estimates from everyone else involved.
There aren’t profit margins here; Kickstarter takes a cut of what I raise first for offering me the service, and second for charging credit cards.
What’s this about a time limit and “all or nothing?”
There are now many different ways to crowdfund. GoFundMe, IndieGoGo, RocketHub are just a few. We actually used RocketHub to successfully fund my band’s first studio album last year.
The short answer is that’s how Kickstarter chooses to do business. But since there are choices, you might be wondering why I picked Kickstarter.
Most crowdfunding sites make you set some kind of time limit. Kickstarter posits their research suggests that longer projects aren’t proportionally more successful. I tend to agree that putting a finite window creates a sense of urgency. If you know you only have 10 days or 5 hours to commit to pledging, you’re probably going to just do it. But if you knew you could do it…you know… whenever… then you’d wait.
Some places offer you a deal where you set a funding goal, and you get to keep whatever you raise — but if you don’t hit your goal, there are bigger fees.
It worked for my band, but for me, I preferred to use Kickstarter, for one good reason: I estimated all these costs. If I only got a part of the funding, then I’m stuck with not enough more to fulfill it and a bunch of people now expecting me to produce the books with less than I need.
Plus, I know Kickstarter. I’ve backed 17 projects there, and all but two were successfully funded — and that was research on my part, planning my own approach.
So that’s why we’re here. But at this writing, the project is 70% funded with over a week to go. That’s a good sign. Thank you to all who have pledged, and thank you for reading.