Ever found it hard to explain the concept of feelings and virtues to your kids? An apple or a ball you can point to, but the abstract concept of “disappointment” is a little trickier. That’s why last year, Adam came up with the idea for “Jack Feels Big”, a picture book to give kids the tools to talk about their feelings. And it’s why he’s back this year, with a new volume for a new character: Sophie.
Adam wanted to create stories for Sophie so that young female readers would find the books easier to identify with. The feelings Sophie will feel in each book are voted on and selected by pledgers to the campaign – so this is your chance to help determine how a book gets written!
More than that, Adam has been matching pledges with donations to Duffy Books in Schools and releasing illustrations as he goes. The stories Adam tells are sweet and sincere, and his illustrator Matt Haworth is a real talent. We wanted to find out more about why they’re back for more, so we got in touch with Adam to hear about the campaign:
How are you finding the campaign so far?
Actually really hard. I haven’t been tracking well against my expectations for funding milestones. We’ve passed 10%, so I ran a poll asking backers to choose one of the feelings to feature in Sophie Feels Big. They picked disappointed. I’m really happy with that, since I think it’s an important word for kids to have in their vocabulary. But it also sums up how I’m feeling.
I’m asking myself a lot of questions. Should I have waited to build more of a crowd? Should I have waited to prepare more content for during the campaign? Have I made things too complicated with the re-cast + new stories? Did I set too high a goal trying to get both of those books in one campaign? Is what I’m making even good?
In all this, I’m being persistent (another word taught in the books) and I keep on promoting. I took a drive down to New Plymouth and visited six primary schools and ECE centres. A journalist who wrote about the first book wrote an article for this campaign on Stuff.
One thing that I’ve done that was really worthwhile was send emails or facebook messages to people when I see them pledge. This is easiest with friends and family, but there’s also people whose names I recognise from my mailing lists. As well as being a genuine expression of my gratitude, it’s also a marketing thing, but I discovered an extra reason why it’s worthwhile. Someone I’ve never met, who won a copy in a promo, replied to my thank you email, saying “We’ve loved our copy of Jack Feels Big and yesterday I found it hidden in my son’s secret lair so he must have chosen to read it to himself!”. At a time when I’ve got a lot of self-doubt going on, that was a much needed ray of sunshine. I know that the value of the first book was worth the work and worry of the first campaign. I can stick it out and make these books happen too.
What do you have planned for the rest of the campaign? Anything for us to look forward to?
Even though I’m not where I wanted to be, I know that the first time I crowdfunded I spent a lot of the campaign despairing and not knowing where I’d find more backers too. So now, like then, I’ll just keep trying whatever I can. I had a teacher ask about a recording of the stories from the first book being read, for use with her special-needs kids. That’s something I can probably do this weekend in one form or another. I’ll take any opportunity I can to share the campaign, and with some help from Kiwis who think that teaching kids the names for their feelings is important, I think we can get there.
Anything you’d like to shout out to your crowd?
Part of me dreams of someone helping me make a connection to a morning TV program or a parenting blog. But I think the reality with crowdfunding is that those sorts of broadcast aren’t what gets you there. It’s the individual, personal, word of mouth referrals and pledges. If you know someone who has kids with feelings, please tell them about this book 🙂