In 2017, I spent much of the year working to self-publish my 1st official children’s book collection. After struggling to develop a creative career, I challenged myself to be more bold and authentic. That year, I wrote and illustrated four books, launched my first Kickstarter campaign, marketed my project, raised over $8,000 in 30 days, and distributed nearly 400 books with my name on the cover (all while keeping a full-time job).
Part 1: Content Creation (DEc – APr)
Siris the Rhino: I first came up with this book project in 2013 and used 100% vector illustrations to practice creating digital art. Inspired by my lifelong journey with poor eyesight and wearing glasses, this story is about a green rhino getting help to see clearly. I decided to redraw the illustrations manually by hand, and this became the first book of my official collection.
Wedding Planning Galore: My second story was inspired by my once dream of becoming a wedding planner thanks to the 2001 movie The Wedding Planner with JLo. Having planned my own wedding in 2016, I use this story to poke fun at the overindulgence that comes with wedding planning. I also remind readers that it’s the marriage (and not the wedding) that counts.
Today’s Lesson: I didn’t plan to write my third story, Today’s Lesson. Instead, it was my therapy for processing the 2016 US presidential election that landed Donald Trump in the White House. In a story that combines Trump’s misbehaviors with my former experience as a preschool teacher, I imagine myself back in my classroom, and Ronald Crump is my student. I also try to highlight the importance of good teachers and why it’s important to teach respect at an early age.
The Moose, The Moose: My last story, The Moose, The Moose, was inspired by my favorite summer camp song, Da Moose Da Moose, that I learned as a summer camp counselor. The story is about an oblivious moose tries to survive the wild and in the end (spoiler alert!), he “decomposed” and dies. While debatably morbid in nature, the story is playful and silly, and I try to highlight why it’s important to be aware.
Responsibilities for the content creation included storyboarding, writing, illustrating, book layout, organic social media.
Part 2: Marketing Myself (Apr – jun)
After completing the four book projects, I chose to use Kickstarter as a crowdfunding platform, because it pushed me to be bold with its “all or nothing” funding model. Preparing for a Kickstarter campaign launch was a different creative challenge than drafting my books, and it relied on my professional marketing experience. When I made myself the subject of my Kickstarter campaign, the work involved was both vulnerable and liberating.
Branding/Logo Design: I went with a pen name Angel Halo Chang, because 1. Dr. Seuss is famously a pen name for Theodor Geisel and 2. angelchang.com was already taken by a fashion designer. It was both a play-on with my name Angel and a subtle nod to my 1st AOL screenname, Halo345. I then created aliases for Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter under @angelhalochang.
Creative Direction: I stuck to a look and feel that would be animated, bold, and best represent me. In effort to share my books, I also wanted to equally share my role as a creator. I worked with Jordan Streeter (im-avoiding-growing-up.com) to create my Kickstarter video. My husband helped with photography. I produced all creative images and copy.
PR: I created my own press release and press kit with photos to pitch my Kickstarter campaign. I mostly targeted Asian American blogs that would pick up my story to become an Asian American children’s book author. I also used a free Gmail tool called Streak to help me manage my press leads.
- Kickstarter Begins for Angel Halo Chang’s Official Children’s Book Collection (Resonate) – June 1, 2017
- CreativeMornings’ Instagram post – June 8, 2017
- Feature: Angel Halo Chang (goldenjellybean.com) – June 16, 2017
- Teacher Sees Lack of Asian American Authors in Children’s Books, Finds Genius Solution (Nextshark) – June 24, 2017
- Meet Angel Halo Chang, An Asian American Children’s Author (YS Editorials) – June 26, 2017
- An Inspiring Story for Kids (INVISION Magazine) – July 8, 2017
- 張佳鈺百天寫成四兒童讀物 (World Journal) – July 20, 2017
Social Media: I relied heavily on social media to share my project. That required managing a content calendar on my Instagram, my personal Facebook, two Twitter handles, and occasionally my LinkedIn. With my experience in paid social media advertising, I experimented with Instagram advertising to drive awareness around my project. I wanted to keep the tone bold, animated, and authentic to my style.
Event coordination: I also hosted a book launch event at Hazel Southern Bar & Kitchen among local friends in San Francisco to kick off my Kickstarter campaign. The book launch also coincided with NBA Finals Game 1 Warriors vs. Cavaliers. I got to showcase my books, the Warriors won, and everyone had a great time! Thanks again to everyone who came out to support!
Word of mouth: Lastly, I wouldn’t have achieved my success without the support of family and friends who helped share my project on their social media accounts. Thank you to Andrew Altman, Maria Stopak, Shay Loanzon, Wing Sung, Tommy Lloyd-Davies, Virginette Acacio, Michael Lee, Kristen Chew, Linda Nguyen, Li-Ting Yen, Marnie Kleinsmith-Florin, Stephanie Chan, Veronica Aguirre, Brittney Webber, Cheryl Wong, Esther Ducky Lee, Alice Shin, Allen Liu, Mary Lewis, Pat Lorenzo, Laura Berzins, Lydia Liang, Larissa Low, and my mom.
Responsibilities to marketing included market research, branding, creative direction, campaign management, content strategy, event coordination PR, organic and paid social media.
Part 3: Project Fulfillment (Jul – Sept)
After running full steam to successfully reach my Kickstarter goal in a month, it was time to manage the logistics of fulfilling orders. I admit this was less fun than content creation, but it was also a good challenge to finally send off my books.
My mini warehouse: With the remaining funds after Kickstarter fees, I managed to order over 400 self-published books, bookmarks, and thousands of stickers to fulfill my orders. I also bought envelopes and packaging materials to help with shipping. I set up a workspace in an open area of our new home where I can sign and package each order.
DonorsChoose.org donation: Just around the time I was fulfilling orders, Hurricane Harvey had just cut a destructive path through Texas and Louisiana, flooding dozens of classrooms as they prepared for the new school year. With the help of backers, I fulfilled a promise to donate $1/book ordered to help DonorsChoose.org and donated $318 to their Hurricane Harvey fund. UPDATE: I also donated $250 with post-Kickstarter sales to Sandy Hook Promise for a total of $518 donated to 2 charities.
Trips to the post office: Once the packages were wrapped and addressed, I chose to ship my books via media mail, a discounted USPS shipping method for books. What I wasn’t aware of was how strict media mail can be. With the help of my husband, I ended up gutting most of my packages to remove extra contents that included bookmarks, thank you note, and stickers. I was told that an evil mail person might check for anything other than books, which would prevent the actual delivery. Lesson learned.
By the numbers:
- 117 total Kickstarter backers
- $8,109 total raised
- 108% goal accomplished
- 30 day funding period
- 10+ trips to the post office
- 366 total books delivered
- $518 raised for 2 charities
Part 4: That fuzzy feeling (Oct – December)
This last part, though little effort on my part, was the overwhelming joy I received when friends/family shared how much they enjoyed my book(s)!
“I forgot to tell you that I LOVED the [Siris the Rhino] book! I was so impressed and the illustrations and simple story was SO CUTE! I can’t wait to see what you come up with next.” – Elena C.
“Your books were loved by my sister in law (and me).” – Anna P.
“Angel’s [Today’s Lesson] book is very powerful. God bless her for using her disappointment in the 2016 election to create such a poignant book.” – Maureen S.
“My niece really loved [The Moose, The Moose]!” – Cohan C.
“Angel! This [Siris the Rhino] book is SO GOOD! I just read it to my nephew and he loved it!” – Lisa H.
“She loves [The Moose, The Moose] …a day doesn’t go by that she doesn’t read it haha.” – Tina W.
“My niece loved your book [Today’s Lesson]. She even asked to read it again and again.” – Jessi M.
MADE MY DAYYYYYY! GRANDPARENTS ARE READING MY BOOK, MY STORY TO CHILDREN!!!!!! Children reading my book? Absolutely. Parents reading my book to children? Yes! But I don’t think I realized how special it is to see grandparents…reading my book. The ability to share this across generations is deeply humbling. Thank you for sharing @melquach! 😊 #thefeels #warmfuzzyfeelings
AAAHHHHHH, MY HEART IS SO HAPPY TO SEE THIS THAT I BARELY HAVE THE WORDS TO WRITE A COHERENT POST. 😍😍😍 Dream is made when I see a young child hold my book. And yes, I too think that I’m sometimes like “an angel that floats in skies.” Thank you @adriansantos007 for sharing and hope you and Cora enjoy!
SOMEONE’S CLEARLY CUTTING ONIONS AROUND ME, BECAUSE I’M A FREAKIN’ MESS. 😭 @cheeezballzzz . Copies of my books “The Moose, The Moose”, “Today’s Lesson”, and “Wedding Planning Galore” are still available at a discounted price thru end of Nov! Half of the proceeds will go support Sandy Hook Promise to fight gun violence. DM me or visit the shop tab on my FB page (@angelhalochang).
Check out my Kickstarter page here