What started as a desire to practice drawing grew to a personal journey that unleashed my creative energy. On December 2, 2016, I committed to starting #The100DayProject, a commitment to practicing creativity for 100 days, except I didn’t stop. I kept challenging myself to be bold, authentic, and passionate until I had my very own children’s book collection into other people’s hands. My journey was broken into three stages.
Part 1: Content Creation (DEc – APr)
Siris the Rhino: I first came up with this book concept at the end of 2013 and created the illustrations using vector drawings. In March 2014, I used Blurb.com to self-publish this book, but my expectations to reach a larger audience were unmet. For my new creative project, I decided to redraw the illustrations by hand.
“Angel! This book is SO GOOD! I just read it to my nephew and he loved it!” – Lisa H.
Wedding Planning Galore: This story was inspired by my once dream of becoming a wedding planner thanks to the movie The Wedding Planner with JLo and planning my own wedding in 2016.. Having devoted a fraction of my life to wedding obsession, I poke fun at the overindulgence of planning a wedding and remind readers that it’s the marriage that counts.
Today’s Lesson: I didn’t plan to write this story. This was the result of processing Trump in the White House. This is a story about what it could’ve been like if I had Trump in my Pre-K class, and I recount his popular misbehaviors like that of a child. I try to highlight why it’s important to teach respect at an early age, so Today’s Lesson should really be an everyday lesson.
The Moose, The Moose: This story was inspired by my favorite summer camp song, Da Moose Da Moose, that I learned as a YMCA camp counselor. It’s about a moose that isn’t very aware of the dangers in the wild and in the end (spoiler alert!), he “decomposed” and dies. I’ve sung this song to friends 5 through 25 years old.
“Your books were loved by my sister in law (and me).” – Anna P.
My niece really loved it! – Cohan C.
She loves that book…a day doesn’t go by that she doesn’t read it haha. – Tina W.
Responsibilities for the content creation part 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.
In the press:
- Kickstarter Begins for Angel Halo Chang’s Official Children’s Book Collection (Resonate) – June 1, 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
- 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 across my Instagram, my personal Facebook, two Twitter handles, and occasionally my LinkedIn. With my experience in B2B paid social advertising largely using Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, 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, Hurrican 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 and donated $318 to their Hurrican Harvey fund.
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.
Part 4: That fuzzy feeling (Oct – present)
The last part, though little effort on my part, was the overwhelming joy I received when friends/family shared little ones with my books!
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.