As of this afternoon, March 24, there is one week to go in the month-long kickstarter campaign to publish my new illustrated book, White Flour, and wait ’til you hear the news! Here’s the scoop:
The original goal of $18,500 was met in only twelve days! People have ‘shared’ the project all over the internet, on blogs, on Facebook, on Twitter, Pinterest, in emails, etc. Over 400 people have become backers, whether making major investments to help this project become a reality, or simply pre-ordering the book (or a few of them), or, in some cases, just chipping in a dollar. If you want to be part of this, you still have a week! To help this book be born, click here.
We’re taking the whole project up several notches
There is a whole lot of buzz about this project, for a book that won’t even be out for another nine weeks, and we don’t want to get caught without enough of them on hand, should this blow up big. So rather than printing the 2500 we were originally planning on…
We’ve decided to print 10,000 copies on the first run
It looks like there is a pretty good chance (though always a gamble) that this book will get some national media exposure. Because of all of the enthusiasm about the book (it’s so nice to know I’m not the only one who is really excited about this!), I’m also hiring top-level national book publicists and mounting a national media campaign. Printing 10,000 copies of the book and hiring national media people feels like a good investment, and I’m completely willing to go into significant debt to do it, but if you want to be a part of making this happen, I certainly welcome your partnership.
This book matters
In the aftermath of a terrible tragedy in Florida with significant relevance to race relations, at a time with Occupy Wall Street is training in non-violence and having important conversations about the nature of the movement, in the midst of a national conversation about bullying and how to respond to violence, and in a world that is trying to deal with aggression of various kinds, it is important that we have some teachable and accessible examples of a Third Way. It is natural to respond to threat with “Fight or Flight” responses. Those two options are deep in us. Non-violence presents a third option, though, and it requires creativity. These last kinds of responses aren’t easy or obvious. They’re not easily transferable from one situation to the next. But they’re often the best options we have. It’s important to teach both kids and adults that working for peace doesn’t mean running away. But it does mean refusing to respond to hatred in kind. The events depicted in the poem that provides the text for this book are both true and recent. The story is also funny, and the Seussian rhyming poetry makes it all the more accessible for children, and maybe for adults, too. As the author of one of my favorite books ever, Soul of a Citizen, says:
“It may be aimed at kids, and they’ll love it, but I can attest that adults will love it equally.” – Paul Loeb, author of NYT bestseller Soul of a Citizen
A few of the cool responses thus far:
Here are a few things I haven’t done, but that other people are doing out of their own excitement…
• There are two women in Texas and South Carolina working on creating a school curriculum for Texas fifth graders based on the book which meets standardized educational goals. After that, they will then customize the curriculum for each of the fifty states to meet teaching standards there.
• Yesterday I got a note from Flip, a cool guy in Birmingham, AL, who has established White Flour Weekend for May 26-27, where readings of the poem will take place all over. Flip has set up a reading in his Unitarian church, but there are also people that are going to call everyone to attention, gather around the grill and read the poem to their friends at Memorial Day parties. If you would like to participate, the poem is below, and you are welcome to simply print it out and read it (no need to buy the book—let’s share the story!). Flip’s facebook page for White Flour Weekend is here.
• Bunches of bloggers have written beautiful pieces about the poem/book and how it intersects with their own lives, faith, etc. This one by Barbie Angell came out today.
• Several friends of mine are sending a preview of the book to some pretty incredible humanitarian heroes of our age to see if they would like to offer testimonial quotations for the book cover. I can’t tell you who, because it would be bad form to drop the names of folks who haven’t actually offered their endorsements, but I’m really excited about these possibilities (and if you have those kinds of connections, feel free to get in touch with folks yourself!).
• I have heard from several pastors who are using the poem in their churches. Some have even acted it out.
• I’ve been in touch with the original organizers of the Coup Clutz Clowns, who are extremely excited about this, as well as a Senior Research Fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups. Both have agreed to be press contacts for media stories about the event that inspired the book.
• Another friend works with a major book distributor and is talking to folks there. Others have written because they have strong connections at network TV shows and are putting my publicists in touch with them. Another knows an influential leader at the American Library Association who is interested. And there’s so much more…
• The bottom line is that, after being excited about this idea for a long time myself, I’ve finally told others about it, and I find that others are excited, too. Very excited. People are taking it on as their own, and I couldn’t be happier to share in the process of creating this.
That said, I’m in a slightly vulnerable place, in that having bumped everything up, printing 10,000 copies and mounting the national media effort, I’m suddenly looking at bills for about $39,000 in the next few weeks, in order to launch this properly, rather than the $18,500 or so I was initially planning on. I’m not scared, though, and I’m moving ahead on the larger scale no matter what happens with the rest of the kickstarter campaign. I haven’t had a better use for a credit card since I cut one up and wove it into my guitar strings for my song Keep the Change.
It just really seems like this book wants to be born, and I think it would be foolish to do anything other than to dream big—build big castles in the air and then go and build foundations under them, to paraphrase Thoreau. Thank you again for being excited about this. And thank you for helping it come into the world. I literally couldn’t do it without you.
If you want to help out, please spread the word in any way you can think of to people who you think might be excited too. Know anybody who might love this? If you want to be a part of making this happen, take a look at the Kickstarter page and see what is appealing to you, from simply buying a digital or physical copy of the book, to owning a canvas print of any of Jenn Hales’ amazing paintings from the book, to hosting a concert in your home. I’m so profoundly grateful.
On with the adventure!
Oh, and here’s me reading the poem, with images from the book at the end…