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Welcome to The Book Marketing Action Podcast with Becky Robinson and Christy Kirk. In this episode, we are joined with our friend and client, Danise DiStasi. Her brand new book, Louie’s Little Legs: The Magic of Kindness, is launching this week! During the episode, Danise shares her failed crowdfunding experience and how she learned from her past mistakes to make her next crowdfunding experience a success.
Becky: Before I say too much, Danise, tell us about your books and your work in the world.
Danise: It’s so awesome to be here! Thank you so much. The name of my most recent book is Louie’s Little Legs: The Magic of Kindness and it is for children around 4 to 8 years old. It’s a fun little story where kids can learn a lesson about kindness. There is a magical lesson in it and Louie, who is actually my adopted pup, and his friend Stitchy, who actually lived down the road, they’re into a little adventure where they learn about kindness and love.
I’m just very compelled through all of the writing I’ve done. I’ve written a leadership book called, Lead Like Louie, a middle school book called Love Like Louie, and all of those are based on my rescue pup who I got about 7 years ago. The release of Louie’s Little Legs is on his 7th gotcha day. So, we’ve been writing Louie books for the last 7 years. It started with a blog, then the leadership book and middle school book, and now this children’s book.
I am super excited about the children’s book because you guys actually helped me illustrate it, and it’s phenomenal. I can not even begin to tell you how impressed I am with your illustration and help throughout this journey.
Becky: Quick side note, my company, Weaving Influence, has a small book production arm. We have an awesome designer, Rachel Royer, who does fabulous and beautiful work. So, I can’t take a lot of credit, or really any credit, for this book, except that our team was privileged to support Danise in creating it. If you’re interested in getting some support in producing a self-published book, I would invite you to reach out to me.
Before we move into talking about book marketing, do you want to share about the rest of the work you do in the world?
Danise: I have quite a long history of being in the business world. I was first involved in the medical industry for almost 30 years. Then I got an opportunity to work with Ken Blanchard back in the early 2000s. I learned a tremendous amount from Ken about leadership, love, and servant leadership, which is where my heart, and heart for writing, started to really come out of that time together. Based on that, after I adopted my dog and I started writing the Louie stuff, people starting asking me if I would help them write blogs and even books. So I am officially a ghostwriter, which has been a really fun journey because I love to help people tell their story. In the last year, I’ve left my leadership coaching and consulting to really focus on ghostwriting.
Becky: Very cool. So if anyone needs support in writing your book, you can reach out to Danise. It’s been so exciting watching you get ready for the launch of Louie’s Little Legs, and you did something a little different as it relates to funding the publication of this latest book. Can you talk to us about that?
Danise: Having it illustrated put a different spin on the budget for me. When I released the middle school book, Love Like Louie, I did a Kickstarter project. I was not thrilled with the results from that, but I learned a valuable lesson in Kickstarter or crowdfunding.
When I did Louie’s Little Legs, I was very specific about wanting to budget the illustrations. I had a very specific budget in mind. I came up with serval different levels of support that could be anywhere from someone just wanting to donate $10, to getting a book, autographed book, or prototype book, to getting a visit with Louie. It was very helpful to learn the lessons I did from my failed crowdfunding experience.
Becky: So let me see if I can just summarize a little bit, Danise. You tried a Kickstarter for your middle school book, Love Like Louie, and you did not love the results. So you tried a different approach with Louie’s Little Legs. You found the thing that was most useful that made the most recent Kickstarter a success was getting very specific with what you were asking for and funding? And what was different about the middle school book’s Kickstarter?
Danise: I was asking a lot more on the Kickstarter. I was probably asking for around $35,000 and on Louie’s Little Legs I was asking maybe $5,500. But again, it was very specific to just the illustration. I think that helped people see the different levels of being involved. People are more willing to help if the can see the money being raised is going towards a specific part of the project. If I go back and do another crowdfunding, I’m sure I could ask for $5,000 or more, because there are people who have been following the project and seeing the results of what my Kickstarter project was all about.
Becky: That seems like a very helpful lesson to start small and then gain momentum as people get invested and interested in the work that you are doing. So how would someone who is considering doing a crowdfunding approach to publishing their book know if it is the right choice for them?
Danise: That’s a good question. I talked to several people who did crowdfunding and was able to get some of the tips from them. You have to be able to give a lot of time to it. You have to be dedicated. You have to have a lot of people who you can reach out to. It takes a long time but I would definitely research all the different crowdfunding. I am most familiar with Kickstarter and they have a lot of great tools to help you research what you need to do. I will tell you the biggest thing for me was the time, and also being able to go out to my network and ask them for support.
Becky: We’ve had a number of podcasts recently where we’ve been talking to authors about how they’ve involved their networks in their journey to publication, and also in marketing their books. So I’m very curious, Danise, what has worked the best for you in getting your networks involved?
Danise: So this wise woman I talked to some time ago, her name is Becky Robinson, she told me that when you start looking at crowdfunding make sure you have a large email list you can send information out to. So I worked really hard on growing that email list. I started reaching out to my business network, but also to my family, and people got on board because of the message and what they saw. People were happy to put out information about what I was doing. The message has to be good. If you’re going to be writing a book, the message has to be excellent.
Becky: So it seems like you need to find a match between your message and people who are passionate about helping you spread that message.
So, what are some specific ways people helped you? You already mentioned that you had this Kickstarter and were able to pay for the illustration of the book from that. So, what are some other ways people helped you?
Danise: People have talked about the book and shared Facebook posts, Instagram information, and shared that the book is getting ready to come out. People are finding organizations that they want to donate my book to, so they will buy a bunch of books and donate them. Word of mouth has just been huge for me. Every little bit helps. Anyone that sends out an email, forwards an email, or leaves a review, all of those are ways people have helped me. And I am more than happy to help others.
Becky: That is so awesome. We’ve talked a little bit about the advice you might give to other authors and what we are going to do now is talk about some action steps people can take based on what you’ve shared today. So, what are the action steps you would recommend to authors related to the idea of crowdfunding, and how they can mobilize their networks to invest in their projects?
Danise: Action Steps:
- Who are your biggest fans? Think about the people who are your biggest fans right now and have supported you so far on the journey and believe in your message. Don’t be afraid to ask them for what you need, and be specific when you do.
- Look into various crowdfunding platforms as you consider whether this is the right approach for you. Do your homework and get familiar with the different platforms, because some might not be right for you.
- Talk to people who have used crowdfunding. I’m happy to talk to anyone about the things I have learned, the resources I’ve read, and the information I’ve gotten.
- Research how other authors are using crowdfunding platforms. How often are they updating? That kind of information is very helpful. Also, when you find other authors, support them! Support people who are currently seeking crowdfunding, at a budget you can afford.
Becky: I love that idea, Danise, that if you are looking to do a crowdfunding project yourself, one of the ways to learn or test it out is to support someone else. I love that you could express that generosity and support other authors.
Well, Danise, the entire Weaving Influence team is celebrating with you with your launch this week, and we are so excited to see how this book makes a difference in spreading the message of kindness to children across the U.S. and around the world. We wish you the best success this week!
To purchase Danise’s newest book, Louie’s Little Legs: The Magic of Kindness, click here! To learn more about Danise and the work she does, click here. If you have any questions or want to reach out to Danise, connect with her here.