Thursday, August 31, 2017 at 9:38 am.
An email pops up in every Mirasee team member’s mailbox.
A project memo from Danny Iny, Mirasee’s founder and CEO.
“I’m really excited about this, Danny,” I emailed him back, “but the timeline is TIGHT!”
Others weren’t so subtle:
“No self-respecting illustrator is going to agree to this deadline!” they warned.
While we speculated about whether or not we could pull it off, Mirasee’s content editor, Sophie Lizard, had silently gone to work and polished Danny’s text.
“Hey guuuys, here’s the first draft for your comments,” she pinged.
We couldn’t stop then. We had to make it happen.
So on November 17, five days before the deadline, this happened:
We had done what everyone said was impossible!
How did we do it? Read on.
Challenge #1: Find an Illustrator as Crazy as We Are
Granted, it’s a children’s book, so it doesn’t exactly have a lot of words.
Danny already had a solid idea of what he wanted to convey in the book. So it took almost no time at all to finalize the 142 words that made it to the final book.
Our first challenge was finding an illustrator. Someone who shared our vision. Someone whose style we love. And someone insane enough not to run the other way when they saw the deadline.
We began by reaching out to a handful of children’s book illustrators we knew personally and whose styles we loved.
“You’re kidding, right?” said one. “It normally takes me 4 to 6 months to complete a project like this. I’ll accept it if you move the publication date.”
But we didn’t want to give up yet.
Having struck out on the artists within our circles, we cast a wider net. We turned to Upwork.
It was a big risk, putting Danny’s “baby” in the hands of a stranger.
So Ashlee “Tree” Branch, the project manager in charge of this seemingly insurmountable task, used a more scientific method.
She drew up a short list of candidates, sent them the book’s text, and asked them to come up with their proposed cover for the book (we paid them for the spec work).
Our criteria were clear: (1) We had to absolutely love their style and vision for the book; and, (2) They had to accept our deadline.
And this is where fate, God, the universe—whatever you call a higher power—smiled upon us because one of the artists turned out to be The One.
Luca Mendieta, a graphic designer and illustrator from Spain, had the vision and style that we fell in love with!
You have to admit, the book looks terrific:
One challenge down, how many more to go?
Challenge #2: Ensuring a Smooth Book Illustration Process.
Our troubles were far from over when we found Luca.
If you’ve worked with artists before, you know that the back-and-forth exchange of studies (or visual drafts) and feedback can be interminable. We couldn’t afford to nitpick over every little detail, but we didn’t want to compromise our own vision for the book, either.
Tree implemented a work process to balance both. Luca first submitted the first five pages of the book, to make sure he had the visual concept down pat. Once Danny approved that, Luca designed the rest of the book. Getting feedback on the early pages guided him to create illustrations that were on-point.
And then the book went through two rounds of revisions. Since we were already on the same page with our designer (pun intended), these revisions were minor ones.
“We were intentional in baking in the appropriate times for Danny to see and approve drafts,” says Joey Gourdji, Mirasee Project Manager. A common mistake is asking for everything at once because course corrections would be more complicated. It’s better to set milestones to track your progress.
Thirty days later, we had a fully designed children’s book!
Next up: publishing!
Challenge #3: Publishing the Book
According to Amazon, Danny has self-published a total of nine books. We should have the entire process down pat by now, right?
Well, we do. Except that, for the first time, Danny wanted this book to be available in hardcover.
Tree soon discovered that Createspace, our usual self-publication platform of choice, doesn’t publish hardbound books.
“Finding an illustrator was a tough challenge,” Tree recalls,”but it was easier than finding a publisher of a hardback book without charging us an arm and a leg.”
To streamline the process, Tree used Fancy Hands, an online service we use to get simple tasks done. They compiled a list of hardback publishers and made a price comparison.
After looking at our options, we decided to go for Ingramspark.
Unfortunately, Ingramspark doesn’t offer a done-for-you service. Which is fine, except that it’s a whole new platform, with a whole new publication process for us to learn (and by “us” I mean Tree).
On November 1, 63 days after Danny sent the project memo, Tree was uploading the book on Ingramspark… a decision she now regrets. It was definitely a case of when rushing to get things done actually causes you to take longer.
“I should have spent two days to go through every help resource Ingramspark has on their website,” Tree says. This way, she would’ve avoided a lot of frustration over using the platform, submitting materials that didn’t meet their specifications, and other hiccups.
“Understand their system first before you start,” is Tree’s advice to anyone who’s considering publishing their book on Ingramspark.[clickToTweet tweet=”When it comes to Ingramspark, understand their system first before you start!” quote=”When it comes to Ingramspark, understand their system first before you start!”]
Next time Danny gets the idea to publish a hardbound book, Tree’s ready to say, “Bring it!”
Challenge #4: Promoting the Book
If you write a book but nobody reads it, does it exist?
All this hard work would be for nothing if nobody knew about the book.
Once again, we’re in unexplored territory. Yes, Danny has self-published a number of books, and, yes, he knows how to market a book to get bestseller status on Amazon… but The World Works Better isn’t about marketing or online courses or business. It’s a children’s book!
While Danny doesn’t have a network in children’s book publishing, he does have an existing community: students of Mirasee’s courses, email list subscribers, private coaching clients, mastermind colleagues, social network connections, friends, and family members. We’ve definitely been telling everyone about the book.
Certainly, quite a number of them must have children in their lives. They’re parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and teachers. Fortunately, The World Works Better has something for everyone.
Astronauts and spaceships and aliens and erupting volcanoes. And insights for entrepreneurs, too.
That’s why within days of being up on Amazon, The World Works Better already had more than a dozen reviews.
And Danny’s children approve:
Incidentally, the video book trailer above is just one of the promotional materials we produced for the book. Here’s everything we’ve created:
- video book trailer on YouTube
- video read-through on YouTube
- slides on Slideshare
- book webpage
- emails (coming soon in your inbox, if you’re one of our subscribers)
- mockup images (you see a few of them sprinkled throughout this post)
- Amazon listing
- this blog post 🙂
We’ll know in a week or so if we did enough for Mirasee to break out successfully in the children’s book market.
The point is, we set out to publish The World Works Better in less than three months, and we did it. The next step is spreading the world so it can touch the minds and hearts of anyone who dreams of a better world.
Mirasee’s Top Tips for Accomplishing the Impossible
What can you learn from our experience?
If you’re ever faced with the task of attempting to achieve the impossible, keep these in mind:
1. Don’t take “no” for an answer.
I once had a supervisor who used to say, “Don’t tell me something is impossible unless you’ve done everything humanly possible and failed.”
If people tell you something can’t be done, turn it into an experiment and find out for yourself whether they’re right or not. (I, for one, enjoy proving people wrong when they tell me I can’t do something.)
2. Get help.
As you may have noticed, Mirasee team members work together and help each other. It doesn’t matter if a task is in our job description or not. If someone needs help, then we do what we can to help.
Don’t try to accomplish the impossible by yourself. You may not have employees, but you have friends and family. And you can outsource help, as needed, or even barter services.
3. Be organized.
What was Danny’s first step in this whole process? He sent a project memo. That document sets things in motion at Mirasee. Responsibilities are assigned. The project gets created in Asana. Milestones are identified. Deadlines are set and tracked.
When you’re attempting an incredibly difficult task is not the time to be flying by the seat of your pants. Set out a clear path for yourself, so you know if you’re on track or not, and can adjust accordingly.
4. Keep your eye on the prize.
It’s easy to get discouraged because setbacks will happen. What kept us going was knowing how important the book was in light of our bigger goals. It’s a fresh way to communicate Mirasee’s values and personality, as well as to share a different aspect of Danny and his wife Bhoomi’s lives as parents.
If you don’t lose sight of why you’re attempting to overcome a gargantuan hurdle, you’ll just give up. Constant reminders of why it’s important to you will keep fueling you long enough to reach the finish line.
Nobody can guarantee that you’ll succeed every time you try to accomplish the impossible. But you’ll definitely attain more than you would have if you’d never tried in the first place.
What about you, have you ever tried to do something that others said was impossible? How did it go?
Make the World Work Better
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"We can all dream and imagine the kind of world we would live in if the wise words in this book became our daily practice. It's a gem!"
Storyteller and Professional Certified Coach