Writer turned author Louisa Luisi kickstarted her self-published book, Your Best Coaches, using KickStarter.com. With KickStarter, every project is independently crafted, put to all-or-nothing funding, and supported by friends, fans, and the public in return for rewards. Luisi has turned to the site (and her friends for support) to gain support for her book. Your Best Coaches teaches children an important lesson—through high and low points in life, their parents will always be there to root for them. Here Luisi shares her self-publishing experience with Project You:
PY: Tell me a little bit about yourself.
Louisa Luisi: I am an English teacher who teaches general English courses, Creative Writing and Acting and I teach at Ridgewood High School. I have written a number of one acts that have been performed in NJ and New York City and I am a theatre director for New Players Company, the theatre company at Ridgewood High School. I also created a playwriting program for that company where I teach a group of students each year how to write a one act play, I then take them into the city to have professional actors perform a reading of their plays and professional playwrights critique their work, and then I produce a full production of their final plays at Ridgewood High School. As far as my family…we are a big family and Italian.
PY: What was the inspiration behind Your Best Coaches?
LL: Here’s the truth. I have some very close girlfriends and I have watched them as they became wives and mothers. This is a huge privilege to me and I am very lucky to experience this as the years go by. It’s one thing to stand by a friend’s side and watch her get married and start a new life with someone, but it is unbelievable to watch friends become mothers. They inspire me. When my friends started have children, I wrote their children poems that I framed for them to keep. Basically, I wanted them to have a personal message from me that would last them a lifetime. I won’t be around forever, but my words will. Recently, my college roommate, Jess, and her husband, Brian, gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. I presented Jess with the poem (“Your Best Coaches”) at her baby shower a few months ago. I went with a baseball theme, as Brian played baseball in college and we all have known each other since then. Draft after draft, I realized how much of a metaphor baseball is for, well, life.
PY: How did you find an illustrator?
I searched for available illustrators and looked at over 100 portfolios online and through e-mail. When I found Kika Esteves, I knew I found the perfect illustrator for my work. It was important to me to have watercolor illustrations and when she showed me more of her work, I hired her. It was when she showed me pages of my own book that I confidently realized that I had hired the perfect fit for my book. Not only is she talented, but also she listened to what I wanted and found a way to mix my vision with hers.
PY: What gave you the idea to use Kickstarter and how does it work?
LL: I was getting tired of either not hearing back from publishers or being rejected. I work in a field where rejection is something you have to get used to, but that doesn’t mean that writers can’t get tired of it. This is why I used Kickstarter. I knew I wanted to self publish, but I obviously needed a way to “kickstart” the self-publication. Kickstarter allows the public to pre-order the book. If someone pledges to support the book, there are a variety of rewards listed on the page. My video explains what expenses the money will cover and that I must reach my goal within 30 days. People need to remember that if I don’t reach my goal, they will NOT be charged and I will not receive any funding to produce the children’s book and get it in the hands of readers. This makes getting backers critical to the success of this project.
PY: What are you looking to accomplish with the books publication?
LL: I’d like to establish myself as an author. Although I have written so many plays, my heart is with writing for children. If this book does well and gains popularity, I would like to keep writing ultimately creating a line of children’s books. As a woman, I am sure you know the frustration of shopping for a creative baby shower gift and not finding something. Hopefully, women won’t have that issue anymore with a line of books from me.
PY: What was the hardest part about writing the book?
LL: Knowing that this is permanent. When I wrote plays, I was able to change lines even up until a few moments before opening night. Once this book is published and in print, it’s there. Permanantly there. That was the hardest part to accept, but then I realized that permanency is not always a bad thing!
PY: What advice do you have for people who are looking to use Kickstarter or looking to self publish?
LL: Do it. If you are willing to pour all your energy and time into doing what a publishing company would be doing for you, do it. It’s not only a great way to expose yourself as a writer, but it’s also a good way to see if people would be interested in your work. Also, do your research. I spent countless hours researching the children’s book market, reading other books, speaking to other writers, speaking to parents (both married and divorced) to see if this book would land on their bookshelves at home and much more. You have to know what you are getting yourself into. It’s worth it in the end. I have a children’s book, my name is on the cover, and my words are written on each page. Not many can say that, but I can and that makes me feel proud. Whether a publishing company took me on or whether I do it myself, I am very proud of the product I have created.