DIYREPORTER: Tell me about the concept behind the books.
MFC: I write all the time. And Iíve been devoting my last few years to writing and Iím workng on a number of projects. Sort of post-9/11 brought a lot of my feelings as an Army brat to the fore, feelings that I wasnít even aware that I had. And I wrote what was a long poem for kids, because I was very concerned about how children of military personnel were going to be treated. My Dad did two tours in Vietnam and I know how tough the world can be when people feel like making a political point is the most important thing in the world, even more important than a childís feelings.
So I wrote this poem about it that was from a childís perspective. And I read it to my sister and my mom, and they both cried. And I never share stuff like that, but Iím thinking, this is a childrenís book. So my mom sent it to a couple of friends who were married to military friend and they both said, "We wish we had had this for our kids."
DIYREPORTER: Hence the idea was born.
MFC: Thatís pretty much how it was born. And then I said, Iíve done all this digital and marketing stuff and I build web sites all the time for projects and marketing campaigns that Iíve been doing in the music business. So I thought, Iím going to do this the same way I did my last album project. Iím going to build a web site, make this available for free. I want people to have it right now, because they need it now. And I want to make sure itís available to everybody who wants it. As many people as can gain access to the web and site. So I did that and within a week, I was just totally overwhelmed. It was, like, "Can I get a book? Where can I find a book?" There is no book! This is it.
So within a month I had to start a publishing company, which Iíve never done in my life. I had a record label, Iíve had a publicity company and Iíve had a management company. And I think that helped me in thems of understanding how to do something on my own. Iíve always been an entrepreneur. But publishing was definitely new and Iím still learning the ropes.
DIYREPORTER: Whatís different about starting a publishing company than starting a record label?
MFC: Not a whole lot. Iíve found that the way Iím marketing and selling books, Iíve already gotten experience on the music side. I know how to do bar codes because Iíve sold CDs. There are many things I know how to do because Iíve had a record label.
DIYREPORTER : Selling entertainment goods is basically easily mutable.
MFC: Youíre absolutely right. The only differences were with manufacturing. When I started a record label, thatís where my big learning curve was, too, manufacturing products. And thatís where itís been on this end, too.
DIYREPORTER: So the project timeline is....?
MFC: I put it online on January 15th. And Iíve now had a publishing company for about a month. Iím making it available for free and it continues to be available for free. Itís my belief -- and it was my belief in regard to music -- that itís not necessary to hold on so tightly to ownership. I donít think you necessarily sell your intellectual property as the product. I think the product is the product and the intellectual property is what you market.
For instance, I was working with a band called Gene, and they had very little money, but we had access to a company that would do webcasts and, essentially, we webcast a live show that was recorded for an album. That was free. Anybody could go online and do that. And it continued to be available online for a while, even after it was streamed, so people could watch it and hear it. It was used as a way to encourage people who were interested and cared to buy an album of that recording.
DIYREPORTER: So, if youíre giving away the book, how do you intend to make money from the project? Or do you?
MFC: Well, thatís the thing. I didnít even intend to sell it. By giving away the book for free, I actually found there was a demand for a printed version. People were putting in orders before I even had a book. But itís important to me that they can have it whether or not they can afford it. Military families donít make a lot of money. I need to cover my costs. Iíd like to be able to pay my expenses.
But I donít want to profit at the exclusion of someone in this community. I want to make sure these books are available for them for free, and they continue to be. I donít think thatís slowed down sales. I canít help but go back and forth between this experience and my music industry experience in that I donít know that making things available for free actually discourages people from buying. I think itís an excellent promotional tool. I donít think anybody would have known my books existed if they werenít available for free.
DIYREPORTER: What are you doing, marketing-wise, to get the word out?
MFC: Itís all online marketing. Iím only marketing by going in, finding the community, making friends. Itís much easier to do..and this is where itís not nearly as effective if youíre just some sort of random marketing company pretending to care about something. Itís one thing for me to go into a military community news group and Iím talking to people who are stationed in places Iíve lived or who have had the same life experience that I have. Iím a member of that community. So I think that helps a lot. And that was definitely my experience in music, too. I was a huge fan of the bands I worked with, too.
DIYREPORTER: Who were some of the bands you worked with over the years?
MFC: I worked with a lot of British bands and DJs and techno stuff. Really tight communities. When youíre marketing to those communities, you learn a lot about targeted marketing. You learn how to find communities and who they are. I worked with a lot of gay-related artists, so I worked heavily in the gay community and the dance community and the international community. So that experience in targeted marketing has been really helpful in regard to this book.
But itís also the fact that Iíve done publicity to a mainstream audience, because the purpose of these books is not just as a product for these children and families, but itís also in an effort to educate the mainstream public. A sort of representation of this community in the media, even in a childrenís book.
DIYREPORTER: Do you plan on using this first series of books as stepping stone for a further series?
MFC: My next book is going to be about moving. And then Iím working on illustrating a book that Iíve completed thatís not for military brats, but itís just a childrenís books. The beauty of where things stand now, technologically speaking, is that all you do need is your own motivation and commitment to figuring it out. Which is why I canít figure out why the major record labels canít figure it out.
For more information on the Books For Brats series, contact Little Redhaired Girl Publishing 917.640.2844 or firstname.lastname@example.org