Kickstarter Interview with Phil and Spencer, authors of "Could You Hug a Cactus"
If you ever wanted to publish a book, get inspired by this duo who made it happen on Kickstarter! "Could You Hug A Cactus?" is a book of poems on forty pages, and painted illustrations made to be loved by folks of all ages.
Tell us about your book! How did this project come about?
Phil: I grew up reading Shel Silverstein and fell in love with his ridiculous and brilliant poetry. I still remember the day I discovered his book “Where the Sidewalk Ends” – it made a big impression on me in a couple ways. First, reading could be funny and cool, and not just educational. Also, this was an adult who understood what it was like to be a kid. Instead of another parent or teacher treating me like a child who required instruction, this author was talking to me as if I was an intelligent person who could understand the line between fiction and reality. It is important to me to pass on that love of reading, and having the opportunity to work with an artist as talented as Spencer makes it possible to create something really special.
Spencer: I’ve spent my entire life doodling and drawing and getting better little bits at a time, and I’ve spent my entire friendship with Phil watching him put together unique and wonderful poetry. So, when the idea came up to create something together, especially with Phil’s poetry at the core of it, we just had to do it.
Tell us about your Kickstarter campaign. Did anything surprise you? Any anecdotes to share in creating and running the Kickstarter campaign?
Phil: The amount of work it takes to run a Kickstarter campaign was surprising. The book is practically finished, and I stopped working for a time to commit myself full-time to the project, and it’s STILL 10-12+ hour days, when things are going well. It’s very rewarding though, to see people respond to your personal passion.
Spencer: I would absolutely have to agree with Phil. The amount of work and thought that goes into it, even when I assumed from the get-go that it would be labor intensive, was surprising. It was like an onion, each new layer revealed more layers of details that could be addressed.
How did you create the video for your Kickstarter campaign?
Phil: Luckily, we live in Los Angeles and work in television, so we and some friends of ours understand basic filming techniques and editing (I edited the video myself). Borrowing some lav microphones was the best move we made, as the audio quality is so important in a Kickstarter video.
Spencer: One thing we made sure to do was to hit all the bullet points while still letting our personalities came through. You have a limited amount of time to say all the information that needs to be communicated, but also want people to see the soul behind the project.
Can you share tips for those considering crowdfunding their project?
Phil: Definitely! First, if you’re truly passionate about something, do it! In order to be successful, you’ll have to put in a lot of work – but if you love what you’re doing, it makes all the difference. Prep ahead of time as much as you can: Lists of emails you’ll be reaching out to, start a social media page beforehand and share and get people excited EARLY. Then, when the Kickstarter launches, you’ll be able to get some good momentum on day one. Do NOT wait to start spreading the word until you’ve launched. Also, celebrate the small accomplishments! The campaign is all about positive energy – find reasons to celebrate.
Spencer: Phil just about said it. Also, try to work with people who will have the project’s best interest at heart, and who are willing to push it to be the best it can be, even if that means more work. That isn’t always an option, I understand. I have been lucky to be working with Phil, both on the book and on the Kickstarter project, as well as everyone else who worked hard to get us here. We are all having a lot of fun.
What’s next for “Could You Hug a Cactus?”
Phil: Well, “Could You Hug A Cactus?” is the first book, but Spencer and I hope to make many more. We are actively creating more material to share and we have two more books in the planning stages as well. I hope that the positive momentum from this book will allow us to continue down a path as an author/illustrator team because creating humorous, positive, intelligent works for children is what drives me. Just like I remember picking up “Where The Sidewalk Ends”, I want another person to remember picking up “Could You Hug A Cactus?” and be inspired. That’s what it’s all about.
Spencer: The tools that have let us crowd-fund this project have helped provide a momentum that is incredibly exciting. It will be fun to see where it takes us next, ready to build on everything we’ve learned from this project.
Besides being able to fund the project, are there any other benefits to crowd-funding?
Phil: Yes! Building a fanbase that is also excited about the project is a huge positive. Before we started, our core group of friends knew that I liked to write poetry, and also that
Spencer: was an incredible artist, but what the Kickstarter forced us to do was to clarify and amplify our message. The people in our circles know exactly what we’re doing and why, and they’ve responded with excitement! When people really know you’re committed to something, they respond with a level of enthusiasm that’s surprising, and empowering.
Some posts from their Instagram and book
Where can people find you?
- Kickstarter: http://CouldYouHugaCactus.com
- instagram: @philwritespoems, @spencersmithart facebook:
- Could You Hug A Cactus?