Creating a book is one of the most challenging things someone can do. It takes passion, dedication, and hard work. I experienced this firsthand when I launched my Kickstarter campaign at the end of 2021. I failed, and the aftermath rolled over into the beginning of 2022. But, after months of hard work, a near-death experience, and with the help of family and total strangers, I barely pulled through in the end and achieved my financial goal. How did I do all that? It started in January as the government began to peel back pandemic protections.
Turning a Vision into Reality
My initial plan was to develop Cyber/Punk/Funk vol 2. an anthology I had launched in 2017 before How To Draw Black People had taken off behind the scenes while marketing HTDBP volumes 1&2. Crowdfunding would've allowed me to work from home, while sales and conventions would help pay the bills. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, Volume 2 failed halfway to the goal. Instead of letting this failure define me, I decided to reassess my approach and see what was possible. There were a lot of relationships I needed to rebuild and resources I didn't rely on.
Cyber/Punk/Funk was my focus but getting people on board proved difficult. New ideas require completion and admiration for new work to truly have a chance creatively. Too many people tried to lump what I proposed together with something they had already heard of. Not to mention, my previous serious TSIML was already on hiatus. I didn't want to repeat the same mistake of introducing a world I was building as I went. I needed more time to build before asking others to invest their time and energy.
I was on Bumble one day, trying to explain to someone what I was working on and, in a spur-of-the-moment elevator pitched The Bearcat Wright story I had been kicking around for a few years. The response was much more enthusiastic than my Afrocentric Sci-Fi saga, and that helped me make up my mind. So, I developed the pitch for Bearcat Wright and the Kayfable Chronicles—an anthology series delivered in a hybrid format. After that, it became a lot easier for other creatives to invest.
Once my vision for the project was there, it was time to assemble a team of artists and writers who could help bring this idea to life. This process took me two months because I wanted to ensure that everyone on my team shared my enthusiasm for the project and understood its purpose from start to finish. Once everyone was onboard, we started creating content for our campaign page and promoting it on all our social media channels.
Stressful doesn't begin to describe what these months were like. I am still recovering from burnout, and this project has taught me to respect my limits. Although, I can't deny I am proud of what I accomplished in such a short time.
The Final Push
Bearcat who? Kayfable what? Reaching our financial goal wasn't easy. At first, we had gotten off to a fast start, and it seemed we'd likely blow past our goal. Towards the end, however, it seemed like we weren't going to make it in time.
To make matters worse, I was struck by a car while walking across a street near my home during the final stretch. It was a traumatic experience that left my face fractured in multiple places, and my hand and face were permanently scarred.
I was surprised to learn, like many Black Americans, nurses and doctors will openly refuse to treat your wounds if you walk in with non-life threatening injuries, no matter how painful. After having tests done, I had to drive down the road to buy a first aid kit and do my best. This was all happening during the last week of my campaign. It was a lot to process and with little time to do it.
New Ends, Old Beginnings.
Thankfully though, with some perseverance (and sleep deprivation), we pulled through in the end! We raised a little over $9k—far exceeding our original goal of $4k—which freed up enough bandwidth to launch How To Draw Black People volume 1, which will be rereleased on IndieGoGo 2/2/23! We'll be raising funds for the labor and costs associated directly associated with revising and updating the original first volume of the HTDBP series.
ICYMI, the first volume of HTDBP, was forced out of print, and I haven't had the resources or time to bring it back. So many of you have asked for this, and I will need your support to make this happen.
If 2022 was easy for you and yours, I am happy for you. My year was filled with a lot of loss but some very positive wins and seeds for the future that I am excited to nurture into something worth sharing. By having a clear vision & assembling a great team behind me & focusing on communication
- I managed to successfully launch & exceed our financial goal for Bearcat Wright & The Kayfable Chronicles! Now Shabazz Arts is looking forward confidently to 2023 & more amazing projects!