I want to fund a picture book, The Strength of Wild Horses, and the obvious choice for that is to run a Kickstarter drive. However those who are wise in the ways of Kickstarter have advised me that the project has a better chance to fund if I do some community building first. This makes sense to me.
Completely separate from my Kickstarter project I have been thinking about ways to build community and about some ways I’d like to do that which are difficult to do from this blog. Or rather, I could do them from the blog, but I am interested in seeing how it would feel to run a different sort of place on the internet. I want to run a series of posts talking about different picture books, how they show character traits which are common in high energy ADHD or Autistic kids, and how parents can use those books to help kids and their siblings to come to terms with these traits. It was to accomplish exactly this that I wrote Hold on to Your Horses in the first place. I’ve had a growing list of books for years and would love to find a useful way to share that list.
I’ve also been thinking about stages of parenting. I’m in the middle of parenting headed for the endgame. Several times I’ve had parents who are just starting out come to my blog hoping to find posts about the early years of parenting. There are some. Patch was only a year old when I began blogging, but I’ve grown as writer since then. I’ve grown as a parent since then. My perspectives have changed and I have new thoughts about old topics. I thought it would be interesting to run a series where I link to an old post and then provide commentary from my current perspective. It isn’t the same as me going through being a young parent myself, but it would help me delve into those topics. It is certainly a worthy experiment.
I’ve also been thinking about cross promotion. Many times people find Howard because of Writing Excuses (or some other project) then they find me because of Howard. Having multiple creative pursuits reaches into different groups of people. For a long time I’ve been dependent on Howard’s internet stature as the primary promotional tool for my creative work. Except we have different audiences and I’ve been feeling like it is time for me to strike out on my own to build my own community which is not annexed to his. In the long run I must do this if I want to be able to afford to create the things I want to create. I need to believe that Hold Horses and One Cobble are works strong enough to be the foundation of a community.
All of these thoughts connected with the advice to build community in advance of running a Kickstarter and the result is an experiment that I intend to run for the next several months. I’m going to extend myself a little bit further online to see what I can accomplish. I’ve picked venues where I’m already comfortable and have been for awhile: Facebook, G+, and Twitter. These are places I like to play already and so I’m just introducing a new game into those spaces.
On Twitter I’ve just set up an account @OneCobble. It will be a simple feed of links back to this blog. This provides a simple way for those on Twitter to follow the blog without me feeling like I’m spamming everyone with links to blog entries. People who want to see every single blog entry will follow @OneCobble. Others will be able to blissfully ignore it.
On G+ I’ve used the new communities feature to set up a One Cobble at a Time community. This is where I’ll post those blog links with commentary. I’ll also post links to articles of interest. I’m sure I’ll come up with other things as well. I’ll be deliberately trying to encourage conversation about these topics.
I’ve also set up a One Cobble community on Facebook. At first I expect it to be nearly identical to the posts on G+, but I’m quite curious to see how the two communities develop differently. If they don’t become different, it will be because I’m talking to myself and I’m pretty sure I’ll get tired of that in a hurry.
Facebook also has a Hold on to Your Horses page. This is where I’ll post about those picture books. It is also the measure I’ll use to figure out when I have enough community support for a Kickstarter to be successful.
A month from now I’ll evaluate to figure out which of these ventures is adding happiness to my life and which is adding only stress. I’ll see whether I can feel an increase of interest in the things I write and do. Perhaps at the end of that month I’ll pull back inward. I don’t know for sure. I just know that this feels like the right experiment.
I haven’t yet sent out invitations to these new feeds and communities. I’m still debating whether I should or if that feels spammy to me. (It is pretty important to me that I not annoy people by misusing social media tools.) If I do, it won’t be for at least a week. I want to make sure that I’ve already got interesting things in the spaces before inviting everyone. However if any of you blog readers want front row seats while I figure this stuff out, I’d love for you to join me. You’ll be like the guest who arrives early and helps set out the snacks for everyone who will come later. If none of those things sounds interesting, feel free to hang out here. I’ll be keeping this place the same.
Let the social media experiments begin.