This tiny idea started two years ago in a coffee shop while sitting with fellow photographer Jim Talkington. I said “I want to make a tiny magazine promo piece to send out to national editorials.” Then it turned into a tiny book. Then a cookbook. Then a tiny cookbook about tiny foods. Then a Kickstarter, a necklace, ornament, poster, onesie, tote bag ……….
All the while, I could only hope there were people who would love the idea and believe in the idea, even when they couldn’t see it. As I was tentatively introducing people to the idea before the launch, I got a lot of blank stares and shrugs. I had a lot of people ask “Why a tiny cookbook?”
WHY A TINY COOKBOOK?
Sometimes I’m called to do something not fully understanding why. I go forward creating the path as I go, hoping the answers will unfold along the way. I was pleased to find so many reasons to be connected to this tiny cookbook, each one giving me the motivation to keep going.
#1 It’s time to stretch.
I’ve been developing other skills like marketing and writing, but I haven’t pushed myself photographically for a while now. It’s hard to create something just because. I’ll think of doing something big, but decide the money should be spent on ways to better serve my clients and the time would be better spent on marketing. By choosing a project that would take me out of my comfort zone and by putting it in front of others who would hold me accountable, I have a reason to stretch further creatively.
#2 I miss physical things.
Don’t get me wrong, I love digital. A LOT. I feel safe and comfortable behind a computer. But there’s a connection that’s lost when I’m surrounded by digital. Real, printed books are a commitment. I become invested, engrossed in a way I don’t online. I’m always one click away from something else. I love it and leave it. It’s hard for me to throw away a magazine or a book. I can’t say the same about digital.
I originally had a whole other theme for this tiny cookbook, but I kept asking myself “Why is the book tiny?” I chose to make this cookbook about tiny foods because it “makes sense.” Tiny Book = Tiny Food. I didn’t expect part of my “why” to become about kids. I don’t have kids. I haven’t spent much time around kids as an adult. I DO have a passion for kids learning how to interact with food. I believe kids learn a lot about life through food, like how to share, how to be independent and healthy, how to make choices and experiment. Sometimes kids are intimidated by food. But tiny food can’t be intimidating.
#4 The Little Things.
I’ve never been good at living in the moment. I can only think of a FEW moments in my life I can say were truly lived. I’m either regretting the past, fearing the future, or photographing the present. I’ve been looking for ways to connect with moments. This cookbook is one of them. How can you be anything but present when looking at a tiny book? How can you get lost in the past or the future when you’re making tiny little foods?
THE TINY COOKBOOK THAT COULD.
I don’t count the number of hours I work on projects because I know it would make me pause before picking up another one. But if you’re curious, it’s been something like 6 months solid of video execution, learning Kickstarter, writing the campaign, talking to printers, researching products, coming up with recipes, crunching numbers, designing the book cover and promos, and an absolutely crazy amount of marketing.
When it comes down to it, you can see this as just a tiny cookbook. You can put it on a shelf and look at it occasionally and think “It’s cute!” and really, that’s enough. If it brings you one moment of joy, it was all worth it. Or you can see what I see. A tiny package full of big ideas.
Not only was this Kickstarter crowdfunded, so of course, I have all of my incredibly generous backers to thank. Virtual Hugs to each of you!!! In addition, there are some individuals who deserve a special shout-out.
Silvia Wolford: To create this Kickstarter, I had to figure out how to make a video. Good thing my fantastic summer intern learned video in school. She so willing showed me the ropes and ran through numerous takes because I couldn’t memorize a line for the life of me. I truly don’t know if the video would’ve happened without her.
Stephanie McNally: Stephanie helped me brainstorm different giving levels, marketing avenues, and promo materials. She shopped for accessories, contacted businesses, coordinated events, and was the resident expert on a subset of the population I know little about—moms and kids.
Nancy McKibben and Lizzy Miles: Kickstarter has its own culture and rules. Walking into it for the first time is confusing. My two Kickstarter enthusiast friends shared all kinds of Kickstarter knowledge. They sent encouraging notes when I was feeling discouraged or panicked. They proofread everything. Their excitement for my Kickstarter has been a special kind of blessing. Lizzy ran a successful Kickstarter (The Death Café) over 2 years ago, plus she’s a different kind of consumer than I am which gave me a lot of insight into how other people shop. Nancy and I work together through Edible Columbus. During one of our outings together, we started sharing our book ideas and how we were considering crowdfunding. Nancy’s been actively marketing my project while simultaneously getting her project ready to launch. She even walked through Barnes and Noble one day to tell random strangers about it. Who does that for someone else’s project???
Becky O’Neil: Becky was one of the first people I told about the tiny cookbook. She did all of the tiny cookbook illustrations you see in the video and promos. She put her librarian skills to use researching new people to market to in the final hours. She’s an artist who’s always supporting other artists.
There were two very generous backers, who I won’t name by name, only because I’m not sure if they’d want me to. You were instrumental in pushing this project over the tipping point and I thank you both SOOOO MUCH.
Tamara Murray, my twin: It’s not hard to imagine why she’d be named. She’s my sister, of course she’d help and support me. But you don’t understand. She’s seen other projects of mine FAIL. She’s gone through them with me, felt the stress right along side me, been disappointed and hurt, frustrated and confused. She can’t stand back and do nothing, so she helps. She takes my projects on as though their her own, while at the same time supporting me when I fall apart. She was really nervous about me taking on another project with such potential to fail—I mean, it’s 30 days or nothing. But I knew she’d be there when I needed her, she always is. She kept calm. She listened. A LOT. She did everything I asked of her, and I’m always asking for more than I should. I hope she enjoys the wins as much as she feels the losses, because they’re as much hers as they are mine.
My whole network of friends receive an A+ for sharing and liking. There was no way to keep track of them all, or else I would give shout outs to each one of you! Beth Tozer may have shared every single thing I posted. Stefan Langer promoted the tiny cookbook while simultaneously promoting 2 (or was it 3???) plays he was currently in. Allie Misch simply asked “What can I do?” Derek Baxter, whose cynicism was often used to defend the tiny cookbook with comments such as “Too much passion and sincerity. Not stupid enough.” And for all of you for proving him wrong. ☺