It's been a few months, I know. Well, more than a few months. I basically had to stop writing to you when I left my job because I did not have any time. Literally, the past 5 months have been completely insane to say the least - I have been stressed to the max!! Let me tell you how it went.... but first, click this link to play a special song to listen to while you read (a song for conquering the monster), don't laugh hehe!
I left my full time job on June 4th to pursue my dream of making this book. I know, I'm crazy but I had to do it!! I had been planning my liberation for months, and decided in May that this first book would feature dogs living in the SF Bay Area instead of across the US because it made more sense since I was just leaving my job and did not have the means to travel far. So I started refining my dog search locally, started choosing dogs, and scheduling photoshoots.
June 5th I started shooting HARDCORE. I photographed between 6-13 dogs A DAY, all over the Bay Area. My first photoshoot every day started at 7:30am and my last one started at 6pm... so my working day lasted from about 6am-7:30am for 3 months straight (on my feet and in the car). IT WAS HARD WORK, and a GREAT way to lose weight! (I shed my stress pounds fast, after all I did sit behind a desk for 5.5 years... so now I am back to my normal active self!!) When I got home I would work on my computer, catching up on emails, the dog search, etc, until about 2am.
The project evolved a lot over the summer. At first I wasn't sure how many dogs I would find, and so my goal was to find the top 50 breeds in the Bay Area. It quickly became evident that there were WAY more than 50 breeds, and soon my goal became 100. Then 150. Then I decided I should just find as many as I could - both a purebred dog from a breeder and a rescued dog of each breed. I spent hours and hours online corresponding with dog owners, dog breed clubs and searching for missing breeds... and ended up finding almost 200 breeds!! The book will feature 170, I had to turn other breeds away simply because I ran out of pages!
Oh yeah did I mention already that Zipcar helped me out? They were proud supporters in the month of June and gave me driving credits to get around. It was a HUGE help... I don't have my own car, so that was another big challenge. Basically I went broke and spent all of my savings on Zipcar just to get around to the photo shoots, didn't really have any other options. It was a big deal to me when people canceled or rescheduled because I was paying for the car everyday and an open hole in my schedule equaled lost $$! Ahhh I'm a true entrepreneur!
...I love the whole book but here is one of my fav spreads, the frenchies! Finn's photo was inspired by ET (remember the scene where he is hiding in the big pile of stuffed animals?) and Riley had the most modern and stylish home of anyone else I visited!!
There were times when I thought I wouldn't make it. Physically I was completely drained and had no breaks - shooting everyday, 7 days a week for 3 months straight until I had 330 dogs crossed off my list. It was an emotional rollercoaster - knowing that my personal time management sucked because I wanted to finish Project DOG so bad (and had no time to spend with the gf), and the art of dealing with people is not easy, especially when they are essentially "volunteering" their dogs. I didn't have anything to offer them except the glory of being chosen (from among hundreds of submissions). To most, the reward of being in a book was enough, but others could care less. I went along my merry way, and tried to keep a straight face and stay positive and excited!
I pumped up the project so much but still had $0 to pay for it, so In August I started my Project DOG Kickstarter campaign. I decided that it would be a good idea, and so I set up shop and launched a 25-day campaign in mid-August. The money that I would earn from this campaign would help fund the print run. It is VERY expensive to print books and I definitely did not have a stash of $30k laying around to give to a printer, so this was my only other alternative. ...Boy am I glad I started my social media campaign last year!!
My Kickstarter project ended up being very successful and I ended up getting fully funded, with $24,100 pledged!! I couldn't believe it... in only 25 days. Most projects last a minimum of 30 days... I was so stressed about making a holiday delivery that I opted for a slightly shorter campaign time, and I was really nervous I wouldn't make it. But somehow I did... !!!
September and October were very stressful - the most stressful months of them all. I started laying out the book in early September and at that point only had about 20 dogs left to photograph. Laying out this book was sooooo fun, I absolutely LOVE designing! Getting the information to include in the book was the hardest thing ever. All of the information about each dog in the book was submitted by the dog's owner, so after reading every single submission, I then edited it down and decided what needed some fluffing. It's not easy writing back to the same people over and over, begging them for more info - even 1 sentence!! But I persisted until I got what I wanted... some people were super excited and wrote A LOT (one person sent in a 4-page single spaced word document), and other people hardly wrote anything.
Some exciting and very nerdy things... I generated my official ISBN barcode, which means I can sell this book in bookstores and anywhere else that wants to sell it! The final retail price of this 352 page hardcover monster of a book is $34.95. I also secured my Library of Congress Catalog Number (LCCN), which will allow libraries to order the book. I felt so good when I finally generated my barcode, it was one of the best feelings ever when I put it in the layout!!!
Also, I am so freaking lucky because one of the dog moms in the book (who works full time in marketing) offered to help edit the book - the best surprise and the kindest gesture I could have ever asked for! She totally saved me on many levels and I couldn't be more grateful. Seriously, I am a very stubborn person and love doing things myself but I was more than happy to accept help!!!
In "dust jacket world", I can't believe it, but Project DOG has gained the support of the BARK magazine, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Pets Are Wonderful Support, Muttville Senior Dog Rescue, and Sue McCloud (mayor of Carmel), who were all generous enough to provide thoughtful quotes to include on the dust jacket!! YES!! It was my goal since the beginning to get on BARK Magazine's radar, and having that quote on the dust jacket makes me feel like a million freakin bucks!!
The dust jacket cover was one of the most stressful and challenging aspects of this project. I stressed over the design for months (practically since the beginning), and somehow managed to pull it together right in the nick of time. I knew that since the book featured many dog breeds that the cover should be adorned with multiple dogs, but I wasn't sure how that would look. Then I was thinking about the red velvet mondrian cake that they serve at the SF MOMA and it all came to me. (Piet Mondrian was a dutch painter whose paintings were very grid-like).
ET VOILA! Here is the dust jacket cover and the spine! Yep that's my baby boy Harley on the spine, I had to put him somewhere!
The dogs I chose for the cover each represent a different dog group: Pomeranian (Toy), Pembroke Welsh Corgi (Herding), Greater Swiss Mountain Dog (Working), Pug (Non-Sporting), Weimaraner (Sporting). It was very hard to choose the dogs for the cover (and the back of the dust jacket)!!
Here's the design for the book cover (the actual bookcover).
Many sleepless nights later, I am finally done. I SENT THE BOOK TO THE PRINTER TODAY!! It's true. It's so weird!! I've finished with 170 different dog breeds, 330 total dogs. (I wish I had more money so I could include more breeds, I actually had to turn several breeds away simply because I didn't have the space!) It's been worth it though, and I have to say that I can't imagine having other people work on this - It was hard to do it on my own, but this book is truly my own vision inside and out, and I can't wait for you to see it!!
It's not over yet though, I still have a lot of work ahead of me.... I will keep you updated with news from now on, since I am basically done and kind of have more time!!