Five Years of Grit and Determination: Self-Publishing a Pop-Up Book
The logistics of self-publishing a traditional book are daunting enough. But when your project is a pop-up book, things get even tougher, as one indie author discovered.Many indie authors encounter a steep learning curve when writing and self-publishing their first book—and that’s just for novels or memoirs. Denise Price encountered even more obstacles when she set out to write, design, and self-publish her pop-uo book, The Freedom Trail Pop Up Book of Boston.
But after five years and a successful campaign on Kickstarter that netted $52,500, Price's book was released on on April 1 and is already the top new release in "Boston Massachusetts Travel Books" on Amazon.
Before she could even begin the project, Price had to figure out how pop-up books are made. Next came mastering paper engineering and learning to create digital art. Price then had to find out where pop-ups are printed. She located a handful of companies that can produce 5,000 copies of a pop-up book: two in China and one in Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. Price also had to obtain permissions from the Freedom Trail Foundation, which promotes the 16 historic sites covered in the book.
Surprisingly, Price didn’t become a pop-up devotee until she was 30 years old and saw a copy of Matthew Reinhart’s Cinderella in the window of Tattered Cover. “It was a magical moment for me,” says Price, who went in and purchased a copy for her niece. Every year after that, Price would buy her a pop-up. When Price travels, she makes a point of buying a pop-up about the place she visits, both here and abroad. It was only after she couldn’t find one for Boston, that she set out to make her own.Determined to go ahead with The Freedom Trail Pop Up Book of Boston, Price spent days taking apart damaged pop ups that she bought online to figure out how to transform a two-dimensional book. She took a few classes as well, one with British pop-up artist Paul Johnson at North Bennet Street School in Boston and a two-day pop-up intensive with Stephanie Mahan Stigliano at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. She also watched Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of Spongebob SquarePants on YouTube to learn how to draw and bought drawing software and a tablet.
Then Price put her training to use and made a dummy of the book—it took roughly 12 hours per page to cut, score, and fold by hand—and submitted it to traditional publishers. However, she was told the book was too local and wouldn’t interest readers outside Boston. “I believed in the book so much,” said Price, “I couldn’t believe that it was denied.” Eventually, a regional publisher expressed interest in the project, but after much deliberation passed as well.
Although Price has a lot of determination—she got her real estate license when she was 18 years old and put herself through college—she is also very private. Nonetheless, she decided to go public—and go indie—working to raise money to print and produce the book in Vietnam via Kickstarter.
And now that the book is out, Union Park Press—a small Massachusetts publisher that passed on the book because it couldn’t afford production costs—is working with Price on marketing and getting the book into stores.
It’s too soon to know how well the book will sell, but If Price’s grit and determination pay off, her books won’t be sitting in the warehouse at Pathway Book Service for long. And, Price says, she’s already thinking about her next pop-up, which will be set in greater Boston.