In the first seven months of 2015, Author and Illustrator Lucy Ravitch looked her publishing dreams straight in the eye and kicked them into high gear. For years, the write-at-home mother of five received encouragement and accolades from agents and publishers who loved her book concept, but didn’t know how to sell it.
So she did what any good advocate of a new concept would do. She tacked on an entrepreneurial hat and took charge of her own destiny.
By Alana Garrigues
In January, Ravitch launched her first Kickstarter to fund The Pancake Menu, the first in a series of illustrated interactive math books. It fell shy of the $20,000 goal, but she learned a lot in the process and traveled to Utah and Tennessee to promote her message on television.
Confident the book would reach its intended audience and make a difference in kids’ lives, Ravitch relaunched the Kickstarter with a more conservative goal the following month. In less than two weeks, she had raised the money for the first bulk print run and developed a solid fan base for her product.
By April, her commitment to promoting herself and her product had paved the way to build a wide audience. Television producers saw Ravitch’s spiel on the Nashville news, and flew her to New York City on a two-day whirlwind of a trip to promote The Pancake Menu to Shark Tank host Kevin O’Leary on Good Morning America.
In July, proof of her hard work arrived: two pallets packed with 1,000 hardcover copies of her book, ready to sell to the public and distribute to the Kickstarter fans who supported her from the beginning.
It’s taken a team (and life’s winding pathway) for Ravitch to get to this point — a supportive family, a degree in Education, mentors discovered through writing workshops and conferences, a qualified critique group and a trusted copy editor. But the daily motivation to wake up and make her publishing dreams a reality comes from within.
Along the way, she’s learned and grown by leaps and bounds, from developing the confidence not only to write, but also illustrate a book (and pancake recipes!) to how to produce YouTube videos and maintain a blog. She’s taken control of the quality of her published product, worked with an international printer and picked up the phone to cold call potential promotional partners and supporters who might be interested in her story.
Self-publishing, done right, is more than writing a book and posting it online. It’s committing to the creation and distribution of the product, from the smallest detail to the overarching vision, and making things happen.
Ravitch has developed a marketing plan that includes promoting her book to teachers and school districts, homeschoolers, parents and local bookstores. Once she’s established interest and a customer base, Ravitch will roll out more books in the series: The Sundae Menu, The Pizza Menu, The Pie Menu. The books will introduce different math concepts, such as fractions, related to the menu item.
Because while agents and editors may not have known how to sell her product, as a mother and a former teacher, she knows there is a deep, untapped market for math books — particularly those created to associate fun with mathematical confidence.
The Pancake Menu is a sturdy, interactive book that comes with laminated pages, perfect for creative kids with dry erase markers who want to star favorite pancake recipes or adjust the pricing structure. It also comes with a link to original “fun money” on the website.
The book is fun. It is unique — cookbook meets imaginative play meets poetry meets mathematics. It makes a great gift for elementary-school age children and classrooms. It satisfies cross-curricular common core standards. And parents and grandparents alike will have a blast reading through the rhyming menu items and picking out a few to make in real life, by following the recipes accompanied by photos!
Click here to purchase your own copy.
About The Pancake Menu
The Pancake Menu by Lucy Ravitch is make-believe fun for kids and a brilliant resource for teachers, educators, homeschool families and parents. Combining mathematical concepts of money, multiplication and measurement, with literary rhythm and rhyme, kids play their way through the book, ordering imaginary pancakes that they can actually make by flipping open the fold-over recipe pages.
About Lucy Ravitch
Lucy Ravitch is the author of The Pancake Menu and the Kids Math Teacher blog. She has complete manuscripts for several math-focused children’s books. Visit Kids Menu Books for her hands-on math fun series. Intended as the first in a series, Lucy has already mapped out six more books to follow The Pancake Menu.
About Alana Garrigues
Alana Garrigues is the Publications Director for CBW–LA and a freelance writer and editor. Her seven-year-old twins are big fans of The Pancake Menu.