Careers often take unique turns. But, when it comes to creative people, they get satisfaction by producing something new. During the pandemic shut down, many people just marked time and waited for life to start again. Not Lisa Cranston, an Interior Decorator and owner of Lisa Cranston Designs. This 50-something got an inspiring idea, something she had never thought of before. She decided to make and sell a coloring book.
“I talked about the ‘side hustle’ with my sister many times, but nothing ever seemed like the right option. Lots of things got discussed, and the only commonality was that they were all creative ideas. Covid slowed down my interior decorating business. Since I wasn’t working as much as usual, I was feeling pretty stagnant. I’d seen some posts on TikTok about the Amazon print-on-demand program KDP Kindle Direct Publishing. In January, a woman I follow said that there would be upcoming demand for Easter Coloring Books. It sure seemed like something that was in our wheelhouse, so with nothing else really going on, I began to see if I could do it,” said Cranston.
“Having had a degree in Graphic Design, she finally put it to use. After about a week of playing around with designing these illustrations, it was clear that I could do it. I always loved drawing rabbits. I could envision my two main characters Chick and Bunny, in my head. So using the computer program Adobe Illustrator, I created both characters to be my book stars,” she noted. Cranston then proceeded to make each page of the coloring book. She developed every page based on what would be fun to color. “I had many ideas but was limited by what I could draw. So for every page, I alone did all the drawing illustrations.” The result produced a very cool-looking coloring book with 18 pages. She said that at first, she began with hand-drawn creations but quickly switched to doing digital creations. “Using the computer, you have so many designs and layout options. The whole creation process produces these Coloring books were just so much fun,” she stated.
Producing the books
Cranston noted that she knew what Bunny and Chick would look like, and she had so many ideas for cute pages. She began working toward that Easter deadline at the beginning of February. Her first coloring book, Bunny Loves Easter, was released on March 7th.
As she began to market the coloring book, she thought about how the Danish love Easter so much, which she knew from having been in Copenhagen a couple of years ago around Easter. So, she translated her first book into Danish and named it Kanin Elsker Påske Påske Malebog was released on March 15th. I used social media with various hashtags to promote and sell the Danish Coloring book,” she reported.
Next, she showed her hairstylist the Easter coloring book, and she gave her another book idea. The stylist said, “I’d color in it if Bunny and Chick liked to drink,” and laughed. But it gave Cranston another seed of an idea. She immediately started on it, wanting to make a copy for her friend when she saw her again. That led to the creation of her third coloring book, Bunny and Chick Like to Drink – Coloring Book for Grown-ups that was published on April 17th. “Of all my four books, this one is my favorite so far,” said Cranston hinting that she had more to come.
She was working on a Mother’s Day book when she took a turn in her creation process. “I was on TikTok reviewing posts, and I was so surprised at seeing so many LGBTQ families getting a lot of hate messages. It just made me so mad. These folks needed their own coloring book that made them joyful as they colored in the pages. My bunnies are genderless and represent all families, so I decided to produce something for this audience. I took this new direction for the title. Bunny Loves Their Mommies – LGBTQ Friendly Coloring Book was born and released on April 26th.
“I’ve always been more of a digital artist, and it’s an efficient way to work. I actually can’t believe what I accomplished in such a short time! I guess it’s pretty clear that once I put my mind to something, I’m laser-focused,” said Cranston.
She has planned the titles: Bunny Loves to Garden, Bunny and Chick Love to Travel, Bunny Loves Their Daddies, Bunny and Chick Love Architecture, and Bunny and Chick Love Democracy.
Marketing and Publishing
She knew nothing about the book publishing process. Then, she found out about KDP Kindle Direct Publishing on TikTok. The service offered a terrific way to publish small runs or on-demand books to keep the cash outlay low. You make it, publish it on Amazon, write the sales copy, and it’s free to sell. Next, she discovered how the bookselling part of this business works. As the author, you are also the marketer, she mentioned. Amazon is all about the algorithm to build up notice from potential buyers. “It’s so cool for me to punch in my name and have my work come up. It’s just so exciting. Using the KDP Kindle Direct Publishing made me an author because it’s easy to use whether you want to sell a novel, a self-help book, or in my case, a coloring book. These print-on-demand books are very high-quality products too,” she said.
Coloring Books require some knowledge of layouts. And you need Adobe products for layout and design. She noted she did some extensive research in the category to see where there is a need as you want to offer something different.” I found my niche, said Cranston. “I thought I could offer a more modern take on developing my Bunny and Chick.”
Using social media allowed her to show off her illustrations. In addition, it was free to promote free on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok to market the books, which is where her sales resulted from.