The business of being pink, angry and happy

Robert Moreno

Thu August 25, 2016 6:22pm

Chula Vista artist Jen Hodge has received many accolades for her debut children’s book “The Grumpy Unicorn.” Among the honors the 64-page, 450-word book received are six Five Star national Dragon Fly Awards.
But her most recent achievement hits home for the native Chula Vistan. On Aug. 9 the Chula Vista Cultural Arts Commission recognized “The Grumpy Unicorn” as a McCandliss Arts Literary Award winner. The award named after former Chula Vista Mayor Gayle McCandliss recognizes individuals and groups who have made a substantial contribution to the arts in Chula Vista.
In the book the unicorn goes on a mission to be anything but a big, pink, sparkly unicorn, preferably a scary mythological monster. He learns that it is important to be himself because he is the only one who can be a big, pink, sparkly unicorn, Hodge said. The book was originally written for her niece when she was born but Hodge decided to try the crowdfunding route to make the book available to anyone. Hodge said being recognized by her hometown was quiet a moment.
“This is my first book so being that it gets any sort of recognition is kind of exciting,” Hodge said.
The children’s book is also winning the interest of the people. “The Grumpy Unicorn” was made possible last year through a successful Kickstarter campaign. Hodge was able to raise $13,778 with the help of 221 backers for the self-publication of 750 copies of the book.
“It’s nice to know that people were interested in it,” she said. “Everybody wants reassurance that what they’re doing is good. The fact that somebody wants to buy something you produced is always a very rewarding feeling.” Hodge said it was a lot of work to crowdfund, especially dabbling in areas she is not familiar with.
“I did that just to kind of test to see if I wanted to sell them on my own and be like an independent distributor and I realized I didn’t like doing that,” she said. “It’s just a lot of business interaction; I’d rather just do the creative part.” The campaign eventually became such a success that it sold out of all the 750 available copies.
Hodge said she had been getting requests, hearing a demand from customers for more copies of the books, so she recently launched a new crowdfunding campaign through Indiegogo to raise a minimum of $3,000 for the self-publication of a second hard copy edition of “The Grumpy Unicorn.”
Hodge said this may be her last crowdfunding effort because she wants to focus on the artistic side of making a book, not the business aspect. She said it’s a lot of work crowdfunding because she always has to promote the Indiegogo page, mail out books, mail out prizes for the amount of money donated and other business related aspects.
She said with her next book venture she may consider hiring an agent to handle the business side of things. Hodge said the message of the story is about the importance of being yourself.
“I just wanted to write something in regard to explaining about appreciating your own unique qualities,” she said. “Then I thought that nobody ever thinks about angry unicorns.”