Jesse Richard
Jesse Richard

CTO and Cofounder of Made Live has worked to develop Coldstream Tales as an entertainment property that is dedicated to inclusivity.

In 2018 my technology company was acquired in what I thought would be the final financial transaction in startup space. Having spent 20 there, I felt I was too tired to get back into the space as an engineer. 

Coldstream Tales was the culmination of the pursuit of doing something more fulfilling and didn’t include the writing code. Although I wasn’t particularly interested in writing children’s books myself, I was interested in working with others to build something beautiful. With a young one myself, reading was at the cornerstone of our home life, and as a programmer myself, I was interested in how screen time could facilitate reading for kids in the future. That being said, Coldstream Tales was conceptualized to be a print series using traditional tools and methods.

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98% of Children's Books Never Get to Print

I approached Coldstream Tales knowing that I could neither breakeven on a single book, nor tell stories about inclusivity for children of all walks of life by writing a one-off. Coldstream Tales was meant to be a series of books, each focusing around a person or subject that was traditionally ignored by publishing houses. 

And as 98% of children’s books are rejected by publishers and a disproportionate amount of those rejections are for women and people of colour we needed a strategy to both buck the conventional methods of creating books while not impacting people who need their voices heard. Included in the audience we wanted to reach, we had a continued concern for folks with disabilities. We wanted to be able to reach those kids too. 

Taj Mattingly
Taj Mattingly

Artist of Coldstream Tales' You Are

Beyond working with a number of ideas around the content of something we wanted to write, we also had find an artist that would work through the entire project with us from start to finish in a matter in which both stakeholders felt they could bring their vision to the work. 

Working with an artist beyond communicating effectively a unified vision also required a great deal of technical integration to facilitate communication and the sharing of writing and files. Taj was not our first artists, but by virtue of finding him, we found we had a partner to test and work through ideas that would become equally his visions and ours. 

Heaped upon the number of conditions of the project that we wanted to pursue, the COVID-19 pandemic presented immeasurable trouble to getting a book to print in a reasonable timeline at a price that would make any single books profitable. Global supply chain issues effected not only the pricing of our forthcoming series, it presented a turnaround time that would preclude any measure of profitability from the profit. In order for Coldstream Tales to be both successful and profitable, we needed to not just write compelling books, we needed to do it in an organized, managed fashion that produced our books at a higher rate than tradition or self-published means allowed. Beyond the challenges, at the time of the release of the first book, You Are…, we were simply unable to get books printed at all. We had an unbelievable product, but continually found ourselves writing new processes and software to manage Coldstream Tales while waiting for the letup in a global supply chain crunch. As we saw it (and continue to see it), the supply issues will only compound in the years ahead. 

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We didn't set out to write and code, but over the course of the project, myself and a number of other engineers contributed to what Made Live is becoming.

In March 2021 we had completed our first book and were working with Ingram Spark to get the first print out. We, as most authors, wanted a book in print to get validation for our work. We understand how important this is for the average author and artist. In addition to getting it in print, we needed a way to get this into additional formats; ePub and Kindle Kids Interactive versions. 

As we worked through this process, we found ourselves recreating the same work despite the fact that at the core of what we wanted to do was simply the art. The writing, the illustrations, the engagement – the fun stuff. Our only working version at that time, by chance, was an interactive, proprietary web-based and app version. Personalized, narrated, with music and interactive content. It was absolutely not what we set out to do, but it was the only way we could actually sell books. And oddly, we found this to be the fastest and least risky way to find readers for our work. 

Seemingly by accident Coldstream Tales had transformed in a media platform that was once only built to allow the writers to write and the artists to be artists. It was meant to streamline the writing and teamwork aspects, to manage engagement, reduce risk and expense, to appeal to a wider audience than traditional publishers would touch, to support a number of languages, and to be interactive. It supported tools to manage sales and do promotions. To integrated with social media and track sales, and to be available across a number of mediums rather than just one or two. Print remains our most important initiative, but in the absence of it, and with an eye for the future, we believed we could increase profitability and exposure by meeting our readers where they were. Books, eBooks, audiobooks, and interactive. 

Finalized cover submission for Ingram Spark

Interactive digital book for web or mobile/tablet app.

Videos are output to put anywhere you wish.

What's Next?

Coldstream Tales and Made Live have been the culmination of two years of work and now we’re excited to bring the tools we designed for ourselves to authors around the world. As we continue to develop Made Live in consultation with our growing Beta community, we hope to offer more features that help make us all a success. 

In the meantime, Coldstream Tales is slated to release an ongoing series of new books that have already been planned and built in the software you should sign up for today. 
-Jesse

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