Help save Edgar the penguin from obscurity | ParkRecord.com

Help save Edgar the penguin from obscurity

Alisha Self, Of the Record staff

Local landscape and wildlife photographer David C. Schultz, the owner of West Light Images on Main Street, recently found himself in a frustrating position. He has finished his first children’s book, an educational story about emperor penguins accompanied by his photographs, but he doesn’t quite have the funds to complete the process and have it published.

After doing a little research, he discovered a potential solution. Schultz has registered with Kickstarter.com, a site that aims to help fund creative ideas and ambitious endeavors. It allows creators to set up pages to promote their projects and solicit pledges.

The creator sets his or her own funding goal and time frame. If a project meets its funding goal by the deadline, all backers are charged via Amazon.com and funds go directly to the project creator. If a project does not meet its funding goal, all pledges are null and void.

Schultz started his quest to fund "Edgar, Emperor of Snow Hill Island" last week and has until June 30 to raise $5,000, which will cover a print run of 250 copies of the book plus Kickstarter fees and shipping costs. "I thought this would be a fun way to go about it," he says.

The minimum donation is $1. Those who back the project through the website are entitled to a variety of perks based on the amount they pledge.

For example, anyone who donates $20 will receive a spot on Edgar’s sponsor list, access to a PDF of the finished book, chocolate "Penguin biscuits," and five signed note cards with photos of their choice. Higher-level perks include limited-edition photos, signed copies of the book and a private, four-hour photography lesson with Schultz. "I tried to have fun with it," he says.

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To promote the project on his Kickstarter profile, Schultz created a video documenting the process of making the book, from packing his bags for Antarctica to laying out the pages. He has completed every step of the production himself.

He says he started playing with the idea of creating a children’s book a little over a year ago after returning from an excursion to Antarctica. During the trip, he visited Snow Hill Island and had an opportunity to photograph emperor penguins for the first time in his career.

As he waded through the 3,000-plus penguin photos he took, he started thinking about ways to ensure that more than just a few would make their way off his memory card. His ultimate goal is to produce a coffee-table book from his travels, but he decided to start with something a little less ambitious (or so he thought).

He started by coming up with the main character, Edgar. Then he developed the storyline based on the photos he had. The theme of exploration was easy to come up with Schultz had visited Antarctica about four months after the latest brood hatched and he witnessed the height of the young penguins’ curiosity.

The story involves some happy feet, a regurgitated fish meal, a penguin crush, and a kidnapping scheme followed by a high-speed chase and elusive penguin smackdown.

The book is geared toward ages 3 and up, but Schultz says children (and adults) of all ages will enjoy the story and the images of penguins after all, "They’re just so damn cute," he says.

To make the book more educational, he researched facts to incorporate throughout the story. He laid out the pages himself and printed them through Blurb.com, a self-publishing service.

Schultz has sent samples to a few different publishers but has yet to hear back from them and has decided that Kickstarter may be his best option. Meanwhile, he has posted a flash version of the book on his gallery’s homepage, http://www.westlightimages.com , so that people can preview the project before they donate.

Once "Edgar, Emperor of Snow Hill Island" is published, Schultz hopes to distribute the book in local schools and use it as an educational tool to teach children about emperor penguins and Antarctica.

As of Tuesday, the project had raised $322, which amounts to six percent of the fundraising goal. There are 28 days left to help Edgar find his way into the world.

For more information about Schultz and the project, access his Kickstarter profile through http://www.westlightimages.com .

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