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Need some tough love for evolving your creative business? Brutally Honest is the book for you!
Need some tough love for evolving your creative business? Brutally Honest is the book for you!
854 backers pledged $49,089 to help bring this project to life.

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Brutally Honest: Strategies to evolve your creative business

$49,089

854

Brutally Honest gives you the tools you need to whip your creative business into shape. It’s full of advice, insights, and best practices for everything from new business development to proposals to staffing and everything in-between. Be the first to get a copy! #BrutallyHonestTheBook

Celebratory S T R E T C H Goal!

Since we’re 100% funded, I want to sweeten the deal. If we raise 125%, I will up the quality of Brutally Honest’s production value and use a higher quality paper (Mohawk Superfine has been on my wish list and, with extra funds, it can be a reality!). Not only that, but I will also print in 6 colors, which will ensure that we get the vibrant colors needed to truly make this book pop. 

And, if we raise 150%, I will add an index and hire a professional indexer, so you can easily look up a topic for an immediate answer.

Your continued support will help me fulfill my ultimate goal, which is to publish a book that designers and creatives will not only enjoy reading, but one that they would also be proud to hold, display, and share.

Brutally Honest is:

  • Opinionated, direct, and, at times, downright painful. Don’t agree with everything? Great. Use Brutally Honest as a tool to spark debate and stimulate deeper thinking about your business.
  • Real-world smart. I didn’t read about these strategies in business books; I’ve lived and breathed them for over 20 years as a consultant to creative businesses. Just like you, spreadsheets give me a headache.
  • Inspired by my clients and colleagues and a direct result of the collective learnings I’ve gathered from the mistakes they’ve made, the challenges they’ve encountered, and the innovative business ideas and strategies they’ve experimented with, refined, and implemented.
  • Written by someone that loves design (this is actually what I have a degree in!) and cares about our industry.
  • Delivered to you the only way I know how: Brutally Honest! 

 “I never make a serious business move without first consulting Emily Cohen. With 'Brutally Honest' Emily makes her immense professional knowledge available to you. Ignore this book and abandon all hope of a career." – James Victore, Victore Productions

What makes Brutally Honest different?

Yes, there are many business books out there, many of them are even for creative firms and some of them have been written by my colleagues and friends. But, I’ve always felt there was a need for a different type of business book. One that is smart and insightful, yet designed well and fun to read. One that includes a larger perspective from an industry expert (not just from one firm’s perspective). One that dives deep into a topic, but gets straight-to-the-point with lots of actionable and easy-to-digest insights, tips, and checklists.

It also includes a collection of real-world, insightful, and honest case studies that provide a rare behind-the-scenes look at a variety of tested, effective, and often times unique business strategies from your colleagues and peers: 2communiqué • Barrel • Hagopian Ink • Hunt Design • ink + mortar • Intend Creative • Kiss Me I’m Polish • Knox Design Strategy • Local Wisdom • Louise Fili LTD • Matchstic • MCKL • MSLK • Suburbia Studios + FunctionFox • Visual Dialogue • Worstofall Design • We Are How

A teaser of what's inside! Are you excited?
A teaser of what's inside! Are you excited?

 “Thought you knew everything about running a successful design firm? Think again. Emily’s insights make her the designer’s secret weapon—her book will show you the way.”Louise Fili, Louise Fili Ltd 

I would be a brutal liar if I said that working with Emily Cohen did not change my business. Emily’s work made me finally understand the real value of my own work. And, I’m sure her book will do the same.” – Matteo Bologna, Mucca Design

Brutally Honest covers the who, what, when, why, & how of: 

  • Evolving and positioning to stay competitive and remain sustainable
  • Marketing and promotional strategies 
  • Writing effective case studies 
  • Building new relationships and pursuing new opportunities
  • Qualifying and winning the best prospects 
  • Evaluating and refining your organizational structure 
  • Recruiting and managing staff 
  • Crafting effective, value-added pricing strategies 
  • Writing winning proposals 
  • Crafting retainer relationships 
  • Understanding must-have industry terms and conditions
  • Improving project and client management strategies 
  • Learning about industry trends and peer-created best practices

Why did I write Brutally Honest?

As a brutally honest consultant, I have been honored to consult and work with many leading design firms across the country. Through these experiences, I have developed, tested, and curated key business insights and strategies that have helped firms become more effective, profitable, and fun to work at. I am a designer by education, but quickly transitioned to the business side of the creative industry out of love and passion. I love to share this passion and my expertise through speaking engagements, guest posts, teaching, webinars, industry activism, and, now, Brutally Honest: No bullshit strategies to evolve your creative business.

I also wrote this book for my eccentric and loving father, who owned two bookstores in Manhattan during my childhood and who, at 91 years old, would be thrilled to see his daughter publish her own book!

Me (left) + My dad (right)
Me (left) + My dad (right)

A huge thank you to:

  • Hunter Vargas – The engine behind the Kickstarter and book (she also happens to be my daughter). Without her, this whole project would not have happened. Period.
  • Viscul Creative – Videographers & design team extraordinaire. They directed and produced my Kickstarter videos and caught some amazing, insightful moments. 
  • Once–Future Office – The talented creative team that is designing my book, all the while without killing me (yet). 
  • Code 83 – The firm that created and developed my awesome new website. 
  • Last, but not least, my AMAZING clients who contributed their precious time (and wonderful insight) to be featured in my videos – Jason Kernevich and Dusty Summers of The Heads of State • Julia Zeltser and Deroy Peraza of Hyperakt • Scott Stowell of Open • Laura Wertkin of Intend Creative • Sharon Taylor of ink + mortar. You all rock!

Risks and challenges

The book has been in development for 2+ years, so it’s already 75% complete. We are so close to the finish line. However, because the book’s design isn’t simple, running text, there is still some work to do, which may require a few additional (and possibly unexpected) rounds of revisions. Lastly, it is possible that we may run into delays during proofreading and printing.

But fear not! My project manager and I are very-detailed oriented and are strong believers in open and honest communication. We’ve also utilized outside experts in areas we’re less familiar with. And, if we do run into any unexpected delays or challenges, we will definitely keep you updated. I also have several speaking and book signings scheduled, which will force us to make sure this book is completed and printed by no later than mid-summer 2018. We’re confident that we will get "Brutally Honest" in your hands in time to have some good beach reading (sans the romance).

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    It's my birthday! I hope you'll celebrate with me by supporting my book (in lieu of a gift, perhaps?) and, in return, I'll email you a unique "brutally honest" business tip.

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    eBook + Swag

    This is for all you e-readers out there who don’t want a physical book. You’ll receive the digital copy of the book + a fun enamel pin.

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    Early-Bird Special

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    Book + eBook

    For those of you who may have missed the early-bird specials or just feel a bit more generous! You’ll receive the book + the digital copy of the book + a fun enamel pin.

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    Signed Book w/ Custom Message

    For those special 50 early birders, I’ll sign the book for you and include some words of wisdom (an “Emily Insight”) to get you motivated. You’ll receive the signed book + the digital copy of the book + a fun enamel pin.

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    One for You, One for a Colleague!

    Do you have a colleague you want to read the book with? Then, this is the reward for you! You’ll receive the signed book for you + a book for your colleague + a digital copy of the book + a fun enamel pin for each of you.

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    30-minute “Grill-the-Consultant” Session

    Do you and a colleague want to get my custom insight on a particular topic? This level includes the entire “One for You, One for a Colleague!” package plus a mini version of my “grill-the-consultant” consulting session: a half hour video chat with me – sort of speed dating, but with a consultant. No kissing included. (Note: The video call must be scheduled at a mutually agreeable time within 12 months of receiving the books.)

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    1-hour “Grill-the-Consultant” Session

    You and your colleague can chat with me for one full hour on a topic of your choosing to get my customized insight and advice. You’ll also receive the entire “One for You, One for a Colleague!” package. (Note: The video call must be scheduled at a mutually agreeable time within 12 months of receiving the books.)

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    Book Club Special

    You and four of your colleagues can chat with me for one full hour on a topic of your choosing to get my customized insight and advice. You’ll also receive a signed book for you + 4 books for your colleagues + the digital copy of the book + a fun enamel pin. (Note: The video call must be scheduled at a mutually agreeable time within 12 months of receiving the books.)

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    In-Person “Building the Love” Talk

    For those extra special crazy generous supporters, I’ll come out and speak to your local group or team and present my “Building the Love” talk, during which you’ll learn why infusing love across all aspects of a creative business is important. You’ll also receive a signed book for you + 9 books to share with attendees + the digital copy of the book + a fun enamel pin. (Note: Travel expenses are not included and the talk must be scheduled at a mutually agreeable time within 18 months of receiving your book.)

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Funding period

- (30 days)