About this project
**UPDATE** No photo or information about your pet is required at this time. Photos and info will be collected from you only AFTER the project is fully funded by pledges.**
Greetings, animal lovers! Many of you know me already but, for those who don't, I'm Scott Crider, founder or Watchdog Causes, LLC and creator of the most successful social media activism campaign of the 2012 election. This book project will be the official record of how dogs (and even some cats, birds and reptiles) became major players in the campaign.
While the success of DAR seemed meteoric to most of you, it was actually a 5-year labor of love that began in 2007, when I first saw published reports about how Seamus, the Romneys' Irish Setter, was strapped to the roof of a car for a 12-hour ride.
**Please help spread the word about this project! We don't want a single DAR member or supporter to miss the opportunity to have his or her pet recognized. Share this with all your friends who supported DAR, and follow us on our new Facebook page.**
The goals for the book
This book isn't about politics. It isn't about candidates. It's about telling the story of how the love of a nation for its pets, combined with the power of technology, changed the election. And it's also about the pets, themselves.
During the 5 years I ran DAR, many incredible and mind-boggling things happened. It’s truly a fascinating story. The purpose of this book is three-fold. First, I want to tell the official story about the most successful grassroots activism campaign in the history of American presidential politics. We reached over 40 million people (and millions more around the world) with our message about what happened to Seamus.
Second, I want to recognize as many of you, and your beautiful pets who were members of our pack, as I possibly can. DAR’s success wouldn’t have happened without you. Your tens-of-thousands of “likes,” comments, shares, tweets, re-tweets, emails, verbal discussions, and (most importantly) your get-out-the-vote efforts made an enormous difference. You dressed up your pets and attended rallies. You sent me tens-of-thousands of pictures. You stood for long hours beside highways, just to hold up “I Ride Inside” signs for Romney has he zoomed by. You ticked off your neighbors by putting our yard signs in your lawn. You strapped empty pet crates to the roofs of your cars, just to make a point (some of you even got stopped by the police for it).
The point is: you worked hard. Your pets worked hard - and together we achieved something entirely unique in American political history. We’re more than a footnote. Frankly, there needs to be a record of it – for my shelf, and yours.
I want to document how years of near crushing boredom were punctuated by moments of abject terror and cloak-and-dagger intrigue. I want to tell you how I received calls from people who, while expressing friendship, insisted upon remaining anonymous while telling me (ominously) they were “concerned” I might be getting in “over my head.” I want to describe how our first blog, in 2008, was hacked so thoroughly it could not be retrieved, even by Google’s engineers.
Likewise, I want to tell you about the fun things. Like the night you responded to my request to flood Diane Sawyer with questions about Seamus - and what it felt like to watch her ask the Romneys about it during their first network interview (in front of 9 million viewers). I want to share with you my utter amazement when polling firms began asking Americans if the “dog issue” mattered (it did); and how blown away I was when Romney began to utter the phrase “jobs not dogs.” Then there was the day I watched the President, himself, mention it on national TV.
Finally, I want to document the incredible power that exists in social media, particularly for those with passion and a cause to support. I want to share the strategies and tactics we learned during the course of the election that can help non-profits, causes, grassroots organizations, activists, candidates, and campaigns achieve more, digitally, in years to come.
Note: A sample chapter is provided at the end of this project description.
Why request pledges of support?
Writing a book is a huge job. It takes an enormous amount of time and concentration. If this Kickstarter campaign reaches the minimum, I’ll know I have the funds I need to hire the editors, designers and printers who will be necessary to deliver an outstanding book, while also being able to pay my mortgage and feed my family while I’m at it. To do this, I’ll need to take a lot of time away from other work that produces income. It’s as simple as that.
What happens if we don’t reach our targeted amount of funding?
You’ll never be charged for the amount of money you pledged if we fall short of our goal. That’s how Kickstarter works. If we don't meet our funding needs, we don't get anything. We want to avoid this so please spread the word. We don’t want a single pet (or his or her human) who was involved to miss out. When we meet our goal, we will finish the book and fulfill all the rewards that we have committed to.
This is the fun part. The dogs – your dogs (and some cats, birds and reptiles) – are the heroes. They deserve to be recognized and remembered. This is another reason Kickstarter is a great place to do this project. There isn’t a publisher on Earth that would get behind this book if I insisted your pets be in it. You’ll find several opportunities to make sure your pets are represented.
The pledges you’ll need to make in order to get your little darling in the book range from just $4 (the bare minimum it will take to collect, organize, input, and publish a pet’s name and hometown in the book) to somewhat more pricey investments to get your little activist furbaby on the cover or in a full-page profile inside the book.
**Even if you don't want the book, please consider getting your pet's name listed in it for posterity. After all, you can do it for less than the cost of a Starbucks latte.**
Can members of the cat division, and other divisions, be included?
Absolutely. At DAR, we were honored to have hundreds - maybe thousands of cats on our team. We also had a number of birds and a few reptiles. All are welcome.
Can people, as well as pets, who were members be included?
Yes! In the pledge rewards, you will see opportunities in which larger sized photos can be placed in the book. These larger photo options can feature you and your pet, or multiple pets who were a part of the campaign.
Did my pet or I have to be a member of the DAR Facebook page or Twitter in order to be in the book?
No. Many supporters chose not to "like" the DAR Facebook page, or follow on Twitter, because they didn't want to bombard their friends with politics. As long as you supported kindness to animals, talked with your friends and co-workers about it, or did anything else that was in any way taking action to spread the word, you're welcome to be in the book.
Note: To those of you interested in getting a photo of your pet into the book, please be aware that we’ll work directly with you to get a new high quality photo from you. Photos you posted to the DAR Facebook page last year are not high resolution images – meaning they aren't suitable for quality printing. Plus, we need to connect the right names with the right photos.
Can you produce this book?
As a communications professional, I’ve been writing for nearly 30 years. I’ve been blogging (sometimes professionally) since 2005. Writing this book is challenging, but with the financial support that can be raised via this project, I’ll be able to devote the necessary time to it. The election ended in November. After taking a couple of weeks off to rest, I began writing this book. I'm well into it, now, and it's going very well. Furthermore, my confidence is buttressed by praise my first few chapters received. A published author reviewed it for me, and he thinks it’s a winner. After nearly 30 years delivering time sensitive work for clients, I’m a deadline oriented guy. My plan to deliver this book in time for Christmas is imminently achievable.
Publishing, like politics, has been turned on its head by the digital world. Just as political plutocrats and network news directors can no longer control information and force feed the public only what they wish, neither can cigar-smoking kingmakers at publishing companies sit in their ivory towers and choose the winners and losers from among an army of writers laboring beneath them.
I like that.
Even if I could get a publisher interested in producing this book, I probably wouldn’t go that route. Kickstarter is a place for the people. A writer can make his or her case, get a fair hearing, and receive the support they earn.
Get it faster.
Sometime after the book is delivered to Kickstarter supporters in late November or early December, it will appear for sale online as a Kindle e-book, which can also be ordered as a bound hard copy through Amazon’s publishing partner, Create Space. I can’t say yet whether the Kindle and Create Space versions will cost more, but I can tell you they won’t be less (at least for a while). Supporting this project is your way to get the book by Christmas, which many people have told me already they plan to do. Plus, via the updates I make to this Kickstarter page and via email, you’ll have a front-row seat to the sausage-making that is writing a book. Kind of interesting, especially if you think you have a book in you that you’d like to launch your own Kickstarter project for.
Why are spaces for pets limited?
You'll notice in the rewards that opportunities to get your pet in the book are limited. That’s because, with over 100,000 members, it would be impossible to put them all in the book – especially by the end of this year. Also, you’ll see that some of the more exciting opportunities are limited even further. There is only so much space on the cover, for example.
***Did I mention that the very best deal is the $74 pledge? It gets your pet ON THE COVER, and a photo listing INSIDE the book, plus a FIRST EDITION bound copy!**
The future belongs to social media activists.
Look what you did. By getting involved, spreading the word, and making your voice heard though DAR, you helped us reach an astounding 40 million people. Millions upon millions of those people would have gone to the polls last November without ever knowing what was done to poor Seamus. Evidence shows it made a difference. That evidence will be in the book.
Thank you for supporting DAR last year. Thank you for supporting this book project. I hope by reading the book you'll not only get to relive the most significant role dogs (and some cats, birds and reptiles) have ever played in the selection of a president, but that you'll also learn valuable strategies and tactics that will empower you – once again - make a difference in 2014.
WHEN I GOT UP ON SATURDAY, July 1, 2007, the morning after I created the Dogs Against Romney blog, I made coffee, did a few chores, and planned a fishing trip with my son. It wasn't until I returned late that evening that I remembered to check on my little “experiment.” I logged on and found that several people had commented. They thought Dogs Against Romney was “really funny,” and “adorable.” I also saw that an unfamiliar blog named Reformed Chicks Blabbing had posted a link to Dogs Against Romney. In retrospect, this should have been my first clue that something viral was beginning to unfold.
A day later, Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, published a link to Dogs Against Romney and it started to get a lot more traffic. I also received a lot more comments from people who seemed to think it was really, really funny. People began sending me pictures of their pets, asking if I would share them on the blog as supporters of the cause. I did so, welcoming each new member to the “pack.”
On July 3, a popular political blogger named Bob McCarty, of Bob McCarty Writes, published a story speculating that “operatives within the Rudy Giuliani campaign” were responsible for Dogs Against Romney, calling it a “flea-bitten effort to dig up dirt and uncover skeletons.” Suddenly, things became more serious. McCarty’s insinuation that the Giuliani campaign might be behind Dogs Against Romney brought with it increased attention – not all of it welcome.
Even more traffic began to pour in to the blog, and the comments sections on each post became firefights between the supporters of all the other candidates. I had to switch on the comment moderation tools so that I could screen out comments containing inappropriate language and slanderous comments. This, in turn, led to a flood of emails accusing Rusty of denying people their right to free speech. Also on July 3, a Harvard professor named Dr. Stephen Bainbridge published an article on his website saying that he had heard about Dogs Against Romney from a friend, and that he planned to spend his Fourth of July holiday taking pictures of his dogs so that he could “make an appropriate contribution.”
Throughout that holiday break, I spent as much time as I could trying to moderate and publish comments, answer Rusty’s emails, and publish pictures of dogs who wanted to join the pack. It quickly became overwhelming.
Still, it wasn't over. On the morning of July 7, mega-blogger Andrew Sullivan, publisher of The Daily Dish, told his readers that Dr. Bainbridge had “clearly had an ideological epiphany” and invited them all to “join the pack.” Sullivan linked to my blog and a huge number of new readers poured in – some delighted, some angry; each hell-bent on sharing his or her opinion.
Things stayed very busy for the next couple of days, with the blog getting mentions in lots of other blogs and message boards. Then, on July 9, lightning struck. Jake Tapper, who was at the time senior national correspondent for ABC News, published an article, saying “…given the curiosity of the story of Mitt Romney’s Irish Setter Seamus, check out the new blog Dogs Against Romney.” Within hours, TIME/CNN also published a story about Dogs Against Romney on its Swampland blog, and it was being picked up by what seemed to be every major national newspaper in the country.
Traffic to Dogs Against Romney, already heavy, detonated. Comments, emails, and photos of pets came in so fast there was no way I could keep up with it. At times, traffic to the blog was so heavy that it seemed to crash – stunning, considering it was being published on a platform owned by Google. Finally, I had no choice but to publish an article thanking everyone for their interest and letting them know I was overwhelmed.
Dogs Against Romney was just 10 days old. Months later, I was able to ascertain that it received at least 1 million readers in those first 10 days.
At the time, I felt like I had a tiger by the tail. It was exhilarating, but it also felt fraught with danger. Mixed in with the thousands of comments that poured in each day were emails from well-known reporters and operatives from other GOP candidates’ campaigns: “Who are you?” “Who do you represent?” “Who is paying for Dogs Against Romney?” “Is it true this blog is being run by the Giuliani campaign?” “Will you please call me, off the record?” “We’d like to have Rusty on our show.”
Truthfully, it freaked me out. This was all before I was self-employed, and the blog had become a distraction for me at work. It had gotten so much attention I was afraid of what might happen if it became known to my boss and clients I was behind it.
Back then, in the summer of 2007, I was happy when the Seamus story finally ran its course. By the middle of July, media mentions about my blog had pretty much stopped, and traffic had begun to dwindle.
By the end of that month, it was all over. Or so I thought. Little did I know, at the time, that Rusty, Seamus, and tens of thousands of dogs and dog lovers all over America and around the world would remain a huge part of my life for the next five years.
A word before you go
If you're still here, you must like this project. If that's so, please back it now. You won't be charged for your pledge unless we reach our entire funding goal. Kickstarter uses an "all-or-nothing" funding model. By backing it now, you’ll help create buzz - and hopefully help us become a Kickstarter "staff pick" that will get us featured more prominently on the site.
Also, please take a moment to post the project on Facebook and other social media sites - and email the link to anyone and everyone you know who loves dogs or politics.
Please "like" Watchdog Causes on Facebook, where you can easily keep up with news about this project AND our continuing efforts to make a difference for causes we care about. If you prefer Twitter, we have that, too.
Scott & Morgan
Watchdog Causes, LLC
Note: The use of short clips of news broadcasts in the video above is protected under the "commentary" clause of the Fair Use copyright law, and listed in the Code of Best Practices in Use of Online Video published by the Center for Social Media.
Risks and challenges
As with any writing project, the job of completing the book, getting it edited, creating a final draft, and getting it designed, printed and published by the deadline is a huge task.
With the help of supporters like you, who get on board quickly, we'll have the very best opportunity to make the deadline.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Support this project
- (30 days)