Some weeks ago, I had some meetings with business consultants who I had asked to check my book project from a financial point of view (after having gotten valuable feedback project management wise earlier this year).
I wanted to get some outsiders’ opinion about the book and my undertaking as a whole, especially because I wanted to know how much (more) money I could spend getting it finished. I think being a dreamer is a good thing, but at the same time you have to be able to survive in the real world. 🙂
The feedback I got when I told them about my stories, one of them being the fantasy tale Below the Floor, went something like:
That concept won`t work.
This would take too long to work out, you`ll never have enough money put aside to get through this.
The children`s book market is extremely hard to break into.
And then it went on some weeks later. This was the best one:
Better do something else.
Honestly, this was hard to swallow. But I do not blame them. Business people are 100 % rational people, therefore they have to evaluate measureable criteria. If the odds (aka market chances) are against a product they will not go for it. (No matter how much love I put into one of my books – for a business person, it is just a product.) And in my case, I think, this meant: An unknown author writing a story that is not trendy at the moment for a field with lots of gate keepers. (In case you are wondering now: Biographies of famous people are currently doing well as children`s books.)
So I sat back and thought what the best path for my little children`s book could be.
Money is important. You need money to pay the bills, buy food, print books, pay freelancers, pay the studio rent, pay train tickets, pay a mortgage. Living the myth of the starving artist might sound cool if you are a teenager, but when you are what others would call an “adult”, things change. Living the starving artist myth, in this case, is nothing but irresponsible.
On the other hand, if you have a talent for something, doing things for the money is the wrong way to go. There are easier and less riskier ways to make money. What should drive you instead, is the passion for your project. Apart from that, I do not think, that you can be creative while calculating the chances of reaching a larger readership/audience if you do certain things this or that way. Shall I write a princess or pirate story, because these are the things kids love today? Shall there be an Asian, a European, an African figure representing different character archetypes only to reach the biggest audience possible? Shall you write something that is 100% in sync with todays laws of political correctness just to sell more books? I do not think so.
What will work out and what won`t cannot be calculated. A book publisher does not know how many books he will sell. Hollywood does not really know the magic formula for making a block buster every time. There is no guarantee for anything. The universe does not give a shit about you. It does not owe you anything. Whatever you do, it can go wrong. You can fail, and – honestly – the chances of failing are by far bigger than succeeding with something. And if you are somebody who needs security maybe this is not the right path for you. 🙂
But if it really feels right. You should go for it. Just do it with your eyes open.
If I have a 0,1 % chance of getting where I want to get to – hey, that is not bad. 0,1 % is twice as good as 0,05%!
Leto will come to life between the covers of a printed book. One way or another. I did not come that far to give up now. Maybe it will not be perfect, maybe it will have flaws, but it will still be my book. And I hope that it will bring joy to a handful of children, the small ones – and the big ones. 🙂
I wish you the best for your projects.