PUBLISHING FAIL (My first really half-assed attempt)

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So I am basically convinced that about half of all people think about writing a book at some point.  Maybe a third of 25-40 years old focus on writing children’s books which makes sense as raising kids definitely fills you with stories.. stories that rhyme, about joy, about the ridiculous, the exciting, the sad, the moralistic, the downright scary….ect.

So I squarely fell into this category around my early 30’s when I basically (and somewhat, well… mostly arrogantly) decided no books on the market (the entire vast publishing market that I clearly knew nothing about) fit my needs.  You like where this is going????

I basically wanted a more interactive book that would engage my young 3 year old and help him to express his feelings and build creativity at the same time.  (Holy grail of ‘use your words’ kind of parenting).  So my concept (which I still think is a good one, dispite my crappy follow through) was to build a board book with thick hard pages that were partially covered in felt.  The felt would be on the bottom and would have a permanent start of a picture that was general enough to be used in multiple ways, like a sky with clouds, or a mountain scene.  The non felt top of the page would have a story starter like ‘One day I was climbing a volcano and…’’ OR ‘I was flying in an airplane and saw…’.  Then there would be a small pouch of characters and objects in felt at the back of the book that kids could use on each felt page to make the scene that went along with their story.   Felt on Felt conveniently sticks together kind of like sleeping in flannel PJs with flannel sheets, it’s like Velcro. I thought it was a pretty cool idea to help kids tell stories based on just a little guidance.

So convinced was I that my idea was brilliant, I bought a special printer cutter thing at the craft store, cut out characters and put together a mock up.  Made revisions like a made scientist late at night. Finally, happy with it I gave it to Jack who loved it.  So sign me up amazon!

First, I went to my cousin who is actually in children’s publishing in London.  She liked the idea but after several back and forth rounds said it was more of a toy than a book.  [Never thought of that.]  Then I talked to a few online editors, they too thought of it as a cross over product and didn’t know how to help as there was very little text as the kids themselves would be writing the story. [Still I didn’t get it.] Then came the concern that the felt characters & objects may be too small and pose a choking hazard [who eats felt?] After needing special warnings to sell it, I kind of got discouraged and dropped the whole thing.  [Talk about a lack of vision].

So to reflect on this, I should have done many things differently.  First, being too short sided in my definition of something kind of doomed it.  Books and toys are really not that far off and are even sold at the same section in multiple types of stores.  Second, I should have focused more on cheap manufacturing options through Alibaba or better yet made USA connections for sustainable homespun felt made only from super pure organic cotton guaranteed to be dyed only from holistic herb sources that only produce happy sustaining emotions when touched.  Better yet, I should have scraped the whole felt thing and did it all as a white board book (which actually is an idea still worth pursuing).  Most of all though, I should have only pursued something that I had the stamina and desire to truly see happen.

My issue and why I can now write extensively about failures and different attempts at things is because I have always been interested in lots of things…maybe too many things.  A Trier of all but a Master of none. Yes, that’s me. To truly push a business concept forward you have to believe in it to your core otherwise at the first sign of resistance or non-acceptance you’ll loose that passion quick and move on.  I had really no incentive to push it as I was not dependent on generating income and could fill my time with lots of other obligations and multiple ways to procrastinate. This is not to say that all driven entrepreneurs are desperate, but I think having that drive strongly motivated by something, financial or otherwise is essential. I was purely motivated by arrogance (with a sprinkling of ignorance)…when it comes to motivation, arrogance does a lousy job.  Lesson learned.

Anyone else related? Arrogance or other form of false motivation?

PS: I have had some luck with writing other things though that I can share.

-A 60 day travel journal of our time in Toronto, Canada.  (Parts of appeared on the Matador Network)                         

-Economics of Wine: a work in progress blog through WordPress about wine bargains and wine importation

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