Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Innovative and Different (from the couple dozen children's books I've read)! Wildly Popular (with the neighbor kids)!

I have recently published a new children's book format I call Coloromics. A coloring and comic book format published as one book. Since the release of the Coloromic Books the featured cartoon characters have generated a great deal of readership popularity amongst kids. A week ago a professional critic's review was featured in a national comics and kid's entertainment magazine and my book received a 3 star rating. The review stated that my written words displayed a subtle wit and that my artwork brings charm to the pages. The story is simple but can be read over and over again. The story is fun and entertaining and evokes memories of characters such as Bugs Bunny confronting Elmer Fudd and Yosemite Sam and ultimately getting the upper hand over his protagonists. What would be the best course of action in regards to submitting an already popular book published in one format in the hopes of publishing the same storyline and illustrations inside a children's picture book? The existing Coloromic Book consists of 32 pages with covers. The critic's words appear to describe exactly what one would hope for regarding a children's picture book review. Do publisher's accept content that may already be available in another format for kids? Should I send a manuscript with the illustrations or just submit the published book and attach the critic's magazine review?
Some pertinent facts:
  • The comic book industry is kind of a separate thing, and the opinions of a critic in that industry will hold little weight with a children's book editor.
  • Comics that are black and white and meant to be colored are, while not common, not groundbreaking either.
  • The industry is having an extreme doodle-activity-book moment, but do not confuse that popularity with the less exciting activity of coloring in someone else's art.
Do not send a publisher your previously published (or was it self published?) book. If it was published, then did you not sell the publication rights to the publisher? If so, they belong to the publisher now, fyi.

But let's say the rights are in your possession. If you think there is an opportunity for reuse of the material in a NEW format, then you need to be very clear with the people you are submitting to WHAT that new format would be. That's the thing to bring across, and sending them a copy of the OLD format will do exactly the opposite. (Do, of course, be clear with them about the other edition of the material that's on the market.)

Also, what's "a great deal of readership popularity"? In numbers, I mean. 100? 200?
Numbers that low are not "a great deal". Include actual sales figures so that the editor knows just what you're talking about, or she'll assume you're exaggerating like crazy.


Thomas Taylor said...

Coloromic? That suggests 'colonic' to me.

Go away google said...

I've worked for an activity book publisher who kept their picture book team in a different location, and for an adult comic book publisher. The (first) twain could only meet with considerable advance planning. All three formats, never.

Most comic books are in fact bind-ups of material that has previously been featured in magazines, the reason being, that the costs of buying artwork are only sustainable if you use it several times. Some kids’ comics publishers produce magazines and books, and will debut material in the former and reuse it in the latter.

Activity books are usually produced in-house, written by the editor and with a miniscule budget for illustrations (or even no budget, as pre-existing artwork may be raided). Picture books are treated more as literature and do have a budget, but exist within certain production constraints, e.g. the use of paper stock that feels expensive and ‘classic’ in the reader’s hands but is no good to draw on.

If you want someone to take on the coloromic format rather than just your art, you will need to be clear exactly which kind of publisher/department you are approaching, and explain to them why they should go outside their normal business practices to accommodate your proposal.

To be honest, I think this is a tall order, but if your work really is format- and business-model-busting, doing research into publishers and talking their language will help persuade them to take a risk on it.

Disclaimer: I’m in the UK, so some of what I’m talking about may be different in the US market. But not that different, I suspect.

sarah mccarry said...

Part of our brain just came out our ear.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Well, as for innovative, back when I was in school coloring-comic books were par for the course.

Of course, they were usually terribly earnest and educational--you know, say-no-to-drugs-wear-your-seatbelt-stop-drop-and-roll type things. Oh, and there was one "Life of Pope John Paul 2" one we got at church one time.......

So maybe the "innovative" part is that these aren't didactic?

As for comic book characters making the jump to picture books? I think they have to be REALLY popular first, and have a few holiday TV movies under their belts---you know, Snoopy and Garfield popular.......

charlotte! said...

Really? Coloromics suggests to me either some new diet or some sort of vague self-improvement scheme designed around incorporating colors into your life. At the very least, the -omic ending makes it sound like a grown-up word.

I don't really expect everyone to be a marketing genius, but some thought has to go into naming concepts, right?

Anonymous said...

Maybe I don't understand the question, but it sounds like the person is asking if they can take Bugs Bunny and make him into a new format where he can be colored.

"... featured cartoon characters..." You mean they are already cartoon characters or you are making NEW cartoon characters?

If you did not create them then that is copyright infringement and you will get your ass sued off.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Anon-- I checked out the "Coloromics" website--they seem to be individual creations.

That said, from the samples given I'm not sure how this is different than giving kids the daily comics out of a newspaper to color.

And,more significantly, the characters don't seem to be the sort to lend themselves to a picture book. A picture book is a VERY DIFFERENT format. You have to tell a complete story-- the characters have to be fully formed, even if we only see a tiny snippet of their lives. They can't be mere caricatures.....

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