During the A-to-Z Challenge, I wrote about Backlash, and I think that’s what I’m experiencing now. I mustered the confidence to write and draw my first Storybooks You Can Color, I asked some people for help, I told all of you about it, and then … I took it to the printer.
Looking at the proof and then picking up a box of books a few days later felt … well … unsettling.
A customer at the shop asked to see one of the books, so I handed it over, pretending to be confident. He said he has a 3-year old grandchild. What he did NOT say is: the grandchild would love such a book, that the book looks fun to color, or “What a unique and grand idea!”
Instead, he asked, “How much are you selling them for?” I wasn’t sure, so I said the first number that came to mind. “Hm,” he said, and tossed the book back into the box. Then, he suggested a lower price, “to sell more volume.”
Well, days later, I think I have a few things figured out:
I have to embrace the “business-y” side of creativity, even if only a little. I mean, I do have to decide a price, but the price can’t come from my floundering faith in my book. If I based the price on how I felt, some days the book would cost nothing; other days, it would go to only the highest, most audacious bidder.
Also, while I don’t expect every person to love these books, the casual dismissal of the other customer made my stomach ache for a few hours. I realize now that I can’t hide myself and the books away from anyone but those of you who are supportive. I guess I’d wanted to store these books on a secret shelf only those who would love them could find.
And lastly, I’m learning, learning, learning. (Insert eye roll here.) At first, the proof looked great to me. But when I picked up the box of 60 books, while they looked the same as the proof, they didn’t look as good to me any longer. I’d had a few days to contemplate, and I’d noticed some things I’d do differently next time.
I have to convince myself that just because I see a way to do a little better on the next book, this current book isn’t a failure. Not at all. In fact, it’s remarkably better than the very first version I tried to do all on my own without critique and help from others.
For being the VERY FIRST ONE, this is a good book. It really is. I like the color cover, I love the inside paper (smooth and thick and can handle pens but folds nicely), and I still love the quirky story and drawings. However, for the next book (or any re-prints of this one), I have a few ideas for improvement.
I guess it’s as simple as that.
Thank you Lori, Alex, Solveig, and Rose for your comments on last week’s post. I was so consumed by my confused feelings about this first book that I never replied. I read your comments numerous times, and they helped me cheer up and look more confidently at what I’m doing. THANK YOU for being out there, reading my blog, and taking the time to comment. And thank you for your great blogs as well; you’ve all inspired me this week .
PS: I drafted this post on Wednesday, and by Thursday morning, I was ready to share the book with two friends and get feedback. Writing to you all gave me perspective and got me grounded again. It wasn’t easy to hear critiques, but I got some good ideas (and some compliments!). Creative work really does grow when shared with others, but it’s so much easier to leave it tucked in a journal, hard-drive, or closet!