I recently finished and submitted an original ebook to the Apple iBookstore (which I will talk more about once the book is available). It was a great exercise – having to consider a book from start to finish where I didn’t have editors and designers and marketing people helping. From cover to marketing copy to price – I had to figure it out. I had several good friends who reviewed the work and helped edit the copy and advised on the art direction. Their help was very much appreciated. I learned plenty about my limitations.
The Thing with No Head is darker than your average picture book, but it’s not inappropriate for any age. It was inspired by the Edward Gorey work I read as a kid and was influenced by Tim Burton and Neil Gaiman’s work. And yet – of course – it isn’t exactly like their work either.
This project is a hobby. I try and write several picture book manuscripts each year and sometimes I have ideas that don’t fit into any traditional category. Not comics, not graphic novels, not picture books. I was wondering if these stranger, slightly odder projects could find a place on digital shelves. But I had a lot to learn and I realize now how difficult it is to present a project that does not fit easily into a genre or historical market. What is the demographic? Who will want to read this? How can I find those people? Those are questions that too often authors and illustrators don’t consider at all.
I don’t develop ideas based on a demographic. But I’d be dishonest if I said that I don’t have questions about demographics and appropriateness of ideas floating around in my head when I start a project. I don’t think you should limit yourself too quickly when an idea jumps out at you by thinking it’s ‘not right’… Yet, success (if we define success as having others want to buy, read and look at your work) comes about because your work finds an audience. And as a commercial artist we do need to consider our audience.
The Thing with No Head will be out on Apple’s iBookstore soon. I’ll write more about it before then. Oh yes I will…