When I created and published my first children's book in 2014, I knew it wouldn't be easy.
I had previously hit a huge niche with my adult colouring books way before the whole fad took off and I had a pretty easy ride of it. Book and gift stores were getting in touch, all desperate to stock Colour Me Good Ryan Gosling or Colour Me Good Hip Hop (but mostly the Ryan Gosling one, it's his eyes you see). But with children's books there's masses of competition. There are so many picture storybooks out there and some of them are still going strong after 10, 20 and even 50 years! However, I hadn't realised just how difficult publishing a children's book would be.
Ryan and Ellen discuss Colour Me Good Ryan Gosling
Despite sales figures that would make even the cockiest Apprentice candidate hide in their shell, I still stand by my opinion that Pearl Power is a really great children's book!
I wrote the first one for my 5 year old daughter, Pearl, to give her a positive message about gender and her ability to do anything as well as her male counterparts. The problem is that this genre is a difficult one to crack when you're a self publisher and not a household name, and book stores both large and independent, are struggling. They are having to try and compete with Amazon but they simply cannot. Amazon are financially draining book sellers and publishers alike and I'm afraid that the majority of the buying public are taking the cheap and convenient option when buying books.
I graduated from The Royal College of Art in 2007 and had been fairly successful with my pop culture colouring books, but I reckon Pearl Power is the best thing I have created in my professional career. We sold a few copies and one year later Pearl Power and the Toy Problem came out (poor sales doesn't stop my creativity and my need to get what is in my head out there whether you like it or not). In 2016 I released Pearl Power and the Girl with Two Dads, "this one is bound to make an impact," I thought, "it is a book for 4 year olds about same-sex parenting FFS". But who cares about LGBT for kids when we have Brexit and Trump and no David Bowie?
To keep down the cost of printing, quantity is key and it often makes sense to print 5,000 copies of something rather than 500 copies. It keeps the unit cost down which can be reflected in the cover price. Incidentally, I only ever get my products printed in the UK and go to lots of effort to select quality papers. I'm a fussy designer who likes nice things so I assume my customers do too.
Now, it's not all bad news! We are onto the 2nd print run of the original Pearl Power book and I have sold the world publishing rights to Pearl Power and the Girl with Two Dads, with another book in the pipeline. And this is where it gets interesting: I have to cease selling, promoting or even giving away any copies of this book by the end of this year. The chances of me selling 2,000 copies between now and Christmas are like, zero and then they will all have to be destroyed. Destroying a load of children's books breaks my heart, SO let's give 'em away! But I'm feeling a bit crazy (it happens to us peri-menopausal creatives from time to time... okay, it happens a lot) so let's give away all THREE books. Let's have little kids reading them. I create work for people to see and enjoy, not to sit here in my studio in cardboard boxes. Who needs stupid money anyway!?*
So, between now and 31st December 2018 Pearl Power and the Girl with Two Dads is absolutely free, and until I come to my senses, you can also have a copy of Pearl Power and Pearl Power and the Toy Problem totally gratis too! That's all THREE of these books. I know! What the flip right?
I still have big plans for Pearl Power as a character, she's great! She's clever, funny, brave, kind and confident. She is a great role model to little girls and boys. I have lots of lovely, empowering animations planned and I will not give up, just as Pearl Power herself wouldn't.
Thank you for reading. If you would like free copies of all three books, GO HERE and type CHEERS PEARL! into the discount code box at the checkout. All I want from you in return is the cost of postage (I'll stump up the packaging) and a promise to try and stop giving Jeff Bezos your money and start buying from all the lovely bookshops that so desperately need your custom. And if you want to help out a struggling publisher and pay for your books, just don't use the discount code but you really don't have to.
The books are aimed at kids aged 3-7
*By the way I DO need stupid money so while you're on my website, do please have a little browse and do give me a follow on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM or subscribe to my YouTube channel or something, it'd mean a lot.
P.S. When kids dress up as Pearl Power for World Book Day, it warms my heart SO MUCH so please, keep up the good work!