While illustrating the Imaginaut, my plans grew from wanting to create something for MY children, to wanting to create something for ALL children. Ultimately, I hope to one day make a living writing, but I knew very early on that I didn’t (and don’t) want to make that living with this book, or any other book that I write for this foundation. This is to be my contribution to something greater than myself, and I won’t have it tainted by personal profit. Granted, it’s the very beginning phase of my dreams for this, so there’s hardly any profit at all, but, you know what I mean. With that said, my plans ultimately grew further into me wanting to utilize this book as a fundraiser for a children. Period.
It should go without saying that you can’t “raise” funds if you sell at a loss or break even, so I had to look at the most dominant aspect of the bottom line. The manufacturing costs. Well, after looking at the manufacturing costs and deciding on a reasonable amount to spend per book, I thought to myself, Why limit my book to the industry standard of 40 pages, when it’ll cost just as much if the book were 108 pages? I didn’t have a good reason. After all, I didn’t (and don’t) want anyone who buys the book to pay more than the book’s worth. So, I set to adding extra content. I added mazes and crossword puzzles and word searches, of course. But I also added trivia and tidbits and so much more. Not only did I want to create something of value (or at least something I tried my best at), but I wanted to make sure I utilized every bit of those 108 pages.
And rest assured, I did. The first edition of the book was exactly 108 pages.
Only, there was a small problem. A major problem, actually. You see, by the point I finished the first edition, I had already worked out how I wanted to utilize the book as a fundraiser for schools. In brief, I wanted to showcase student theme-related artwork inside it. My thought process was that as a parent, I’d love to buy a children’s book that included my kids’ hard work inside it. Problem was, it’s cheaper to manufacture books in black & white than it is to manufacture books in color, and the cheaper the book, the higher the profit for the school… But, I thought to myself, Why would any parent want to see their kid’s beautiful artwork downgraded to B & W, when it was originally done with so many splendid colors?
And again, I didn’t have a good reason.
You might be wondering why I ever made it in black & white to begin with (aside from significantly reduced manufacturing cost). Well, to answer that, I justified it because I imagined thousands (MILLIONS!) of children having the time of their lives coloring in all of those colorless pages themselves and making the book all their own.
I still take pleasure in imagining that. Only, I admit the idea needed some refining. Not only because of the aforementioned problem, but because parents will want to keep the book in good condition. My answer to this: Separate the book into two. The first book, The Imaginaut, contains the story, along with over twenty pages designated for colorful student illustrations that parents can cherish until they have grandchildren to show it to. While the second book, Cosmo & Friends (so it became), contains all the activities and extra content that will not only educate, but entertain children by keeping them busy for hours with over a hundred pages of B & W content to color however they desire. Now that, I like to think, is a win-win.