As the parent of a small child, you end up reading a lot of fairly awful story books at bedtime, and as someone whose livelihood is derived from a certain facility at combining words and pictures, the lure of trying to do better was eventually too strong to resist. And I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted to do from the start. I wanted it to be a book that would be amusing enough for adults, so that parents could stand to read it for the fiftieth evening in a row without feeling like their heads were going to explode. But at the same time, I wanted it to be a book that was genuinely for children, not one of these alleged kid’s books whose author revels in his own cleverness, winking knowingly at the adult and leaving the child almost irrelevant to the experience.
And finally — those of you with little kids will know what I’m talking about here — I wanted it to be the right length for a bedtime story. Again, there are too many children’s books whose authors seem not to understand that the point of the book is to be read at bedtime — which is to say, it’s all in the timing. You don’t want the book to be too short, but neither do you want it to drag on till midnight. There’s a sweet spot in the middle, which is what I was aiming for with this one. I know it’s a strange selling point — it’s not too long! — but as I say, you parents know exactly what I mean.
The road to publication turned out to be a bit more complicated than I expected, which is probably a story for another day. Ultimately, as I mentioned in my previous post, I landed with a small publisher, Ig, which gave me a great deal of control over the final product. It’s up to the printers now, but I’ve done everything possible to make sure this is something I can be proud of. It’s hardcover, with a dust jacket, interior wallpaper — should be a lovely package. But as I also pointed out previously, what this means is that I have much more of a personal stake in this — rather than getting most of the money I will make from it up front in an advance, as I’ve been able to in the past, most of what I’m going to earn will be after the actual sales. And my publisher — did I mention they’re small? They don’t have a skyscraper. They don’t really have an office. They’re two people working out of an apartment in Brooklyn. Which may actually be the wave of the future, as far as publishing goes — low overhead, keep it simple. But sales of this book will impact their lives, and mine, directly. So if you have a young child, or know anyone who does, please consider picking this one up. (And if you work in a bookstore — please be sure to stock it!) The publisher has done right by me, and I’d like to return the favor.
Also: I’ve put up a couple of sample pages at the Very Silly Mayor site.