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  1. Belinda R

    Belinda R New Member

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    Traditional How to determine if idea is saleable?

    Discussion in 'Publisher Discussion' started by Belinda R, Feb 22, 2020.

    Hi everyone! I'm working on a remake of Aesop's Fables using my own illustrations (I'll be rewriting the stories for modern language and more flair).

    Question is, how do I find out if this kind of thing is saleable? Loads of work goes into the illustrations, and while I can make back some money selling prints, I'd prefer to make a saleable book.

    Aesop's Fables have been close to my heart for as long as I can remember, and influenced my desire to get into art. I'd love to make this book happen.
     
  2. NigeTheHat

    NigeTheHat Contributor Contributor

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    If you're trying to sell to publishers, then pitch them (or agents) and see what happens.

    If you're trying to test the market to sell it yourself, then there's some methods for doing so here:

    1. See if there's anything similar on the market already. If there is, it's reasonable to assume there's a market for it. You do need to be careful with this - 'on sale' isn't the same as 'profitable', and even if the other similar books you see are profitable, if they're published by a large publishing house they're likely to have a lower per-book cost than you're going to.

    2. Find people who you think are in your target audience and ask them if they'd buy this kind of thing. NOT friends or family. Facebook groups or online forums are usually good places for this, though most of them prefer you to be an active member of the community before asking questions like this (and you'll get a better response if you are, too). This has a habit of generating false positives - far more people will say they'll hand over money for a thing than will actually hand over money for said thing - but negative responses are reliable.

    3. Set up a landing page talking about the project and asking people to give you their e-mail address in exchange for a notification when it's coming out. Being willing to hand over an e-mail address isn't the same thing as being willing to hand over money, but you'll get an idea of the interest that's out there, and have a list of warm prospects when your book is ready.

    4. Set up a sales page as if the book is already - or about to be - published asking for pre-orders. If you don't get enough interest for it to be worth it, or if you do but can't turn production around fast enough, you'll need to refund any orders you get citing 'issues in production'. This is by far the most reliable method of testing, because it's the only one where people actually hand over their money, but a lot of people feel uncomfortable advertising something that doesn't exist. Market tests like this are definitely run by B2B publishers, I'm not sure how common they are for fiction.

    Though if this is a self-published project, for me what would be most important is whether it's something you want to make. If you're just looking to make money, you're likely to be better off investing the time in basically anything else. If the money is nice but what you really want is to put this book together and have it out in the world, then that matters less.

    Hope that helps!
     
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  3. Cephus

    Cephus Senior Member

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    Ideas are not saleable. Books are. Write the book, then worry about finding someone to publish it. No agent or publisher is going to look at an unproven writer with an idea and make them an offer. It doesn't work that way.
     
  4. Rzero

    Rzero Reluctant voice of his generation Contributor

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    Since she went on to explain what the book would be, I'm pretty sure she meant a salable book, not just an idea.
    For what it's worth, I think it would all come down to two, maybe three things. One is timing, and you can't do much about that. If a huge publisher releases something similar around the same time and puts a ton of money into promoting it, yours could disappear to the bottom of the pile.

    The other is the artwork, which could even trump the first, if it's good enough. Look, Aesop has been done a thousand times for a reason. People like it. It sells. But it does need revamped periodically. If yours has the best artwork of the last five or ten that came out, and is marketed where people can find it, then that's the one people will buy. It's in literally millions of nurseries. It will continue to sell year after year. If you feel yours will look the best, absolutely go for it.

    I mentioned maybe a third. That's the new translation/interpretation you mentioned. When searching Amazon or perusing B&L for a copy of Aesop's Fables, people will look at the artwork and read the first fable, maybe even just the first page depending on the length. That's about all they need to make the decision. Aesop is dry. At least the version I read recently was. It was sort of timeless in a bad way, if that's a thing. It lacked a personality. I'd never read them all before. I knew a couple of dozen of them from various versions when I was a kid, of course, and I was shocked to find out how many still common aphorisms and platitudes came from Aesop morals. I had no idea. Still, it became more and more of a chore to get through all 103 of them. I wanted to know the embellished originals, so that's what I got. Most buyers won't be looking for that, especially as a gift for a child or new parent.

    I don't know that I could give specific advice as to what would or wouldn't sell in this regard though. Just how much flair did you have in mind? Are we talking modern language but true to the original, over-the-top silliness that targets five to seven-year-olds, dark reinterpretations for goth teens? Whatta ya got?
     
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  5. Belinda R

    Belinda R New Member

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    Yes, it does! Thanks for the detailed suggestions. I am hoping to go the traditional publishing route, but if that fails miserably, it's very possible I'll trick myself into thinking I know better than the agents and self-publish instead. :D:D:D

    Yep, very aware of those facts. Sorry I didn't explain myself well enough! Because Aesop's Fables are well established, I suppose my question should have been,"Are repackaged classics by an unproven author/illustrator saleable?" :)

    I'm so happy when people catch my drift. :):):)

    Thanks so much for your comments, I really appreciate it! I know what you mean about the language in Aesop's Fables. Possibly a result of translations of translations? I got the 1988 version of Aesop's Fables (illustrated by Charles Santore) as a kid, and it's very... to the point. But I loved the illustrations so much I loved the book anyway. :):):)

    I'm aiming to stay pretty true to the original. Of course, I want to ditch some of the vocabulary that might not mean much to kids (or that might mean something completely different in this day and age). And I want to dedicate some more words to setting up the scene and the like. One thing I noticed is that Aesop's Fables don't really seem to be written as children's stories. I'm hoping to amend that, but still keep the stories to a single page.

    I don't believe my illustrations will hold my book back (could be very wrong), my style is in the vein of Don Daily and Milo Winter, so unless that's horribly unpopular these days... :meh: I'd love to say I'm up there with Charles Santore, but my colouring skills suck compared to his. :supercry::bigwink:

    Ultimately, I know the litmus test will be when I start knocking on the doors of agents, but I was hoping there might be some general knowledge on how well repackaged classics do. I suppose you answered that! :agreed::agreed::agreed::agreed::agreed::agreed:
     
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  6. Cephus

    Cephus Senior Member

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    A saleable book doesn't exist until the book is written. Ideas don't mean a thing. A finished product does.
     
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  7. Cephus

    Cephus Senior Member

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    It depends entirely on what you do with it. The end product is what matters, not the ideas that go into it.
     
  8. Rzero

    Rzero Reluctant voice of his generation Contributor

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    Yeah, I know. We all know. The real exists, and the potential does not yet and may never exist. Still, did you honestly not know what she meant? Just be nicer. Assume people know obvious truths instead of telling them what they have so far is worthless. We're all friends here.
    Yes, they do.
     
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  9. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I'd expect that a trad publisher that takes the project on will want to pick their own illustrator ... its not usual for the author to provide words and pictures.

    If you want to do both you'll more or less have to self publish... whether its saleable then will largely be determined by how effectively you advertise (assuming that its a good product and well produced etc).

    its worth noting that modernised aesops fables has already been done
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/24-Modernized-Aesop-Fables-storytelling-ebook/dp/B00UHJ6GB6

    which on the one hand is good as it demonstrates that the market exists, but is also bad because it means you do not have a USP
     
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  10. Belinda R

    Belinda R New Member

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    Respectfully, I don't think I agree with your assessment. Regarding the author/illustrator thing, every one of the submission guidelines from Australian literary agents (who take picture books) have stated that they're interested in picture books ESPECIALLY if from an author/illustrator. Are things different where you are?

    As for the Aesop's book you linked to (thank you for that, I was unaware it existed), I don't really see that book as competition. The author is self-published, doesn't specialise in children's books, the book is a kindle-only release, and the illustrations (if similar to the cover) are... not very good (apologies to the illustrator). :meh: And even though the book is free on Unlimited and just 99c to purchase, it doesn't seem to be successful. Assuming that the three reviewers aren't friends of his, and assuming that roughly only 5% of readers bother to leave a comment, that means he's only sold 60 copies. Am I wrong in thinking that 1) he's not competition, and 2) the lack of success is more indicative of the book/marketing rather than Aesop's in general not being viable?

    More than happy to hear your thoughts on this!
     
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  11. Rzero

    Rzero Reluctant voice of his generation Contributor

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    That's pretty similar to what I've seen with American publishers and agents, especially agents. Every one I saw wanted writer/artists, artists only and writers only in that order. Some wouldn't even accept writer only submissions at all.

    You'll need a complete book, even if some of the illustration are provisional. Some submission guidelines don't require that every picture be finalized. Others want the exact finished layout for every page. Either way, you'll need the book completely written. Check submission guidelines on each publisher's or agency's website. They'll lay out exactly what you need to send in and how complete the artwork needs to be. It varies from place to place, and in the case of some literary agencies, from agent to agent. Some might only ask for the first ten pages, but they expect you to have a completed work if they contact you.
     
  12. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    @Belinda R -
    If you haven't already done so, I would get hold of a copy of this book and/or the USA equivalent. (I think this is a UK publication, although I'm not sure.) I think it will answer a lot of your concerns. (I did a screenshot of the listing on the Waterstone's site, here in the UK.)
    Screenshot 2020-02-24 at 06.12.54.png
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2020
  13. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    everyone I know who's got a childrens book published has been told to just submit words ... I think its probably different if its an actual picture book where the words form a very small part of it
     
  14. Cephus

    Cephus Senior Member

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    This isn't about being friends, it's about being an effective writer. There are a ton of people out there who don't want to bother writing the book in the first place unless they can be guaranteed that it will be successful before the first word hits the page. This happens constantly for amateur writers. They don't want to put in the effort if they can't be assured it will be a hit before they do. It isn't about the journey, it's about the paycheck at the end.

    No, they really don't. It's why the people who run around crying "people are going to steal my ideas if I let them beta read my book!" are simply wrong. Nobody cares about your ideas. The value is in the execution, not in the idea.
     
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  15. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Okay enough, the pair of you ... this pointless argument is not going to derail this thread.
     
  16. Orang-U-Can

    Orang-U-Can Banned

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    There only is one way to find out, is there not? ;)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 24, 2020

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