My nephew Dylan is six going on seven, and for his Christmas gift, I am attempting to write him a personalized book starring him and his family. It's currently called Dylan and the Monster, mostly because I haven't taken the time to come up with a better title yet.
On the one hand, this is just a little, insignificant project. It was actually inspired by my wonderful blogging friend Robyn and her son. I actually started writing a fairy tale for her son before I realized he was probably much too old to care about fairy tales. Instead, I decided to try again with my nephew.
But, more than just having a fun side project to work on, I realize that the concept of making this specialized type of book is transforming my views on the publication process. Let's face it, when we think about publication, it's mostly a numbers game. Most of the writers who try to publish through a publishing house do so because they want to reach as many people as they can. They want to be popular. And, often, to be popular, they have to compromise their own personal preferences. The downsides of self-publishing--because there are plenty of upsides--is that readers will rarely be able to find out that the book exists in the first place.
With Dylan and the Monster, my self-published book is going exactly to my intended audience (okay, and Michelle, who kindly volunteered to read it as well). That means, not only do I have complete control over my art form through self-publishing. But, I also reach everyone in my target audience. It's 100% successful. And, even though only a handful of people are ever going to read this thing, I'm finding it deeply satisfying.
I'm not yet sure what this means for me in the future. It may convince me to self-publish every novel I write, or it might not. But, for now, it's really making me think.
Any thoughts on this folks? As you can see, my own thoughts aren't exactly focused yet. Can someone explain why I'm liking this experience so much? And, do you think this is an inherently different thing from writing a "typical" novel?
Update: I'm currently writing the section where the character based on me is going to die! Good times! :P