As parents, Lisa and I were impressed with the dedication James showed in order to create his Numbers Cool Book. Based on sales, so were his grandparents and maybe one other person. I take it other parents saw it as the ultimate form of bragging about my kid rather than legitimate competition for the professionally-illustrated books to which their children are accustomed. Maybe some of the parents of the toddlers who would have liked James’s book assume their own kids will be playing conciertos and writing chapter books at age five, so they don’t need to be bothered with personified numbers doing silly stuff.
I know, I’m looking like the sarcastic dad who’s upset his own kid isn’t in the starting lineup. Like, “Hey Coach, my kid could have given up that goal, too.” I don’t want to be that dad, and I’m fine with folks not buying the book. I only hope that some famous actor or politician’s kid doesn’t decide to write something similar and become an instant success, mainly because it would be a position of power rather than hard work that led to the fame. On the other hand, and ironically enough, the fact that I had the ability and time to help James Brian Jaeger publish and promote his own book in early elementary school means that he was actually in the game, when I’m sure there have been hundreds of similar books written by other creative kids that were put away in a cedar chest or thrown out with Mickey Mantle baseball cards.
I feel kind of sad that his latest endeavor cannot be published in the way he wants, but James has decided to write comic strip fan fiction. Because both kids hear me talk about the money I’ve tried to make as an author (and know about James’s book on Amazon), they decided to concoct a scheme to get rich off James’s ability to recreate Charles Schultz’s character with his own storylines, and their fervor in negotiating the terms was almost worth the bad news about copyright I have yet to divulge to the little entrepreneurs.
Helena was the little lawyer in the other room, and then they both came to the living room. She said that when I take photos and format James’s new book, I would get 25% of sales for the effort, James would get 50% for writing it, and Helena would get 25%, apparently for negotiating the deal. At least she understands the concept of sales, marketing, and middlemen. I told her I thought 25% was a bit high for an agent, but then I remembered the deals I have with my own online publishers of books and lesson plans. Heck, the companies I use online to accept credit card transactions even take over 3%, so I guess everyone wants a cut, me included, since I get a cut of the action when you click on any links on this website.
Swindling agents and copyrights cannot hide the fact that James is one imaginative kid, however, and that was the original intent of this article. Well, I had to get my cut, I suppose, but the point was to showcase James as someone who wants to be creative and who will know a lot more about how to accomplish it effectively, eventually. For example, he’ll have to get over himself a bit as a showman so that his readers can enjoy what he has created. He’ll also need to avoid using characters that someone else originally created. But he is looking for his niche instead of mindlessly playing video games all evening, though he does do that part of the evening. I want my kids to realize that you’d rather be the creator than consumer, at least some of the time. There’s so much power in convincing every person in a market that what you offer is worthwhile, whether it’s trying to convince 1000 Lutheran churches that Luthernet is the best web designer for them, trying to convince 100,000 English teachers worldwide that my lessons might help them, or trying to convince 10,000,000 they need to read the best book of satire or coming-of-age comedy screenplay ever written. I envy James and Helena because they will have had years of me experimenting before they actually have to figure it out for themselves, assuming they choose to pursue careers in writing, creating, running a small business, or managing one of my small business ideas as it becomes a big business. The unknown is a bit frightening for me, but I want it to be exciting for them. I want them to learn early how to avoid being the 70% of Americans who hate their jobs, all of whom should read one of my books, by the way.
If you click on the Youtube link in the video, you can see the whole series of comics as a playlist (or just keep watching).