In the great green room there was a telephone and a red balloon and a picture of…
The cow jumping over the moon.
If you’re a parent, you likely know that collection of words as the opening pages of one of the bestselling children’s books of all time: Goodnight Moon.
And you’re smiling right now, remembering all those nights reading it to your little sleepy head.
Or, possibly, you hate me right now for reminding you of all those nights you spent reading it to your little sleepy ahead again…and again…and again! And just one more time—I promise.
I never read books to my kids. Instead, I made up stories on the fly.
Goofy tales, really, about a possum family living in a swampy, cypress tree or a deranged mail-truck driver. More often than not, my kids were laughing, not falling asleep. Used to make my ex-wife so mad—though she did tell me one time, “You should write children’s books.”
I liked that idea.
Been in the back of my mind for years. But when you have a full-time gig and you’re freelancing as a script-doctor, who has those extra hours in a week?
And then I was in Malta…
As I mentioned in yesterday’s column, I met a guy from Wales in an expat British pub. He was drinking a cider, watching a cricket match, and designing a cover for a romance novel that a writer online hired him to draw. We got to talking…
His primary gig is as a freelance book illustrator. “Do a lot—I mean a lot—of children’s books,” he told me between gulps of cider.
“My ex-wife told me one time I should write a children’s book,” I offered. “Apparently, I’m funny.”
He wasn’t impressed.
“Yeah, everyone in the world, I think, is writing a children’s book. Or already wrote one.”
His estimation looks accurate. I checked on Kindle, where I have listed several books I wrote. Approximately seven metric tons of children’s books exist. The competition is intense.
But I grew up in the South, where the mentality holds that you gotta get out in the field and run in the tall weeds if you want to play with the big dogs.
And, so, now I’m running—a puppy in the tall weeds.
I started working on my first children’s book last week. Sitting in a sushi bar, waiting for my otoro and unagi, I began thumbing out on my iPhone the early pages of a story that’s been bouncing around in my head for a while. I won’t detail it yet; I’ll wait till it’s done to share it with you.
Of course, the topic of the book isn’t really important here anyway.
The point is that all of us have this capacity to write a kid’s book. Or to create a consulting course. Or to become an online stock photographer. Or do one of a hundred other things to build a new, fun, part-time freelance income that could significantly boost our lifestyle in retirement.
Becoming a children’s book author is the perfect example…
Look, you don’t even have to be a writer to write a kid’s book. I read through some of the books out there…yikes! If I’m a kid and Mom is reading that to me, I’d knock myself out just so I don’t drown in drivel.
Many of these books are simple, rhyming affairs, with cute stories serving a broader lesson appropriate to a particular age group. I’m aiming at 4- to 8-years with a lesson that all parents of 4- to 8-year-olds struggle to impart many times a week. Once it’s done, I’ll hire an illustrator and then I’ll self-publish on Kindle and market through my Instagram feed, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
Might never sell a single copy.
Or I might make a few bucks.
I see opportunities like this as, potentially, lifetime annuities. I put in a few days/months to bring to life my idea, and I put it in front of my target audience (moms and dads of those 4- to 8-year-olds), and as it sells, I collect a stream of income for, hopefully, years and years and years without any added effort.
In fact, I’ve begun mapping out a whole series of kids’ books I want to write, on a whole series of lessons all parents want their kids to begin learning at various ages.
I’ll never be Dr. Seuss, or the woman who wrote Goodnight Moon back in the ’40s. But just maybe I build enough momentum that I can create a stream of income to boost my retirement lifestyle years from now.
And there are opportunities like this all across the online economy. The internet has democratized all sorts of industries…meaning it’s never been easier to build a fun side-income.
So maybe children’s books aren’t your thing, but there’s something for everyone in today’s online economy.