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Two versions of character-focused PB - one male and one female

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Hello.  First time poster here and new the industry.  First, a huge thanks to all that post on this forum; I have found and read countless helpful posts and articles.

I have written my first PB, and we are currently working on bringing it to market as part of a boxed set with a doll (a la "Elf on the Shelf"). Due to the complexities of selling the book packaged with the doll (among other reasons), we will self-publish the book.

In order to appeal to a larger audience, we are considering having two versions of the book and doll made - male and female.  The main character in the story is a friendly monster, which is what the doll will be.  Our target audience/market (besides moms and dads) is 4-6 yr olds.  We feel that kids - at that age - want toys of the same gender that they are.  There is a bit of a trend in the toy industry to have more gender-neutral toys, but we don't feel that is a good fit for this product.

The idea we are considering is to have the illustrations in both versions of the book identical, with the exception of the monster, whose appearance will vary slightly depending on the sex.  In addition, the manuscript of both versions will be the same, except for the monsters' name and pronoun usage.

My question is: are you aware of any books like this?  Are we crazy for trying this?

Suggestions or advice, greatly appreciated!
#1 - March 18, 2016, 12:06 PM
« Last Edit: March 18, 2016, 12:17 PM by Ryan »

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Hi Ryan,

I have boy-girl twins, and I immediately think of potty books I read to them! The Potty Book for Boys (featuring Henry) and The Potty Book for Girls (featuring Hannah). They were a big hit in our house. Also same thing for Once Upon a Potty.

Good luck on your venture!
Lisa
#2 - March 18, 2016, 12:27 PM
Lisa Katzenberger
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Potty training picture books were immediately what I thought of, too!

I think if your start-up budget allows for the boy and girl versions, give it a shot! I don't know enough about sales/marketing to give a good opinion on what sells.

If your budget is tight, you could go for the "gender neutral" approach, and have your monster not be colored blue or pink (for example if we're going with stereotypes), and in the text, you could avoid "he/she" and just name the monster each time, or use the word "monster," though in a longer text I could see how that could become cumbersome. Hmmm....

Good luck with whatever you choose!
#3 - March 18, 2016, 06:22 PM
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Thank you both for the replies.  We do have Once Upon a Potty (girl version), but I never noticed that it said "girl" on the cover.

I previously tried rewriting some of the story to refer to the monster as an "it" to avoid the he/she situation.  We didn't like it as much.
#4 - March 20, 2016, 08:53 AM

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There are other ways to write it without using the pronouns. Naming the character is one. Rephrasing is another. Perhaps see what Elf did. I know they have boy and girl versions now, but it started with one.

Monster went to her room.
Monster went to the bedroom.
Monster found a favorite doll.

I'm questioning your assumption about whether kids care what gender a toy is. I think this comes from adults, although kids are beginning to develop gender identity at this age. It might be worth reading up on the topic before going forward. There is research out there.
#5 - March 21, 2016, 07:10 AM
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