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Brand Partnerships & Picture Books

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Hi all! I'm an agented unpublished PB author. I've had 2 books make it to acquisition, but no deals unfortunately.  As of now, i don't have an interest in self-publishing, but I am trying to think of other creative ways to get published. Which brings me to this...

I have a PB manuscript i've written that was inspired by a non-profit that is sponsored by a pretty famous brand. (My agent is not currently subbing it.) I am considering reaching out to the brand to see if they'd be interested in partnering to publish the book. I figure the story would help promote their non-profit and the brand's name would build interest in the book. But i'm unsure how to approach it. Anyone have any experience with something like this?

-Should I try and get the brand interested and then use that interest to leverage a deal with a publisher? (Through my agent.)

-Would it be better to "self-publish" the story with financial/marketing backing from the brand?

-Is this idea even feasible?

Thanks!
Mike
#1 - August 23, 2020, 06:36 AM

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Hi Mike,

Is there a reason your agent is not interested in subbing this specific PB? Does he/she feel it's too niche? Or that it's "not ready"? The reason I ask is that most agented authors don't sub on their own. . .
#2 - August 23, 2020, 08:26 AM
Freaky Funky Fish ( Running Press Kids, Spring 2021)
Tell Someone (Albert Whitman, Fall 2021)

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Good question. It's not that my agent isn't interested.  She's considering this MS, along with 4 others, for the next story we go out on sub with. We currently have 2 on sub. (One on sub 2+ years, one on sub for 6ish months.) But like I said, a lot of bites, but no offers yet.

In reality, i'd imagine that the story we choose won't go on sub until early 2021. I know the book publishing industry moves slooowly, but I guess I'm looking for ways to be more proactive on my end. I'd feel more comfortable with  more eggs in more baskets, ya know?  That's when I came up with the idea to partner with a brand to publish the PB.  I'm not aware of any PBs that have done this before and I'm curious if it has been done successfully. And how it was done.

I'm beginning to see that i may need to think out of the box to get published.  If i can do anything "non-traditional" to sell the MS, i'm open to it.

Thanks for the help!
Mike


#3 - August 23, 2020, 04:42 PM

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I have a few thoughts. If the brand is mentioned in the book in more than a casual way, you might need permission to use it. If you're suggesting you could revise the manuscript to make it more clear that the brand inspired it, then that could be fine.

I'd ask your agent what they think of the idea. First, they have the ability to scope out all of the legal implications of such a partnership. Second, career advice is part of an agent's job. And third, you agent might not like having been left out of the process up front.

All of that said, there are brands that do books, but usually with Licensees. The brand (Cheerios, Legos, Hasbro) licenses a publisher to produce books using their brand, logos, etc. You'd have to make sure the brand you're interested in doesn't have such an agreement with anyone else. Some larger charities have their own publishing arms too, which might work in your favor if they like your book.

Next, if I'm that brand, I want a percent of profits for the use of my name and logo or up front payment, not just the dubious prospect of publicity. After all, you can't guarantee the book will sell, much less sell well.

Things to think about. Let us know what your agent says if you ask.
#4 - August 23, 2020, 06:05 PM
Website: http://www.debbievilardi.com/
Twitter: @dvilardi1

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Thanks for the advice Debbie. You brought up some good points, especially about the brand wanting to see a % of the profits. That sounds like it would just be one more hand in the honeypot. I will definitely discuss with my agent first and let you know what she says.  Thanks!
#5 - August 24, 2020, 05:38 AM

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