Over five years ago I had the crazy idea to write and illustrate a children's book about racing. I had no formal training to take on this project, just a love of racing, drawing and a desire to create something unique that I could share with my kids since I didn't see anything like what I had in mind in the market.
About a year later after attempting to make sense of the publishing industry and how to bring my vision to life, plus a lot of trial and error in the artwork department, I launched "The Longest Day - A Childhood Race Adventure." This book attempted to capture the magic I and many others felt the first time they attended a race through the eyes of a boy during one of my favorite periods in racing history, the 1950's.
While I grew up in the 80’s, the story grew from my own experience as a boy falling in love with racing the first time I went watched a race in person (CART at Road America ’89; Danny Sullivan wins from pole for Penske). That experience came to life more vividly through my collaboration with Josef Newgarden in my second book, “Josef, The Indy Car Driver” which was launched at the iconic 4-mile track in 2016.
It has been a fast-paced few years for sure. After launching these first two books, in 2017 I released “The Spectacle – Celebrating the History of the Indianapolis 500” and “Kyle Loves Racing.” A year later I am still amazed that I was able to distill 100+ years of Indy 500 history into an illustrated children's book and follow that up effort up with a very different story showcasing the passion one of today's true all-around drivers, Kyle Larson, which focused on Kyle's NASCAR career but included dirt track and sports car racing too.
With each book, I aimed higher to try to build a bigger program with the hope of making Apex Legends a “full time job” or career-like thing. Perhaps I aimed too high with "Kyle Loves Racing," since creating this title required entering into agreements with four different entities, including GM and NASCAR. If you aren't familiar with these types of business arrangements, they typically require a minimum licensing agreement.
My logic was based largely on how sales of the IndyCar-themed books had progressed and perceived larger fanbase of dirt / stock car racing. Unfortunately, once the book launched it was difficult to get much promotional support given all the other messaging priorities teams and drivers face in the world of NASCAR, and sales fell far short of projections.
Given the reality of sales figures, I attempted to renegotiate all of the licensing agreements to eliminate the minimum payments I was saddled with. Some entities were accommodating; one wasn’t. So, I have elected to withdraw "Kyle Loves Racing" from the market. Although the other titles continue to sell at a reasonable pace, I've been forced to evaluate the future of Apex Legends when it comes to physical books sales.
Exploring new opportunities
Since each book takes anywhere between 350-500 hours to create, it is imperative that the sales volume exists to help justify the cost in terms of time. While I've sold over 11,000 Apex Legends books (most self-publisher stats say 150 is the average), I am looking at reducing book creation and shifting to a more digitally-focused model.
The ultimate goal is to develop a platform that allows Apex Legends content to provide a broader impact without the overhead and limitations of physical books. I am exploring opportunities to build digital content to teach kids about racing. I am also hoping as a bi-product I can create materials to help support STEM and other educational platforms.
I have been extremely fortunate to have the support of folks within the motorsports media and racing community along the way, and I am hopeful to leverage these relationships to partner in bringing this vision to life. There are a few viable avenues being pursued already, so we'll see how this progresses!
Winding down book sales... at least for now
I am working to sell and donate the remaining book inventory I have over the next few months, so if you want a book - especially one of the remaining driver-signed copies, now is the time.
Is that really it for books, you ask? For now, yes. But, I am a believer in the phrase "never say never" and I have a short list of book projects that I'd likely jump on should the opportunity present itself to do so! In the mean time, I am going to focus on evaluating the best approach to shift the brand to a digital content platform.
Stay tuned :)
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