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, they no longer offset my overhead costs to keep the doors open.
Facing the unfortunate balance of fiscal responsibility against chasing my dreams, I have decided to close down Apex Legends within the next three months or so.
This wasn't an easy decision, but it is likely the right one. Plus, I can take solace in knowing there have been many positives that came from the experience.
Most stats I have seen indicate that the typical self-published titled author only sells around 150 books. To date, I have sold over 10,000 hardcover and coloring books, so by that measure, I am satisfied with what was accomplished with Apex Legends.
But more importantly, I am pleased with the impact I know the books have provided in creating new race fans and helping parents and grandparents who love the sport bond with their kids. While I would have loved for this to have grown into a profitable, sustainable business, this was ultimately the real goal of Apex Legends in the first place. To all of you who have made my books part of your reading time with your kids, I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to help you enjoy that experience!
My one regret is not being able to get the books in front of more kids who weren't as familiar with racing to help them discover the sport. I still strongly believe that this sort of activity is vital to the long-term growth of racing; it is getting harder to find new fans. However, programs I attempted to put in place such as #RacingReader just never really caught on. Perhaps my ambition outpaced the resources available to promote and spread the word? Hard to say, but if nothing else, I know I tried.
I have been extremely fortunate to have the support of folks within the motorsports media and racing community along the way. I can't say enough what it meant to me have some fairly prominent people in the sport recognize what I was trying to achieve and offer support knowing through contact connections, approvals to use names and likenesses, or to help promote the book. Thanks to all of you who helped open doors, allow cars, drivers, tracks and drivers to be featured, and spread the word about these books!
Winding Down… At Least For Now
Over the next few months, I plan on highlighting a few of my favorite Apex Legends moments on this site and social media. Please feel free to reach out or share yours as well! And you never know, I may be back at it at some point in the future. There were some really exciting projects being discussed that I would love to bring to life, or perhaps shift my business model in a different direction. Time will tell!
Now I am focused on selling the remaining product inventory. It is a great time to pick up a few books for yourself or as gifts for the Holidays while they are still available. Anything left over will likely be donated to a good cause. I am also exploring a few options to keep one or two of the titles available in the future.
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Still going through NASCAR racing season withdrawal? Looking for something fun to do with your kids while they are home from school over Thanksgiving break? Want a chance of winning a free signed copy of the "Kyle Loves Racing" book and coloring book?
If you answered "yes" to any of the above, then the "Kyle Loves Racing" coloring giveaway is perfect for you!
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