by Dr Robert Spalding
The Adventure of the Golden Toenails
Fu Fu's for President Obama and Diversity Publishing.
Everyone reading this section hopes to have a winner of a book project, or we would not be here to listen to others. Eight years ago the illustrated book of my dreams, The Kingdom of Fu Fu, was born of hard work and an effort to market a cute character called a Fu Fu.
This book on diversity has been a labor of love. Anyone reading this website should be aware that love of your work may be the only reward you may get in this venture.
After investigating the traditional publishing route, it was my feeling that whether this book was going to live or die, it would be in my hands and not the hands of others. The royalty payment structure, the time before printing and the lack of a literary agent made self publishing the best route. (Printing was done by Waldenhouse.)
Forming my own publishing company, called the Chattanooga Fu Fu Factory, was really not hard; nor was writing the material that difficult. But the editing was tremendously expensive. Illustrated books in color with the best binding are the most expensive type of book to print and the most difficult book property to market.
The competition is so huge that unless you are a celebrity, blessed with a huge advertising budget or co-marketing an incredible niche toy product, you will almost never make your money back in the first year or two. Your best hope is to look out over a 5 to 10 year horizon.
Do not count on your book feeding your family. Don’t do it unless you can afford it. That is my best advice.
I set up a booth at the Javits Center in NYC, for toy fair, which is not cheap. Several manufacturers approached me, but they had advantages in cost factoring and production that I didn't. That still seems to be the case, but I am a bit more savvy now.
I entered this business with the same delusions of grandeur that most people with little knowledge of the publishing industry have; the actual experience has been a real education. The book has had some success, being purchased by several libraries, mainly due to a nice paragraph in Midwest Book Review.
The book was briefly picked up by Penton Overseas, a book distributor who had only marginal success, then dropped 6 months later. Undeterred, I tried Amazon, then realized I could set up a Pay Pal account just as easily.
My final advice: get a website, email anyone who will look at your project, give away a few pages to tease, and keep showing it to anyone who will read it or critique it. Schools and libraries are a good start. We also have a 30 second animated movie on YouTube at
...but all this cost money.
Keep at it and continue to improve your marketing delivery. 5% of us will make it, the rest will be buried with our books in hand. If you accept those odds, you are ready to meet this industry head on.
Experience diversity with the Fu Fu's.