600
9 min 3 sec

Canadian Colleagues Publish Children’s Books About Real Life

Two Canadian mothers shake up the children’s book narrative by publishing stories that tell the truth about hard things in life.
Books International Kids Product Self-Publishing

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What It's About

Two moms exchange pumpkins and glass slippers for real-life lessons!

Business Model
Product
Skills Required
Writing & Storytelling
Complexity
Medium
Profit Potential
Medium

Words of Wisdom

Working as a copywriter, Meaghan understood that good products don’t sell themselves. And she was prepared.

She knew that in order to narrow down to your target audience you had to do a little research. Meaghan started by getting a feel for their competition on Instagram and mirroring some of their methods for reaching out to followers. She followed them and checked in on their posts to see who their most active followers were and what resonated with them. What she noticed is that the bulk of the followers were predominately female or people with children (naturally) and she built an audience profile based on that.

Fun Fact

The first week Meaghan and Niki launched, they received a couple hate mail messages, and it was alarming and totally disheartening. They knew that some people wouldn't be fans of the books, but within the first day, they got four angry emails. People who hadn't even read the books were simply objecting to them based on their titles. They were literally judging a book by its cover. In hindsight, Meaghan says that they haven't received a single angry email since so they're very happy and take feedback in stride. But at the time it was pretty upsetting.

Notes from Chris

Episode 600
Meaghan Hadwyn and Niki Snjaric were just two moms in Toronto, Canada… two moms who were fed up with puppies, rainbows, counting sheep… pumpkins… and magic polar bears. The whole lot, really.

No, they weren’t fed up with real puppies, or real rainbows, or real pumpkins. Meaghan and Niki were just fed up with the cliche tropes that existed in children’s stories. The tropes that fail to reflect the reality humans live in.

Each trip to the children’s book section left them feeling more frustrated than enchanted. Where was the honesty? Where were the books that were helping plant the seeds of empathy and resilience in the next generation?

Answering these questions became the centric focus for Meaghan and Niki when they decided to change the narrative—the children’s story narrative, that is. This decision to shed the tulle-coated world of fairy godmothers, prince charmings, and kissing frogs led them to create Other Life Lessons, an honest children's book series that focuses on teaching kids about the real ups and downs of life.

Other Life Lessons was launched several months ago, but the inception of this business has much, much earlier roots… The story of Other Life Lessons took form eight years ago when Meaghan and Niki started working together at a Toronto advertising agency.

Since they met, they’ve been working together as a team... which forged them into an inseparable dynamic duo. During this time, they did everything together—they even had babies born a mere six weeks apart! At this point, Niki and Meaghan’s whole world revolved around thoughts of what future life lessons they would teach their children.

This is when it all clicked.

This is when they realized that their kids needed an honest children's book series that focused on teaching the ups and downs of life. No fuzzy metaphors. No hiding the truth. REAL life lessons that packed a metaphorical, real-world punch.

So they took matters into their own hands.

The duo wanted to start with three titles and build their brand out from there, and it made sense for them to focus on some life lessons that children might have to learn early in life: Life’s Not Fair (about accepting the downs, celebrating the ups, and showing how hard work can help to make all the difference), Sometimes Someone Dies (reminder that even though we experience loss, we never let go of the love), and Why Mommy Works (a glimpse at a few of the many reasons Mom works and shows who is in her thoughts throughout the workday).

Since Niki had a lot of experience using Adobe Illustrator at her day job, she set to work creating all of the fun graphics and illustrations for the books, and Meaghan started weaving together the stories. And once the stories were complete, they’d join the two together in Illustrator and download a file that could go straight to the printer.

There was a lot of trial and error when it came to designing the physical book itself, but in the end, they landed on a 6”x6” soft cover book with 36 matte pages. And since they wanted to get a better feel for the market, they decided to order 9,000 books (3,000 of each title).

But, after five months since the birth of Other Life Lessons, Meaghan and Niki have made $16,000 and have sold over 2,600 books!

So what’s next for the motherly dream team? Well, they’re already working on printing series two of Other Life Lessons. They continue to expand the store, and now that their startup costs are paid off, they’ll enjoy making money from every sale.

 
  MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

  • Other Life Lessons: Give your children's bedtime story a bit of an upgrade and set them up for life. Learn more about the books Meaghan and Niki have written over on their website!

  • Shopify: Meaghan and Niki used Shopify to set up their site for Other Life Lessons, and they're offering a 21-day trial and exclusive discount for all Side Hustle School listeners!
  • MailChimp: The email marketing platform that Meaghan and Kelly used to connect with those who were interested in Other Life Lessons

SEE ALSO:

Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,

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Quote of the Day
"Research, read, research... and, of course, read some more! If you're planning on going a less conventional route, understand the rules before you break them."
—Meaghan Hadwyn #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau