Writing a Rap Coloring Book Is Not That Easy
Earlier this week, Bun B's Rap Coloring and Activity Book, a book that I wrote and illustrated and that was curated by the superhero Bun B, went on sale.
The day that it officially released, I sent an untold number of texts, letting people know that it was out. I watched it move online, refreshing its Amazon listing infinity times and clicking through Twitter searches for "Bun B coloring" even more. And I plotted on where I'd go with my family after work to buy a proper copy (we settled on Barnes and Noble in River Oaks). It was, to be sure, an especially enjoyable day.
But there was A TON of work that went into it beforehand. More than I'd even anticipated. LOADS more. Like, I don't know if FUCKLOAD is a real word or not, but that's how I'd describe it.
Drawing the pages didn't take a terrible amount of time. All told, it was probably between 80-100 hours, which wasn't bad considering I was given about five months to finish them. What took the most time was all of the tiny stuff that I had to do before drawing anything.
All of the people in the book gave us written permission to do so, and, I mean, it's just not that easy to email Drake or Wiz Khalifa and so on. They all have teams of people who filter all the silliness that gets tossed their way, and you have to make your way past all of them to get stuff done.
Questlove of the Roots
It provided some very neat moments. Trading emails with RiFF RAFF was dope, for example. And every time I got an email or text saying that Rapper X had decided he or she wanted to be in the book, I felt like doing a fucking backflip. And I was able to meet a ton of interesting people (the guys from Rostrum were cool and so was VICE and Fool's Gold and Atlantic and Drake's team was super on point and Jorge Hinojosa and Adam Aziz and Richie and Carron and Christine and Mannion and Glen Friedman and like 1,000 more). But it was also definitely taxing.
Were I to guess, I'd estimate that I sent somewhere close to 40 million emails between January and May. I think I traded texts with everybody in Florida before I was able to accident my way into a conversation with Rick Ross's manager (who, as it were, was very helpful). And there was a bunch of finagling that had to be done as well. (Example: The likeness form that everyone signed had bits and pieces in it that needed to be reworked for each individual rapper.) And it just went on and on like that.
There were moments when it felt like I was too far away from the shore to swim back, for sure. I mean, it's just a lot of pressure when one of the most influential southern rappers of all-time tells you he wants a book done, bro. But Bun was great. He responded to an uncountable number of "OH MY GOD WE'RE NOT GONNA GET ALL OF THIS STUFF DONE IN TIME KILL ME NOW CRY CRY CRY" texts with some variation of "We'll be fine, Shea" over and over again.
Story continues on the next page.
My editor at ABRAMS, Samantha Weiner, was just phenomenal. (It should also be mentioned that ABRAMS, big as they are, does a wonderful job of making even their tiniest authors, me in this instance, feel wanted and important. Example: Shortly after I'd signed my contract a shipment of children's books arrived at my doorstep for my sons just because. They did stuff like that the whole process.) And my wonderful wife, my perfect perfect wife, would scoop up my brains and insert them back in any time they turned to mush and fell out of my nose.
It was a ton of work, yes. And I don't think I'd want to start again tomorrow.
But walking into that Barnes and Noble and seeing the book -WALKING INTO BARNES AND NOBLE AND SEEING THAT BOOK--holy crap, man. Totally worth it. Or, rather: a FUCKLOAD worth it.
So please buy it. I already quit my other jobs in thoroughly unforgivable fashions, so it's kind of all I got.
Buy Bun B's Rap Coloring And Activity Book here. And come to Cactus Music tomorrow from 1-2 p.m. to get it signed by Bun B and Shea.
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