Sometimes it’s impossible not to read a page or two of book files when they are sent to us for printing at Publishers’ Graphics. (It’s my job, right?) But in the case of Jason Kotecki’s book, Escape Adulthood, I read pretty much the whole book, and laughed through a good portion of it.
Jason and Kim Kotecki launched a business that’s now comprised of books, gifts and t-shirts, a cartoon strip series, artwork, and more recently speaking engagements. We thought Jason’s funny story about creating a business and becoming a published author would be inspirational to other writers… and so we’re sharing it here:
It all started out as a way to win over a girl.
I met Kim a long time ago in what seems like a galaxy far, far away. We were part of a group of friends who decided to go Christmas caroling. She was there to sing; I was there to win over a girl. Except it wasn’t Kim. Even though the fluffy white snowflakes provided a very romantic backdrop, I never got the Hollywood movie ending I had hoped for with the girl I was chasing at the time. But Kim, in her red tights, reindeer boxer shorts, Santa hat, and combat boots certainly captured my attention and wouldn’t let go.
In high school I had used my artistic skills to try and win over many a female. I drew cartoons, cute teddy bears, and things like that. Early positive feedback always gave way to the line I wish upon no man: “You’re more like a brother to me.”
For some unknown reason, I tried again with Kim. We shared a very childlike spirit, and so, I used childhood photos to develop cartoon characters based on what we looked like as kids. The characters made their way to homemade (aka cheap) gifts, like greeting cards and calendars and wooden figurines. Amazingly, she seemed to like them, and never once gave me the line about me being like a brother. (I think I owe a lot to the fact that she only had sisters and didn’t actually know what having a brother was like.)
I always thought the characters would make great stars of a comic strip, and I spent a few years sketching ideas here and there. After using them as a big part of my proposal to Kim, I did develop a comic. Sort of a cross between Peanuts and Calvin & Hobbes, it explored life through the eyes of children. I did a daily strip for over six years, posting it mostly online but also getting it in a couple dozen papers across the Midwest.
Interestingly, that led to opportunities to put on cartooning workshops in schools. Meanwhile, a friend urged me to write a book about my life philosophies that I often touched on in my comic strip. I’ve always thought that we have much to learn from children, and that they hold many solutions to the problems of stress and burnout that we adults often face, if only we’d stop in the middle of our busyness long enough to pay attention.
Escape Adulthood: 8 Secrets from Childhood for the Stressed-Out Grown-Up became my first book. And that opened up even more doors. The book became my best business card, and helped lead to speaking engagements across the country, which is the primary way we make a living now. Kim, who taught kindergarten for the first five years of our marriage, now works with me on our business. Our mission is to fight Adultitis, and help people use strategies from childhood to create lives with less stress and more fun. Several books have followed, and we’ve used Publishers’ Graphics to print that first one as well as our latest, called Just You Wait: Adventures in Fighting Adultitis as First Time Parents. They provide the quality and price point that allows us to sell our books online and at our speaking arrangements for profits that people signed with traditional book publishers can only dream about. It’s hard for me to believe that I am able to make a living doing what I love, in a way that combines my gifts of art, writing, and speaking.
Even harder to believe is the fact that it all started out as a way to win over a girl.
For more information about Kim and Jason, you can visit their website.
For more information about Publishers’ Graphics, please visit pubgraphics.com