About 8 months after graduation, I had a thought to write a book about animation for beginners (creatively titled – Animation For Beginners.) That book later on became an Amazon #1 Bestseller under Animation (and some other categories for a few days). It still sells copies everyday (despite being priced on the higher end of the pricing spectrum at $29.)
While being a self-publishing success, the decision to write this book didn’t come easily, and I had some concerns before going forward with it. Certain thoughts were holding me back and I almost didn’t go through with it.
It wasn’t because I didn’t want to. The goal of having a published book is something I always wanted to achieve. So what was it?
There’s something in all of us that sometimes rises against our will. It’s the feeling that we’re not good enough. This issue can present itself in many different forms.
“Why would anyone care about what I have to say?”
“I don’t know enough to talk about this.”
“I’m not an expert or an authority.”
“I’m too young / old.”
And in my case – “I just graduated from college, I don’t have much experience as an animator. who am I to write a book about animation?”
This happens to the best and smartest people I know. Almost every time I approached someone with the idea of writing a book I could see the way they backed away, almost involuntarily. It’s a scary thought, and it brings out all those thoughts I wrote above.
Despite all these things, I did know one thing: My blog was attracting thousands of animation beginners (and people who consider getting into animation) every month. There was a flood of people interested in what I knew and what I had to say.
So whenever I was overwhelmed by those crippling thoughts, I simply asked myself these 3 questions:
Question 1: When I was a high school student, thinking about getting into animation, did I look for this kind of information?
The answer was yes.
Question 2: Was there enough good information about what’s it like being an animator, and the journey to become one?
Question 3: Do I now know most of the things I wanted to know back then, before college?
You see, while I wasn’t some animation guru with 30 years of experience at Disney, I didn’t really have to be. There are plenty of great books about the mastery of animation, but a book from the perspective of a young aspiring animation filmmaker? Talking about things like getting your demo reel in order, getting work, making your own films independently?
That was my unique angle, and no one can say I wasn’t qualified to talk about it: I just finished my seconds self-produced animated short, all while freelancing as a character animator at different studios in New York.
That is why people wanted this book. It talked about things they felt they can achieve. It resonated with them.
This is such an important concept to understand. You don’t need to be an expert on an entire subject to create compelling content about it. You only need to know enough about your personal angle.
You need to know more than the people you’re trying to teach. And that’s what I did.
I didn’t teach veteran animators much, but people who considered getting into the animation industry love this book, because it answers so many of their questions in a way no animation textbook does.
I hope this story makes you think about that project you wanted to pursue, but felt you’re not ready or not good enough to do so.