Coloring books, a favorite childhood activity, have captivated adults around the world and now dominate the Amazon bestseller list. Two of the top ten bestsellers are coloring books for adults, displacing 50 Shades of Grey and pushing Harper Lee’s Go Watchman down the list.
The Adult Coloring Book Stampede
Though the rankings change hourly, two coloring books for adults have been consistent. Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book by UK-based artist and illustrator Johanna Basford has sold over a million copies. Close behind in bestseller ranking is Adult Coloring Book Stress Relieving Patterns by Blue Star Coloring, a Texas publisher whose images are created by several illustrators.
Kristine Anderson, Dover Vice President of Marketing, told me, “Dover Publications, founded in 1941 publishing reissues, created the first coloring book for adults, Antique Automobiles Coloring Book, in 1970.”
Noticing a growing interest in coloring books for adults, Dover created the Creative Haven line in 2012, now with over 100 titles on themes ranging from mandalas to fashion. In 2015 Dover declared August 2nd National Coloring Book Day and encouraged colorists to host coloring parties. One of those coloring book party hosts was Chicago resident Mary Winters-Myer.
Like many coloring book creators, Winters-Myer is not a professional illustrator. She has a degree in English and worked as a freelance editor and web developer. Although she engaged in art from childhood, it wasn’t until she wanted to leave programming that she found creating coloring books.
Seeing the growing interest among other colorists, she started a public Facebook group, https://www.facebook.com/groups/ColoringBooksForAdults/ in January 2015 and published her own coloring book, Dragons, Knots, Bots and More!, in April 2015.
By April the membership of Winters-Myer’s Facebook group had grown to 300. She was interviewed for an NBC nightly News story on coloring, and even though her segment didn’t get aired, 175 people a day began flocking to her Facebook group pushing her membership to 19,594 on last count.
After hosting a successful coloring party at her local library and getting encouraged by the engagement of her followers, Mary has created a digital magazine coloronmag.com set to launch in October 2015.
Lucy Fyles, a former UK psychiatric inpatient nursing assistant, sought comfort for her own severe anxiety disorder in adult coloring books. Eager to help her patients she began creating coloring books. Now housebound, she reviews adult coloring books from her blog, colouringinthemidstofmadness.wordpress.com.
Colorado resident Tammi Hoerner earned a degree in graphic design but started a career as a wellness coach instead. After publishing her print book Lessons for Mom Positive Living – Attainable Wellness for Modern Moms she searched for tools to help her clients laugh, play and have fun. The results are two complementary coloring books.
Everyone is not convinced of the healing benefits of adult coloring. In a June 13, 2015 Psychology Today article, “Are You Having a Relationship with an Adult Coloring Book?” Cathy Malchiodi, art therapist and psychotherapist, pooh-poohs reports that coloring creates mindfulness, relieves stress, and compares to art therapy. She said, “While I have no doubt that many colorists ‘feel better’ after a session with a coloring book and even a group coloring fest, it is not art therapy by any definition.”
Kansas colorist Cathy Veitch Williams shared her thoughts on Malchiodi’s viewpoint:
“I was a psychiatric nurse for a number of years, and art therapy has been used in the psychiatric setting for decades as a way to express emotions and relieve stress and anxiety. Personally, I am amazed at the things I am able to process and resolve without actively trying, doing nothing more than sitting down to color for a while. My anxiety attacks have almost ceased to exist and usually I sleep better.”
Some authors are designing coloring books to complement their print books and create another stream of income. Those who feel lacking in artistic ability collaborate with illustrators or art therapists or learn how to create their own images from the hundreds of YouTube videos.
Interested? You can get up to speed fastest by joining the 20+ Facebook groups where members generously swap techniques, tools, and marketing strategies. Group members may even become customers as they seek new designs to complete. Begin your search with keywords like adult coloring, coloring for adults, and adult coloring group. Read and be prepared to accept the group guidelines before you join.
Whatever your approach, Dover Vice President of Marketing Kristine Anderson says “Be true to your art.” She reminds us that customers who love your style and themes may buy more than one copy of the same book so they can create different color combinations of the same designs.
Winters-Myers cautions, “This is not a get-rich-quick scheme.” Go for the long haul: build your audience, get involved with a community, avoid stealing others’ designs, and enjoy the ride…
Flora Morris Brown is an author, publishing coach, and a confirmed coffee snob with an unhealthy love of British murder mysteries. When she’s not writing, traveling, or researching (OK, spending too much time on the Internet) she helps aspiring authors steer clear of self-publishing pitfalls and potholes and realize their publishing dreams. She lives in Anaheim, CA.
Connect with Flora on Twitter @florabrown, Instagram@florabrown2u, linkedin.com/in/florabrown, and http://coloryourlifepublished.com. Her 11th book, Color Your Life Happy: Create Your Unique Path and Claim the Joy You Deserve, will be published October 26, 2015. Get pre-order and other information at http://coloryourlifehappy.com