We had the good fortune of connecting with Sergio Liden and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sergio, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I have been writing since the age of 15, 33 years now. Coming upon children’s books only after the birth of my daughter, it was a medium that both better helped me understand my role as a dad and the childhood I lacked. After the birth of my son, the inspiration to write more books hit me on a regular basis so that today I thus far have over 30 books.
Mel Brooks, famous filmmaker stated he directs the scripts he’s written to protect the words on the page, and he produces the films he’s directed to protect each shot he took. In this same manner, I started a publishing company in order to protect the words of the stories, have input on the illustrations for each book (I story board every illustration before sending them to my illustrator), and of course the marketing of every book. Without owning the company, all books would be edited, there would be no creative control over illustrations, and the image sent out to promote each book would be created by someone else besides me, the creator of the books.
One of the most famous children’s books, Where The Wild Things Are, was written by Maurice Sendak. The author was not allowed to do the illustrations for that book. He decided that without his illustrations, the book would not be. Harper, the publishing company gave in, and now we have the book with “STORY AND PICTURES BY MAURICE SENDAK”, written across the front of the book. Since it was published in 1963, the book has sold 20 million copies and been translated into 32 languages.
Publishing companies pay so much attention to the bottom line that the product gets drowned out. And this is why I started a publishing company. I want to not only release the books I have written but to also sign other authors who want a little more control over their product. Let’s give it back to the artists.
And being Latino, I feel being behind as well as in front of the camera, could inspire others to take back control.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I don’t know how to type. I am an author who has to look down at the keys to hit the correct letter. With that being said, it takes me under 10 minutes to write a children’s book. I have written over 30. I’m sure if I learned to type the 10 minutes would drop, but that’s just how things are today. Writing is not something I do every day like having a 9 to 5 job, but when the inspiration hits, it has to happen now. Today I have a publishing company that is releasing a book every one to two months. And book schedules are already set through 2025.
I’m 48 years old. When I was 24, I counted how many jobs I had in my life up to that point and I stopped when I reached 125. I have found the adage true, “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” And I haven’t worked for many years now.
There are eight books on my nightstand. If there is a cause that matters to me, I don’t go to social media, I go to the airport. It’s too easy to talk about things that matter. This is why I prefer to do something about them.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Being I live in Los Angeles, I would tell anyone visiting “tinsletown” to visit the stars on the walk of fame. The beach is a must visit, Venice Beach for the interesting people over there, Santa Monica Beach for it’s pier, and Malibu for the more mellow and beautiful beaches. The Sunset strip is a given to visit. Los Angeles has some amazing restaurants. The Duck House is awesome, Iroha Sushi of Tokyo is really good, The Rainbow Bar and Grill is a lot of fun at night,
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
To give only one person credit for my achievements is difficult because there have been so many inspiring people I have met. My wife and children are the simple answer. To go back a little bit, I have to credit Elin Bradley for my life. I was 15 and was trying to figure out a childhood a therapist would later tell me was one of the most violent in California history. I was living in a group home, and the program director, Elin, listened to me. She told me I mattered before I thought I did. She loved me before I knew how to love myself. I soon left and returned at 17. Elin Bradley welcomed me back to the group home with open arms and one evening she came by the house I was sharing with five other guys and took me to my first AA meeting. I’ve been sober now over 30 years. I would have none of my life without my sobriety and it wouldn’t have happened without the love I received from Elin Bradley.
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