Sunday, December 17, 2006

Children’s Books

I’ve gotten a couple of e-mails asking about children’s books and I thought it best to answer them at once. I’m not an expert in this field but I’ve been in negotiations with more than one big children’s publisher so I believe I have insight to share. I, in no way, mean to discourage or demean anyone’s writing aspirations.

I have just three short points to make.
1) Most new parents (I know) have entertained thoughts of writing a children’s book. I get asked by someone if I’d be interested in illustrating their book at almost every party or get together. Or if I can recommend an illustrator for them. It’s not necessary to pitch an idea with illustrations. If you find an illustrator willing to work for spec (free) to illustrate a book not signed to a large contract yet then that illustrator probably doesn’t have the clout to help you land a deal. Often it just makes you look like an amateur. Publishers would rather assign “their” artists to books instead of the writer insisting on anyone in particular (especially a friend or cousin).

I truly believe everyone has a good book in them. But publishers want to hire writers, not someone who is interested in writing one book. You want and need to demonstrate your desire to go pro and produce books. My children book friends create multiple books a year. So if you’re serious, you’re thinking many books. Toward that end;
2) Find an agent, then
3) Write convincing, professional book proposals, which show an understanding of the current market.

Courses and/or books can teach you how to accomplish number 2 and 3. Hope this helps get your book ideas published!

(In a similar vein I often get approached with the “perfect joke for The New Yorker.” The New Yorker has no interest in buying a singular cartoon from someone who may not write another decent punch line for another six months. They cultivate regulars they can rely on. For that reason they only hire cartoonists who prove they are prolific. Cartoonists for the New Yorker submit up to 40 cartoons a month in hopes of getting 1 out of every 10 cartoons accepted.)

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