Sunday, 16 February 2014

Picture Books Aren't Just For Kids

When working on a new picture book I'm not just writing it for children, I'm writing it for a list of people. This list consists of:
  • Commissioning editor
  • Marketing department
  • Bookseller
  • Purchaser

That is a lot of people to get my book passed before it lands in front of the eyes of a child. I therefore have to ensure my story fulfils the criteria each one of the above has. I therefore  have to consider many different things as I work on a new title. These are: 
For the commissioning editor I have to try and produce a story that is often character led. So I need a strong character that has to overcome a conflict or one that 'grows.' This means I have to have a plot with a strong start, an interesting middle and a satisfying end. Editors often like a lesson to be learnt, even if this is subtle as in my picture book 'Dog Did It' where the message is not to blame others for your own actions.

The marketing department are looking for a book that can be sold globally and will sell year round. This is why some publishers prefer animals as main characters because they can cross most borders. The marketing department also wants a book that will sell well to a parent or grandparent but also someone buying for an institution such as a school or library. Lastly they want a book that has something they can use to help sell the title for example it has a clever twist to the ending as in 'Tadpoles Promise' written by Jeanne Willis and illustrated by Tony Ross.  

A bookseller has similar needs to the marketing department. They want a book they can place on their shelves and sell itself. This is why humour often works well. If the adult who picks up the book smiles as they are reading it they are more likely to buy it. A bookseller not only needs a book that looks good but also one a child will want read to them time and again. 

Although a picture book is aimed a children it is an adult who purchases it. They are not just looking for value for money but also something they won't mind reading 10, 20, 30 or more times.

So next time you pick up a picture book remember it's been written with you in mind, not just the child you'll be reading it to. 

I have three new distance learning courses commencing soon via Women On Writing:

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