How to write a children’s book that editors know they can go for…
What do editors want?
- This is a total mystery to most writers , so we have to be cunning sleuths…
- What might they go for? … Pick up your magnifying glass – let’s start to see if we can find any clues…
- Start by examining the crime scene…
- What do children like reading
- What will parents buy/ librarians stock?
- What has succeeded before?
- Why has it succeeded before?
- Editors go for some books that include factors which are totally beyond your control.
- So don’t be side tracked…
Things beyond your control
- Being famous like David Beckham
- Already being published by the editor
- Having entered the canon like To Kill a Mockingbird.
What does that leave?
- So only look at books that:
- Are written by a writer like you
- Have no extraordinary advantages in terms of editor-go-for-ness.
So what DO editor’s think they can go for?
- I’m an author –so I don’t really know – so I have to make an educated guess: a book that they can:
- Sell rights to?
- Get into festivals?
- Interest bloggers?
- Get into schools?
- Create a buzz about?
- Take to book fairs?
- LIKE ? (that’s pretty vague!)
Hopefully Megan can tell us more!
Back to the crime scene…What did those successful books do?
- Pleased librarians
- Engaged child readers
- Were age appropriate
- Educational ? Or dealt with interesting issues?
- Page turning
- High concepts
- Original and unusual USPs
- Well written
What do I (The Mussi) do?
Before I try to get that killer contract I…
- Research books being currently published (by publication house if possible)
- I try to create a data base of the interests of editors (don’t often get very far with that)
- I read new books out
- I interview children on their likes and dislikes
4 Key Ingredients – I always try to include in a proposal
- Some depth in the story
- Page turnability
- Original and exciting concept or a new original exciting take on an old one
- Interesting voice or narration
So how do I set about doing that?
- I brainstorm ideas that suit
- I eliminate any idea that are not original enough
- I check the idea against the list /data base I’ve created
- I write a story pitch for the idea
- I repeat this until I have a portfolio of possible ideas
- I send them out to other trusted readers for feedback (I am only interested in negative feedback)
- I redraft the ideas
- I can go straight to my agent…
- but if you don’t have one…
- You will need to write up the first few thousand words. (If an editor is interested in one of my ideas I have to do that too.)
- And send it out or pitch it – at a one to one.
And what if nothing happens?
- I do it all over again.
- My philosophy is very simple
- If at first you don’t succeed – give up (with that idea)
- Where there’s a will there’s a way (and if there’s no way there’re always excuses)
- if they aren’t interested in an idea, and don’t think it’ll sell – then why the heck should I be?