Saturday, February 19, 2011

So You Want to Write a Children's Book?

We have a lot of writers who approach us about publishing their children's book. Here is what always both amuses and confounds me. Nine times out 10, these writers have not studied what children like. They are convinced that having been a child at one time in their own lives, they understand today's children. Well, today's breed of young children are not yesterday's. These are kids who fondest wish for their birthdays is an iPad. Yes, my now teenage son wanted an iPad. My daughter who just turned 7 plays on it. She would rather play Club Penguin than crack a book, which we don't allow in this house. She has to show a healthy interest in books too. And with the paradigm shift in interests, and most importantly, expectations, kids expect more from their books too. Flat pictures just don't always carry the show anymore. And the books my kids do love are often not what you would expect. This week's favorite is Bad Kitty Gets a Bath -- a black-and-white illustrated grade school book. My daughter howls with laughter over this book. She loves the humor and sarcasm written just for her level. But when I read Bad Kitty, I am the one making her laugh. I am making Bad Kitty even funnier. So on one level you have kids who want a side of special effects with their books, and on the other hand, sometimes it's still just all about the content. But don't come to me without having tested your concept on your audience. And here is what is going to just kill you. I test out the children's submissions on my kids. My daughter is the perfect age. If the book doesn't meet her standards then your dead in the book water. Don't take offense to it. I'm not your target market -- she is!

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