Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Changing Face of Children's Publishing


Rowena here.

My first book published was a children's book, selected from the slush pile by an editor from Scholastic. At that point I didn't even know there was a difference between Trade and Educational children's books.

This is the cover of my latest book, the third in The Lost Shimmaron series. About 4 years ago my writing group, ROR, was at a retreat (hiding out from our families, critiquing our manuscripts), when I suggested we come up with a shared world series.

Over a bottle of wine, in front of an open fire, we devised a great premise for the series. One that gave us plenty of freedom to write in the genres of horror, science fiction and fantasy. And one that had an over-reaching story arc that would be satisfying for the reader, while having closure in each book. A pretty tall order.

In between these two books I've had nearly 3o children's books published, mostly Educational, meaning, they were nice little stories, often genre. One of my top sellers was a humorous fantasy story about a baby-sitter who discovers the four children she has to mind are witches. (How do you discipline a naughty little withchling?) These were the kind of stories that went into the class room in in boxed sets and the children read their way through them as their reading skills improved. I can remember the sort of stories I had to read as a child. Very worthy and not much fun. I'd like to think I made some kids happy to read.

I like writing for children. Having 6 kids of my own I'm always seeing funny things that would make a good story. I used to get about 3 letters or emails from the Educational Publishers each year, asking for submissions. They'd let me know the target age group, word length and range of topics. One story was about involuntary muscle reactions, a bully and a clever girl who gets the best of him. It was fun writing kids' stories, knowing I might submit several and was pretty sure to sell one.

But in the last few years things have changed. I hardly ever hear from the Educational Publishers now. My theory is that the proliferation of free resources on the internet has made it tougher for Educational Publishers to survive, which in makes it harder for us Educational writers.

Luckily, I also write for adults, although I hesitate to say I write adult books!

Cheers, Rowena.

1 comment:

Dave Freer said...

I sometimes feel we're in a time warp here. One of my friends from the little writers group we got started here, is a illustrator - Chantelle Thorne. She's good - and has started writing... and gets queries from educational publishers - she passed some on to the rest of us with the result that two of us have now sold to the educational book market. Mind you, you could starve relying on it.