May 3, 2019– It’s that day of the week again (aka FriYay) where we head on over to Publisher’s Corner to answer your questions about writing and publishing and today’s question is a doozy!
Q: “Lacey, I’ve written a picture book and I keep getting rejected! One publisher told me that my manuscript was boring…I don’t know what to do, please help!”
A: Ouch. Let me just say that at least this person got a response back from a publisher that wasn’t just a form letter and now the writer can regroup and start again. The publisher isn’t being a jerk because they want to be, they’re just sick and tired of the same old, same old. Let me explain what publisher’s DON’T WANT to see in Kid’s books.
- They don’t want the same old characters. Diversity is key. We want to see characters that have different backgrounds, different beliefs, and celebrations, that have different abilities, different family units, and different ethnicities. Kids want to see books on the shelves that look like them! They can’t be what they can’t see.
- They don’t want the same old story. Done to death is an expression that I use more often than I’d like to. We are tired of the same old stories that sound like this, “Timmy went to school and had a nice day. His teacher was nice, he made friends and came home. He couldn’t wait to go to school the next day. The End.” Someone please hand me a sharp object so that I can gouge my eyes out. Look at books that are unique and different a la The Day The Crayons Quit, or The Book With No Pictures, or P is for Pterodactyl. (Three of my favourites that I wish I had written, insert crying face here.)
- They don’t want something that won’t sell. Salability is key. A picture book is around an $8,000.00 investment for the publisher. We want to at least make our money back and then some. Don’t send us a book that preaches to kids (leave that to the parents) or that is the fifteenth of it’s kind (eg. Diary of a Not So Wimpy Kid…also a legal liability) or that is not marketable. I’ll leave the politics and religion out of this, but I know you get the drift.
Those are just three things we don’t want to see on our desk as publishers. There are more, but if you stick to leaving these out, you’ll have a good shot at getting your manuscript read. X LLB