A Couple of Things I learned in London!

November 30, 2017-Well, it took me long enough! After visiting the London Book Fair, the largest book fair in the world, in March of this year, I’ve finally decided to share a few of my notes. The presenters were phenomenal, and I learned so much. I’m happy to say that at Pandamonium Publishing House, we are constantly trying to implement these ideas in our works. Here’s just a taste of a seminar I attended titled, Children’s Picture Books, Today and Tomorrow which was presented by Christine Baker…she’s the person who introduced Harry Potter to France!

  • Visual and aesthetic changes based on what is coming out of Europe
  • Core is sharing a story between kids and adults
  • Globalization of illustrative talent
  • Smaller publishers=different esthetics, different graphic styles, RETRO styling and online media influence of graphic styles
  • The changes currently are in regards to children’s books polarization in how to sell to people in the market. Books about food (donut on the front or about a shopping trolley sell insane amounts of books in supermarkets)
  • There is a large spectrum of illustrations, and a slightly alternative style is forthcoming
  • DIVERSITY IS HUGE. Be willing to take risks and be experimental, this will open a lot of doors. It’s good to see things from other countries because that itself lends to diversity. The Gruffalo is a great example of this.
  • Rhyming books can be hard to translate, and books for kids don’t always need to rhyme, but rhyming is fun if you do it right!
  • Non-Fiction Narrative is up and coming in this market
  • Unusual measurements-BIG HUGE books are popular
  • Push the boundaries of art
  • The scale is almost furniture size for up and coming picture books. A couple of kids gathered around a huge book as they read it in front of the fireplace on the floor. ­­­
  • Digital content-This is not so important to have books in an app because there isn’t really a demand for it.
  • Non-fiction books can have illustrations rather than photographs. Eg. Great White Shark
  • Screens and tablets can never replace books
  • Physical touching of a book is best, kids with their parents turning the pages, sitting on laps
  • Apps are only good if what you’re doing is interactive. It must be intelligent because apps are difficult to sell.
  • Heavily illustrated early reader novels (5-8 years) are here to stay!
  • Kids always read up!
  • Cross over books are books between picture books and middle-grade novels
  • Tons of writing is told in the imagery
  • Be untraditional, non-traditional, odd, with a different style. Don’t look like everything else in the market! Stand out!
  • Define and describe new categories illustratively
  • Your book is a work of art, be unique and interesting.
  • It’s all about fantastic stories, adventure, characters kids care about that they want to share with their parents, intriguing covers make you want to know what the book is about.
  • The US is the biggest market for books right now, but the UK is the biggest market for picture books.

Image result for the gruffalo

Let’s Talk About Middle-Grade Novels! A Quick and Dirty Guide

November 3, 2017- There seems to be a lot of confusion around three little words…Middle-Grade Novel. Let’s dive into the basics and explore what elements make up a middle-grade novel.

  • Middle-grade books are for kids in grades 4, 5, and 6-ages 9,10, 11.
  • This is a diverse group of readers, and the middle-grade word counts are as follows: books for younger kids are 20,000-25,000 words and the books for the older kids usually contain 35,000-40,000 words.
  • These books are usually large print, fast reads. A great example of a younger middle-grade novel is Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and a great example of an older middle-grade book is our very own Unfrogged by Tamara Botting.

Middle grade interests include the following things:

  • PEERS– I capitalized this word because it’s the single most crucial thing to middle -graders and it’s important to know that kids care what their friends think above anything else at this age!
  • Family-The child is the main character, the child is in the middle, and everything revolves around him or her. For example, parents are getting divorced what does that mean to the child?
  • Self Concept– How do I belong? Who am I? Kids at this age are just starting to figure this out and ask the questions that will eventually shape them into adults.
  • Puberty-Looks, development, gender, opposite sex and relationships.
  • Future-Upon who does the future depend?…It depends on the main character of course!

So if you’re planning on writing for middle-graders, keep the above things in mind!

LB

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