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Publisher’s Corner…Kid’s Books & What Publisher’s DON’T WANT

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.)
  3. 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

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Pitching Your Self-Pub to a Literary Agent…

February 20, 2019– So, you’ve self-published a book, and now you want to pitch your book to a literary agent. This is a tougher road to submission versus the traditional route because publishing is all about sales figures. It can be confusing and frustrating so here’s how to do it right and get your query read!

  1. Sales. Yep, the almighty dollar. Publishing is a business and should be treated as such. How many copies has your book sold? This does NOT include FREE downloads. Please do not query an agent unless you’ve sold 2000-3000 print books or 10,000-20,000 ebooks.  Agents look for books that encompass money and success, you must show that your work is above the millions of other books that are self-published each year and one way to do this is to put your money where your mouth is. Prove that your book is saleable with the cash it’s already raked in.
  2. Media attention. Amazon reviews don’t count so I’ll stop you right there. Query an agent only when your book has received reviews from mainstream media such as newspapers, magazines, and tv shows. The bigger, the better!
  3. Bring on the accolades. Has a high profile author or celebrity said something nice about your book? Has an expert in the field you’ve written about endorsed your work? If not, don’t approach an agent until you’ve got some attention from notable names! A blurb or endorsement from a well-known person is an invaluable marketing tool that will better your chances of an agent wanting to represent you.

Eventually, we will delve into the how-to of getting a literary agent to represent your work, but that’s for another blog post down the road. Start with this and when you fulfill the above requirements, we’ll talk. Happy writing! X LLB

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