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Lifino
September 16th, 2003, 11:33 AM
Not Jouvy, but KIDS books. You know the sort; Each page is dominated by a drawing or illustration, sentence structure is short and simple, often the story is told in under 30 sentences...

I was interested in what your oppinions were in regards to these books. They are our first introduction to reading, often the primary tool for learning our letters, and provide hours of entertainment. But on the other hand there is rarely character development and the plot is simplified to the completion of a single task. From the stand point of the writer, do you think writing Childrens Books qualifies as writing?

Also, have any of you ever tried writing books for the 4-year old and down age bracket? Been published? Aware of the different factors involved in the 'back-side' or profesional area of these authors?

Sure they sell, go to any books store and look at what percentage of the retail floor is dedicated (and decorated) to selling kids books. Look at the sheer number of published books, the variety available. It seems there is a book written for every concievable niche, from the book for "Growing up with a profesional Dad and stay-at-home Mommy," to "Growing up with two homo-sexual, African American Dads, and Grandma just died," (Sure those are extreme situations) It seems that the publishers of childrens books are much more open to stories, almost as if the cost of publishing is lower- read there are better margins, but I don't know this...

For the writer, which is better? Spending 2 years developing a story of 120,000 words with the potential to continue for another two books, getting it published and paid, or spending an afternoon writing a 350 word story, getting you Mother's approval, spending a few weeks getting it illustrated, getting it published and paid. What's the turn-around? 6 months? start to finish... Plus if you are/have a good illustrator you could concievable have as many as 6-10 or more books in the works at any given time.

Sorry, I'm rambling. I've asked several questions, am hoping there is a little discussion regarding those... If any body is familiar with the professional element of writing and publishing childrens books I'd love to hear some details about it!

Thanks
-Silas

Chlestron
September 16th, 2003, 11:40 AM
From what I understand, writing books for children does count and I suspect it's a lot harder than most people think. Sure, the initial "learning to read" stories sound fairly easy but I'm sure it's harder than it looks.

Also, I personaly find writing short stories, especially uplifting simple and child-centric short stories, very difficult to write.

KatG
September 16th, 2003, 12:20 PM
They're called picture books and they are not written purely for 4 years and under. Instead, it's a vast tier system of overlapping age-groups. Books for specific age groups are expected to meet certain goals, to be appropriate, to be entertaining, to be creative and original, to be catchy, to be well-structured, etc. And to do it in 1,000-1,500 words or so. Which is not as easy as it may sound. Short story writers will tell you that novelists have it easier as they have words and words to waste. A children's picture book does not and the words you use have to be carefully chosen. Children picture book writers seeking publication get rejected just as often as adult or juvenile writers.

A picture book writer who can also illustrate probably has the best odds. A writer who cannot illustrate can team up with an illustrator, who is usually a full collaborator, but what happens most often is that the writer sells the text to a publisher who then finds an illustrator for the project and pairs them up as full collaborators who share royalties. Children's picture books do not generate very much in the way of advance money, especially if you are not also doing the illustrations. However, one advantage they have is that if they are well-received, they may be kept in print much longer than most adult books.

Before you attempt to write a child's picture book, it might be helpful to go into the children's section of a bookstore and see how children's books are organized, examine several picture books to see the differences in style, amount of text, etc. and even talk to a few elementary school teachers about them.

Rocket Sheep
September 20th, 2003, 03:55 AM
I have two books out for 6-8 year olds and two for 7-9 year olds.
Fabulous colour illustrations on every page in the younger ones and they are both spec fic. Line drawings in the older ones. All of them have chapters indexes etc just like an adult book.

They better bloody count Lifino.

Mine have all taken around 9 months from the base manuscript getting accepted to hitting the shelves. First they have to be rewritten... often they are shifted to present tense which is the current thing the publishers perceive that kids like... then the illustrator is let loose on them.

I suppose I spend maybe 3 weeks working on each one... I estimate I need to sell one a month for two years to generate enough royalties for a small income (paid out twice a year).
The fact that they usually go to two/three publishers and spend three months at each one before being rejected or picked up and I only sell one third of what I write are spanners in the works. I'm not doing fantastically with only 4 sales in three years. I sell shorts and articles to magazines, teach and update webpages to keep the habit of writing going and try to write bigger, older stories as well... so I often don't have two weeks a month to come up with new kids' stories and I have to be quirky and funny but not too quirky. Just the right amout of quirky. And one persons' quirk is another persons corn. It's not an easy business.


I admit I'm hooked tho... 'Take Me to Your Leader' and the feedback I get from that book hooked me. Gweep is such a dude for an alien with an ego problem, and kids adore him. And I made him up... that's cool.

Lifino
September 21st, 2003, 08:24 AM
Oh, yes! I 100% agree, Kid's books count. Besides, what's it matter what I think anyway? If your getting paid for it, it's all good...

If ever there was a fine line an author must walk, it surely is while writing for children. Rocket has voiced this need. The sensitivity to the audience and their demands AND their level of understanding AND their exposure level is huge. You can't make a reference to the Reagan Years while reading to a kid who was born after 2000.

When I read these books to my Daughter (6YO as of yesterday) I always enjoy them, I love the way the story is told... Curious George is my favorite... I also appreciate the way that they publish books which are SO very targeted to specific children and families. That is rare in many of the consumer markets, but has been common-place in childrens litterature for many years... For instance, when you buy oil for your car, you don't buy oil that is specialy formulated for a black sedan with alloy wheels, you buy oil. Or when you buy a digital camera, they say that there are so many options available to you that you can find EXACTLY the camera that is right for you, but while looking they all look generaly the same, and no single camera is better than another by a significant margin.(comparing apples to apples) But when you go into the Kids Section you can buy books about dumptrucks because the neighbors are building an addition and your kid watches the workers, or you can buy a book about the life-habbits of otters 'cause the kid did a project at school about otters... Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera...


RocketSheep, thanks for the feedback. Your claim of about 3 weeks is right about what I expected to hear, and 9 months is not surprising. I know those figures are all "Give or take 25% or more" but they are still useful. Congrats on what you have published, keep them coming! Do you have any Child Development experience/training? Who has done your illustration?

Bracken
September 21st, 2003, 09:51 AM
Hi Rocket Sheep,

Could you tell me roughly how long your stories are?

I know that many people say to write to whatever length the story needs, but at the same time, when writing for specific niches (such as children's books) it is useful to write to what the market wants.

I'm working on a couple of kids books - probably for the 6-8 group and I'm aiming to write to 6-8000 (maybe a bit on the long side?). And I was just nosy as to what you had done.

Rocket Sheep
September 21st, 2003, 09:26 PM
Hi Bracken,

You know writers, always delighted to show off what they've managed to get out there. Thanks for asking.

The 6-8 year old books are 600 words long and the 7-9 are 1000w.

8,000 words isn't too long for most 8 or 9 year olds but my books are part of a series of easy reading books. The younger ones are part of a comical series and the older ones a series about getting into trouble.

The publishers guidelines specified length. They like a series to be recogniseable to a child so the child know what to expect and a publisher likes to add to a successful series. For a writer, this means an easier chance of being published but having to compromise on things like length... never style or fun tho.

You can click HERE (http://members.optushome.com.au/brenmacd/books.htm) to look at the books themselves.

Bracken
September 22nd, 2003, 10:13 AM
The covers for the Gigglers books made me smile :)

Rocket Sheep
September 23rd, 2003, 02:51 AM
Originally posted by Lifino
Do you have any Child Development experience/training? Who has done your illustration?

Sorry Lifino, missed this question before. I teach science fiction to gifted 10-12 year olds for a private organisation but the only teaching qual I have is a Cert IV in Workplace Training which means I can teach at TAFE (Technical colleges - post high school). I have Dip in Writing for Children and a Cert in Writing Children's Book Series and have taught writing to kids at local schools and I have a son who has Aspergers so social skills training is a way of life. Truth is, other than those recent quals... I'm a high school drop out.

Nathan Jurevicus who did Take Me To Your Leader is a fabulous animator as well as an illustrator. Check out his site, linked from mine. He has a real sinister style. Has been illustrating old folk tales from Eastern Europe recently and I think they're fabulous. The others I don't know much about. The publisher chooses them.

KatG
September 26th, 2003, 10:28 AM
Very cool, R.S. Don't know if I can get them in my neck of the woods, but I'll keep an eye out.