re: Opportunities in Children’s Book Categories

in Creative Process/Picture Books/Publishing Biz/Teen/Middle Grade Fiction by

Dear Editor…

I have ideas for both fiction and nonfiction children’s books. What category is easier to break into?

Thanks,
Amy

Dear Amy…

“Easy” is no word for publishing. The economy and industry changes have publishers proceeding cautiously. Embrace “opportunity” instead. If your nonfiction ideas are curriculum-based, you’ll rely on institutional sales (mainly schools and libraries) where budgets are being slashed, slimming opportunities there. Nonfiction picture books with rhythmic narrative are finding homes, though, appealing to institutional and consumer buyers alike. Consider Me…Jane, a picture book biography that offers a simple, rhythmic story and leaves the facts for the backmatter. Children’s fiction has opportunities: YA can make money, MG sales are up, and the market for fictional picture books is improving. But “opportunity” becomes “success” only if you’re ready for it. Developing ideas into fresh, standout additions to any category is hard work, and hard work only happens when you’re passionate enough about an idea to pursue it doggedly. So add “passion” to your word list, too.

Happy writing!
The Editor

8 Comments

  1. As someone who writes both, I’ve found success writing nonfiction for children’s magazines. I think they receive fewer NF submissions, which increases your chances from the start. Best of luck!

  2. I thought the answer was very well put and timely. Publishing isn’t easy whether it’s PBs or YA/MG. But if you’re adaptable, determined, and passionate you have a chance.

  3. Neither category is ‘easy’. However there are many more opportunities for non-fiction. Not everything is ‘book material’. You might find out you have magazine stories and ideas. Explore everything and read what’s out there. Join SCBWI http://www.scbwi.org

  4. I have an idea for a series of books with the main characters being special needs kids who work together to solve problems in their school and neighborhood. Do you think that would be well received?

    • You’ll increase your chances for a good reception if the series offers stories that are entertaining and not just message-driven. Message-heavy stories may find a small market with health professionals/educators, but they won’t likely cross over into the very competitive general trade market.

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