Some Children's Literature Market Trends as Reported at the Conference
- Tuesday, August 21, 2012
SCBWI Summer Conference: Market Keynote Follow-UP
The SCBWI Bulletin will do a feature on Deborah Halverson’s summer conference keynote “Up to the Minute Survey of Market Needs and Trends,” but in the meantime here’s important clarification of a few points that were a bit hazy in general media coverage of Deborah’s report:
What’s being submitted: Deborah’s survey showed that agents and editors are receiving lots of submissions with the theme of foster care, many gateway fantasies, and many graphic novels—that’s not necessarily what they’re looking for. Topping many wish lists is realistic contemporary fiction that is light and funny.
MG/YA fiction: Agents and editors said they want to see more lyrical literary narratives do well but that those are still struggling in the marketplace. Submissions with commercial appeal in addition to strong craft fair better. Deborah’s survey revealed some interest in sci-fi emerging from the paranormal boom, but that seems a more scattered interest than a real “trend.” It’s worth keeping our eye on that genre, but at this time sci-fi is not looking like a strong contender for the “next wave.”
Historical fiction: Editor/agent interest in historical fiction is not in “straight historical” but rather in stories about people in the past that have another layer, such as paranormal or mystery—like Jennifer Donnelly’s Revolution. Deborah reported low agent/editor interest in straight historicals.
Library market: Sales potential in the library market is still fuzzy for physical books, since e-book and audiobook demands have libraries looking for funds from other areas, including physical book purchases.
Picture books: The entire picture books category has emerged from its tough times leaner and better, not specifically multicultural books. The most dominant trend in picture books remains the shorter, character-driven story, with fewer contracts going to stories featuring longer, more detailed narratives and plots.
2011 children’s book sales: Deborah points to the July 2012 BookStats report for the details of the $3.3 billion sales in the children’s book segment (see Publisher’s Weekly’s coverage at http://bit.ly/LvPFC3).