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Mind set for picture book process - Marketability

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Although my post isn't about the word count focus of your original post, I think this is very important for the Picture Book (PB) mindset: marketability.

From what I've read, PB take a lot of initial investment. Not only is there the writing side (about 28 pages and around 500 words) but there also is an illustration side (they have to hire artists to get the 'picture' part) It's literally $1000s of dollars and months/years amount of work for something which may or may not sell... In a way, is your manuscript worth the financial risk to a publisher? As well as opportunity cost, because while they're making yours they aren't making others?

From my experience looking around in bookstores and online, there are many business-related things to consider:
--what's your target demographic? how are you going to focus your book if you don't know?
--is your story best suited for its word count? is your 1000 word story really a longwinded 400 word story?
--you're in an elevator and you're given 30 seconds to sell your book to the publisher who just stepped in: is your idea simple enough to summarized so shortly but compelling enough to get him or her hooked?
--if you summarize the basic actions of the story, does it sound like something we've all heard before? why buy your book when you can buy we already know?
--considering that every spread would have a picture, can you justify spending someone else's money on making pictures for that?
--are you writing for a trend or a fad that might be over once your book is finally published? is there some sort of timeless quality?
--will parents love this book and spread it word of mouth? what would an advertisement for this book be like?

In my writing, these are the things I've had to consider and it's helped me look at my book from a more detached-hopefully-not-self-deprecating point of view.
#1 - June 20, 2014, 12:16 PM

It's actually the second one I have the most trouble with. As weird as it sounds I always thought writing 1,000 word flash fiction was considered brief.

Now I'm looking back at my recent work that's 897 words, and seriously reconsidering it's length.

Of course there are other issues: Is it simple enough, yet to bleak? Despite the abstractions, can it be summarized in concrete detail? (The latter being what I have most trouble with.)
#2 - June 21, 2014, 04:13 PM
You can find my stuff at: uggc://

I'm soooo not business-minded and really appreciate your insights, Robertvs!!

A number of your points were very convicting to me....

Still, practice of a pragmatic approach would be really valuable to a "feely" person like me. (I'd still write what I feel led to write, but be more mindful of all the potential reasons behind a rejection, not taking one too personally.)

#3 - June 21, 2014, 06:53 PM


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