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Genres & Age Categories => Picture Books (PB) => Topic started by: Franzilla on June 16, 2011, 08:39 AM

Title: To published picture book authors: was your second book similar to your first?
Post by: Franzilla on June 16, 2011, 08:39 AM
Do you think it's wise to try and stick to a certain 'type' of PB? One that has proven successful for you before? I feel a bit like a jack of all trades, master of none, because I love writing humorous, but also quiet, multicultural, eco-conscious... Also before I signed with the agency I'm with now, I had a lot of interest in one MS (eco-conscious, lots of sound effects) but not so much in my others. Maybe that should tell me something?

Thoughts?
Title: Re: To published picture book authors: was your second book similar to your first?
Post by: DianaM on June 16, 2011, 07:47 PM
Candace Fleming comes to mind. "Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!" and "Boxes for Katje".

But as much as the books are very different in tone and subject  (both are great!), you can still kind of hear the same voice.
Title: Re: To published picture book authors: was your second book similar to your first?
Post by: Betsy on June 16, 2011, 10:12 PM
No two of my picture books are alike--although I recently rewrote an old one and changed a few things to see if I can sell it again. 

A previous agent and editor wanted me to stick with one of my books that was a bestseller (by writing sequels), but I decided not to.  I like going whevever my muse takes me.  But I probably would have done better commercially if I'd written the sequels.

Ellen Jackson
www.ellenjackson.net
Title: Re: To published picture book authors: was your second book similar to your first?
Post by: KateMessner on June 17, 2011, 06:37 AM
My first two picture books are both with Chronicle but totally different from one another - SEA MONSTER'S FIRST DAY is a humorous, bright, cartoony romp illustrated by Andy Rash, about a Sea Monster's first day in a new school of fish. And OVER AND UNDER THE SNOW is a quiet, poetic story (with gorgeous, classic-feeling art from Chris Silas Neal) about  a girl who goes cross country skiing with her father and discovers the secret world of animals under the winter snow.
Title: Re: To published picture book authors: was your second book similar to your first?
Post by: Franzilla on June 17, 2011, 07:04 AM
Great. THIS is what I wanted to hear. Thank you all!

PS Kate, were you a marketing guru in a former life? Now I'm going to have to go and find those books to buy for my three year old... both sound delightful.

PPS Betsy, was it Cinder Edna? We love that book in our house, although my daughter STILL thinks she'd rather be Cinder Ella. *Smacks forehead in despair*
Title: Re: To published picture book authors: was your second book similar to your first?
Post by: MegM on June 17, 2011, 06:10 PM
My first two pbs are quite similar - both humorous, with a sort of wry tone, featuring animals, and both rely heavily on the illustrated narrative being at odds with the text. But my third is completely different - quiet and slow. I don't want to say too much about it because it's still in the very early stages of illustration and it could be quite a while before it hits the shelves. I'm a bit of a poster writer for the jack of all trades thing, but I hope it doesn't make me master of none. A few people have told me I should focus and 'build my brand' in one area, rather than writing in so many styles and for so many ages, but I'm not really interested in applying that kind of practical thinking to my creative work. It seems to be working out fine so far. And as Diana said, people do comment that even when the books are very different, they can still make out a voice there that's distinctive to me, which is something I find interesting as it's less easy to see that for myself.
Title: Re: To published picture book authors: was your second book similar to your first?
Post by: Pam on June 18, 2011, 09:16 AM
I like to write humor, so all of my titles are humorous and always will be but I do write different types of books. My math pb's are very different from my Peepers series. Of course, when you write series, they need to be similar because that's what the readers will expect.

I think as a pb writer, you can write different books and be successful with all of them. Karma Wilson is a master at writing different picture books, but she will stay true to her series titles (her Bear books). Check out her website: www.karmawilson.com

Title: Re: To published picture book authors: was your second book similar to your first?
Post by: brownsch on July 01, 2011, 07:10 PM
My two picture books are definitely related. They are both ABC books that features shadows of objects. I am thinking of a third in the series but I am not sure if that is the best approach or if I should try to broaden my approach. Any suggestions?
Title: Re: To published picture book authors: was your second book similar to your first?
Post by: Jessica Swaim on October 09, 2011, 10:58 AM
My books are all different, though they tend to be in rhyme.
And I write from "the happy place", so you won't see me doing angst-ridden YA's, anything
like that.
But any idea that takes hold I try my best to write.
I really admire versatile writers who can do it all.
Experiment!  Have fun!  Set yourself free!
Title: Re: To published picture book authors: was your second book similar to your first?
Post by: Aud on October 10, 2011, 02:26 PM
I seem to do silly younger picture books and nonfiction picture books for slightly older readers. It serves me well for school visits (though it surely wasn't by design), as I have books that appeal to all elementary grades.
Title: Re: To published picture book authors: was your second book similar to your first?
Post by: Jean Reidy on October 10, 2011, 03:03 PM
Hi Franzilla,
My first two picture books sold together to the same publisher. But my third sold to an entirely different publisher and is an entirely different kind of book. #4 is the third in the series of the first two. #5 is a humorous to #3's publisher. And #6 is a completely different book again for Publisher 1.  :stars Ha ha ha. A very roundabout way to say, while branding can be great it's not necessary.
Jean
Title: Re: To published picture book authors: was your second book similar to your first?
Post by: Betsy on October 10, 2011, 03:23 PM
Most of my books are unique--I like to keep trying new things.  I don't think it's hurt my career.
Title: Re: To published picture book authors: was your second book similar to your first?
Post by: AnnS on October 10, 2011, 04:04 PM
I have mostly written PB's in a quite narrow niche, but that said, I truly believe that it's best to write what calls you, including taking on projects in  entirely new genres if that's what you get up in the morning wanting to write.  There are definitely upsides to working with a particular kind of PB; if you develop an audience for your specific kind of book, if you're (excuse the expression; I really hate it) branded, then librarians, bloggers, parents and reviewers do have a sense of what they're getting into when your new book comes out.  Also, while I don't want to damn my earlier books, I think that if you keep working on a particular variety of PB, it's possible to get better and better at the work as you go along, in a way that is reflected in reviews, awards, and sales. 

A downside to staying wed to a niche is that it's possible to develop an inertia, so that even shifting within the niche can be a bit unsettling.  (I shifted from Eastern European Jewish folklore to an Afghani folktale, coming out next year, which might sound like a tiny change, but it was challenging both in terms of the research involved and in developing an ability to discern if the retelling was true and did the original justice.)

As an aside, the enthusiasm for a particular project more than others could mean a ton of things other than that you should forget about the other manuscripts or areas that interest you.  Maybe there was a particular editor or house looking for the enthusiasm-provoking kind of ms at that moment; maybe there was something especially wonderful about the writing, rather than the niche, that appealed; maybe you came up against a pure personal taste issue unrelated to what will or won't sell and do well.
Title: Re: To published picture book authors: was your second book similar to your first?
Post by: ohmylorelei on October 10, 2011, 07:25 PM
My first two picture books are a creepy picture book about a diner (Inside the Slidy Diner) , and a funny Jewish picture book (Baxter, the pig who wanted to be kosher). Nobody said anything about it.