Monday, May 14, 2012

In Which I Return And Share...Stuff...

Hi everyone! I'm back from my vacay! Normally I have no problem taking a week off and more or less hiding away from the interwebs, but with all the crazy interwebby stuff going on lately, man, it was a bit of a chore. Anyhoo, I'm back now and I'll be spending some time on catching up on your blogs and stuff. Let me know, though, if I missed anything awesome, like someone getting an agent or a book deal or something. That's need to know shit right there.



Anyway, I know I promised you some posts on the Children's and YA Literature Conference Hannah and I attended a few weekends ago, and today, I deliver. At least partially. They'll be one other post, maybe two, next week.

The Keynote Speaker was Justin Chanda, the vice president and publisher for Simon & Schuster books for young readers, Atheneum books for Young Readers and Margaret K McElderry Books and he spoke about Picture Books. And I have to say, I really don't have much of an interest in PBs. I mean, yes, I read them and buy them for friends who are having babies, but I mean, they're pretty off my radar when it comes to writing and publishing.

His presentation was fascinating as hell. Both Hannah and I left feeling amazed and loving PBs.

Highlights from his presentation:

  • PBs are too important to die
  • PBs are not going away, but we have to be realistic about their future.
  • Kids who read, read cyclically. They start with Goodnight Moon, go on to Harry Potter, then Twilight, then Hunger Games. And then the cycle starts all over again
  • PB sales are down 40% from 2007, but they were up last year
  • ebooks will probably not replace hardcover PBs, because they don't necessarily pass the "lap test" (reading with a child on your lap) or the "bedtime test" reading to your child in bed
  • They are publishing less PBs but the ones they do, they can hard sell and there is a lot of opportunity for first time authors and illustrators.
  • PBs used to be ages 4-8 but are now 4-6 because many kids are being pushed to read "up"
  • Marketing yourself is essential but does not trump good storytelling
  • Teens want to get to know you as an author, but for PBs your audience are the parents so you may want to target mommy bloggers
That was mostly what he covered in a nutshell. He was really awesome, funny, smart. He also told us he was accepting submissions from anyone who attended the conference, and not just for PBs either, which is really awesome when you think about it.

All in all, he made me feel really hopeful both for the PB market and for the children's and YA market in general.

If you ever get a chance to see him speak, I would highly recommend it.

17 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Those are good points about picture books. They are the one genre that will likely still be around for many years.

Jessica Bell said...

This sounds like something Sheri Larsen would be interested in. Was she there?

Kimberlee Turley said...

The last comment about targeting parents rather than the actual group is why GO THE F*** TO SLEEP has sold so well.

L.G.Smith said...

Yeah, it just wouldn't feel right reading to a kid from an e-reader. Kids love to look at all those illustrations on the page. Nice wrap up.

Matthew MacNish said...

As a parent and a reader, I know PBs are important, but as a writer ... yeah. What you said.

LD Masterson said...

I can't see e-books ever replacing picture books, although the target age group may get younger. I've seen four year olds using iPads.

Don't dismiss the grandparent market. We're even more likely to go traditional with the children's books.

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

R.I.P. Maurice Sendak. And Colbert now has a PB. It's the one he showed in the interview with Sendak.

That's all I got for comments regarding PB's.

TL Conway said...

I have the same thoughts you do about PBs. I'm really good at buying them for other people, but I don't pay much attention to them. I liked the points Justin made, though. Very interesting.

Welcome back!

Anne Gallagher said...

What would I have ever done without Goodnight Moon?

Great stuff here, Sarah. Glad you and Hannah had the chance to go, and to share your findings.

Johanna Garth said...

Fascinating! And I agree. Parents want their children to have the tactile experience of holding and looking at books.

Teebore said...

I have an awesome PB idea. Some day I'm going to write it, find an artist and make a mint off it. This I swear.

Ninja Girl said...

Those are some great comments and distinctions he made. btwn PBs and teen books. Also, the thing about reading in cycles I totally get and agree with. Sounds like it was a very informative and interesting conference! Can't wait to read more posts :)
Ninja Girl

Maria Zannini said...

Before I took up writing, an artist-friend tried to talk me into doing children's illustration with her. I don't have the skill for that sort of illustration, but I admire it immensely. I buy picture books just for myself because I love the art so much.

vic caswell (aspiring-x) said...

i've always wanted to illustrate pb's but i think writing them is really, really hard.

Kittie Howard said...

Thanks for sharing, Sarah. I can't draw my way out of a paper bag so have a lot of respect for those who do. Think PB's are here to stay, thankfully, as they're a lovely generational keepsake as well as a delight when reading to a child.

Annalisa Crawford said...

My son is 8, but struggles to read - as a result, one of his favourite books is a picture book about 'favourite things'. If he ever asks to read before bed - after his storytime - that's the book he'll choose.

Hannah Kincade said...

Great recap. That was a very good intro to the whole conference and made me love Justin Chanda.

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