The Bookseller magazine has an interesting article in a recent edition (18th November), looking at children’s frontlist (new) fiction. It says that the received wisdom is that bestselling books and brand authors dominate the children’s market.
It quotes agent Caroline Sheldon who says that publishers are now looking for ‘bestsellers’, in any category. They want a book that bowls them over. Curtis Brown (London literary agency) adds that publishers are being very cautious. ‘Authors have to reinvent themselves to have much more high-concept ideas that are instantly appealing, or literary, with prize-winning potential.’
Francesca Dow, MD of Penguin Children’s Books plans to cut output of Penguin Children’s titles over the next three years in response to high street bookshops who are reducing their range. This is her strategy (Bookseller, 30th September): ‘To make our big brands bigger, to reinvent our classic brands . . . and to create the brands of tomorrow.’ (For brands, read authors or characters.)
Meanwhile over at Puffin Ireland, they have just let their children’s editor go. David Maybury says in today’s blog – (the full piece is worth reading if you are interested in Irish publishing):
After launching the Puffin Ireland editorial post two years …
It’s that time of the year again! I’m currently writing my piece on children’s books for Christmas for the Irish Independent which will be published in early December, but here is a longer version, in which I’ve included all my favourite books of the year. Hope you enjoy it. Do let me know which books you loved in 2011.
And thank you for reading my blog. I love writing it and I will continue to share my thoughts on books and writing in 2012.
Yours in writing,
Stuck by Oliver Jeffers, HarperCollins
A hardback picture book with stand out illustrations from the wonderful Oliver Jeffers. When Floyd’s kite gets stuck up a tree he throws up his shoe know it down, but that gets stuck too, along with a pot of paint, a ladder, the kitchen sink a whale and many other amazing things.
The Lonely Beast by Chris Judge, Andersen Press
Winner of the Junior Category in the Irish Book Awards, this is a fantastic book with stunning, beautifully coloured art work. When a beast gets lonely, he goes on a quest to find new friends with surprising results.
Picture Book of the Year:
Books I’m Looking Forward to in 2012:
Oliver Jeffers has not one but two new titles in 2012 – The New Jumper in the spring, and another picture book in the autumn
Chris Haughton’s Oh, No George is brilliant (out in March) – I’ve seen a proof and loved it. Fantastic vibrant colours and very funny.
Chris Judge also has a new title out – based on a young explorer which is also fantastic. Arthur’s Boat by Polly Dunbar also looks great, and Irish newbie Sheena Dempsey’s debut picture book, Ruby and Oliver looks wonderful.
And finally, The Frank Show by David Mackintosh is also coming in the spring – I love his work and I’m REALLY looking forward to this one.
More Penny Dreadful by Jo Nadin – Penny is a very, very funny character!
And more Marco the Bear – Marco: Master of Disguise from Gerry Boland – very touching and well written tales about a boy and his friend, a grizzly bear.
More Skulduggery Pleasant of course! Can the Landy do no wrong?
Zom-B by Darren Shan – a brand new series that sounds fantastic
Two more from Judi Curtin – book 2 in …
I have a friend – a much published, very experienced writer of popular fiction – who is worried about finishing her latest novel. She’s almost 50,000 words in and she knows she has at least another 40 to 50k more to write. Her pre-Christmas deadline is looming and she’s freaking out a little. She has no idea how she’s going to finish it in time as she says it’s like pulling teeth. Plus she’s not enjoying the writing anymore.
In the same week, another writer – again, popular fiction – posted her worries about finishing a book in time on Facebook. Both have young children to mind, husbands to listen to, bills to pay, other writing jobs on the side. This is the writing for a living story that often goes untold.
Publishers are under more pressure than ever to produce novels that sell widely. With ebooks starting to make inroads into the market, things are very uncertain at the moment. Writers are under extra pressure to write faster, deliver earlier. Popular fiction writers are expected to produce a book a year without fail. Recently I’ve heard several top authors say they are now being asked to write a book …
I’ve been visiting schools, libraries and festivals since 1996 when my first book was published. Over the years I’ve talked to thousands of children about books and writing. I’ve also given many writing workshops to children of all ages and this is what I’ve discovered:
1/ Children are not afraid of making mistakes – if their story isn’t going well they’ll just shrug and start another story, no big deal. They never worry about looking stupid on paper or getting it ‘wrong’.
2/ Children love creating big, funny, unusual characters – because their books are full of larger than life characters – think of Matilda, Mr Gum, Artemis Fowl, Tracy Beaker and Skulduggery Pleasant. They know when it comes to characters, BIG is good.
3/ Children understand that stories have to be exciting, fast, funny and full of emotion (and explosions in the case of boys – maybe slightly too many explosions!).
4/ Children don’t get too hung up about grammar or spelling, they just keep writing. They know they can correct that stuff later.
5/ Children write ‘cos they love to write, not because they want to get published/show off to the neighbours/make a million like that Harry Potter …
Today I’m writing to you from West Cork. I’ve run away! I’ve always wanted to write a book about a woman who runs away from her life and starts up anew. And let’s be honest, we’ve all thought about it, haven’t we? Just grabbing the passport and a few things, emptying out the current account and running off to Paris, or Montana or wherever the first flight out of Dublin takes you. Life can get pretty stressful sometimes, and it’s normal to want to escape now and then.
I haven’t really run away (as you’ve probably guessed). I’m on a writing retreat. I’m hiding away in my parents’ holiday home in a quiet little village. There’s no internet connection here (so I won’t be posting this until I get back), no mobile reception and the only people who know I’m here are my family and close friends. I can’t play with Facebook or Twitter, I can’t check out clothes I can’t afford (and don’t really need) on Netaporter, I can’t read blogs. It’s only when I’m down here that I realise what a distraction the internet truly is.
I’ve only been here a day now and I’ve …
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