Well, it’s been a mild early spring for the most part…in most places. Not sure March is going out like a lamb, but it’s been a nice month generally! It makes me think of our changing market…. not what we expect all the time. Lets look at our market a bit…and project how artists can be part of it better.
At the winter SCBWI conference I hear there were mixed feelings, lots of questions and not many answers. But have there ever been? I can read articles from 20 years ago that sound like they were written today. Jean Feiwel mentioned that the publishing ‘lists’ sized down in children’s…but also that they were maybe ‘publishing more effectively’. I think it was Barbara Marcus who said “this is a best seller business,” which upset many, but how is that different from the past? Publishers have to have best sellers to PAY for all the mid lists books they want to do too. It is a Balancing Act. Always has been. It was also shared that “digital sales are supplementing print – not cannibalizing it.” That can’t be a surprise can it? It’s another way to get reading material into the hands and minds of our children. Not bad. Challenging maybe, but not bad. E books and apps are a bit of a moving target however…changing as I write, but that’s an adventure in itself, isn’t it?
The headlines early this year were “Loses widen;” “Sales fall in 2011;” McGraw Hill fires 800 people.” etc. BUT I just read in PW that sales are looking better so far this past quarter overall…especially in children’ books. NICE. But I still see the hesitancy and ‘tightness’ of the children’s book industry. Optimistic but still very very careful. Publishers are focusing their lists and looking for writers and illustrators who can HELP them get where they think they want to be. OK, where that is might be a mystery to many of us, but we CAN help. I advise artists to do their very best always…in whatever style they WANT to do. I read this somewhere…. (sorry) writers and artists need to ‘tell the story ONLY they can tell.’ Do something ONLY you can do. Touch the heart and soul and make the reader laugh! Publishers are FOCUSING and tightening…you need to do the same. Understand who YOU are and what YOU have to contribute and SHOW, don’t TELL. Give yourself permission to push your creativity and your characters. Make both interesting and approachable.
So March turns into Spring for real and another quarter of industry surprises. Good…that’s what it’s all about! Take from that what you need….. and from CAT artist Priscilla Burris an image that SHOWS that: