NOTE: When you are done reading, please leave a comment at the bottom of the page if you feel this was helpful to you. I am also glad to hear what topics you would like me to focus on in upcoming blogposts. Thanks!
I just received my monthly Amazon Newsletter
*Best Books of August for Kids.* I am always
looking for clues how to target my writing toward today's market, and I noticed that the age delineations for the recommendations were Baby - 2, 3-5, 6-8, 9 - 12, Non Fiction and Young Adult.
I found these delineations interesting that they veer from the previous standard. But they did make sense.
If there were words instead of ages, it would be:
1. Baby - Toddler
2. Pre-Readers (Younger Picture Books)
3. Beginning and Early Readers (Older Picture Books)
4. Middle Grade
5. Non Fiction
6. Young Adult
Notably the picture book age group of 4-8 was split up, almost as if to say younger and older picture books.
Here are the titles that fall in the previously-held picture book delineation of ages 4-8:
THE SLOTH WHO SLOWED US DOWN by Margaret Wild, illustrated by Vivienne To
BOING! A VERY NOISY ABC by Tim McCanna, illustrated by Jorge Martin
THE DRAGON AND THE TROUBLESOME KNIGHT by Elli Woollard, illustrated by Benji
EAT PETE! by Michael Rex
I FEEL TEAL by Lauren Rille illustrated by Aimee Sicuro
LUCY AND THE STRING by Vanessa Roeder
WANTO PLAY TRUCKS by Anne Stott, illustrated by Bob Graham
GOOD DOG by Cori Doerrfeld
DC SUPERHERO GIRLS by Shea Fontana, Illustrated by Marcelo DiChiara
MEET YASMIN by Saadia Faruq, illustrated by Hatem Ali
BARKUS DOG DREAMS by Patricia MacLachlan, illustrated by Marc Boutavant
MEGA BAT by Anna Humphrey, illustrated by Kass Reich
BEAR COUNTRY by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Stephen Jo
MELIA AND JO by Billy Aronson, illustrated by Jennifer Oxley
Now, the challenge. Divide the # of books between your critique group and have each purchase one or two or three. It would not only be an investment in your education and career, but you would be supporting your current or future colleagues and promoting children's literature in general. And I always maintain what goes around comes around. Purchase books from others and someday it will be your turn to see readers purchase your books!
Have each member do a study of their books. The study should include word count, topic, theme, notes on language, estimated age of main character, does it have a narrative arc, is there resolution, etc. When finished, swap books and repeat. When all books are studied, compare / contrast your studies for the books in 3-5 and 6-8. What did you find were the stand out differences between the two? Discuss with your group and take notes (the more you type / write down, the more you will remember and learn).
I am going to give you a free tip before you actually go out and purchase your books. The true picture books are in the 3-5 age group category, so they are skewing younger and shorter. The books in the 6-8 category, are, for the most part, early reader chapter books. So if your goal is to publish a picture book, you may want to confine your study and your investment in the 3-5 age group books and study the similarities between them that make them "work" for that age group. If you find you write older and are willing to strive for success in the early reader arena, choose books for 6-8.
From time to time, you will hear advice NOT to write for the market. I honestly disagree with that sentiment in some respects. I feel like you need to be able to understand the market and find a way to coax your own writing to fit within it to some degree. You can rewrite and revision ideas *many* ways. The important thing is to find the *way* that will sell that idea. And that's where market study becomes important.
I have told you that picture books shew younger and shorter and that is absolutely helpful. But the things I can't tell you come from doing the work study yourself -- and that work study will undoubtedly inform your future success.
I hope you enjoy this challenge. If you do decide to take any part of the challenge, please feel free to stop back here and share your thoughts as to whether it was helpful or not, and what you learned.
Lynne Marie is the author of Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten - illustrated by Anne Kennedy (Scholastic, 2011), Hedgehog's 100th Day of School – illustrated by Lorna Hussey (Scholastic, January 2017), The Star of the Christmas Play -- illustrated by Lorna Hussey (Beaming Books, 2018), Moldilocks and the 3 Scares -- illustrated by David Rodriguez Lorenzo (Sterling, pending) and Let's Eat Around the World -- illustrated by Parwinder Singh (Beaming Books, 2019). You can learn more about her at www.LiterallyLynneMarie.com
To order the Star in the Christmas Play, click the title.