5/17/07

LDS Children's Books

What do you think is the outlook for children's writers in the LDS market? Any hope of publishing picture books, early readers, chapter books, or MG novels? Lisa Peck seems to be doing well with the CTR series. Do you think there's room for more series books for kids?

Do publishers shy away from children's books because of the cost production factor or because the market is simply too small?

Do you think there's a way to create more desire for children's books in the LDS market?

I always grimace a little when I read questions like this because there is no easy or good answer. I wish I could say that the LDS children's market was in an upswing but I'm not seeing it.

Yes, publishers have to look at the cost of production vs expected sales levels when considering any book. It is the rare children's book that balances out. They cost a lot to produce. The market is simply too small. The bigger publishers can afford the risk. The smaller ones are going to have to really have their socks blown off to take the chance. Children's books do not sell as well as adult books. Fiction does not sell as well as non-fiction. A fiction children's book has several strikes against it even before the envelope hits the slush pile.

But don't despair. Please don't let the market as it is stop you from writing your children's books. We NEED good, solid, LDS children's books--especially at the middle reader level.

As for series books, if you take a look at DBs online popularity rating of middle readers, you'll notice that there are several LDS series books in the top 100. And as a publisher, I'd much rather take a chance on a children's book that was part of, or could be made into, a series, than a stand-alone.

How do you create a desire for the LDS children's market? Same as for any market. You need a fantastic manuscript, a brave publisher and an enthused marketing department.

2 comments:

Kent said...

You're right, the market for LDS childen's books does need a big hit for it to take off.

Unfortunately, the problem is that no one in the market has any idea how to do a good children's book. The few titles I've seen have been uniformly poor. I can think of just two picture books that I've seen that were good.

The artwork is half the problem. For some reason the picture books in the LDS market are either poor artwork or artwork that doesn't match the subject of the book.

The text of the books is the other problem. Almost always the word choices in LDS children's picture books aren't matched to the intended age level for the book. And in other cases the subject doesn't match the age level. I still don't understand DB's board book about the articles of faith. Board books are meant for preschool readers -- and what preschooler really understands many of the concepts in the articles of faith?

Steve Van Wagenen said...

I am one of those taking a stab at publishing a different kind of LDS book for children.

Being new at this, we didn't follow any publishing rules necessarily, but we just went for it. I am sure we didn't address any of the issues Kent brought up, but it was fun to try anyway. We ended up self-publishing this first go round.

If anyone is willing to take a look at our website and a description of our LDS book, Brick of Mormon Stories, I would appreciate your feedback. Thanks