As a picture book writer I'm very aware I have to write a story not only children will love but also a story that a whole list of people I call 'the gatekeepers' will enjoy. This list consists of:
- Commissioning editor
- Marketing department
This is a lot of people to get my story passed before it lands in front of the eyes of a child. I therefore have to ensure my story fulfills the criteria each one of these gatekeepers has. So let's consider each of them:
It's very difficult if not impossible to work out what editors want. However I've found many prefer a story to be character led. So when writing I have to try to create a strong character. Often this character has to overcome a conflict or shows signs of 'growth' during the story. So a plot has to have a strong start, an interesting middle and a satisfying end.
A marketing department require a book that can be sold globally. This is the reason some publishers prefer animals as main characters because they can cross most borders. The marketing department also want a book that will sell well to a parent or grandparent but also someone buying for an institution such as a school or library.
Similar to the marketing department a bookseller require a book they can place on their shelves and will sell itself (they don't have the time or money to 'push' every book they hold in stock). This is why so much time is spent on the 'look' of a book.
Let's be realistic although a picture book is aimed at children it is an adult who purchases it. They are looking for a story they won't mind reading 10, 20, 30 or more times. So they are not only looking for a book that is interesting to read but also one they find visually pleasing.
So I was wondering what picture book have you picked up recently and thought these gatekeepers know/don't know what makes a good book.