Book Failure= Financial disaster, not just for publishing executives but everyone in the publishing industry chain.
Taking a chance on an author is a risk for the entire chain with very real consequences. So any reticence to taking on big risk should be seen as responsibility for employees, not just conservatism.
The 5 factors all contribute to creating a picture of risk vs. reward, profit vs. loss.
this issue before in previous parts of this Demystifying publishing series, please refer to them for more details on suitability of text.
Text must be enjoyable and suits: the intended audience, publisher’s catalogue, direction of trends and, vision for future of publisher’s list.
Author’s sales record is indicator of future success or future commercial failure.
“But what if I’ve never Published a Book?”
So, fortunately for you, this is actually a Schrodinger’s cat kind of situation and BETTER than having a bad sales record. There’s no record of failure yet, so there’s equal possibility of failure or success, the only way to know for sure is to see what happens next.
Comparable titles are used to build a case for the financial viability of your book (MSS) Mention them in any submission to either agent or editor.
So “You Matter” “All Because You Matter” and “I Believe I Can” are titles comparable to each other because they have similar themes.
Good comparable titles must be: recent, specific and, successful.
Bonus Points if it’s from the publisher or agent who you’re submitting to.
For the love of everything do not compare your story to HARRY POTTER or THE CAT IN THE HAT or, GOODNIGHT MOON, etc.
Don’t do this when querying an agent, or an editor, or an influencer reviewer, just don’t do it.
It tells everyone you don’t actually read children’s books because you don’t know the current market.
Also it kind of makes you sound like an ass.
Authority: Relevant credentials are key for Non-Fiction authors
Less important for fiction authors.
Relevancy is key here, if you have a PHD in Psychology, and you’re writing about Rocket Ship Engineering, that is not relevant. So, not really helpful.
Quantifiable visibility within target audience: aka do you have people who will buy your book?
Unlike every other luxury consumer good industry (which is exactly what book publishing is,) publishers are slow to see Social Media Influence as genuine proof of money making platform.
This attitude is changing and some big publishers are now producing books by influencers.
This shift will partly be thanks to the NYT article from March of 2021 “How Crying on Tik Tok Sells Books”
Most publishers don’t know a lot about Social Media Influencing and change will continue to move slowly. But it’s happening.
Are people actually in the industry talking about your work?
How can you get them talking about you? Twitter is actually a good place to start, a lot of publishing industry people are on Twitter. And if you follow me you know I’m abysmal at Twitter, I just don’t enjoy it, not enough pretty pictures, so this is a piece of advice I do not take for myself. I’d rather cry on Tik Tok.
Attending industry events, book launches, meeting people. Doing this in the pandemic might be harder but not impossible. Virtual events are hosted all the time and often you’ll find editors or other senior members of publishing houses showing up to them.
Having a well respected agent is also key for generating industry buzz, see my previous blog in this series on Literary Agents.
So when you put all of these things together, along with some other numbers for production, distribution, etc. They start to build a profit and loss statement, they will assess the commercial viability of your manuscript proposal, and from this statement they can decide whether or not to offer to acquire it and also, how much money they can offer you as an advance.
Removing racism from children’s literature will kill of culture? …whose culture exactly are you worried won’t withstand being held accountable to any standards of common decency and respect for others?
“Data on books by and about Black, Indigenous and People of Color published for children and teens compiled by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison.”
Everybody loves a winner, and when it comes to the stories we enjoy, all we see are stories of winners. On the surface I guess it makes sense, we invest our emotions in a character, and we follow their journey, through every obstacle and failure, in the end, we want to be uplifted mostly. We want to see that win, we want to glorify it. And yes that applies to picture books.
But what does it mean to lose then? If the only stories worth telling in our society, are stories of winners? Accepting defeat isn’t just a reflection of the moment, but accepting an inferior identity and some people, clearly, just can’t handle it.
The more I think about it, the more nefarious the whole thing becomes, the ‘chosen one’, the ‘hero’s myth’, it’s all wrapped up in patriarchal white supremacy. There is only room for one person at the top.
White men see themselves as the heroes of their own stories, and so it’s not over until they win. Because isn’t that how the stories go?
There are so many pieces of this narrative that we need to change, in every book, and honestly I think including BIPOC representation in the stories that are coming out just scratches just the surface. Because clearly, the narrative and values themselves need to change.
One facet of this is accepting a loser’s journey as equally valid, being able to accept loss gracefully, to not be the chosen one, and to still be decent and gracious has value.
Many reviewers have been asked to recommend books about losing graciously recently, and I just plum can’t think of a single one, can you?