So write, it’s wrong

Okay, while we sympathize with the striking writers in Hollywood, this article made us roll our eyes a little: Strking Writers Turn to Child’s Play.

It’s about television and film writers who’ve suddenly found an “unusual” (!) new calling writing children’s books. Several already have deals with a new imprint of IDW Books, which publishes a number of TV and movie tie-ins, so clearly somebody’s people talked to somebody else’s people, and then they did lunch, baby! Good for them, we say. But if any of those writers ever find themselves seeking out children’s book publishers beyond the thirty-mile zone, we have a few pointers for them, based on many, many years of experience reading the efforts of folks who think that writing children’s books is just like any other kind of writing, except shorter, and for shorter people. Thus:

1.) No snappy dialogue, please. Picture books aren’t “talky,” and they’re becoming increasingly less wordy. Also, kids really don’t say the darnedest things.

2.) We want stories, not pitches. Don’t try to dazzle us with talk about sequels, series, character licensing, animation rights! If you want to rule an empire, go play with action figures. (Which we will not be marketing as a tie-in.)

3.) Children’s books don’t have a laugh track, nor do they come with a remote control for switching channels. So for the love of Cosmo Kramer, don’t try to be HILARIOUS and ATTENTION-GETTING all the time, okay?

4.) Booger jokes are not subversive. Not even when they’re funny.

5.) Carefully read and consider the tone of the following quotes:
a.) “I’m a father of five and often lament the lack of really creative, funny children’s books.” b.) “I’m finding that in good children’s books, the text isn’t just describing the picture but the two are working together to advance the storytelling.” c.) “And, sometimes, there’s also a chance to make a political point.”
Did you get all that? Good. Now you know what not to say in a cover letter.

    Anyway, we’ve seen this kind of attitude before, and we sure wish we had a residual check for every time we’ve had to endure it. But it’s nice to know that other folks in the children’s lit world feel the same way we do. And we’ll be glad when the strike’s over. If they could bring back Arrested Development while they’re at it, that would be even better.

    So write, it’s wrong

    One thought on “So write, it’s wrong

    1. wendykay says:

      Lol! It’s great to see someone comment on this trend. Speaking of tie-ins, I completely understand the reason why publishers have also flocked to movie stars, athletes, politicians, and spouses with “names” in order to hock their wares and improve the bottom line, but it is nice to hear there is still a place in the publishing world for more traditional writers who are focused on crafting their trade. The optimist in me hopes that the increase in short-term gains allows publishing houses the freedom to cultivate more timeless authors in the vein of Shel Silverstein, Madeleine L’Engle, Leo Lionni, etc. Assuming they still have time for them, of course. ;^)

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