A few months ago, I started a new class at my synagogue. It’s a very small class (four people), so it was very funny when it turned out that one of my fellow students teaches children’s and young adult literature — a friendship was meant to be.
So last week, I visited with her favorite class at the University Center of Lake County — five students, each already doing some student teaching. I divided my prepared talk into two sections — how a book is made (with sketches, proofs, etc.) and a presentation of our Spring titles. We followed up with lots of questions — from everything to favorite authors to marketing plans to censorship.
What I found most interesting are the two topics they found most interesting: 1) that and author doesn’t need to find their own illustrator before contacting a publisher (in fact, authors and illustrators rarely meet/talk during the creation of the book) and 2) that the “New Arrivals” display in the bookstore (and most retailers) cost the publisher money.
I’m always surprised when people don’t know these things.
In the first case, people are so sure that the author finds the illustrator that it never occurs to them to ask the question. It’s one of the easiest things to learn about children’s books — listed in every publisher’s and agent’s submissions information. Yet, most people think the opposite. I don’t think we’ll ever convince the general public otherwise, but it is wonderful that the answer (and the answers to so many other questions) are so readily available now. I sent the students to scbwi.org and recommended the local organization highly.
In the second case, I understand that people don’t know that prime display space is sold in all retail establishments. (In some cases, it’s all the space.) On the surface, it doesn’t seem logical – the store should just put their favorite stuff up front.
It does make sense though. Consumers are more likely to buy things they can see more easily, that are at eye level or otherwise nicely displayed. These better locations are worth more — inherently.
Of course, the retailer is not going to offer the space to something they don’t think can sell and the publisher (or manufacturer) is not going to pay to place a product they don’t think will sell enough more to pay for the costs. The reality is that the products in these special locations and displays are the products that both the retailer and the publisher think you will want most. This is why it’s called cooperative advertising.
As for the rest of the session, I feel good about these future teachers. They’re excited about teaching, excited about kids, and excited about books.