For the last couple of years I've taught a variety of writing courses including two eCourses on writing picture books (How To Write A Children's Picture Book and Five Picture Books In Five Weeks). So some time ago when a friend asked if it was ok to pass my details on to a local aspiring picture book author I said it would be fine. A few days later he called and opened the conversation by telling me he’d written loads of stories and wanted to get them published. He asked if any of my courses would be suitable. I went through the syllabus and asked if he felt it was what he needed. “I’m not sure,” he responded.
So I asked if he knew how the publishing industry worked. “Well, um… no,” was the reply. “Then if nothing else you’ll gain a better understanding of what books make it to market and why. You can then edit your stories to suit the market, giving you a better chance.” “Oh I know my books will sell because my wife and kids love them," was his reply.
I told him it doesn’t mean they would be suitable for today’s market. To make my point I told him about my mistake when submitting my first story. The story included three celebrations, these being: Easter, Guys Fawkes Night and Halloween. I continued I’d been extremely lucky that the editor who read my story liked it. She took the time to write the nicest rejection letter I’ve ever received. She pointed out that in order to sell globally I would have to think globally. Not everyone follows a Christian faith, so would not celebrate Easter. Only England celebrates a foiled plot to blow up their government, so would never have heard of Guy Fawkes Night. Finally she pointed out that not everyone celebrates Halloween and some even find it offensive. She finished by saying that if I could make a few changes she’d be pleased to read my story again. I made the changes, re-submitted and that story became 'A Book For Bramble.'
“Oh, but I’d only submit to an English publisher,” was the reply.
I continued that gone are the days publishers only publish in their own country. In order to make a book viable the rights would be sold worldwide. My books have travelled as far as America, Australia, Indonesia, Korea and my publisher has recently sold the Hebrew rights of one of my books.
“Oh, so you’re saying I may have to change my stories slightly.”
I finished by stating that unfortunately today you have to realise we are creating a product. To get that product onto the market (published) you have to think about what the client (the publisher needs) and this product is an item that must have global appeal. So today when writing my books I always have this in mind. So if you want to give your story the best chance think global appeal.