|My latest funny story with a twist at the end|
Over the years I’ve attended writing courses and read a multitude of books all in the hopes of improving my writing and my chances of landing new publishing deals. Time and again I’ve read that if you’re serious about getting published (in any genre) you should research the market. I must admit I also suggest this to my students.
Researching means looking in shops to see what has recently been published, visiting the local library (if you’re lucky enough to still have one) and rummaging in the book box at your dentists or doctors. However this only gives you an idea of what an editor was looking for around two years ago. This is because it can take up to two years for a picture book to reach the shelves. I've heard of some books that have taken far longer than that.
So what is all the point of this research? Well it tells you what not to write.
At the moment it would appear wizards are so yesterday, vampires have been done to death and pirates are washed-up. So there is little point (if you want to see your work in print) in writing a book for an already saturated market. Thankfully when I was in the process of writing Bad Manners, Benji! (released February 2014) an editor had advised me that she was looking for a story that:
- Had an element of humour
- Was aimed at boys
- Had a twist at the end
- Was driven by strong characters
Sadly I haven't received such helpful advice recently, so I've had to research what not to write and look for possible gaps in the market. One gap I think I've found is based on the changes happening in our education system. In the recent set of changes part of the curriculum states that children in year one and two should be “becoming very familiar with key stories, fairy stories and traditional tales …” Thankfully I have a couple of stories ready to go which might just fill this gap.
However this doesn't tell me what the market will want once I've sent these off and I'm planning my next set of stories. So I'm going to take a chance and write a few stories just for me. If I like them and they pass the Picture Book Den Team critique red pen (one of the perks of being a member of such a fab group, we support one another by swapping manuscripts every so often) I may just take the plunge and send them to a publisher. With fingers crossed I may just be ahead of the game and write a story that fits the requirements of an ever changing market.
My writing eCourses which starting January 2015: