Thursday, April 12, 2012

Children's Books

Being young parents, we have a lot of books for young children lying around the house. The majority of these books are very short.

That got me thinking. How long does it take to write a book for a young child, anyway? Probably not very long. And if you're a famous children's author - say, Dr. Seuss - then your books will not only sell, but they will sell in large quantities, resulting in large profits, and all for not a whole lot of effort. Why does anyone bother writing full-length novels or detailed and accurate non-fiction works when you can spend a small fraction of the time writing a children's story, and (in theory) make just as much?

Well...I suppose the majority of the effort one puts into a children's story is spent on the illustrations, rather than the story itself. Maybe the illustrations are actually more important than the story in this genre. Case in point: everyone knows what "The Cat in the Hat" looks like, right? But how many of you actually know how the story itself goes? I don't. (No, I never saw went and saw the Mike Myers movie.)

Even when you do account for the illustrations, and also any "market research" one might do - for example, what key features does a story need in order to appeal to a 2-year-old? - the (profit)/(effort) ratio has to be pretty high here. So why don't I go start writing young children's novels, and commission Amber to do the illustrations? The same thing that prevents Amber from becoming a professional artist, or you from starting your own multi-platinum rock band: it's hard to get your foot in the door. Like with any other form of art, succeeding in the genre of young children's books takes some skill, sure, but mostly, it's luck and timing. For every Dr. Seuss, there are 100 (or more) equally talented authors/illustrators that nobody knows about.

No comments: