06 February 2007

Allowed Out in Public

Roger Sutton has posted his view of the recent Foundation for Children’s Books panel on the Future of Publishing--his view being from up on the platform, managing a clip-on microphone that had nothing to clip onto.

This panel was made up of three editors who generally work in the “old school” style, speaking to an audience largely made up of that “old school”: the librarians and teachers who used to represent the bulk of the children’s book market. (There were also more than usual numbers of aspiring authors and artists in this crowd.)

The panel didn’t include a voice saying, “It’s not schlock if it gets kids reading!” Or, “Zack & Cody books helped pay for our last three Newbery Honor titles.” Or, “Kids today don’t see any difference between their television, their websites, their ringtones, and their books, so why should we look down on media crossovers?” So we didn’t hear a lot of disagreement about literary priorities.

As talk turned to the importance of marketing, Sutton asked:

What about the dweeby little genius who writes like a dream but shouldn’t be allowed out in public? Is there still a place in publishing for him?
(None taken, I’m sure.)

Margaret Raymo of Houghton Mifflin acknowledged that having an author who could speak for his or her book and get readers excited was a plus, no question. Judy O’Malley of Charlesbridge noted that getting out in public, in the form of school and library visits, is often a major source of income for children’s authors.

But it does seem that authors are becoming responsible for more of their marketing. Author websites are now almost required. Book trailers are becoming the norm. And both tend to be the responsibility of an author, especially a beginning author.

Which means that authors don’t simply need to know the art and the business, but also need a few contacts among techies. It used to be wise to marry money. Now it seems wise to marry money plus have kids who grow up to know HTML and video editing.

In other remarks, Liz Bicknell of Candlewick noted a relatively new pressure on children’s publishers: to tie every title to a holiday, meaning to a bookstore chain’s promotion schedule. Fourth of July leads into Back to School, which leads into Halloween and Jewish Book Fairs, which leads into Thanksgiving, which leads into Christmas and Hanukkah, which leads into MLK Day and Black History Month and Valentine’s Day,...

1 comment:

Three Silly Chicks said...

Thanks for the recap.

As for the tech stuff, I feel like I'm always a few steps behind -- I do have a website and blog, but still no book trailers, no power point presentations, no podcasts, etc. Apparently I am Old School before I was ever New School. :-)

Julia Durango