On October 7, 2010, the New York Times published an article, “Picture Books No Longer a Staple for Children,” by Julie Bosman. This article noted that bookstores are seeing a distinct drop in sales. Picture books cost more to make, and patrons are balking at paying up to $18.00 for one. Parents are pushing chapter books to children as young as four years of age. Best-selling authors are seeing their royalty checks shrinking. At Simon and Schuster, picture books make up only 20% of their sales, down from 35% a few years ago. This, despite the fact that literacy experts say picture books often contain more challenging vocabulary, cause readers to interact more with the story, and develop critical thinking skills.
If you write picture books, this was a depressing article, especially if you are not published yet. Is jumping into the expanding YA genre the only hope?
Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen is a picture book author who is trying to do something about the situation. She is the author of twelve picture books and sixteen non-fiction books for children, including THE MIN-O-SAUR, illustrated by David Clark; BALLOTS FOR BELVA, illustrated by Courtney Martin; and the HOG PRINCE, illustrated by Jason Wolff.
Sudipta spent her own money and made a hilarious book trailer about her most recent book, QUACKENSTEIN HATCHES A FAMILY, which is the story about a duck that adopts an egg to have something to cuddle. The egg is definitely not a duck when it hatches. Quackenstein thinks the little platypus is a monster and runs. A hilarious chase ensues. Can a duck and a platypus become family?
Sudipta is passionate about supporting zoos and their cross-species adoptions. She is hoping her investment in her book will make Quackenstein and Platypus mascots for cross-species adoption, as well as increase sales.
You can see Sudipta’s trailer and her guest post at www.constructions.joyceaudyzarins.com. Respond to her question at the end where she asks if doing a book trailer is, “selling out or market savvy?”
Here is how I answered her question and her response.
By: Karen Centofanti
Tuesday, October 19, 2010, 12:50:50 PM | Karen Centofanti
I vote “market-savvy!”
I hope QUAKENSTEIN HATCHES A FAMILY outsells all your previous picture books, and as a result, publishers will take notice. You may have single-handedly turned the picture book market around.
I plan to blog about what you’ve done on my critique group’s web site, http://www.capecodchildrenswriters.com. I wrote two previous blogs about your advice to picture book writers after attending your workshop at the 2010 NESCBWI Conference. Your honest advice was refreshing and very helpful to me as I revised my picture book story, TIME OUT FOR GABE.
Best of luck to you. I’ll be watching!
By: Sudipta B-Q
Tuesday, October 19, 2010, 5:30:24 PM | Sudipta B-Q
Thank you, Karen! I appreciate your support and your help in spreading the word about the book. After all, I’m a single mom and if I can’t get this author thing to work out, I’m going to have to get A REAL JOB. (Since, obviously, motherhood and writing don’t count!)