You can judge a book by it's cover

You know how they say you can't judge a book from its cover? It's not true, because they always put the author's name on the front, and then you know if it's going to be good.

That's from my seven year old daughter, who said it to me last night as we were settling down to read. Already by the age of seven, she's worked out on her own that if the book's written by someone she's liked before, then she's Safe, but if it's by someone she hasn't heard of then it's a Risk.

This is not a comforting thought for a debut author, such as, for example, her Daddy.

The book we held at the time had the magic name Linda Chapman on the front (of Unicorn and Stardust fame). My girls have been major contributors to Linda Chapman's retirement plan. They have a simple strategy. When they read a book they like they consume every other book by the same author with the sort of rapaciousness normally associated with plagues of locusts. When that author's been picked clean (and enriched, because we buy them all new) they move on to the next. The other huge winners in this game have been Daisy Meadows, who is code for Narinder Dhami, Sue Bentley, Linda Chapman (again!), and Sue Mongredien, and of course Enid Blyton.

So if you're a children's writer here's a winning strategy for you: write something kids like, and then don't stop.

It interests me that all these books seem to get dumped on by adult experts on a fairly regular basis, but that's not stopping them selling in lots of millions.

9 comments:

scaryazeri said...

I am only just toying with an idea of writing a book, and dreaming of turning my blog into one...but already I can see that getting a book deal is only one step in a million! and probably a step that will only lead to more worries...is it gonna sell? how many will sell? is anyone going to read it? if they do, and it is say a non-fiction, do you stick to something that sold, or do you try a novel next? Gosh...maybe I am better off not even trying. :)))

Meghan said...

True, but adults are always looking for something new and fresh and so as a new author since your novel is aimed at adults you've got nothing to worry about. :D

Mimzy said...

I remember that strategy! I still use it to a certain extent (anything by Susanna Clarke shall be bought without a moment's hesitation), but I've branched out into new directions as well.

If your kids like fantasy I would suggest the Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer. Even though I'm legally an adult I still enjoy those books and there's six in the series so far. Just hold off buying them #6 for awhile since it recently came out and I think is only available in hardback

Gary Corby said...

Artemis Fowl is very good but for some reason didn't connect for them. I suspect Ann Martin's Main Street is going to be the next big winner, and also Jeanne Betancourt's Pony Pal books. Horses, you know. Horses, unicorns, fairies, magic. My wife's old Trixie Beldens are getting a work over too with the ten year old.

Yes Meghan, that's exactly the plan. That and a book tour which I'll be doing next year. I hope I get to meet lots of the people I know online.

Scary (does that count as a first name?), the best I can suggest is, try it! Getting an agent and/or a publisher is not exactly easy, but you don't know until you try. I've discovered the writer community is overwhelmingly friendly and supportive. I very strongly suggest reading the blogs and advice on the net from well-known agents and editors.

scaryazeri said...

Thank you, Gary. Yes, even in such a short space of time I noticed how friendly the writing community is. I had a lot of encouragement and advice already, which is just great. And you are right, definitely blogs with advice are good.
Speaking of which, if you know of any useful blogs I could follow, please do share! Even though I am in the UK, I am sure I will find a lot of interesting stuff. Thank you again.

Anthony said...

My kids are the exact same way. Every time a Warrior book gets printed, it winds its way to my house.

The author prints money in the basement.

Shadows said...

"When they read a book they like they consume every other book by the same author with the sort of rapaciousness normally associated with plagues of locusts."

I think that speaks for a lot of readers with ample time on their hands. Adorable blog post Gary.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

I still like the Oz books. My mom introduced me to them when I was very young. I have most of the original series, and a few of the later ones by other authors. Oz books are best read outloud.

My oldest daughter fell in love with Nancy Drew books. She has almost all of them from the original series through the illustrated novels. They're what turned her into a reader.

There are many neglected older childrens' series worth looking at, such as the Ruth Fielding series. I have bunches of old childrens' books. fun.

I liked the Series of Unfortunate Events books and the Spiderwick books.

Hey, I like my own book. Read it to them when they get old enough.

Come over and visit me on my blog again. Your comments are always welcome.

Gary Corby said...

You're right, Carrie. I remember from about the same age reading pretty much a book a day, and that's what they're doing. So I'm very pleased!

That raises the interesting point of boy-books vs girl-books, Anthony. You'd never find my two reading a Warrior book.