I recently decided to run writing courses locally and via the website WOW (http://wow-womenonwriting.com). The first course I’m offering is how to write a picture book. A friend passed on my details and I received a call from a local aspiring author. He opened by telling me he’d written loads of stories and wanted to get them published. Then asked if my course would be suitable. I went through the syllabus with him and asked if he felt it was what he needed. “I’m not sure,” he responded.
So I asked if he knew how the publishing industry worked. “Well, um… no,” was the reply. “Then if nothing else you’ll gain a better understanding of what books make it to market. You can then edit your stories to suit the market, giving you a better chance.”
“Oh I know my books will sell because my wife and kids love them.”
I told him that doesn’t mean they would be suitable for today’s market. To make my point I preceded to tell him about my mistake when submitting my first story. The story included three celebrations, these being: Easter, Guys Fawkes Night and Halloween. I continued I’d been extremely lucky that the editor who read my story actually liked it. She took the time to write the nicest rejection letter I’ve ever received. She pointed out that in order to sell globally I would have to think global. Not everyone follows a Christian faith, so would not celebrate Easter. Only England celebrates the fact that a plot to blow up their government had been averted and many would never have heard of Guy Fawkes Night. She pointed out not everyone celebrates Halloween and some even find it offensive. She finished by saying that if I could make a few changes she’d be pleased to read my story again. I made the changes, re-submitted and that story was finally published (after a few more tweaks).
“Oh, but I’d only submit to an English publisher,” was the reply.
I continued that gone are the days publishers just publish in their own country. In order to make a book viable the rights would be sold worldwide. My books have travelled as far as America, Australia, Indonesia, Korea and my publisher has recently sold the Hebrew rights of one of my books.
“Oh, so you’re saying I may have to change my stories slightly.”
I finished by stating that we have to realise we are creating a product. So when writing, we as writers have to bear this in mind. To get our product onto the market (published) we have to think about what the client (the publisher needs) and this product is an item that must have global appeal.
I could sense a silent groan at the other end of the phone.