Children’s Book Publishers Think ‘Outside the Book’
John Thompson, president of Bellevue, Wash.-based Illumination Arts Publishing, notes that publishing is just a challenging business, and a key to success today is finding the right books and the right authors.
“The average book publisher loses money, so you have to be a little crazy to be in this business. [You] also have to be discerning,” he says. “We [receive] 2,500 submissions … a year, and this year we picked only two titles to print. It can be frustrating for a potential author, because they end up quitting or self-publishing.”
Thompson says it’s critical to look for a great writer who is also a great promoter. “One of our best-written books was done by a lady in her 80s,” he says. “We’d have to think about whether we’d use her again though, because sales of books have a lot to do with authors willing to do signings, go to schools and do speeches at major conferences. Many publishing companies make the mistake of not picking someone who can go out and do the steps necessary to sell the book. They don’t just sell themselves.”
While publishers may be being more selective and printing fewer titles, 2005 also saw an increase in children’s book sales. According to Nielsen BookScan, 162.2 million children’s books were sold during 2005, an almost 20 percent increase over 2004.
Eric Butterman is a New York-based writer and creator of the seminar “Better Business Writing: From E-mails to Everything That Makes You Money.” He can be contacted at EricButterman@Yahoo.com.