Day 3 and questions for Kimberly Morris, our June 2004 Author of the Month, continue.
You mentioned new trends yesterday. Could you give one or two examples of what you mean–for those who might not immediately think of something?
New trends? Always. I guess the most significant for me is the trend away from mass market paperback series like Animorphs, Sweet Valley, and Goosebumps, to single title hard cover trade issues that lend themselves to sequels. Examples of this trend in middle grade would be the Harry Potter and Lemony Snicket books. In the young adult market, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants would be an example. A few years ago, these books would have probably come out first in paperbook with a 6-book launch. But in both cases, their distinctive voices and styles were better served by hard cover trade treatment, with publishers taking a “wait and see” position on sequels. Obviously, it was a good call. The shelves were glutted with mass market paperbacks and those books would probably have gotten lost. But the different positioning set those books apart and they have all been hugely successful.
3. Thanks. Those are great examples. Our third question is: Most of your writing is for children. Do you have any suggestions or cautions for new writers who are considering writing for children or who are early in the writing process?
I think many people choose to write for children in the mistaken belief that it is easier than writing for adults, or that it requires less talent and ability. That is not true. Someone (I don’t know who) once said that when you write for children, you must write the same way you would for adults – only better. I believe that’s very true. The children’s books that endure are characterized by wit, intelligence, and respect for the reader. So I suppose my advice to the aspiring children’s writer is this: Don’t learn to write for children. Just learn to write!