Twelve reactions to my latest nonfiction work:
• “[This] made me quite teary. [I]t’s a beautiful [story], and very nicely told”
• “A great conversation piece, and I think boys would particularly like it”
• “I have to say, I think the story is fantastic”
• “Not only is [the] story an interesting, little-known slice of history, but the writing is quite lovely as well”
• “We all had very positive reactions to it overall. What we all really loved, and what I am sure appeals to you, is that it is a war story but it’s one about reconciliation. That’s really both a lovely and unusual notion”
• “I have read the story several times, and it is an unusual one with lots of good themes and excitement”
• “[A] lovely paean to peace coming out of war”
• “I was very moved”
• “Compelling and well told”
• “I was fascinated by this story of forgiveness and redemption. It’s so touching!”
• “There’s no question this has some compelling marketing hooks—and it’s a pretty unbelievable story in the first place”
I would be proud to say that these twelve comments were reactions to MY latest nonfiction work. But this is actually the way that Marc Tyler Nobleman started off a very thought-provoking post at his own blog.
A little later in the piece, he revealed that each reaction came from a children’s book editor—who was rejecting his manuscript. It wasn’t that they were afraid to take a chance on a newcomer; Nobleman has written many, many books including the highly lauded Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman. So, why? Doubtless many reasons, but he was often told that nonfiction—especially nonfiction about someone who is not a household name—doesn’t sell.
Okay, it’s no news that the economy is in trouble and if that weren’t affecting publishing, the changes in technology still would be. No news at all. But Nobleman's post isn’t whining about it. Instead he created his own news—and hopefully a bit of buzz to pitch and call attention to the story he loves and wants to tell in print.
He turned to illustrators—some kids, some old pros with hundreds of books among them. He asked them to create covers for his book. There are twelve on his blog (interestingly, the same number as listed rejections). You can go to the link below to see them all. Since I’m just picking one to share here, I'm loyally going for the cover by Tim Bush, who illustrated my own All in Just One Cookie.
I'll let Marc tell the rest of his own story at the link below. But at the end, he closes with two questions:
Librarians: Is this a book you can see adding to your collection?
Editors: Is this a book you can see?
For me, Marc’s post, http://noblemania.blogspot.com/2011/09/picture-book-for-sale.html, also raises many more:
What about the stories that need to be told precisely because they are about people, who aren't household names but perhaps should be because they came out of mist to be heroes or do the decent thing? People like, say, you or me or the kid that is reading the book?
What is the author’s changing role in these crazy transitional times? First it was just creator; now our roles are equal parts promoters and “publisizers.” The Internet also gives Marc and all of us a platform for another additional role. But what is that role and what will it entail?
And, what will happen when the iPad (RIP Steve Jobs) and its equivalents make illustrated books a realistic digital commodity; how will that shift the roles of publishers and authors even more? What are some of the best case scenarios?
Come on guys, do we have a shot at a discussion here?