Monday, April 8, 2013

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly and More

           of our writing lives...


Example #1  

The Good:  A friend/colleague of mine travels all around Massachusetts doing book talks for teachers and librarians.  She recently told me that for the past year or more, most of her favorite picture books have been nonfiction. Hands down. The quality and turn of ideas, language and illustrations have been getting better and better.

The Bad: She also said that she and her compatriots have also noticed and discussed that fiction picture books seem to be going through a dry spell. There are peaks and troughs in every genre and, for some reason, there hasn't been a lot of excitement or innovation in that category.

The Ugly:  So my friend often urges educators in her audience to use nonfiction books as read-alouds in the classroom to encourage more boys reading, and more nonfiction reading in generally, especially due to Common Core.  Yet teachers admit that when they are going to read to the class they still primarily use fiction.

Example #2

The Ugly:  Royalty checks often straggle in after March 31st.  After opening an envelope, one friend jokingly(?) wondered if he should spend his royalty to pay that month's utility bills or buy a couple tanks of gas.

The Bad:  This friend's check reflected the sales of a very well-reviewed and award-winning book.

The Good:  My friend got to write the book he wanted to write, on a subject he wanted others to read about.  His book was well reviewed.  It did win awards.  Furthermore, it clearly paid out its advance and got to the royalty stage in this time of school and library cutbacks.

Example #3

The Good:  A book I loved writing about the first desegregation case has been acquired by Bloomsbury/Walker, a house I love working for.

The Bad:  Although this is my umpteenth book and I should be used to it, the time between acceptance and publication, especially when illustration is involved, is always too long.

The Certain:  After Deborah Heligman's delightful and surprising post, I know this book will be published on a Tuesday.  And due to its subject matter, whatever year it is published, my bet is it will come out in February.  


Jim Murphy said...

Susan -- an interesting, fun post, especially about royalty statements. Yes, it's that time of the year. And, yes again, the time between submission of an idea and acceptance seems to be lengthing out, I'm guessing because publishing people (our editors) have to jump through more hoops before an idea is approved. I don't see this changing in the near future, so I just build in lots of time (and try to calculate finances accordingly). Good luck with your project.

Vicki Cobb said...

By a strange coincidence, Susan, Scott Turow published an op-ed piece in the NY Times today called The Slow Death of the American Author. Here's the link: