Detail of illustration of book I've written
Pretty much everyone is writing children’s picture books nowadays.
There are, of course, the celebrities: Madonna, John Lithgow, Julie Andrews, Kathie Lee Gifford, Tori Spelling…. Perhaps it’s their second career. I can’t fault them for that. I’m working on MY second career.
But my sneaky suspicion is that “how hard can it be?” popped up in their minds. Followed by “I bet this would make a great idea for a children’s book!” I'd like to think that my favorite children’s book authors never ever have that thought. They have a story to tell and the stories just happen to be for children. They don’t moralize. They don’t talk down to kids. And I’d bet that they don’t ever think “what child wouldn’t love to hear my story about a (insert favorite barnyard animal here)?”
This trend is not limited to celebs. I can say with great certainty that, myself included, almost everyone has thought of a “great idea for a children’s book.” How do I know? Because I’m an Illustrator. And practically not a week goes by that some friend or relative or friend-of-a -friend or friend-of-a-relative doesn’t ask me to illustrate their book. Maybe they’ve just been introduced to me. Maybe they’ve never seen my work. For all they know I could produce evil evil artwork that would make Hieronymous Bosch blush.* Doesn’t matter. They have a great book about a little (turtle, girl, rabbit, gender-confused child) that they know I can help them with.
I’ve only said Yes once. To a wonderful cousin who can write well and has good things to share with children. I really wanted to work with her and it’s been a great experience. In my experience most publishing companies prefer to find their own illustrators for books by first time writers. So truthfully the writers shouldn’t bother hiring me anyway. They should feel free, however, to recommend me to their publishers!
Right now I’m fine-tuning a few picture books that I’ve written. They have been pretty tough to fine-tune. Writing for children can be harder than it looks. I guess we can’t all be Tori Spelling, Bette Midler, The Prince of Wales, John Travolta, and Jimmy Buffet.
*I’m hoping to sprinkle my blog posts with references to artists. I know you all have all “Googled” your second grade nemesis, that good looking physical therapist you once met, that date that stood you up. So I know you can “Google” a few artists. If you don’t know Hieronymous then please look him up.