I get asked that a lot. It would seem to be a natural fit for me, we've got five kids, ten grand-kids and our second great grandchild is on the way. It isn't that I don't think it is important, one of my clients, MaryAnn Diorio said this:
I believe our Lord is raising up a generation of children who will do mighty exploits in His Name. But they must be taught the things of God. When I browse the children’s section of secular bookstores, I am appalled and deeply grieved at what is being published for children. One sees mostly satanic material, occultic and violent in nature. One also sees a lot of new age influence. It all reminds me of Luke 17:2. [It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than he should offend one of these little ones] So I want to do whatever I can to point our children to Jesus.
I could not agree more. So, if I am naturally attuned to kids, if I strongly agree that there is a great need to put Godly products on the market for children, what's the problem?
First, let me define what a children's book is. A lot of people just have two definitions, and anything that is not for adults is for children. The publishing industry breaks that down further, however, and for them there are children's books, first readers, middle readers, and young adult. Each one is defined by a specific age range. The children's books are picture books and books intended to be read to very young children, First readers are just what the name implies, books to be read by or read to children just beginning to read. In simpliest terms middle readers correspond with middle school and young adult with high school.
I do handle middle readers and young adult but nothing younger. It isn't that I don't think they are important, but I don't do it for three very important reasons:
1. Working in any market requires a knowledge of that market and I don't have that knowledge of the children's book market. There are a number of other markets I don't know well enough either, such as sci-fi and fantasy. You can just be an expert on a limited number of things.
2. We don't sell books to publishers, we sell them to editors that we have a relationship with, know what they are looking for, and have good points of contact. I don't know these editors that are acquiring in the children's market.
3. To do well in a market you have to be able to judge all of the projects that are being presented to you and pick the ones that stand out from the crowd, projects that will really appeal to the editors it will be presented to. I'm a grandfather, they all look cute to me, and I could see myself reading all of them to the kids. Obviously I am not good at judging the merit of some projects over other projects when it comes to children's books.
I am about to attend my first conference for children's writers specifically for this purpose, to see if I can learn some things that might cause the situation to change.