There are editors of adult books in my publishing company. Sometimes they refer manuscripts to us that they think are "for kids". I'm sure they're very good at their jobs, so this is meant in the most respectful way possible: They're morons.
Because this week, "for kids" applies to an illustrated alphabet book of B-list 1970s sitcom actors. Because it's an alphabet book.
I've been the recipient of scores--perhaps hundreds--of utterly unmarketable alphabet book submissions, and I think it's time to address this problem.
There is a particularly pernicious myth in the common psyche that the most basic, fundamental book for children is an alphabet book. That might have been true once upon a time... a hundred years ago. When there were essentially no children's books.
"But children still need to learn the alphabet, don't they?" say the people at conferences who are trying to make me have an embolism. For them, two diagrams:
Of course some --even many-- published alphabet books are not about teaching the alphabet. The alphabet is simply used as a structure for conveying other information. (A structure so overused as to be a publishing cliche.)
And some alphabet books do this well. But most alphabet book submissions are not alphabet books out of clever new ideas, but out of laziness.
Want to be published more than you want to do work? Know a bunch of words that start with the various letters of the alphabet? You're all set! Rant over. Thank you for listening.