Sunday, February 18, 2007

Creative Thinking Is a Disease and Must Be Stamped Out

Ok, I'm not serious. But if I get one more "You've never seen something like this before!!" pitch this week, I'm going to wring the editorial assistant's neck. (She sits closest.)

"My proposal is for a retelling of the three little pigs, but they escape from the wolf by jumping out of the book! There are many spofs (sic) of fairy tales and fractured tellings in the children's books now but my book will be a spoof of the fairytale tradition and children's books and pigs."
And pigs? Ok, leaving aside the dreadful proofreading that didn't go into this cover letter, your proposal sounds a great deal like David Weisner's The Three Pigs, which anybody in children's books ought to know about. It won a Caldecott, for chrissakes. What combination of drugs and hubris could make you try to imitate that? Pass.

"I have done a great deal of research into the book industry, and discovered that books are very, very expensive to make. But in the movie industry, they put little ads for things, like Pepsi, in the movie and the people who make the things pay the movie people. This could be a great way to make books more profitable for everyone."
Product placement? Do I sense you angling for a larger advance?

If you've been watching the industry at all, you will have heard of Cathy's Book, which included several paid-for plugs for Cover Girl make-up.

That was indeed some creative thinking, and the publisher was thoroughly flogged for it. Evidently a great many booksellers feel it's offensive to try to manipulate children under the cover of promoting literacy. Go figure.

The moral of these two stories, dear readers, is Do Your Homework. And then once you've done it, go ahead and assume that the editor you submit to still knows more about children's books than you do, because she does. "I'm breaking entirely new ground!" claims just make authors look like boobs.


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