Saturday, February 23, 2008

Nonfiction and the hard sell

Reading a thread on the Blue, and it caught my eye...

It bemoans the writer of this thread (and me, too) that the state of non-fiction for children in the state of California's libraries and bookstores is so limited (funds, and buyers interests). This writer talks about what a hard sell her non-fiction was; and she's multi-published.

The thing that makes me so frustrated is that my biography's strength, or one of its strengths is in the execution of the illustrations. It is in the dummy but more so in the actual finished art. Because pencil sketches to actual finished collage/mixed media are like skeleton to flesh.

This is why I find it so difficult and frustrating to sell everything as a unit (especially over the transom).

I've gotten letters on this project. Compliments. But obviously something is not working. And I don't know what that is because no one will say so. Just that my subject is obscure.

If you think about it just about every historical, artistic, scientist figure is obscure to a child. May be it is the parent/adult who wouldn't know my subject well enough to reach for it. Maybe there is not going to be enough demand.

Hell, my kids have brought home books about astronauts, poets and scientists I have never heard of. Could it be curriculum tie-in? Mine is not. I don't think so anyway.


1) Obscure colorful American composer/virtuoso/idol

2) Conflicts -- overcoming adversity/prejudice, and hardships on the road (trains and the lack of).

3) Amazing/wild things he did besides what he was known for (very visual). He was a daredevil and show off.

4) Nice art (very visual...ha..ha..ha)

5) Onomatopoeic (sp?) language to match his music and musical rhythms. Bouncy language.

6) Involvement in Civil War...he played on the battle grounds and for Lincoln. Product of New Orleans

7) Precursor to ragtime

8) Multi-cultural themes and characters

9) Entertaining more than educational.

10) Theme: travelling the world for multicultural voices to incorporate into his own music. And this is something that is shown in the symbolistic art.


1) Hey Jude!! Too Obscure (Barbara shakes head in disbelief)

2) trying to do too much.........hmm...maybe?? Dunno. I cut this from 1,700 words to 750 words without so much as a blink. Streamlined, if you will.

3) Does the end need more of a twist even though it is visual whopper?

Which brings me back to hard sell.

Maybe it is not my book at all. Maybe it is the market.

No comments: