Friday, 18 January 2013

Calling MG/YA Writers - Advice Needed Please!

Hey guys!

I know how awesome the blogging community is when people need help - so I'm calling on you to see if you might be able to give some advice to a friend of mine.

A question was posed in a Facebook group I belong to, and I really wanted to give good advice, but my knowledge of MG is a little off. Here's the post:

I'd really like to try my hand at children's books, but I know that's a tough market to crack. I think that genre is probably more suited to print than ebooks, and honestly, I'd really like to see my name (or pen name) in actual print.

I'm guessing that there would be more overhead involved, because children's book need illustrations and I can't draw a straight line with a ruler, nor a stick person that anyone would recognize. Would I be better off to start thinking in another direction, something I can complete myself, that wouldn't require the services of an illustrator? Young Adult perhaps?

Do people even buy/download children's books? I'm thinking books you'd read to a baby or young child, but one that they could point to pictures of, etc. I don't see that being a good fit for digital. Thoughts?

Question 1: Do any of you know if young children's books sell well as ebooks, or are they better suited to print?

Question 2: How about MG books? Do they sell better as ebooks?

Question 3: Is the YA market too over-saturated, or is it worth taking a crack at?

Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

(I will be back next week as it's my blogiversary and there will be a giveaway! Have a great weekend!)


  1. MG books don't tend to be picture books. They are aimed at 9-12 year olds. Also, books aimed lower at 7-9 probably aren't picture books either. So that's one problem sorted.

    There's not really enough information to say whether they're really working as e-books. I think they're doing quite well (so strongly on the up!). But the whole thing is like that (MG books or not). My library lends ebooks and you can read them on computers and phones, so perhaps it's not so crazy an idea that kids are reading these without their gatekeepers. I'm afraid there are no easy answers.

    However, you will need an editor/proof reader for an ebook regardless to make sure you put out a good book with no mistakes. So both ways are not easy easy, if you want to ensure you release your best work.

  2. Coming from a reader/ mother of a three-year-old perspective, I know my little one reads ebooks. He got an Vtech Innotab for Christmas. He can find the book himself, and the app reads it for him. He's already picking up phrases from the story. I prefer them to paper books, because he doesn't rip/ chew them.

  3. Currently, print for MG is still doing better, and this is because of the access to the expensive tools needed to read those books in e format. But ebooks are gaining strength in that market as well.

    The YA and MG markets are pretty tough to crack, but all writing is worth writing. Every book will help you grow. I think your question is whether there's a market for another YA book. The answer is yes, so long as it's all the things you'd want an adult book to be: full of rich characters, a riveting plot, and writing to die for.

    Yes it's hard, but so are all the other things worth doing.
    And I totally Second Freya, get an editor, but also make sure that your non adults sound like non adults (hate calling them teens or children, I hated being called a child...)

  4. Sorry, I don't write in those genres!

  5. For picture books, I prefer print, but you can get them as ebooks. And with color e-readers, some people really like them. As for middle grade, I think more kids that age are getting e-readers, so middle grade ebooks may be on the rise. My daughter is in 2nd grade, and while she doesn't own her own e-reader, a lot of kids her age do.
    Also, for picture books you don't need to illustrate them yourself. If a publisher picks up your ms they will pick their own illustrator.

  6. I think you got some good advice here. It's hard to answer what is selling more in children's books. E-books, or regular. Personally, I enjoy reading regular books to my grandson. I read all my own books on my iPhone, but--with him--I like having the actual physical book.

    As far as writing a children's book without using an illustrator, I don't think it matters. From what I hear, most agents/editors want to work with their own illustrators anyway.

    The best advice I ever saw for writing a children's book (little kids 3-6)was to use a lot of sound words. Bang, clang, zip and get the idea.

    Good luck with whatever route you choose to go with!!

  7. I don't know much at all about this market. A good writer to ask would be Sherry Ellis.

  8. I love children's books and I think the world could use more good ones. I think if you have an excellent high concept idea for a picture book you can get an agent to pick it up, but I do know they prefer an author/illustrator over just an author.

    But I think this is like any other genre you want to write, you really have to have a good idea of what is out there. So if your friend is interested in this she should read read read in it :)

  9. I let my three boys (under 6) have AT it on *my* bookshelf (I don't want them to be afraid of (my) books, so I don't mind replacing dust jackets to the right book once the wordy storm has passed.

    While I embrace ereaders on a professional basis, my kids will be Kindle-free for as long as possible (say 18 - *if* I do my job right :)

  10. Just popping over to say Hi after meeting you on Annalisa's blog. Shall we make a pact to read P&P before 2014? My blog is at

  11. I think the MG market is changing, as e-books and e-readers gain more popularity in this genre, as well as everywhere else. I can tell you in my house though, my girls (ages 9, 10 and 11) all prefer print much better.

    If you publish a children's book, they almost always have their own illustrators they like to use. It's actually harder to bring in your own art/artist. So that's not something for your friend to fear!

  12. 1. I don't think young children's books sell well as ebooks, since some ereaders don't support the picture format very well. Also, many parents won't buy an ereader to read picture books to their kids, they will probably buy a physical book the child can look at.

    2. It's probably a toss-up for middle grade books. I don't know many middle schoolers with an ereader and permission to buy books with their parents credit card from Amazon or such.

    3. I don't believe the YA market is too over-saturated since everyone has different taste in what you read, but you really really really have to love writing because you get rejected a lot and it's not an easy choice. Deciding to write shouldn't just depend on what will sell. You should love to write.

    Hope that wasn't harsh! Just want to be honest. :)

  13. I have a childrens book series planned and need to get back to it. Its a tough market to crack but if you already have platform like many of us bloggers do, then that can be used as a launching board.

  14. I can only offer 2 cents on the last question.

    Yes, the YA market is over-saturated. But so is every other genre/age-range. And there are never too many fresh voices. If your friend has a story to tell, that he/she HAS to tell, they should tell it, whatever genre. We writers write because we must. If she must, she must! :)

  15. I'm not the one to talk about MG fiction but I will say that while YA is overflowing that you can always come out on top with a well done story and a really good agent. Just because a market has a lot of books doesn't mean it's not worth taking a crack at.

    Nice of you to find answers for someone Kyra. Can't wait to celebrate your blogiversary with you next week.

  16. I'm just reading responses, these are great questions. I've never even thought of MG readers as having e-readers, but apparently they do :/ And here I was thinking I was hip getting a Kindle before most of my friends at 24.

  17. My impression is that children's books and MG are still leaning toward the print side. But, in the end, your best advice to her is to write what she's passionate about. The odds are long no matter what, just set your dreams and go after 'em!

  18. The cool thing is that the markets are all changing right now. There are more MG books coming out as ebooks as ereaders and tablets are making their way into more households. This will most likely change picture books as well. I've seen how toddlers and little kids love iPads. There are so many children's apps, which I believe will transform picture books in the coming years. Yeah, YA is saturated, but a good idea will always have a place. None of these markets are easy, but when you follow your dreams, a path is eventually revealed.