I’ve had a lot of jobs. I guess most people my age and older can say that, but the only job I was trained to do is teach. I’ve taught every grade level from preschool to a freshman psychology class at the University of Michigan. When my children were very young, I was the director of a preschool. In my twenties, I found myself with a little extra time so I used it to teach an adult education class two nights a week.
I started studying writing when I was still an elementary school student. I got my first subscription to Writers Digest when I was twelve. I even worked in the school library where my children went to elementary school before feeling qualified to attempt my first juvenile novel. I guess you could say my vocation is teaching and my passion is writing (and reading).
I say all this to qualify what I’m about to say. I write books for and about children. I read children’s book, I have children, I was trained to teach children and I’ve studied how to write for children. I have picture books that I’ve written so long ago they’ve never made it to my hard drive. No problem, I’ve got more than enough on my hard drive to pay off all the college loans my three children incurred while I was trying to get a contract.
This week while we were all talking, debating, and arguing about Imus, an article in my local paper almost slipped by me without notice; Ex-Spice Girl Geri Halliwell is writing a series of children's books for release next year. After my initial ex-what? Geri-who? I read the article and learned that yet another celebrity, and I used the term celebrity loosely, has “earned” my dream. “Geri Halliwell has landed a six-book publishing deal with Macmillan to chronicle the animated adventures of Ugenia Lavender, a bold and assertive 9-year-old girl who balances everyday school life with solving mysteries and working her way out of fantastic situations.”
A six book deal? Yes, a six book deal.
It’s hard enough for any author to get a book contract without sacrificing the children’s book category to celebrities. I understand why these celebrities keep getting these deals. Some of them must sell well. Why do they sell? Because they are well-written and useful additions to a young person’s life? Probably not, although I will admit that I have read a few that weren’t terrible and one or two that were well done. They sell because the celebrities can get interviews that other writers can’t. Interviews translate to sales.
I propose a solution. I am volunteering myself as a cowriter for celebrities interested in breaking into the apparently lucrative children’s market. You, dear celebrity are free to appear on any or all talk show interviews, schedule book signings at your own discretion and I will stay home and write or “cowrite.” I will split the advance and royalaties with you fifty-fifty. If it was never about the money and you don’t want a split, suit yourself. Also, you’re free to donate your portion to charity.
Let’s start the sign up sheet with me.