Editor and Author Deborah Halverson - who writes both fiction and craft books about writing, is SCBWI's market reporter. As Lin Oliver says in her introduction to this keynote, this promises to be:
"The most practical and useful session you will attend in the next twelve months"
In every attendee's folder, there's a copy of the "2014 SCBWI Market Survey: Publishers of Books for Young Readers"
(The Market Survey is also available for SCBWI members at the scbwi.org website.)
Deborah created this "market snapshot" based on interviews with 17 industry insiders - agents, editors, sales managers and independent market experts.
She starts by explaining to us where the market is today (now we all know that if you take out the "Hunger Games bump," the market has been pretty consistent since 2012.)
Deborah is highlighting the new opportunities for attendees (new publishing houses and imprints) and the submission changes.
Then she shares what the experts are telling her is going on, for picture books, chapter books, nonfiction, middle grade and young adult fiction.
She goes into the impact of the Common Core curriculum, the penetration of ebooks and digital by category, and reports on how the submissions editors are seeing sync with what they want.
A few highlights:
There's an upswing in picture book sales and market demand - Young picture books.
Re: diversity in picture books, editors prefer projects that aren't heavy handed. Books that include cultural elements that aren't about the diversity.
Editors and Agents tell her that they eagerly seek middle grade concepts.
One area of cautious interest is realistic contemporary YA… the challenge is "finding stories about normal kids in normal school environments that stand out from other stories about normal kids in normal school environments."
With all this scoop about trends, Deborah cautions us to not write for the trend!
And the final take-away:
One editor told her "I'm not looking to reject. I'm looking to find."