Elana Roth of Caren Johnson Literary wrote yesterday what I felt was a rather reflexive post about the disparity between the attitudes of children's books writers in their career development and the realities of the publishing market for those books. Heartfelt? Absolutely, but it missed the point.
She expressed shock that PB authors, even well-established ones, would eschew representation, but then she went on to provide reasons why it's so hard to gain representation in the first place. Having thus identified the real reason for this (poor financials for publishers, authors and agents all around), Ms. Roth then pondered why so many writers choose to write the dang things, and why we push so hard to get them published.
The easy answer is that we're driven to do it. We derive pleasure from writing those little nuggets. We relish the feeling knowing that our words will engage and entertain and excite readers and listeners. The realities of the market - all doom and gloom - do not and will not ever change that.
Okay, I also accept that pretty much anyone who doesn't write PBs (and even a large number of writers who do) thinks that to write a picture book story is proportionately easier than writing longer works. Yes, those who cling most avidly to that belief provide the bulk of the grist subbed over the transom. I know most of it is garbage. Or otherwise unmarketable. But you know something? This is not a phenomenon unique to the picture book market. It's not likely to change either.
So, Picture Book Writers, the end is not near - or no nearer than it has been in the past, anyway. Sure, if you're one of those who thinks this is easy, pull your head out of the, um, sand. But most importantly, don't give up. Continue to write and revise and submit. Get better at all of these things, and your dream will come true. And if you decide to get an agent and are lucky enough to sign with one, well, kudos to you. But if you don't, just remember this: The sky is not falling.
At least, not today.
If you want to read Elana's post, it's here.