I know we just passed Valentine’s Day and have not yet reached St. Patrick’s Day, but holiday books have been on my mind. Recently I read-and rejected-a Christmas story that had many of the red flags I hope not to find in a manuscript. I feel bad for authors when I send rejections, as I know that their heart and soul are poured into their work. As I’m already thinking about the catalog for the fall and the publication schedule for next year, now seems like a good time to share my thoughts-scattered as they may be-on writing holiday books for children.
|Leprechauns Never Lie|
What am I thinking when I pull a holiday story from the stack of manuscripts waiting to be read? First, I hope that it won’t be written in rhyme. Too many people seem to think that stories for children must be written in rhyme. Rhyming is well and good if it suits the story, and the writer doesn’t try to force the rhyme. Yet I often find myself muttering, “Prose is a good thing. Give prose a chance.” as I go through manuscripts with an 8:2 rhyme to prose ratio.
|Madison's Patriotic Project|
I also hope that the story is about a holiday other than Christmas. Halloween is the second favorite for holiday stories, but Christmas holds a strong lead in the holiday stories submissions stakes. I’m quite fond of Christmas, but there are other holidays where new books would have a better chance of being noticed.
Then there is the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Syndrome. That’s my phrase for when a writer uses a popular character in a story without researching if it is in public domain. Rudolph has an interesting copyright and trademark history. I won’t go into that here, but if you use a copyrighted/trademarked character in your story, two things happen. The words “copyright issues” come to my mind. I also immediately discard the manuscript.
Check out what holiday books are available. Think about what makes them work well. What ideas do you have that would appeal to readers? Find out what the publisher chooses to publish.
Don’t include illustrations. Publishers have art directors who find professional illustrators for projects.
Then send it to a publisher. We are always looking for the next holiday classic.
What holiday books has Star Bright Books published?