If you are new to children’s publishing, you may be feeling a tad overwhelmed by the jargon. There are picture books, chapter books, and young adult novels. You have fiction, nonfiction, and informational texts. It may be tempting to shrug and ignore these terms. After all, you just want to write for kids. You can send in your work and let the publisher sort it out.
Unfortunately, that isn’t going to happen. Here are three reasons you need to learn the lingo.
What Are Editors Requesting?
When an editor, agent or publisher puts out a call, you need to know what it is they want. After all, a nonfiction STEM picture book is going to be very different from a young adult novel with touches of magical realism. If you don’t know what they are asking for, how can you possibly know what to send them? If nothing else, Google unfamiliar terms. “What is magical realism?” (It is amazing! That’s what.)
Know What You Are Sending
You also need to know the lingo so that you know what you are submitting when you send something in. If you say that you are sending a picture book and the editor finds a 2500 word manuscript, you are going to earn a rapid ‘no thank you.” Using the correct terminology to describe your work shows publishing professionals that you too are a pro. That’s going to cast your work in a completely different light. And if it is the buzz of the next office Zoom meeting, it will be a good buzz. And, that’s what you want.
When It Is Time to Break the Rules
If you know the terminology used in publishing as well as the conventions of each type of book, you can sometimes get by with breaking the rules. Why? Because you know what the rules are and why this rule right here needs to be broken to tell this particular story in the most effective way.
Every industry has conventions and terminology. Learn what they are and then you can set about carving a space that only you and your work can fill.