Karen wrote in to me the other day to ask about multiplatform publishing:
What is the role of the artist/writer of children’s picture books in parallel platform markets if they are to be successful? How can knowledge or experience in multiple areas be leveraged when submitting to one platform with the hopes and vision of it transcending to multiple platforms? Should something be included in the query letter?
Focus On Your Book
When someone is talented or knowledgeable in many areas, it is difficult to know how to wrap it all up in one package. However, I urge debut writers whose interest lies primarily in landing a print book deal to focus there first. If you try to pitch an idea in too many directions at once (as a magazine, book app, TV show, clothing line) without first having any print titles under your belt, agents and editors will think you’re ambitious…and not in a good way.
Focus. Create the best book you can, publish it well, and let audience demand for your talents make ideas evolve into multiplatform publishing. Don’t start by stretching your idea in many directions right off the bat.
Don’t Mention Multiplatform Publishing In Your Query Letter
This happens to me all the time in query letters. (Check out my post on query letter tips for more on this topic.) The author will write something like:
While I think SAMMY THE SKUNK would be a very strong picture book in today’s market, I am also envisioning a book app with the same branding, and have turned Sammy’s story into a feature film. The script for potential theatrical release is being written as we speak.
This almost makes me think that the author isn’t in love with his idea being a book…he’s just in love with his idea and will throw it against any wall to see if it’ll stick. That’s not a focused approach when trying to enter the publishing game, because we are into books. That’s what we do. That’s what we love. And it takes a lot of passion, dedication, knowledge, and, yes, really strong ideas to be involved in the book world. You have to really want to have a book, specifically. Drop the multiplatform publishing aspirations until that book is under your belt.
It Bears Repeating: Focus
Lots of books do get picked up by other platforms and go online or into theaters or into toy stores. Sure. But those properties are usually leveraged when the property that started it all (be it a book or a movie or whatever) stood on its own merits and attracted and audience and made other platform gatekeepers and tastemakers seek out the creator.
I’ll say it again: Focus. Seek to make one really strong impact on one part of the entertainment/content industry, then spread out from there.