Posted by: nancyisanders | July 9, 2008

ABC Adventure: Choose A Topic

Welcome to my Alphabet Book Adventure! This summer on my blog, I’m sharing the step-by-step approach I take to write an alphabet book and inviting you to join in the fun. If this is the first time you’ve ever visited my blog, you can click on this link to start the ABC Adventure from the very first day!

And now…back to our ABC Adventure!

Step 5
Now that we’ve chosen one specific publisher to target, it’s time to choose one specific topic to write about.

Even thought it’s tempting to write about what interests you the most, resist the temptation. Instead, make it your goal to find out what topic the publisher is interested in publishing the most. This approach will increase your chances of landing a contract.

The best way to find out what the publisher is interested in is to read a recent interview of an editor where she says what she wants. Or, if you attend a writer’s conference or convention where that editor is speaking, she will probably describe the topics she prefers or needs to add to her projected product list.

However, if you don’t have that opportunity in the near future, you can still make an educated guess about the topics an editor wants or needs. Grab your shovels and picks. It’s time to dig for the treasure!

Visit the publisher’s website. Make a list of all the alphabet books they’ve done in the past five years.

Once you have your list of titles, look for a pattern. Once you find a pattern, ask yourself, “What comes next in the pattern?”

For example, some publishers have distinct series of alphabet books. At one time, Sleeping Bear Press was writing a series of ABC Books on the 50 states. At that time, they were open to receiving more titles to complete their series. Now that series is done.

Other publishers have an ABC series on zoo animals or on transportation or on different countries. If they have an already existing series with titles within that series written by different authors, it’s easy to find the pattern. The pattern is that all their topics have to fit within their specific series! Make a list of titles they’ve already published. Ask yourself, “What comes next?” Then try to think of a topic that would fit into their series that they haven’t yet published. For instance, if they have a series of zoo animals that includes giraffes, lions, and tigers, but not hippos, you could choose hippos to as a potential topic to write about for your next ABC book.

If their list of topics already seems exhausted, don’t despair! Check out an encyclopedia or book on that theme from the library and look for a more obscure topic that still might hold high interest. Perhaps they haven’t yet published a book about snow leopards or koala bears.

Some publishers don’t necessarily have a distinct series of ABC books, but you can still find a pattern. For instance, you might see on your list that they have quite a few holiday ABC books including Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Thanksgiving. Ask yourself, “What comes next?” Make a list of holidays they don’t have such as Mother’s Day and the Fourth of July. Chances are, they would love to add another major holiday title to their ABC list. You could choose one of those holidays as a potential topic to write about.

The goal is to find a potential topic that compliments your target publisher’s product list but that they haven’t yet published.

If you have several ideas for different topics that would fit your target publisher, be sure to write down these as well. You might have use for these later for future projects.

As you do your research over the next week, be sure to check back in to find some tips that will help you as you choose the potential topic for your ABC book.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: