I just finished writing a board book, and I’m not sure how I feel about it. This is the first time I’ve been so actively thinking about publishing trends while writing, and it feels kind of hollow because of that.
For example, I wanted to make the main character, a puppy, female. But I thought about readership levels. Girls will read books about boy characters. But boys won’t read books about girl characters. So I made the puppy a boy. It’s only a board book, so maybe that doesn’t matter.
In one part, the puppy waves a stick, pretending it’s a magic wand. Just this week, my daughter took a stick to the face from a boy waving one around. It wasn’t intentional, he was running toward her, like “Hey, look at this great stick!” She got a scratch and a bruise. And she could’ve got poked in the eye, but she didn’t. So I didn’t make a big deal of it. But I know that lots of parents refuse to let their kids play with sticks. So I changed it so the puppy was playing with a leaf, pretending it was a magic wand.
I felt very shallow making these changes. It wasn’t like my super hero, Epic, who I consciously changed to female because I saw a lack of strong female super heroes. With that change, it just felt right. These, not so right.
I guess you actually have to make a sale before you’re a sell-out.