September 7, 2018

The Reading Part of the Writing Life

A significant part of my writing day is spent reading. Lots and lots of reading. And making notes about my reading. And pondering how a particular book I'm working on and/or getting ready to submit to publishers is comparable to and different from the books I'm reading.

At this moment I have 65 books checked out from my local library and 29 titles on request (shout out to the wonderful folks at the West Slope Community Library who help me accomplish my reading and writing goals). I will dive into the pile of books in this picture a bit later today. But before I do, I wanted to share some of the books I've read in the past couple of weeks, and how they relate to my forthcoming books.

As I've mentioned before, I have two new books coming out in 2019: Where Does a Pirate Go Potty? and Where Does a Cowgirl Go Potty? Back when I was seeking a publisher for these books, I read a ton of other potty books to help me identify suitable publishers for my project and so I could accurately reference "comps" and "how my books are different than what's already out there" in my query letters/book proposals.

Even though my potty books are now written, acquired, and edited, I still keep an eye out for "comps." In some cases these comps help me think about ways to connect with readers who are interested in #PottyHumor. For example, I'm guessing that readers who like the books in the Dinosaur that Pooped series by @TomFletcher@DougiePoynter, and Garry Parsons/@ICanDrawDinos, such as The Dinosaur That Pooped ChristmasThe Dinosaur That Pooped the Past, and The Dinosaur That Pooped a Princess, which just released today, will also like Where Does a Pirate/Cowgirl Go Potty? and vice versa. Being aware of these books might be useful when I'm interacting with readers at my own book events, and watching how these authors market their books can also inform my own marketing plan. Case in point, today's release was announced as the Pooplication Day, and the new book was referred to by the author as "even more funny/disgusting" than the other books in the series.

I can also learn more about the general subject matter by reading other potty-related books. For example, by reading What Do They Do with All That Poo? (Jane Kurtz and Allison Black, (Beach Lane Books, 2018), I learned that a giraffe has four stomachs and that elephants "can eat 300 pounds of leaves and grasses a day and then dump 165 pounds of poo." Wow! Although neither of those factoids relate directly to my potty books, I'm guessing at some point, I'll have an opportunity to plop that kind of info into one of my book talks (pardon the pun).

I also learn more about other authors and illustrators by doing this research. For example, I had not visited Allison Black's website before writing this blog post. I really connected with her work--it's full of color and positive energy. You should definitely check it out! As I prepped for this post, I discovered that she, too, has a pirate-themed book coming out in 2019. Cool Beans. Another comp to put on my list! And who knows, maybe a new book buddy?

Image from Publisher's Website
The research I recently conducted in prep for submitting a new (not related to potties!) manuscript led me to two very funny books published by Arthur Levine Books: Stick Man and The Princess and the Pony. You can find my Goodreads reviews of both of these books here. Re-reading Stick Man (I first read it years ago when it originally came out), provided me with an excellent point of reference to indicate the type of illustrations I envision for the new project I've just started submitting. The Princess and the Pony book just so happens to be a good comp for Where Does a Cowgirl Go Potty? Plus, it simply gave me a good giggle.

Speaking of a good giggle, Who's in the Loo? by Jeanne Willis and Adrian Reynolds did just that, and led me to discover Jeanne Willis' cowgirl-related book: I Want to Be a Cowgirl. And so the cycle continues.

You might wonder how it is that I manage to write when I'm reading all these books? My question right back to you is: How could I possibly manage to write without reading all these books?

But alas, it's time to shift my attention for the day to the actual writing of a new manuscript. Stay tuned for more posts about my reading list. Next up: Books that incorporate empathy, tolerance and/or resilience.

P.S. Reading comps also inspires new book ideas. To note, I've scribbled down two new ideas in the course of writing post!