I have a story brewing in my head about a Christmas tree. I already have an opening line, but I’ve yet to write the manuscript. I’ve heard people say don’t write Christmas picture books. Right or wrong advice? (FYI, I’m unagented and unpublished. For now.)
In almost every case, I’d advise an unpublished writer to backburner that Christmas story until they’ve published a few books. Christmas books have a short selling window, which is dominated by nostalgia blockbusters like The Night Before Christmas and brand name bestsellers like Olive the Other Reindeer. An unknown debut author is likely to be overshadowed by that competition, hanging a weak sales record around that author’s neck. Any copies a store doesn’t sell are returned to the publisher. Booksellers pre-judge next books on the sales/returns history of the first. Publishers and agents factor this into their decision to sign up debut Christmas stories in the first place. To be clear, do write that Christmas story. Capture the idea while you’ve got it! But then tuck it in your back pocket and lead with a book that can establish a stronger sales record for you. Later, when you’re a solid seller, pull that story out of your pocket and go for it.
The Editor, Deborah Halverson, has been editing books for over 25 years and specializes in Middle Grade/Young Adult fiction and nonfiction, New Adult fiction, and picture books. For her editorial guidance in making your manuscript ready for submission to agents and publishers or for self-publishing, click Editorial services.