The adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) provides an unprecedented opportunity for authors and publishers —a chance to see more books in the hands of teachers and students. For the first time, all but four states have adopted the same set of Language Arts standards, which means thousands of teachers are going to be desperate for standards-based curriculum that aligns to the CCSS.
They’ll also be open to new literature. Authors and publishers who can provide curriculum guides that meet the new standards while tying in informational text, will become teachers' (and school districts') best friends.
Curriculum Guides need to go well beyond the usual one-to-two page list of suggested activities and questions that authors and publishers often provide for their books. Instead, they should be intimately tied to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), have engaging activities and handouts that teachers can use with little to no preparation, and be based on solid instructional practices.
Writers, I believe providing a free kick-ass #CCSS Curriculum Guide is an imperative part of your marketing plan. Teachers usually pay $ for these guides, and most often the free ones given away on publisher sites are not really what teachers need to teach a book to their class. Once teachers have a Curriculum Guide they really like they often go to their principal to ask for a class set or apply for a grant to do so.
Also, whenever I tweet about DARE TO DREAM...CHANGE THE WORLDS's free Curriculum Guide I see teachers and librarians re-tweeting it, pinning it, fbing it, etc. More free promotion, and more taste-makers learning about the book via this free guide.
A Curriculum Guides helps teachers, librarians, readers, and you. I see it as a win-win all around.
As an agent I am reading that my days are numbered. That soon there will be so few places to submit books that my job will be obsolete. Even worse, as a writer I am to fear that my books--heck, I am a children's poetry anthologist--will never again be deemed to have an ROI that will attract these money-grubbing mega-corporations. Sorry, I'm not buying this negative and destructive way of thinking!
I am no pollyanna. I have an MBA from the mecca of conservative finance...The University of Chicago....and I get that the free market determines what succeeds and what falls by our capitalistic wayside. But we are not talking commodities here...a comparatively homogeneous product that can typically be bought in bulk...we are talking unique creative thought rising from a heart, a soul, captured on paper or forever floating in an icloud to be shared with those readers who choose one unique book over another. Just as many prefer junk food over a fresh picked apple, exploitive reality shows and magnified stereotypical scripted television/feature films over March of the Penguins and Downton Abbey, there remains a rather sizable audience for quality.
We are the human race, not sheep flinging ourselves into the dumbed down abyss. Yes, there will be those who slip and slide, heck dive head first, down to the bottom. But that is not all and those in the mud will not define us nor the next generation of readers, writers, learners and doers.
The Publishing Merger Mania will result in less books being bought by traditional publishers, and in turn, more self-publishing. While these Mega-Publishers will hope to publish huge hits, they are still staffed by editors and art directors who love the written word, the stroke of a paintbrush. They are still run by many who care about what they publish while fulfilling their fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders. Not all, of course not all. But we don't need all.
And as for self-published books, who says that quality will not shine there as well? Price does not determine quality in commodities nor in creative endeavors. Are all songs worth a buck on itunes? Are they all the same quality just because they are the same price. Of course not.
But, and this is a huge but, who will be able to afford to be a singer, a writer, an artist in this new world where music and books are selling for practically nothing? In a world where most writers not only write but must also be marketing whizzes and social media blabbermouths?
Here is my hope, that readers get tired of downloading free and $2.99 books that are such crap that they can't even read through to page ten. That they get tired of the clutter and look for books that fulfill their desire for story, and for white space. Books that fulfill the human body, mind and spirit like a fresh picked apple.
JILL CORCORAN is a children’s book agent with Herman Agency. Her current interests include: high concept Young Adult and Middle Grade Thrillers, Mystery, Romance, Romantic Comedies, and Adventure manuscripts.