Looking Back on CWIM: The 1992 Edition
An Interview with Jack Prelutsky...
In 1992 I graduated college with a degree in English Lit and Journalism and I'd been an employee of F+W for about a year but had not yet joined the Market Books department. (I was an editorial assistant for a few of the magazines, including Writer's Digest.)
The edition of CWIM published that year was more than 300 pages (at $17.95) and included "A Writer's Guide to the Juvenile Market: Ten Steps to That First Sale," by Elaine Marie Alphin, an article for illustrators on "Portfolio Power," and nine "Close-up" interviews.
Since we're in the midst of National Poetry Month, I pulled an excerpt from an interview with Jack Prelutsky, who, in 2006, was be named the first U.S. Children's Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation.
Jack Prelutsky gets his ideas from everywhere. "Everything I see or hear can become a poem. I don't respond to topical events or trends, although some themes, like my book about dinosaurs, were lucky to hit the crest of waves." He says sometimes ideas literally pop into his head. "I find inspiration from everything. I wrote a poem about a boneless chicken because one day when I was in the supermarket shopping for boneless breast of chicken, I started to imagine what the rest of a boneless chicken would look like and what kind of a life it would have.
"Writing for children in general, and I think writing children's poetry in particular, is harder than writing for adults. Literature for children must be succinct, and yet present in the most artful manner possible.
"The children's book market operates, most of the time, quite differently from the adult book market," says Prelutsky. "Adult books often explode upon the publishing scene with a lot of media hype. But most have literal shelf lives of approximately one year as hardbacks and one additional year as paperbacks before disappearing into remainder bins and the eventual exile known as 'out of print.' Children's books generally take years to establish themselves in bookstores and libraries. But once they achieve the status of 'classic,' they will stay in print as long as they remain in the memories of parents, grandparents, teachers and librarians. Patience in this profession is an absolutely necessity."