One of the ironic results of writing a very successful book was expressed to me by a very well-known writer: “Why should I work hard? They will always tell me __________ is my best book and won’t bother to read anything else.”
Teachers, think of your favorite writer. Think of your favorite book by that writer. Think what that writer has written recently. In many cases you can’t answer the third question because, truly satisfied by your answer to the second question, you don’t read any more. And yet, there may indeed be a better book by that writer.
In the world of children’s’ books, a successful book may well lead to a whole shelf of that book in a classroom. As a result, you, as teacher, are less likely to purchase another set of a second title by the same writer. And, if you have successfully taught book A, you are more than likely going to continue teaching book A, rather than book B.
Yet, I can almost guarantee you, a writer’s favorite book is rarely his or her most successful book. Quite often it’s a book that is not considered a success at all.
Happily, that is not the way young people read. In fact, just the opposite. Once they find a writer they enjoy, they more than likely will read more by that author. Or, again, they read the same book over and over again.
“Dear Avi,” someone once wrote to me: “I have read The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle sixteen times. My mother said I can’t read it again. Will you please write a sequel so I can read another book?”
One of the most flattering experiences I can have as a writer—and it does happen—is when doing a signing, an adult presents a battered copy of a book I published years ago. Slightly embarrassed, they say “I apologize this is so busted up, but this was a favorite book when I grew up and I could never throw it out. Would you be willing to sign it?”
Success comes in many ways.