Writing Locally for National Markets
I write a lot of history and coming up with something that is both unknown and has broad appeal is tough. After reading Don Brown's Henry and the Cannon's (Roaring Brook Press), I have a much better idea how it should be done. He found an unknown person with a local story (Boston), but the story involved a national event and a big name.
If you already know about Henry Knox then you're way ahead of me. I had no idea who he was until I read this book. When Washington (yes, George Washington) was trying to take Boston from a larger, better armed British force, he and his officers realized that cannons would solve it all. Benedict Arnold (yes, that Benedict Arnold) had captured Fort Ticonderoga, 300 miles away. Knox was the man who said that he, in spite of 300 miles of winter weather, could get the cannons from Point A to Point B.
Before she read this book, the editor had probably never heard of Henry Knox. Brown gave her an irresistable hook -- an event of national importance (American Revolution) and two big names (The mighty George Washington and traitorous Benedict Arnold).
If you are interested in selling history, consider -- what big events or people have ties to your area?
I'm in St. Louis, Missouri which means that I can easily hook into the Louisiana Purchase and through this Thomas Jefferson, Lewis and Clark as well as the Civil War, Teddy Roosevelt, and Charles Lindbergh. I came up with that list off the top of my head on half a cup of coffee.
This same technique can apply to home decorating (local business, national trend), gardening (local success/innovation, national trend) or science writing (new discovery, national problem). What hooks can you use to turn a local story into a national sale?
Sue Bradford Edwards teaches our course, Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults. The next section starts on March 2nd.