Hello Reddit.

Like the title says, I make books for the childrens. You may know me from such books as the Ugly Pumpkin, Humpty Dumpty Climbs Again, Duck Duck Moose, Chico the Brave, Five Little Gefiltes and most recently Twenty-Six Pirates.



Thanks and AMA ...

Edit: Thanks Reddit. That was fun. If any more questions come in I will try to answer them, but I have to go start drinking now.

Comments: 102 • Responses: 38  • Date: 

abes2228 karma

I got excited when I confused you with Anthony Horowitz...

horowitzdave22 karma

I get that a lot : (

xknownotx2 karma

Are you related at all?

horowitzdave20 karma

We have the same publisher?

TripsB136 karma

just wanted to say i love your books!

horowitzdave9 karma

Thanks! Couldn't ask for a better welcome.

Dave5176 karma

Hey Dave! (I'm Dave too)

I'm a graphic designer and I've been working on a picture book on the side for the past few months. I've been researching different ways to publish, but the options are overwhelming. Some recommend self-publishing, while others say getting an agent to pitch to a publisher is the way to go. What would you suggest is the best route?

horowitzdave10 karma

I'm so glad you asked this.

I spent too many years trying to get published the traditional route (sending work to editors, art directors and agents).

In the Fall of 2001, I decided screw this. I had an idea for a book that would be easier to execute than describe, so I just made the whole damn thing (something most people would advise against). I made the art, set the type and built a dummy. I sent full color working dummies to publishers and in months I sold that book, A Monkey Among Us, to HarperCollins. Once I had one in the bag getting an agent was easy.

But that was way back in the nineteen hundreds. Today's publishing landscape is very different. If I were trying to break in today I'd be making and publishing my own eBooks.

You can produce them and promote them yourself. If one takes off, you can be sure the traditional publishers will find you.

P.S. If you've got the skills, here's a guide I made to walk you through self-publishing eBooks.

Dave5171 karma

Thanks for the answer!

I'm taking a similar route - writing, illustrating, and marketing myself. I will definitely put out an eBook version, but I'd like it to be available in as many formats as possible (including print).

Assuming I self-publish, what would get a publishers attention? Some large quantity of sales? A good response from the online community? An assortment of baked goods?

If you're interested, I'd love to show you a bit of what I'm working on to see what you think.

horowitzdave3 karma

Don't bother with the baked goods, publishers only care about "the bread".

I'd be happy to give you my 3¢ on your stuff. Send it to the eMail on my website.

Another tip: Don't blindly send your work to just any old publisher. Find books that are similar to what you are doing, and send a query with samples to the editors of those books. Look on the title page to figure out the imprint (The imprint is not the publisher. Penguin is a publisher, but Viking, Dutton, Putnam, Dial, etc. etc. are all imprints of that publisher).

Also, a smart author will thank his editor in the acknowledgments, so that's another lead for you.

taglione3 karma

Is there any other children's books illustrator you think is really good?

horowitzdave2 karma

Most of my heroes are dead—but of people working today: I love Laurie Keller (Arnie the Doughnut), Michael Rex (Goodnight Goon) and Bob Shea (Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great).

I'm sure it doesn't hurt that I've met them all—and they are wicked nice people.

DaveAnson3 karma

my girlfriend is studying illustration at university at the moment, if you could give her one piece of advice regarding becoming a profesional illustrator.. what would it be? :)

horowitzdave11 karma

Study Graphic Design!

If you can draw, you can draw—but graphic design is the how and why behind art. Also, graphic designers, can pick up work a lot easier than illustrators. I paid my dues as a design/production grunt at HarperCollins, and the connections I made there, led to my first book.

jamesno262 karma

What book do you always want to write, but never got the chance to?

horowitzdave3 karma

Someone else here mentioned my character, "Humongous" ... I want to make a wordless picture book, with Humongous as antagonist, that is the kid's book equivalent of a 1970s Godzilla movie.

ch4rbok2 karma

Why haven't you gotten the chance to write the wordless picture book? Could you just do it in your spare time and then worry about shopping it around to publishers later?

horowitzdave3 karma

I guess I interpreted the question as what book would I want to "publish". I do have a few drafts of the above, that I tried to sell, but no takers.

nestsofhair2 karma

What made you decide you wanted to write and draw children's books? Was it a conscious decision, or did it just sort of, I don't know... Happen?

horowitzdave6 karma

I think it was when I was a kid and Steven Kellogg visited my kindergarten. I was pretty good at drawing, so that seemed like something I could aspire to.

tsukinohikari2 karma

What is the biggest challenge to writing for children?

horowitzdave14 karma

Getting good work passed the grown-ups. Many in the business treat kids like they're idiots.

tsukinohikari2 karma

Yeah, I just had a baby myself, and have been perusing what kids these days watch and read. I generally do not think that children are given enough credit for what they can handle.

horowitzdave8 karma

It's true. Whenever I hear someone belittling a kid's emotions, by telling them they don't know what's like to be a grown-up, with real things to worry about I laugh. Sure paying bills sucks, but compared to being three feet tall and being new at EVERYTHING, it ain't nothing.

p.s. Congratulations!

Adelleda252 karma

Hi Dave, just wanted to ask how you got into writing for children and how much of a challenge it was to do so successfully. I am going into my last year of university next year and hope to become a teacher at primary school level here in the UK whilst also writing in my own time as i don't want the dream to die! Thanks.

horowitzdave8 karma

If I was smart I would have had a fall back career, but apparently I'm a go big or go home type of guy (aka a moron). My 2¢: Get your degree, become a teacher AND write. It sounds cliche, but if you must write—you will write.

MissingLinke1 karma

How do you come up with new ideas for books? Do a lot of them get scrapped?

horowitzdave6 karma

I keep sketch books going all the time, so when an idea strikes me I draw something or make some quick notes. The ideas and characters that keep showing up, usually make good books.

Yes, a lot of ideas get scrapped. The trick is figuring out if they should be scrapped or if you should keep pitching them until you find the right editor. My very best sellers (the Ugly Pumpkin, Five Little Gefiltes, Humpty Dumpty Climbs Again, and Twenty-Six Princesses) were all rejected once or twelve times.

GrimaceJoe1 karma

Off the top of your head, what's the most important business advice you can give to an illustrator?

horowitzdave3 karma

Remember that art and illustration are NOT the same thing. When you do art you answer to no one but you; illustration, on the other hand, is a product.

Stachahof1 karma

What has been your most rewarding experience working in childrens' literature?

horowitzdave4 karma

Seeing my books, next to Clifford, in those Scholastic book club magazines was awesome.

Millieunicorn1 karma

Do you read a lot of books in your spare time? What genre do you enjoy the most and which author?

horowitzdave3 karma

I do read a lot, but like everyone these days, my attention span has suffered because of Reddit the Internet.

Kurt Vonnegut is my favorite author ever, since you asked.

GallbladderGone1 karma

what's your "process" when writing for children? Do you focus on the story, a lesson learned or the art work. Is there a pace in structure that works better in childrens books than in adult books?

horowitzdave1 karma

I consider myself an illustrator, first, so I usually start with a character that I want to draw, and then try to figure out their story.

I'm not of the school that kids books need a lesson; only a Truth.

As for structure, picture books are generally 32 pages (because of the printing/production process) so there is a definite geometry to properly pacing a kids book.

Dhausman161 karma

Does it ever get boring writing books that take 10 minutes to read? Or is it not boring because you get to teach kids life lessons.

horowitzdave5 karma

Does it ever get boring writing books that take 10 minutes to read?

When you are limited to 32 pages, every word counts.

Or is it not boring because you get to teach kids life lessons.

I don't do life lessons. I make books for kids, not their grown-ups.

potshotsfired1 karma

Do you do school visits? Some of my favorite memories are when Dougal Dixon, Bruce Coville visited and talked to us. It inspired me to write. I hope you can fuel the passions of kids like that. It's special shit.

horowitzdave2 karma

Absolutely! I love visiting with kids and teachers. It's the best part of the game.

Any teachers/librarians wishing to schedule a visit, should send me an email via my website. I don't advertise it, because I rarely say no.

buyongmafanle1 karma

If you've got great ideas for writing children's books, particularly picture books, but are complete rubbish at art, where does one begin?

horowitzdave2 karma

Unless you are the author AND illustrator, you don't need to concern yourself about art.

In publishing, when there is a separate author and illustrator for a book, it is the editor and art director who finds the illustrator. The author and illustrator will never meet or even talk about the project. I thought that was weird when I found that out, but since we're all control freaks, it makes sense.

Dude_Just_Stop1 karma

What was your favorite book to write Dave? Sorry if this was already asked.

horowitzdave2 karma

It was asked already, and I said I considered Humpty Dumpty Climbs Again my best bit of writing. As for fun though, I'm happiest when I'm making the art. In that regard, Twenty-Six Princesses and Twenty-Six Pirates were an insane amount of labor, but very satisfying.

swampmete1 karma

*How is the children's book business doing?

*How important are sales to libraries and schools?

*Do bookstore talks/promotions work for you?

horowitzdave2 karma

Well... the business of it is not good, but anyone who publishes to make money is a fool anyhow.

That said, my books do very well in the school and library markets (Scholastic Book Fairs/Clubs, Junior Library Guild, etc), and that's probably why they keep letting me make books.

betterthansleeping1 karma

What's been your favorite book to write? What was your favorite children's book as a kid?

horowitzdave2 karma

Humpty Dumpty Climbs Again, was my favorite to write, and I think it is my strongest story. I was going through some pretty heavy stuff at the time so it was very cathartic.

Richard Scarry was probably my favorite artist as a kid. (I loved books, but didn't really like to read. His books were awesome because you had all these bizarre characters driving pickle cars, and crashing bicycles, or running from the cops, or whatever—I could look at those books for hours and make up my own stories).

As a grown-up, I think James Marshall (George and Martha), was the greatest kids book artist ever.

hrannar1 karma

what other work would you do if you would be a writer ?

horowitzdave2 karma

I'd like to be a fisherman.

atlas13241 karma

If Peter Dinglish were really out there with a little black book full of Children's stories about fruits....would you steal it?

horowitzdave2 karma

No. I have zero love for biters. I recently had an idea stolen and published, and it pissed me off beyond words.

That said, I would steal Dinglish's dog. I saw a picture of them posted on Reddit a while ago and his dog is a carbon copy of my beloved Blackfoot, who died last year. Goddamn, I miss that dog!

HymenAnnihilator1 karma

Did you collab at all on "Go The Fuck To Sleep?"

horowitzdave3 karma

No, but I tried to pitch something very similar years ago, called Goodnight Already Moon! My agent (whom I've since fired) told me it was stupid idea.

HymenAnnihilator1 karma

Sorry to hear about the poor "advice" you got. I'm a 30 year old bachelor so I don't know shit about kids' books, but that story completely blew up. Anyway, all the best in your future endeavors!

horowitzdave4 karma

If I had a nickle for all the bad advice I've got from the "pros," I'd have about $82.75.

[deleted]1 karma


horowitzdave2 karma

Thanks: here's HUMONGOUS for the lazy.

oonga1 karma

Is there any chance you're the same Dave Horowitz that hosted a TV show called "Fight back! with David Horowitz"?

horowitzdave2 karma

No and I'm also not that Fox News jackass, David Horowitz. In retrospect, I should've come up with a pen name.

MagikHat1 karma

My question was already answered. Just wanted to say it's a good thing you do. Something really for kids.

horowitzdave1 karma

Thanks, I try to keep that in mind whenever I'm dealing with the less fun aspects of the business. Visiting schools always keeps it real.

damegrohl1 karma

Was Ed Emberly an influence for you?

horowitzdave2 karma

Holy Cow, YES!

I was an adjunct at a local college for a few years, where I taught Graphic Design. I used Emberly's books to teach students how to use Adobe Illustrator.

Parabolax1 karma

Do you have plans for writing in other genres?

horowitzdave2 karma

Yes, I have two novels I'm trying to get published. Unfortunately they are pretty terrible.

t3rrapins1 karma

What is your favorite color?

horowitzdave3 karma

Blue. No, yellooooooooo ....

PhillipBrandon1 karma

Have you ever thought of collaborating with a paper engineer to create a pop-up book? It sounds like the wordless HUMONGOUS would be a great project for it!

horowitzdave2 karma

That is a great idea! If you know anyone send 'em my way.

KayakBassFisher0 karma

What has been the best part of working with Netflix to bring back Arrested Development?

horowitzdave1 karma

It was tough in the beginning because we had to figure out the whole "season" right out of the gate. Once we got the idea that each episode would focus on one character though, it was a piece of cake.

... at least that's what I overheard uncle Mitch say.

Polite_Werewolf0 karma

If there was a zombie outbreak, what would be your zombie plan?

horowitzdave3 karma

Play dead.

artistm920 karma

I'm a preschool teacher (jewish) and I adore Five Little Gefiltes!! I always read it with a heavy New York accent. Such a nice book!

horowitzdave1 karma

Thanks! I was working on another Yiddish themed book all last year, but I had some editorial differences with my publisher and I had to pull the plug.

Send complaints to Penguin Young Readers Group, NYC!