Q: Are chapter books a tough sell for a debut author? What if they are 10,000 words?These are examples of the class of question that is the most frequently asked, and also possibly my least favorite. Don't get me wrong, I totally understand why authors ask... it is just that I don't have an answer!
Q: Are Nonfiction picture books possible to sell? What if there are photos?
Q: Is there a market for boy YA? What if it is paranormal? What if there are sharks?
People love to make pronouncements about what will or won't sell, or what there is or isn't a "market" for, what you can or can't do as a writer, and they are mostly wrong. For every person who has said "Picture books don't sell" in the past year, there are ten picture books that did just that. For every blog post waxing philosophical about some imaginary rule like "Picture books must NEVER be over 1000 words!" or "You must NEVER write a YA in second person!" or "Delete all prologues! -- there are examples of people who have broken those rules and thrived. They may only be the exceptions that prove the rule... but they are out there, waiting to torment writers who just want to know for a FACT that they are on the right track.
I've said it before and I am sure I'll say it again:
There is always a market for AWESOME.
"Boy Books" are notoriously difficult to sell. But the first thing that I ever sold -- when I barely knew how to be an agent yet! -- was a boy book, and I sold it in just a couple of weeks. And it has gone on to garner starred reviews and awards and just general love from the universe. Why? Because it was really, truly Awesome.
In this down economy, when picture books are supposedly near-impossible to sell, we as an agency have sold 30+ in the past year. Why? Are we magicians? Are we bewitching editors? No. (Well... maybe. I mean, I can't give away ALL the secrets.) But I can tell you this: We've sold this many because they're Awesome -- they are the best of the best.
How many "Kinda Good" or "Just OK" picture books have we sold? I'm gonna guess ZERO.
So you see that it is pretty much impossible for me to say if your nonfiction picture book will sell (particularly without a point of reference, writing sample or anything else) -- because it totally depends on not only how good that individual book is, but also the timing of it: what other books on similar topics the editor has seen recently, the weather is like in New York that week, etc. So a lot of it is not only being Awesome, and The Best of the Best, but also, Good Timing... which means, well, work hard and hope you have a four-leaf clover.
And no, I can't easily answer this type of question.