Last time I posted about American Girl, I had a few people email me and ask me if I knew anything about the publishing/creative process behind the American Girl line of books. I didn't, but I promised to try and find out. I emailed the questions you all had to the people at American Girl and they were kind enough to call me and answer your questions.
Question - How do they come up with the premise for the Historical Characters/ Girl of the Year Books? Is the idea pitched to AG by an author or are the ideas developed in house?
Answer - Neither. The process begins with a focus group of parents, teachers, girls, and other people that have insight on the girls of today. The group talks about what young girls are interested in and what problems girls face in today's world.
With the current girl of the year, Saige, AG found that school budget cuts and the decline of art in schools was a big concern for girls. Luckily it hasn't happened where I live in Utah yet, but it would be a huge issue for my daughter Kik.
American girl took the art issue and combined it with a young girls continued love of horses. And Saige was born.
Question 2 - Does American Girl have in house authors?
Answer - No. After they had the main premise behind Saige, the people at AG went out and found someone that was good at writing about horses (in this case Jessie Haas). They told Jessie the main theme and then let her develop the character and the story.
So if you want to be an author for American Girl, my advice would be to write something well. Then hope that they contact you to write a book.
Question 3 - How long does the process take from concept to finish?
Answer - Especially with the Girl of the Year books, the theme needs to be current and relevant. After the books are written, they are sent to product development. Product development then goes through the books and turns them into a line.
AG of the Year takes about 18 months from concept to finish, and the Historical Characters take 3 or 4 years to develop.
Wrap up - Hopefully that answered your questions and gave you an insight to how the AG publishing process works. If you have any more questions, let me know and I'll try to get them answered for you.
Now I have a question for you. If you got to be part of the American Girl focus group, what would you (or your kids) want a story about. What would you connect to? And how would she look?
I know with my daughter she is interested in so many different things, that she is always on the outside of the groups. She loves school, gymnastics, art, fashion, dolphins, and writing, and she definitely has her own sense of style. People tend to think that if you like one thing (like school) you can't like something else (like sports). And because of this, she struggle to find her place and make friends. This year she has really become comfortable with herself and who she is. She's learned that she can still be her own unique self. And as for looks, the doll would have dark shoulder length hair, deep brown eyes, olive skin, and a dimple in her chin. And it would be styled kind of like this.