How To Write Picture Books
The website for The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books, a handbook for those who want to know how to write picture books.
Aspiring writers, begin here!
The Purple Crayon
Harold Underdown's site--an excellent resource for beginners and long-timers alike
Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
Has my vote for Most Beautiful Blog (great to read, too).
Gateway to the passionate and informed community of children's book bloggers.
Poetry for Children
Sylvia Vardell's excellent source for all things poetry.
The Miss Rumphius Effect
Excellent reading by a champion of children's poetry, non-fiction, and literature in general.
Jama Rattigan's Alphabet Soup
Lively and colorful posts on food, books, and poetry. What could be better?
Cynthia Leitich Smith
Lots of info for children's book writers and others from author and long-time blogger Cynthia Leitich Smith.
Susanna Leonard Hill
Engaging blog with lots of fun and helpful resources for writers.
Lots of helpful posts and resources from this author and founder of
PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month)
Laura Purdie Salas
As an author and poet, Laura has great stuff about writing, marketing, and school visits--plus lots of fun writing prompts.
Kristine O'Connell George
Terrific resources for teachers and lovers of poetry from a talented poet.
Julie Hudlund's Blog
Julie's ruminations on writing (including her 12x12 picture book challenge), promotion,books, parenting, and life.
From the Mixed-Up Files of Jennifer Bertman
Ever wanted to peek into the work spaces of creative people? You can do that (and more) here.
Melissa Taylor shares lots of creative ideas here, mostly for parents and educators, but some good inspiration for writers too.
Children's Literature Network
Great resource for children's book writers, and those who love children's books.
Wild Rose Reader
Terrific poetry, poets, news and resources--and a link to Elaine's funny and irreverent political verses.
Good stuff here for book-lovers; lively writing.
Great resource for encouraging a love of reading. Also: recommended reading and author interviews.
October 15, 2013
I'll be adding periodic posts about writing picture books over at howtowritepicturebooks.com
. Come visit!
November 15, 2012
Many months after I'd quit my job to start writing picture books, I got a piece of advice that would have spared me a lot of wasted time and effort -- and probably a fair number of rejections, besides. This little gem came from Susan Goldman Rubin
, who was among the authors speaking one afternoon at a UCLA children's book event. Susan's advice was simple: get some picture books from the library and type the text into your computer. Then do a word count.
Since I was writing (and, sadly, submitting) manuscripts with 2,000 or more words at the time, this was positively revelatory. As I typed in picture book after picture book, I began to understand how economically they manage to tell their stories -- with just 700 or 500 even 100 words.
Besides the basic word count discovery, the process of typing in picture book texts gave me a better sense of language, rhythm, and pacing. I still do this exercise on occasion, and always find it valuable. If you want to write picture books, I highly recommend trying it. By the way, picture books have changed quite a bit over time, so be sure to include a good sampling of those published in the last few years.
November 1, 2012
I get lots of questions from people who've written a picture book and aren't quite sure what to do with it next. Often, they think they need to find someone to illustrate it before they can submit it to a publisher. Well, they don't. But they do
need to do some homework. Luckily, there are many excellent sources of information online and in print for writers and illustrators who are just starting out. Here are a few good ones:
First stop: The Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators
. If you're just dabbling at this stage, go to the Just Getting Started
page for info on all the basics. If you're more serious, become a member (well worth the price of admission) and get access to a variety of publications, including directories of publishers, agents, freelance editors, and more.
Second Stop: The Purple Crayon
, editor Harold Underdown's website for all things kid-lit related. If you're new to this, start with the Basic Information
, which has lots of helpful articles to get you on your way.
Next stop: your local library or bookstore. Here are several good books to check out:
The Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market
, an annual publication with comprehensive lists of publishers, plus lots of helpful articles and interviews.
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Children's Books
by the aforementioned Harold Underdown. A good solid reference to writing a children's book (any genre) and getting it published.
Writing Picture Books: A Hands-On Guide from Story Creation to Publication
by author and teacher Ann Whitford Paul. The title says it all.
That should be enough to get you started. Happy reading!
October 31, 2012
I'm not much of a blogger. Actually, I'm not a blogger at all. So I thought I'd use the blogging page of this website to answer some of the common questions I hear in my picture book writing classes and workshops, and share some info that I hope will be helpful to other writers. And if you have questions you'd like answered, please send me an email and I'll try to answer them here.
For starters, I often get questions about the proper way to format manuscripts for submission. In particular, many picture book writers who aren't illustrators struggle with how to include illustration notes when the text doesn't completely convey what's happening in the story. This happens a fair amount -- we're writing picture books, after all, so the text should be spare and leave room for the art to tell much of the story. But that doesn't mean you need to bog down your manuscript with lots of explanatory notes. The key is to include illustration notes only when necessary for clarification purposes, and to do it as unobtrusively as possible. The exception is if you're writing a nearly wordless book. In that case, the illustration notes essentially ARE the story.
To see how all this works, take a peek at the examples I've included on my website. For more traditional (albeit rhyming) manuscripts, take a look at Samantha on a Roll
and Creaky Old House
For a very short manuscript (150 words) heavy on notes, see Babies on the Go
For a poetry collection, look at Come to the Castle!
And for a nearly-wordless book, check out No Dogs Allowed!
. Look for the files under "FOR WRITERS"
on these pages.