Children’s picture books dwell in a huge, highly competitive market. It’s difficult to break into this world as a newbie author, yet there doesn’t seem to be a bottom to the well of submissions we receive on a regular basis. Many lack creative content, some just need a tweak, others may need an improved title. Below is a quick reference checklist for would-be picture book writers to reference prior to publication.
Title – Does the title have a great hook? Is it too long/short? Will it create an emotional response to get readers to crack it open? Check out some of the bestselling children’s picture books and see how their titles stand out.
Illustration – Our company, like many publishing entities, prefers to hire our own illustrators. However, on occasion we receive and have considered a book that is either completely illustrated or previously self-published. Pairing the appropriate illustrations is paramount, after all we are talking picture books. Do the images make sense and help tell the story? Have the illustrations been created in the optimal medium (water color v. vector art v. hand drawn pen/pencil)? Would black and white be preferable to full color?
Content – Not all picture books have words; however, if yours does, make sure the content is age appropriate and consistent. The text should engage the reader and encourage them to observe the action in the illustrations. While it’s okay to break the rules in certain circumstances,
alwyas always (see what I did there?) check your spelling and grammar!
Cadence and Voice – Many picture books contain rhyming text. Be sure that the cadence you use remains consistent throughout all of your stanzas. One pet peeve of reviewers is to get into a rhyming book and find that the meter is off! Additionally, avoid a passive voice. You want the subject to act, not be acted upon.
Diversity – It doesn’t take enormous effort to create a book containing diverse themes and characters. The public demand for this is outpacing the production of quality, diverse children’s books. Take the time to research how your story can reach a diverse planet.
These small considerations will get you started off on the right foot to making your children’s picture book, GREAT. What else would you add to this starter list? Comment below or contact us at [email protected].