“I’ve been writing picture books for over a decade, and I have never come across a more comprehensive and flat-out enjoyable guide. One of the exercises even led to a recent sale. I give this book five stars, two thumbs up and a standing ovation. Thank you, Linda Ashman!” —Tammi Sauer, children’s book author

Want to write a picture book? Or improve the ones you’ve written? Start here.

Over the years, I’ve sold more than 35 picture book manuscripts to major publishers like Disney-Hyperion, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Penguin Random House, HarperCollins and Macmillan. But when I first started writing, I knew nothing about the industry. This 150-page handbook includes all the important, practical things I’ve learned along the way—and everything I wish I’d known when I first started out.

The Nuts and Bolts Guide is designed to work like a 9-week class. Each chapter includes detailed instruction on essential topics like these:

  • Building drama in 32 pages
  • Finding your voice
  • Creating memorable characters
  • Writing the rollicking read-aloud
  • Musical rhythm and pitch-perfect verse
  • Playing with humor
  • A Pre-Submission Checklist for your manuscripts
  • Interviews with editors and other industry insiders
  • Tips, resources, reading lists and writing exercises

Read the Introduction and Table of Contents, check out the Testimonials below and on Goodreads. If you’re ready, you can purchase the Guide at left and have it delivered immediately as a PDF or through Amazon’s Kindle store.


the nuts and bolts guide

Simone Kaplan, editor and writing coach

“I love the intelligence and practicality of ‘Nuts and Bolts’. It’s also warm, insightful, and very reassuring. I’ll be sure to recommend it to the authors with whom I work — both those just starting out, and those more experienced writers who want to deepen their understanding of picture books.”

Jill Esbaum, author

“As I read ‘Nuts and Bolts’, I couldn’t help wishing I’d had it back when I was starting out. Talk about shortening a person’s learning curve! Truly, this is the best book I’ve ever read on writing picture books, and I know I’ll be returning to it again and again.”

Susanna Leonard Hill, author and writing teacher

“A must-have tool for the serious picture book writer. It covers all the essential elements of the craft of writing picture books including an excellent chapter on writing in rhyme. Linda’s writing style is easy to read, and her explanations are illuminating and easy to understand. I highly recommend it.”

Julie Danielson, author

“A comprehensive and common-sense guide from someone who knows the ins-and-outs of picture book publishing and who speaks with wisdom. This is a wonderful resource for aspiring picture book authors — as well as those who teach children’s literature.”

Jama Rattigan, author

“This one’s a beauty — nine chapters worth of clearly presented, insightful, practical writing advice drawn from Linda’s many years as an author, poet, writing teacher, critiquer, reading advocate, and lover of children’s literature. It’s like having a friendly writing coach by your side as you try to whip your manuscripts into shape.”

Julie Hedlund, author

“Folks, this book MUST go onto your virtual shelves. I’ve read all 150+ pages of it and there is so much juicy goodness in there it will make your head spin.”

Rebecca Barnhouse, author and professor of English

“Picture book writers will welcome this indispensable guide. In friendly, encouraging language, Ashman takes us from idea to publication with well-chosen examples, helpful exercises, and invaluable resources. Clearly written, well-organized, and loaded with practical information, the guide would make an excellent textbook for creative writing classes and for the do-it-yourselfer.”

Kathleen Pelley, author

“What a fantastic book this is! Linda manages to impart a veritable wealth of information, as well as motivating, inspiring, and encouraging her readers all along the way. I loved that she gave so many examples from different kinds of picture books, and I found the chapter on voice and point of view extremely useful.”

Katie Kerwin McCrimmon, journalist

“No more excuses. If you’ve long dreamed of penning a masterpiece for children, but didn’t have a clue where to start, race out and get Linda Ashman’s Nuts and Bolts Guide. Ashman provides simple steps for transforming shreds of ideas into finished products along with insights from powerful editors who rarely share their secrets. Plus, just like Ashman’s delightful books, this guide is fun! Stop procrastinating and start creating your blockbuster now.

Deborah Pope, Duke University

“The Nuts and Bolts Guide is the best, most generous book I have read on writing for children. Moreover it broadly applies to so many aspects of writing in general. The topics are just what writers want/need to know, the advice directly on point and relevant to wherever an individual is as an aspiring writer, the interviews that provide perspectives on the acquisition and business side are frank and informative, and the resource list is worthy of a dissertation. Through it all, Ashman’s tone is ever-encouraging, wonderfully tuned between the need for serious work and serious pleasure in the writing itself.”

Sally Kahler Phillips, author/illustrator

“Imagine having a smart, funny friend who’s an expert writing coach. This is how you’ll feel as you study The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books. The Guide is an everything-you-need-to-know master class in writing for children. I can’t imagine a better tool for getting started than the exercises and recommendations in this brilliant, comprehensive guide.”

Tina Cho, author

“Linda’s writing is easy to follow and understand, detailed, and super creative! The Resources in the back of the book itself are worth buying.”