Ten things to do if you want to write picture books:
- Join SCBWI. And find out what’s happening with your local chapter.
- Read craft books. You might start with (ahem) The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books and Ann Paul’s Writing Picture Books.
- Read picture books—lots of them. You’ll find recommendations at our group blog, PictureBookBuilders, and many more in The Nuts and Bolts Guide.
- Read children’s poetry. Notice the sound, the rhythm, and the way a story can be told or a world created with very few well-chosen words.
- Write. Obvious, I know, but somehow it’s easy to let other things take precedence.
- Revise, revise, revise. Think you’re done? Revise some more.
- Make a dummy or storyboard. Nothing better demonstrates the unique structure of a picture book or shows more clearly if your text is working in this format.
- Think visually. Imagine your story as a movie, and leave out anything that doesn’t move the action forward.
- Cultivate patience—with your writing (don’t rush!) and with the publishing industry (nothing happens quickly).
- Hang in there. Rejection is part of the business. It’s good to have a supportive critique group and/or at least one sympathetic friend.
Resources for Writers
The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. If you’re serious about writing for kids, join. Then find your Regional Chapter and sign up for a workshop or conference. Only dipping your toes in at this point? Then read Just Getting Started.
KidLit411 — a comprehensive compilation of resources for children’s book writers of all genres. Looking for something? Chances are you’ll find it here (and a lot more).
100 Scope Notes. This long-running blog by elementary school librarian Travis Jonker has all sorts of good stuff related to children’s books.
If, like me, you enjoy seeing writers’ work spaces and reading about how they work, check out author Jennifer Bertman’s Creative Spaces interviews.
Although I’ve provided manuscript consultations in the past, I’m not offering them at the moment. Below are several highly experienced and knowledgeable writing coaches/consultants that I recommend. SCBWI members can also find a list of freelance editors in The Book.
Emma Dryden. A former editor, Emma offers a variety of critiquing, coaching and editing services. Experienced, smart and wise.
Susanna Leonard Hill. Picture book author and blogger (see above). Susanna offers an online picture book writing course as well as critiquing services.
Picture Book People. Former children’s book editor Simone Kaplan offers telephone coaching sessions, writing tips and more.
Susie Wilde–teacher, writer, reviewer and children’s lit expert–offers manuscript critiques, coaching, classes and more.