Monday, 23 May 2011


Do you think it would be easy to write a children's picture book? Do you have an idea for one but you're wondering how to go about it? Well, wonder no more, as I've found you an eye-opening explanation of the process. Ree Drummond was already a cookery writer so she did have an "in" with a publisher but her approach and all the steps she took along the way are exactly as they would have been if she was completely unpublished.

Please note the professionalism, the process, the way she worked with the illustrator (and note that she did not bring the illustrator with her - a common mistake of novices is to think they must direct the artwork before the story itself has been accepted) and all the details of editing and honing.

It's not easy to write a story in very few words but I love the look of the Charlie book.

On another note, and lowering the tone considerably, I completely love this picture book for adults. It's been an enormous success even before publication, hitting the No 1 spot on the NYT bestseller list. (Don't look if you are of delicate sensibilities...)


catdownunder said...

Writing a picture book is hard. Writing a really good picture book is very hard indeed. Small children are the most demanding audience of all.
What works can be amazing - from the most simple to the most complex language and pictures. Really good picture books are an art form. I just wish I could write them!

JO said...

Writing for children is such a challenge! My daughter lived in Caracas for a while when my first grandson was born, and the plan was for her and her partner to stay there. The only way I could think of to be a distinct person in his life was to write him stories and poems. The relationship foundered and she came home. But if I was the writing grandma while he was away - then I must carry on.
A second daughter had a baby, and so there were separate efforts for her. the first daughter is now expecting twins - AAARRRGGHHHH!
But - although Christmas will be a challenge - it is wonderful to think of each child and play with words just for him or her. These are not pieces to be published (and so this post maybe irrelevant here) -the point for me is that it is fun, which maybe because I'm not writing with the eyes of an editor on my shoulder, but only the image of a small child in giggles.

Melinda Szymanik said...

Or you write your picture book story on spec, submit it and if they say yes and you're really lucky you might get to see what the illustrator has done before the book is printed. This is a wonderful explanation of the process but has not been my experience with my three picture books. In general the manuscript must be the finished product as there is much less interest in 'developing' the story. I have had more involvement with the illustrator for the third book tho which has been nice.

Clare said...

I'm not thinking about writing a picture book but I'm definitely thinking about buying one now. :)
Thanks for this insight into the process of translating a concept into a reality.

TA Demings said...

I think that writing a picture book is the hardest thing EVER. I've tried, so I know how hard it is. I really suck at it. I think I'll stick to young adult :)

I do like chopped line (novels in verse) and the sparcity of words, but picture books are just too sparse for me.