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Tuesday, 6 September 2011

How to Write a Children's Picture Book and Get It Published by Andrea Shavick

What do picture book publishers really want? This entertaining and practical book has all the answers, including: - What to write about - and how to write it - How to present your work professionally - How to persuade your chosen publisher to accept your book for publication. It covers virtually everything you need to know about the international picture book market and selling your work to agents and publishers. Andrea Shavick's book also answers the vexing questions of which publishers to approach, whether you need an agent, what to do about the illustrations, how to protect your copyright, and even how much money you can make. It additionally features: - Original picture book text - to help you format your own manuscripts professionally - An easy-to-use picture book layout plan - Title sheets and covering letters to use when submitting manuscripts - which are of proven success Andrea's unique Plot Planner for designing, lengthening, shortening or just 
tweaking your stories.

The first thing to say is that I have never thought about, let alone tried to write a book, children's or adults book in my life, let alone thought about the process. However, if I was I think that this book is a great first guide about the process.

Following the introduction there is are two important sections: what the book does and does not cover because children's books cover a wide range and style of books.

The rest of the book is split into 22 chapters which follow a systematic and logical sequence of actions,decisions and processes needed to write a successful children's book. These chapters start at the very beginning: what is a picture book? thinking about who to write for? what to write about? how to create characters? what subjects are no go in children's books? as well as more practical tips and hints about the writing process: word counts; plot planning; language ; editing; titles and preparation of the manuscript. There are useful sections about covering letters, manuscripts, illustrations, choosing publishers, submission of work, copyright of ideas, agents, what to do if your work is rejected or accepted. There is also a chapter on other routes  to publication.  At the end of the book there is a list of recommended books, websites and writing organisations which potential writers may find useful.

There are many good points to this book:

  • there are lots of what to do but also, more importantly, what NOT to do. Some of the points are simple and obvious, however there are also things which are not so obvious or things which wouldn't cross your mind i.e. subjects to avoid (shouldn't include classsim, or sexism, unhealthy food or characters including tattoos, piercings or people taking medicine)
  • each chapter covers a specific area of the writing/publishing process and within each chapter the area is broken down into smaller parts i.e. word count chapter includes; what is a word count?; what is the perfect word count?; and how to cutting word counts?
  • the whole process is included, each step is a chapter and described in small chapters but packed full of advice, information and examples where appropriate.
I would recommend this book as a definite must read to anyone considering writing a children's picture book. It is very informative but also concise in the information and advice given within it.

Thank you to Michael from The School Run Forum for sending me the book to review.

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