What you need to know about writing a children’s book?

Wow! Two years have passed.

Yes, it was two years ago this April, I finished the final touches on my first pre-school picture book.

Writing and publishing a picture book was a big learning curve.

Took me a year to finish this tiny 32-page book. Whew!

Maybe you have an idea for a children’s book, but like so many, you’ve put off starting because a picture book is a bit different from writing an adult story.

Let me speed you along toward your goal.

I’ve put together a list of 8 things I learned the hard way about writing a picture book.

  1. Buy a good PDF program. Yes, some people use MS Word but, trust me, it’s not worth the headaches. I finally settled on  Nitro Pro 10 Page Plus. It’s cheaper than Adobe and easy to use.
  2. Writers write and editors edit. Use an editor that understands children’s books. Yes, even small 32-page picture books need an editor. I found a great one by just asking around. LinkedIn and Facebook Groups are great resources. I found a wonderful editor, Margaret Welwood.
  3. Unless you can really draw, I can’t, find a good illustrator. Ask around. See #2.
  4. Decide on the size of your book. Go to the bookstore and library, look at other books for similar to your book. Me, I went with 8.5 x 8.5. Not too big or not too small for little hands.
  5. Download a photo editing program, I used Paint.NET, to help size the illustrations. Adobe will work too.
  6. Purchase an ISBN. That will help your books get into libraries.Who doesn’t want that, right? You can use the same number for IngramSpark and Amazon publishing.
  7. Use the cover templates provided by IngramSpark and Amazon or whichever publisher you decide. Each template is different.
  8. Order proof copies before you finalize and publish. Hard lesson.

My tips don’t apply to an ebook. No, this post is about producing a print picture book.

Me Let's Discuss - Jeanswriting.comDo you want to write a picture book?

Have you written one already? Do share your tips.

Did I answer some of your questions?

 

Want more? Click and read…

A Story Board

Free Picture Book Thumbnail Templates for Writers and Illustrators

Picture Book Dummy, Picture Book Construction: Know Your Layout

Picture book layout templates

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This easy editing tip will blow your mind

Want to know what knocked my socks off this week?

An Excel Stylesheet

Yep, good old Excel. Okay, maybe I’m impressed easier than you. 

A stylesheet can make your novel appear more professional.

Why? Because writing a massive novel is hard and keeping track of names, places, hyphens and more can get confusing. This is where a stylesheet comes in handy. And most editors require one. Who knew? Well, turns out knowing about something and knowing how to put the information into practice is two different things.

I’ve written about stylesheets in the past but until recently I didn’t understand how to put into practice what I’d learned. But, turns out it’s not that difficult.

What you put add to a stylesheet is up to you. You can keep it simple or add a column for everything under the sun.

Stylesheet purpose? 

To prevent mistakes that stand out like a pimple on your nose.

Ever read a book and a name changed midway? Cathy, Kathy, Kathie or Katy? Glaring mistakes like that will pull your reader out of the story in a flash.

I’m compiling my stylesheet as I write. This will help me find where an unusual word, phrase or name first appeared. When I’m ready to rewrite or edit, my stylesheet will help keep everything consistent.

No matter your genre, this can be an invaluable tool.  Fantasy, keep those made up countries and goblin are spelled correctly. Historical, names and places may have been spelled different a hundred years ago.

Want to know how easy it is to mess up? Even in this short blog post, I wrote stylesheet as one word in some places and as two words in other. Good grief! Now imagine catching that mistake in a 70,000-word novel.

Here is a snapshot of my writing stylesheet.

When my book is finished, I’ll print out my spreadsheet and refer to as I edit. Easier than trying to remember, flipping back and forth through a document. At least I hope so.

Why compile a stylesheet as you write?

Connie Jasperson said it best in a terrific post.

“I learned this the hard way. Making a stylesheet for a book after it has been written is a daunting task, and most editors will ask you for one when they accept your submission. Some editors refer to this as the ‘bible’ for that manuscript because all editorial decisions regarding consistency will be based on the spellings and style treatments you have established for your work.” Click here to read the entire post.#amwriting: ensuring consistency: the stylesheet, 2/14/2018 BY Connie J. Jasperson

Want more? Check out this article. Stylesheets—The Setup and the Benefits, July 12, 2011 by Beth Hill

Want to get really geeky? Read Chicago Manual of StyleChicago Manual Of Style Guidelines (Quick Study), or the Associated Press’s Stylebook (available on Kindle Unlimited.)

Okay now tell me, please…

Do you use stylesheets?

Have you used one in the past?

Do you think a stylesheet will help you avoid mistakes?

Had you heard about stylesheets before today?

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What is the best secret to writing something original?

Use a formula.

Yep, you heard me right. Sounds contradictory I know. Why? Because we are creatures of comfort and formulas work.

I mean, who doesn’t have a favorite comfort food, favorite chair, a feel-good movie, or book? We enjoy the familiar.

A genre formula is a writer’s best friend.

Sticking to a genre formula lets the reader know what to expect. You know what to expect when you pick up a book by Stephen King, Patricia Cornwell, James Patterson or Danielle Steel.

Putting your own unique spin, touch or style is what makes a reader recognize your uniqueness.

Sort of like spaghetti sauce. Everyone knows it’s made with tomatoes, meat, and spices. But how the cook puts it all together will determine the flavor.

Remember, how you execute a story is what makes it unique.

  • You (the cook) make the difference.
  • Different isn’t always a good thing.
  • Readers want genre fiction they recognize and a world they feel comfortable visiting.
  • A little originality goes a long way, too much can be unnerving, even disturbing to some people.
  • Genre formulas and templates are a writers friend. Like a recipe for a cook.
  • Know the formulas.

Even if you write in more than one genre, it’s important to know and understand the formulas.

You are the secret ingredient. 

Want to know more about genres? Click on the links below.

Okay, time to talk:

Which genre do you write?

Do you know and understand the formulas?

Do you use a template for your writing? Formula outline for the genre?

Are you comfortable with one genre over others?

What do you think?

Genre Writing and Formulas By Rob Parnell
Advice for New Authors: Five sure-fire ways to find your book’s genre By Helena Halme
How To Write A Bestseller – According To The Formula By Peter Winkler

 

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