Now there's a question - do you take picture book authors seriously?
I'm inclined to think some people feel it's easy to write and illustrate a picture book.
"How easy to write only a few dozen to a hundred words, instead of thousands", someone recently stated to me.
I answered, it's more difficult than it may first seem. A children's picture book needs the same basic elements an adults book needs;
- a main character with whom the reader can identify with.
- a plot with interest that gives the main character a struggle that needs resolving, along with being a problem or difficulty a very young one could understand.
- a completely satisfying conclusion that brings the story to an ending, maybe with a twist.
- enough action and depth to bring page turning excitement throughout.
- written in a way that has impact when it's read aloud to younger ones.
- illustrations that capture the imagination, are varied and add to the story, or even tell part of the story.
All these elements should join seamlessly together and produce cries of read it again. Only then will you know you have a good picture book.
Oh! and you have to do this in only a few dozen to a hundred words!
So what are your thoughts on writing or reading children's picture books?
Are children's picture book authors to be taken seriously?
Interesting Thought... I have a tremendous amount of respect for anyone who can take their vision (big or small) and get it on paper. Even more so if what you produce is amazing. I think in the self publish world, children's book authors get ridiculed because they are not always able to link up with great illustrators- therefore their books leave much to be desired in the art department.
No one should downplay the difficulty of childrens lit. Yes, most kids are easy to please- but parents buy the books and they are really tough critics (I would know, I am a mother of 4) lol! That is part of why our blog explores books for family members of ALL ages and walks of life, including childrens lit.
Thanks Kelli, I've visited your blog a few times and think it's great!
I like the fact that all ages ae catered for and your children have their individual thoughts too.
One of my ebooks, "The Great Anwen Sheep Singing Contest" is on free promotion for the whole of this weekend if you are interested in having a look and giving me some feedback. it has a few good reviews on Amazon and quite a few likes, but your thoughts and the general feel of the story would be appreciated as I do the illustrations too!
Again many thanks for your thoughts
I am a children's author. I have had other writers ask me this question. I can honestly say that writing children's books is extremely difficult. It takes skills that not all writers posess. I never realized before I began putting my work in print that not everyone has the talent to write for children. It takes someone that understands all of the above and more. If you don't believe that is true you should check out the thousands of children's authors on amazon.com that can not sell a single title.
I think it takes a huge amount of talent to distill a story down to such a short form; I couldn't do it! :)
Thanks for these replies!
Writing well is a real skill, and writing for children is too, but it is also rewarding and fun!
I'm an author. I've been writing for as long as I can remember, but always for my own age group. When I matured as a writer, and really began to learn the craft, I gravitated toward writing fantasy and scifi for adults.
Then I had kids. So, everyone wants to know, now that you have kids, are you going to write a children's book?
Um....no....hadn't planned on it. That's not the way my mind works, and it really isn't something that just ANYONE can do, not even any writer.
The people who asked me that question probably don't understand the unique skill set required to write GOOD books for children. I appreciate them -- oh boy, do I! I love reading to my children, and when I read a good one, I know the author didn't just sit down and write it in an afternoon. Good illustrations are important, too.
Now, don't get me wrong -- there are some really bad books out there that make me wonder if the author did think it only took one afternoon and a handful of simple words. Then again, there are adult novel writers who think it's easy to write one of those, too -- or at least so intuitive that they don't need to learn the craft. So I'll just say that regardless of occupation or art form, I tend to respect people who try to be the best _____ they can be.
As an author of historical fiction,I am smart enough to know that it would take my dedicating maybe years of my life in order to write for children. I completely admire those that do.
Anyone who writes has to be taken seriously. Childrens books are really hard to create. (I've written a few but not had the courage to send off to the publishers.) As you have to find the right words to fit the book whilst making sure that each one counts. It's hard to do and not something you can just throw out as you have to plot, edit, replot, refine, edit etc. Its quite a long process and anyone who thinks it can be done in minutes is sadly deluded.
I'm a children's picture book writer, and I've written & published pieces for adults. I've also picked up writing middle-grade novels. Picture books are extremely difficult to write precisely because of the word limit and the sharing of creative space with your illustrator. So I can't understand why people would belittle picture book writers. Luckily for me, I haven't met anyone quite so offensive or, if I may, ignorant.
The really good picture book authors & illustrators I adore for Life. They are amazingly talented and such an inspiration. :) (By the way, I love Gareth's last line.)
Thanks so much for these replies! You've made me feel a whole lot better.
Keep them coming...
My wife has suggested that I write for children due to the level of maturity I have achieved. She may be correct. Kids are more discerning about people than we often realize. I write about issues that kids have expressed to me and attempt to shed light on those issues. To do that at an age appropriate level and then to find an illustrator that sees what you wrote can be trying. Kids worry about many things, diabetes, bullying, stepmothers, domestic violence, friendship and more. My personal goal isn't how much income I can generate with my books but to help one single child. If I end up helping one kid understand what is going on in their life and perhaps alleviate some worry my goal is met. I knew I was an author when 7 year old Rachel told me she loved my book. I'm a senior citizen, I don't write for my peers, other authors or critics, I write for kids. Your goals may determine how you see picture book authors.
I interned with a children's book publishing company for quite some time. I have a lot of respect for picture book authors; it's not easy to write a short, charming book in simple language while still making it original. A lot of aspiring authors in that field end up copying already popularized books, but the ones who move forward have found something special that hasn't be done before.