How to Write a Nonfiction Picture Book: Step 9: Find the Arc

How to Write a Nonfiction Picture Book

Step 9_ Find the Arc

From here on out, almost everything is about taking that draft and making it better. (Or at some point, perhaps it will be about throwing that approach out and doing a new first draft with a whole new structure, angle, etc. But don’t worry about that right now.)

One thing to ask when looking at your draft is: where is my arc?

Sometimes nonfiction has a narrative arc, if you are writing a biography or other chronologically told story. And in that case, you will use a narrative arc of increasing tension to a great climax/resolution, just as in fiction writing.

But many nonfiction picture books don’t have a narrative arc. However, your BOOK must still have an arc, even if it is non-narrative nonfiction. It took me a while to learn this. That even if your book is not a story, you have to find a way to guide your reader through the journey of the information you’re sharing with them. That arc will evoke certain emotions in your readers. And it should leave them with a clear sense of being in the hands of a trusted guide who knows what he or she is doing. A guide who has a plan. A guide who is not just tossing information at them with no overall organization.

Moon cover_loresWhen they hear the first lines of your book, your readers should have some sense of beginning a journey. When they hear the final lines, they should feel satisfied and know the journey is coming to an end.

A lot of this, I learned from editors. Here are some examples of the arcs in my picture books.

Title What  (Topic) So What (Angle) Arc
Meet My Family! Animal (and human) families There are many kinds and structures of families, and they can all work! The arc is subtle in this one, but I was thoughtful in not wanting too many slightly sad comments about families (the raccoon who’s never met his dad, for instance) to be in a row. I wanted a bouncy pace full of contrasts (between animals on the same spread and also from one spread to the next), and I didn’t want to forecast the ending—which features human families.
If You Were the Moon The moon The different things the moon does, shown through comparisons to child behaviors I wrote the opening scene between the girl and the moon at editor Carol Hinz’ suggestion. I also broadly grouped the moon’s actions into:

·         Interactions at a planetary level

·         Affecting Earth’s plants/animals

·         Impacting/interacting with humans

Ended with the lullaby line and the girl from the opening scene falling asleep, giving it a bit of a bedtime story arc, too.

A Leaf Can Be… Leaves Leaves do a lot of different things you might not have thought of before It begins in spring and travels throughout the year to winter.
BookSpeak! Books What would books and parts of books say if they could speak? I wrote the opening poem, “Calling All Readers,” at editor Daniel Nayeri’s request, so that the book would have an introduction of sorts. And the book ends with “The End.” So the journey through the book very subtly echoes the act of reading a book.
Stampede! Kids at school How do kids at school behave like different animals? This collection was a random assortment of school day poems, until editor Jennifer Wingertzahn suggested a chronological arc. So the first poem starts in the school yard before the bell rings, and the final poem is the stampede of kids leaving school at the end of the day.

 

DO THIS NOW:

1)       Read your draft. Mark where you see moments of tension. Mark where those moments of tension are resolved.

2)       Or identify what is the thread through your manuscript that a reader can follow. How does each piece of information logically follow the piece before? Is it chronological (by year, season, day, hour)? Is it in cause and effect, each step coming as a direct result of the step before? Are the facts grouped logically somehow so that, once you identify what the thread is, you can follow it through the whole manuscript, using it to hint at what will be next?

3)       If you can’t find tension or a thread, then arc is something you need to think deeply about and figure out how to imbue your manuscript with it.

4)       Try on different arcs, writing new drafts for each one.

 

Up Next: Finding Your Voice

 

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How to Write a Nonfiction Picture Book: Step 8: Draft It

How to Write a Nonfiction Picture Book

Step 8_ Draft It!

All the steps so far have been logical and organized and, well, not that intimidating. But now it’s time to just dive in.

Write a first draft.

That’s it.

Just do it. Don’t judge it. Don’t worry about any of the things you’ve thought about and planned out. Review it all, then set it all aside and just write.

DO THIS NOW:

1)       Write a first draft. (You didn’t expect anything else, right?)

 

Up Next: Find the Arc

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How to Write a Nonfiction Picture Book: Step 7: Research in More Depth

How to Write a Nonfiction Picture Book

Step7_ More Research

Now that you’ve figured out what you want to focus on and what you really want to leave your reader with, you probably have a much better idea of what information you need. A cheery 40-word introduction to trucks for toddlers obviously requires a totally different kind and depth of research than an 1,800-word biography of a scientist for 3rd graders.

So, dig in. As you research, remember to consult a wide variety of sources, including:

  • books for adults
  • highly credible organizations’ websites
  • academic journals
  • personal interviews
  • magazine and newspaper articles
  • primary source materials (diaries, interviews, autobiographies, etc.)
  • personal experience
  • videos
  • recordings and photographs

Make sure you’re keeping track of what information you find and where you find it. You might use Evernote, OneNote (what I’m currently using), Scrivener, index cards, or some other system entirely. That’s fine, as long as you have some system! You need to be able to identify where you found each fact in your manuscript, particularly anything that is more specific than the info typically found in an encyclopedia article.

Meet My Family cover - smallAnd don’t underestimate the scope of your research. My 2018 picture book, Meet My Family!, has a rhyming main text of only about 130 words. The sidebars are about 800 words altogether. And then there’s backmatter. Still, this is not a super in-depth book, but the bibliography I turned into my editor had 79 entries. 79.

If you’re particularly fond of research, you might want to give yourself a deadline, at which point you’ll start writing regardless of whether you’re “finished” with your research. Otherwise, you might find yourself researching forever and never actually writing.

DO THIS NOW:

1)       Make a list of questions that you already know you need answers to.

2)       Also list any subtopics of your topic that you just need to learn more about.

3)       Decide on your system for organizing and recording notes and sources.

4)       Get started!

 

Next Up: Draft It!

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How to Write a Nonfiction Picture Book: Step 6: Structure It

How to Write a Nonfiction Picture Book

Step 6_ Structure ItThis is one of my favorite parts of writing a nonfiction picture book: coming up with the structure. The structure is HOW you’re presenting your info in order to achieve the effect you want.

You have a lot of options! Here are just some of the structures you might choose from, along with an example or two of each one.

Chronological Narrative: If you’re writing a biography or a book about a historical event, chances are you’ll present the information in a linear narrative, relating the events in the order in which they happened. (That’s not guaranteed, though.)

 

 

 

How-To: If you’re teaching kids how to do something, this is the structure you want.

List/Survey: If you’re sharing broad, parallel info about a topic or many examples of one kind of thing, you might do it in a list structure.


Explanation/Exposition: This encompasses most picture books written in paragraphs that don’t fit any of the other specific categories.

Ficformation (sometimes called informational fiction): This is where you embed your information inside a fictional framework. Sometimes the Library of Congress calls these books fiction, other times it calls them literature (which is LOC-speak for nonfiction). My If You Were the Moon has a moon that talks, but it was classified as nonfiction, which was quite a surprise! I’m totally good with that, though, as its main purpose is to share info about the moon.

Reader Experience: In these books, you somehow make your reader experience whatever the topic is.

Riddles:

Q&A:

Within each basic structure, there are many variations you can explore. You might have elements of a problem/solution structure within your exposition. Or you might compare two elements or people in a compare-and-contrast exposition book. You might write a chronological biography that incorporates some how-to or list elements.

So, don’t feel constrained. Instead, just think about your topic, your angle, and the way you want to affect your reader. Which structure jumps out as a good fit for you? Try that first!

And know that you might come back to this step and try several more structures before you find the just-right one.

One other thing to think about as you consider structures is whether you will use layered text and/or backmatter. Layered text is when you have a main text and then a secondary text on the same spread. Backmatter is when you add extra information at the end of the book, so as not to interrupt the flow or language of your main text. Here are a few books that use layered text and/or backmatter.


Author Melissa Stewart has many awesome posts about different kinds of nonfiction books for kids, and it’s well worth your time to explore her site/blog. Start here at http://celebratescience.blogspot.com/search/label/Nonfiction%20Text%20Structure to read her posts that are tagged Nonfiction Text Structure. Have fun!

 

DO THIS NOW:

  1. Choose three structures that appeal to you.
  2. For each one, work through how you might present your information using that structure. What would work well? What challenges would that structure present?
  3. Choose the one that seems most promising.
  4. Find at least 5 other nonfiction picture books using the general structure you’ve chosen and read them.

Up Next: More Research

 

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How to Write a Nonfiction Picture Book: Step 5: Be Effect-ive

How to Write a Nonfiction Picture Book

Hello, writers! I am creating a series of posts on writing a nonfiction picture book, which I will later compile on my own website. If you have questions, please ask! That will help me know where I need to be more specific (without being overwhelming). Also, I’m trying to spell this out in a very linear way, breaking down the steps into discrete processes. But in real life, the process is recursive, with steps being repeated, done in a different order, skipped (if a brilliant idea comes to you fully formed–a real rarity), and so on. So think of this as an ideal process, but not the way every single book happens. Thanks for reading!

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Step 5_ Be Effect-ive

Now you’ve got your topic (your WHAT) and your angle (your SO WHAT). The third important element of your topical triangle is the NOW WHAT. That’s the effect you want your book to have on your readers.

  • Do you want them to feel a specific emotion about your topic?
  • Do you want to change their opinion about something?
  • Do you want them to take specific actions?
  • Do you want to inspire them to learn more about your topic?
  • Do you want them to feel calm and ready for bed?

All of these effects, and more, are excellent goals. And your book might lead to more than one of them. But knowing your primary goal, the effect you want to have on your reader, can be really helpful in the writing and revising of your nonfiction picture book.

Note: Sometimes, this changes over the course of writing your book, and that’s totally part of the process! And sometimes it emerges organically as you write. Again, totally fine. Writing your nonfiction picture book is not a perfectly linear process. You will go through many of these steps more than once. You will circle back, gnash your teeth, delete chunks, change your mind, wonder why you ever picked this topic in the first place, and so on. And eventually, I hope, you will end up with a manuscript you are proud of!

OK, back to effects. Here are the SO WHATs of my nonfiction picture books for the trade market so far.

Title What  (Topic) So What (Angle) Now What (Effect)
Snowman-Cold=Puddle

(coming in 2019)

Spring changes Look closely at the elements of different relationships in spring and represent them in surprising equations/poems Start looking for cause and effect in nature (secondary: learn to express relationships in metaphors)
Meet My Family Animal families Meet animal families that exhibit lots of the same structures that human families do Come to an a-ha moment of accepting that many family structures can be the “right” one
If You Were the Moon The moon The different things the moon does, shown through comparisons to child behaviors Feel wonder about the moon’s influence on us
A Leaf Can Be… Leaves Leaves do a lot of different things you might not have thought of before Feel wonder and awe about ordinary parts of our natural world

Here’s a confession: I didn’t really realize the NOW WHAT of my Can Be… books until A Leaf Can Be… had been out for a while. I subconsciously knew, I guess, because I put it right there in the ending with directions to the child reader:

A leaf is a leaf,
a bit of a tree.
Now go and discover
what else it can be.

leafBut still, I really thought the purpose of my book was to show the different things leaves could be. Which it does. But the NOW WHAT, the really super-important part of the book, didn’t become clear to me until I started getting feedback from readers and teachers. Then I had my own a-ha moment about what I really wanted readers to take away from my book. Now I think about the NOW WHAT as part of my writing process instead of waiting for readers to hit me over the head with it!

DO THIS NOW:

  1. Picture a child reading your book with a parent or teacher. When the book is finished, what does your reader do? Does he excitedly repeat the amazing lion facts he learned? Does she start playing computer scientist make-believe, imitating the hero of your biography? Does he bug his mom or dad to start a family compost bin?
  2. Write down your SO WHAT: When a reader finishes my book about __________________, I want him or her to ____________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________.
  3. Remember that you are not locked into stone with this SO WHAT. It’s just a starting place for you that will help you make some decisions moving forward.

 

Next Up: Structure

 

 

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How to Write a Nonfiction Picture Book: Step 4: Pick an Angle

How to Write a Nonfiction Picture Book

Hello, writers! I am starting a series of posts on writing a nonfiction picture book. I’m writing it as I go, and I will later compile this on my own website, I think. So, if you have questions, please do ask! That will help me know where I need to be more specific (without being overwhelming). Also, I’m trying to spell this out in a very linear way, breaking down the steps into discrete processes. But in real life, the process is recursive, with steps being repeated, done in a different order, skipped (if a brilliant idea comes to you fully formed–a real rarity), and so on. So think of this as an ideal process, but not the way every single book happens. Thanks for reading!

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Step 4_ Pick an Angle

Your topic is your subject. But you need more than a subject. Most picture books have a specific approach to a topic. They are not encyclopedic, trying to tell everything about some subject.

There are two reasons for that: One, picture books are short! Two, and more importantly, encyclopedic approaches are boring.

If a reader doesn’t care about trucks, for instance, a picture book full of general truck information is not going to appeal to that reader. (And if a reader does care about trucks, a picture book with an encyclopedic approach is unlikely to show the reader anything new. Especially on a popular topic.)

So your angle is what specific aspect of the topic you choose to focus on in your picture book. As I think about angles for my theoretical truck book (and keeping in mind I have only done the very shallowest research at this point), I think my angle is going to be what it’s like to be a long-distance trucker.

The topic is trucks. That’s the WHAT.

But the angle is sort of the SO WHAT. It’s specific enough to hopefully engage readers and draw them in.

Here are some more examples from my previous books.

Title What  (Topic) So What (Angle)  
If You Were the Moon The moon The different things the moon does, shown through comparisons to child behaviors  
A Leaf Can Be… Leaves Leaves do a lot of different things you might not have thought of before  
BookSpeak! Books What would books and parts of books say if they could speak?  
Stampede Kids at school How do kids at school behave like different animals?  

Moon cover_lores

 

DO THIS NOW:

  1. Look back over your notes so far.
  2. Think about what fascinates YOU about your topic.
  3. Think about what hasn’t already been done a lot.
  4. Choose your angle!

NOTE: Don’t put a ton of pressure on yourself! You might end up coming back to change this later, and that’s OK. But you need to choose an angle now in order to move forward.

 

Next Up: The Effect

 

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How to Write a Nonfiction Picture Book: Step 3: Research

How to Write a Nonfiction Picture Book

Hello, writers! I am starting a series of posts on writing a nonfiction picture book. I’m writing it as I go, and I will later compile this on my own website, I think. So, if you have questions, please do ask! That will help me know where I need to be more specific (without being overwhelming). Also, I’m trying to spell this out in a very linear way, breaking down the steps into discrete processes. But in real life, the process is recursive, with steps being repeated, done in a different order, skipped (if a brilliant idea comes to you fully formed–a real rarity), and so on. So think of this as an ideal process, but not the way every single book happens. Thanks for reading!

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Step 3_ Research

Step 3: Research

This is my first phase of research, though I will come back to researching many times over the course of writing a nonfiction picture book. And, honestly, I would usually already know a little bit about a topic because I would have chosen a topic I’m interested in. Since I chose trucks as my example topic, though, I’m starting from scratch!

At this first research stage, I’m looking at several kinds of resources:

  • general online articles (I would never use Wikipedia as a bibliographic source, but it’s great to get a general sense of a topic, and it can point me toward more credible resources)
  • a book or two for adults on the topic—or browsing through magazines on the topic if there are any published on it
  • picture books on my topic published in the past five years or so
  • videos on YouTube

And here’s what I’m looking for:

  • basic background information
  • what approaches have already been done to death in picture books
  • what are some areas that might connect well to kids?

(I’m looking for these areas because my next step will be choosing my angle.)

Here are a few of the concepts that I noted in my research:

  • The defining characteristic of a truck is that it can haul cargo.
  • Cab and cargo area are two distinct places.
  • Monster trucks are extremely loud and really big!
  • Wide variety of sizes and materials, plus specialized equipment attached to them.

There was LOTS more that I read, even in my basic research, but most of it was very complicated (to me, anyway) and not really picture book material.

From looking at picture books, I got a sense of what is being done for this age. Here are just a few of the books I looked at.

20180128_073217.jpgSome of these are written for the educational market and sold mostly to school libraries. You can tell those if you recognize the educational publisher names, if you see the copyright is in the name of the PUBLISHER, not the author, or if you see the books are part of a series. I’ve written many books for the educational market, but it’s not what I’m trying to do here.

20180128_073436.jpg

Series listing is usually a sign of a book published by an educational publisher

When I look at “bookstore” books, or “trade market” books, I see mostly books that name the different kinds of trucks and other big vehicles. Those are for very young kids and are really concept books.

20180126_133438.jpg

I also see books that involve a fictional element. SUPERTRUCK, which I love, shows different types of trucks and the work they do. But the fiction element of a garbage truck turning into a superhero snowplow truck after a blizzard is the heart of the story. It’s not really a truck book. It’s a book about how even the unsung person (like a kid) can be a hero.

Supertruck (Ala Notable Children's Books. Younger Readers (Awards)) by [Savage, Stephen]OLD MACDONALD HAD A TRUCK uses the song to introduce a bunch of types of trucks (with varying degrees of success in the meter). Cool idea.

BIG RIG involves a talking big rig—fun!

But as far as nonfiction with no fictional element, it becomes pretty clear to me that most of the books at a typical picture book age (3-5) really focus on just naming the different kinds of trucks with images or perhaps a word or two describing what different trucks do.

Trucks are complex enough that books that really try to explain anything about how they work seem to mostly be done by educational publishers.

Because I’m not truly going to write a picture book about trucks, I am doing fairly shallow research here. I’m really trying to get a sense of what publishers think works for different age groups and what has been done a lot so that I can think about what I can offer that’s different.

DO THIS NOW:

  1. Read a very general encyclopedic online article on your topic.
  2. Read an adult book on your topic (or a number of in-depth magazine articles).
  3. Do an Amazon search for picture books on your topic that have been published in the past 5 years. Put them on reserve or on interlibrary loan through your library. (Here’s one place where picture book e-books are so convenient! I hate picture book e-books for actual reading. But for research purposes like this, they’re fast and fabulous.)
  4. Watch 10 YouTube videos related to your topic.
  5. Summarize your findings. What did you learn? What most interested you? Which facts do you think have the most kid appeal? Are there clear trends in how your topic is treated? Have a zillion picture books been published with your topic? Or zero picture books? Both can be a sign of trouble, but neither is absolute cause to give up. The goal is to feel like you have a good understanding of how your topic has already been treated in picture books in the recent past.

NOTE: Even if you already know a lot about your topic, it’s worth doing this survey. There is always more to learn, and exposing yourself to more general info might actually help you get a better big picture oversight on a topic you know intimately.

Next up: What’s Your Angle?

 

 

 

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How to Write a Nonfiction Picture Book: Step 2: Wonder

How to Write a Nonfiction Picture Book

Hello, writers! I am starting a series of posts on writing a nonfiction picture book. I’m writing it as I go, and I will later compile this on my own website, I think. So, if you have questions, please do ask! That will help me know where I need to be more specific (without being overwhelming). Also, I’m trying to spell this out in a very linear way, breaking down the steps into discrete processes. But in real life, the process is recursive, with steps being repeated, done in a different order, skipped (if a brilliant idea comes to you fully formed–a real rarity), and so on. So think of this as an ideal process, but not the way every single book happens. Thanks for reading!

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

Step 2_Wonder

Step 2: Wonder

So, you have chosen a general topic. This next step is one a lot of people skip over, but I think it’s crucial.

I want you to wonder about your topic. Even if you already know a lot about your topic. Even if you think you already know your specific angle.

When you wonder, approach your topic as if you know nothing about it. Make your mind a blank slate. Sometimes what we already know actually gets in the way of being creative. So, pretend to be a child, one who knows very little about this topic.

Grab a coffee table book or do a Google search for images of your main topic. And then start wondering. Jot down everything that occurs to you. For me, this will mostly be questions, but sometimes it’s observations, too—things I never noticed before.

I’m going to demonstrate wondering about a topic I know little about and care even less about: trucks. Here’s one page of my search results:

trucks_wonder

Laura’s Wonders About Trucks

  • Who invented trucks?
  • How long can a truck be before it needs more than 4 wheels?
  • Are semis without their trailers lonely?
  • Do long-distance drivers really sleep in the cabs of their trucks?
  • Why does cab mean both the front/driver area of a truck AND a taxi? Which came first?
  • Who invented dump trucks?
  • Why do some dump trucks dump to the side and others out the back?
  • How much do trucks weigh? Can one weigh more than a house?
  • Who invented the first truck, and why?
  • What are the differences between, say, a farm truck and a delivery truck?
  • What are the weigh stations for on highways? Why do trucks get weighed? Is it to make sure they aren’t smuggling?
  • How heavy can a truck be before it would start to crush a road?
  • Why do we have monster trucks?
  • What kinds of trucks save lives? (fire trucks, ambulances…)
  • What’s it like to be a trucker? Especially a long-haul trucker?
  • Are big rigs hard to drive?
  • What are some of the most amazing things that have spilled out of trucks onto roads/highways?
  • What different things do people haul in pickup trucks?
  • What are the safety rules about riding in trucks?
  • Are there celebrities in the monster truck world?
  • What if you’re too short to climb up in a truck?
  • What bad things have people used trucks for? (human smuggling)
  • What’s the biggest truck in the world?
  • Why are trucks so loud?
  • How come trucks tip over?

That’s about five minutes worth of wondering. The images I got are pretty bland, and I bet if I dug deeper into the search results, I’d find more compelling images that would bring up more wonders for me.

Note that many of these sound boring or inappropriate for picture books. That’s OK! The point here is just to brainstorm!

Now I’m going to go back through my wonders and choose a few that interest me enough that I might want to actually look up the answers or do more thinking about them.

Here are the ones I chose:

  • Do long-distance drivers really sleep in the cabs of their trucks?
  • How much do trucks weigh? Can one weigh more than a house?
  • How heavy can a truck be before it would start to crush a road?
  • What’s it like to be a trucker? Especially a long-haul trucker?
  • Are big rigs hard to drive?
  • What are some of the most amazing things that have spilled out of trucks onto roads/highways?
  • What’s the biggest truck in the world?

Looking at those, I see that most relate to truck extremes or to being a trucker. Both of those could morph into picture books, so I’m ready to move onto my next step: research.

Do This Now

  1. Take your chosen topic and surround yourself with images related to it.
  2. Spend some time wondering with an open mind.
  3. Mark the wonders/notes that most appeal to you and notice if they connect in any way.

 

Next up: Research :>)

 

 

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How to Write a Nonfiction Picture Book: Step 1

How to Write a Nonfiction Picture Book

Hello, writers! I am starting a series of posts on writing a nonfiction picture book. I’m writing it as I go, and I will later compile this on my own website, I think. So, if you have questions, please do ask! That will help me know where I need to be more specific (without being overwhelming). Thanks!

Step 1_ Choose a Topic

I’m going to flat out assume that over the past year, you’ve read at least 100 new (published in past three years) nonfiction picture books. If you haven’t, stop right here and start putting books on hold at your library. This info will be here waiting for you when you finish your reading…

Great, you’re back!

Choosing a topic for your nonfiction picture book is your first step, usually. (I say usually because I sometimes choose the form/structure first, but that’s not really normal.) This is the “What” of three important elements of your book. (What? So what? and Now what?)

Forget “write what you know.” Instead, write what you are excited about or curious about! You will be spending a lot of time with this topic over the next several months or years, so you need to care about it.

However, just because you care about it doesn’t mean kids or editors will care about it. Here are a few things to consider.

Kid Appeal: Your topic has to appeal to kids as well as yourself! One of the great joys of reading nonfiction picture books, for me, is discovering that a topic is way more interesting than I initially thought. And that can definitely happen. But in general, it’s great if your topic has obvious, immediate appeal to kids. If it relates to their lives somehow. Big machines, creepy bugs, amazing animals, cookies—these are examples of topics kids relate to. They see them in real life or on TV. They know what these things are. They are drawn to them. They have an emotional reaction to the topic—whether that’s excitement, fear, or happiness.

Topics without immediate kid appeal might still work, but finding just the right angle will be key. (More on that in a future segment.) For instance, taxes, swollen feet, and how to hang holiday lights might all interest some adults. But picture book readers? Not so much.

Competition: Your topic must be fresh to stand out from the competition. Go to Amazon and do a search for children’s books on your topic. Are there 20? 350? None at all?

Some topics have been covered so much that it would be really difficult to sell another book on the topic. When I search Amazon for children’s nonfiction picture books for ages 3-5 about “animals,” more than 7,000 results appear. Seven. Thousand.

When I narrow it down to “dogs,” there are still more than 2,000 results.

When I switch to “platypus,” there are two results.

You might be able to sell a dog nonfiction picture book if you come up with a totally fresh approach, but there’s probably more room for a platypus book.

Curriculum: Curriculum connections only matter if your picture book is going to be for ages 5-9, rather than the more traditional 2-5-year-old audience. But if your topic ties in to something kids study at school, that’s good to know and might help you decide which age range to target. (More on that soon.) It also might help sell your manuscript, when it comes time.

DO THIS NOW

  1. Brainstorm a list of possible topics to write about. You can start with general topics—cars, sand, the sun, Abraham Lincoln…whatever you’re curious about or passionate about. Can you list 50 topics? Give it a try.
  2. Now go back and circle or highlight the 10 that most interest you that also might not have as much competition as “animals.”
  3. Reread your list of 10. Which one is whispering to you right now—pick me! Let’s start with that one.

 

Next up: Wonder

 

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Ideas for Finding or Creating Your Local Children’s Writers Tribe

A few people read my last post about my in-person tribe and wondered how they go about finding their tribe. I will be the first to admit this can be tricky. Especially if you happen to live in a rural area–I do not, and I still have found it tricky at times. But it’s so worth it.

I brainstormed a few ways/places you might find like-minded people to connect with and form a support group. You can either attend an existing event and introduce yourself to folks or you can initiate something if there’s nothing available in your area.

Finding Your Local Tribe 2

I would recommend initiating one-time gatherings to begin with. Then see who your personality really fits with. After a couple of meet-ups, you could privately invite those people to form a more structured group. Otherwise, if you’re introverted and a conflict avoider, you could end up with a group of people that you feel guilty leaving but who aren’t really providing the kind of support relationship you were hoping for.

 

Good luck!

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