Nancy's Books

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Writing Picture Books: The Format/Contests

Today, let’s take a close look at the format of a picture books. Most are 32 pages and are designed for ages three to eight. Lots of picture books break this rule. Some are 40+ pages; others are geared for children who are eight and older. However, if you’re an aspiring writer with no books published, your best bet for getting a manuscript accepted is to write for the format that is most popular. Of the 32 pages, 3-4 pages are delegated for front matter, such as the title page, copyright, and dedication. That leaves about 28-29 pages for text and illustrations. Some books have illustrations on all 28 pages; others have illustrations on every other page. Both of these formats work well in picture books.

The text of picture books is getting shorter. When I first began writing professionally 22 years ago, 1000 words were common for picture books. Today, the maximum word count for most is 650. The sweet spot is 350-500 words. The text must have a balance of words and action from page to page so the illustrations can tell part of the story.

Within the short text a story with a beginning, middle, and end should be revealed. Usually, this is done in about 15 scenes or pieces of action.

Next week, I’ll discuss the picture book cumulative story.

Contest for young writers:
Hummingbird Poetry Contest. Hey Kids!....We are excited to host our second kids hummingbird poetry contest to give you a chance to write a poem and maybe you'll win a prize! When you submit a poem you will have your own web page!

Tip: You can visit some other pages on our site and learn more about hummingbirds to help write your poem.

Each of the Top 3 Favorites will win everything you need (except your recycled bottle) to make your own "Recycler" Hummingbird Feeder".

Submit original work written by you.
Contest open to ages 6 to 12.
Fill out the "Your Name" box and be sure to include your age.
Winners will be selected based on visitor comments and our judge.
Deadline: September 30, 2012. Winners announced October 31, 2012.

Details at ... gbird-poetry-contest.html

Contest for adult writers:
Limit 2,500 words of short fiction.
Must be unpublished and never have won a prize. Limit two entries per person.
Must be 21 or older and a legal resident of the US. Grand prize may be published in Family Circle.
One (1) Grand Prize winner will receive a prize package including $750, a gift certificate to one (1) course of his or her choice, one (1) year AvantGuild membership valued at $55, and a one (1) year How-to Video membership valued at $99.
One (1) Second Place winner will receive $250, a one (1) year AvantGuild membership, and a one (1) year How-to Video membership.
One (1) Third Place winner will receive $250 and a one (1) year AvantGuild membership.
Deadline September 7, 2012
Details at

Check out more contests on my blog:

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