Nancy's Books

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Picture Book vs. Magazine article, part III/Calls for Submissions

Today’s blog is part III of a series.

Check out the following elements to determine if your story works better as a picture book or a magazine story:

Does the story have 14-20 scenes or pieces of action? Picture books have about 28 pages of illustrations; magazine stories have 1-8 illustrations. Did you allow enough leeway for the illustrator to tell part of the story? A magazine story will include details such as “red, polka dot dress.” A picture book manuscript usually doesn’t include such details because the illustrations will show this aspect of the story. In fact, some picture book texts can seem sparse and not always easy to understand without the illustrations, which not only reflect the text but carry the story beyond. A magazine story is told with numerous details because the text does not rely on illustrations to help tell the tale.

Does the story have a universal theme? A picture book has an idea or message that flows throughout the story.

Is the story different in some way? Does the author voice or writing style stand out? Does the text zing with rhythm? A picture book manuscript needs a distinctive element.

Does your story have the “read it again” factor? Is there a satisfying conclusion in which the character solves his/her problem? Does the ending have a surprise or twist that delights the child? A favorite picture book may be read over and over. A magazine story is usually read fewer times.

Both picture books and magazines offer entertaining and informational stories to children and both claim important places in the literary world.

Call for submissions for adult writers:

Jelly Bucket is open for submissions through June 1. Send us your best poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Jelly Bucket is distributed nationally and produced by the Bluegrass Writers Studio, which grants the MFA in Creative Writing at Eastern Kentucky University.
Submission guidelines at

Call for submissions for young writers:

Hanging Loose magazine welcomes high school submissions. As with other writers, we reply within three months, and high school authors whose work we publish receive the same small fee and two copies of the issue in which their work appears. We feel a special responsibility to those young writers who look to us not only for possible publication but sometimes also for editorial advice, which we are always happy to give when asked. Send 3 to 6 poems, or 1 to 3 short stories, or an equivalent combination of poetry and prose. This enables us to get a good idea of what your work is like.

Submission guidelines at

Check out more contests on my blog:


  1. I really appreciate this series. My critique group keeps wanting me to put more details into my picture book manuscripts but I try to leave room for the illustrator. I hope you will discuss art notes -- another bone of contention!

  2. Glad this series is helpful to you, Rosi. I had planned to beging another series next week, but I'll address art notes in picture book manuscript instead. Glad you asked for the information. If it helps you, it should help others too. Happy writing.