Nancy's Books

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Writing Picture Books--Simply Difficult, part 1/Call for Submissions

This blog is the first in a series focused on writing picture books, taken from the how-to article, WRITING PICTURE BOOKS—SIMPLY DIFFICULT, I wrote for a national newsletter.

A 400-word book has to be easy to write, right? As readers, picture books appear simple to create; as writers, we find the task simply difficult. Writing picture books takes a unique set of skills, so try these 10 key points to improve your manuscript:

1.  Short text. Picture books are based on a single idea. When I first began writing professionally twenty-four years ago, the average picture book text was 1,000-1,500 words. Not anymore. The sweet spot according to many editors is about 450 words. Deleting unnecessary words is a must in today’s market.

 2.   Audience. Most picture books are designed for young children up through age five. As adults read the words, children read the pictures. The text should be age appropriate for the audience both in language and interest. A five-year-old has a larger vocabulary and is much more likely to be interested in dinosaurs than a two-year-old. Children age six and up are typically exposed to beginning chapter books.

This article will be continued in next week’s blog.

Call for submissions for adult writers:

Suddenly Lost in Words has reopened submissions. This ezine is for readers ages 13+ and is a paying market.

Check out more contests on my blog:


  1. I'm looking forward to this series of posts. Thanks for doing this.

  2. I'm glad to, Rosi. I have a children's novel, my first, coming out next year so I'm going to do a series of blogs on how to write those. Coming soon.