Nancy's Books

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Let’s Talk Picture Books, Part 5

Earlier, I mentioned that editors did not often swoon when receiving submissions written in rhyme. I’m still on a roll of what they do not want.

Stories about inanimate objects that come to life are difficult to write and difficult to nab a contract. Two train stories have become popular: THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD and THOMAS THE TANK ENGINE so exceptions are made.
THE GIVING TREE is also a wonderful classic about an inanimate object, but a book about a window that won’t open or a rock that can’t roll will probably not garner more than a rejection letter. Children want stories in which action impacts plot, where something happens. It is difficult to develop an inanimate object as the main character in a picture book. This works better in videos where sound and motion work together to build the character. THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT is also another example that inanimate objects can work, but it doesn’t seem to happen often in the publishing world.

Dolls and toys as the main characters can work. Children relate to these, such as the VELVETEEN RABBIT. Dolls look like people and it’s easy to imagine them becoming real.
What works best as main characters are children and animals, because a young child relates to both. By attributing human frailties to animals make them seem real. Kids identify with the characters’ weaknesses and mistakes. Many popular picture books showcase imperfect characters that grow and learn. Engaging, humorous stories that inspire and can withstand multiple readings are always searched for by editors and agents. 

Call for Submissions for Young Writers:

Kiki Magazine An independent magazine owned and operated by women who care about girls.Kiki uses the college fashion design curriculum to tap into girls' creativity, including business, fine art, craft, history, world culture, math, and even chemistry. The publication accepts submissions of illustrations, artwork, photos, or articles from all ages.

Submission guidelines at

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:

Humpty Dumpty
Magazine (ages 2-6)
FICTION: We accept full manuscripts of 600-800 words. The tone of the stories should be fun and engaging. Stories should hook readers right from the get-go and pull them through the story. Humor is very important! Dialogue should be witty instead of just furthering the plot. The story should convey some kind of positive message. Possible themes could include self-reliance, being kind to others, appreciating other cultures, and so on. There are a million positive messages, so get creative! Kids can see preachy coming from a mile away, though, so please focus on telling a good story over teaching a lesson. The message—if there is one—should come organically from the story and not feel tacked on.

NONFICTION: We accept nonfiction manuscripts of 700 words or less. We are especially interested in features or Q&As with regular kids (or groups of kids) in the Jack and Jill age group who are engaged in unusual, challenging, or interesting activities. No celebrity pieces please.

POETRY: We accept poems of up to 30 lines. Poems should include unique topics that appeal to kids like sports, pets, friendship, seasonal activities, vacations, and school activities.

PUZZLES, ACTIVITIES& GAMES: In general, we prefer to use in-house generated material for this category but on occasion we do receive unique and fun puzzles, games or activities through submissions. Please make sure you are submitting a truly unique activity for our consideration.

Submission guidelines at



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