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Picture Books in Today's Market -- by RL Brown

Today's picture book market is hugely different from the 80s or 90s.  The book market is more selective. Agents and editors have specific criteria for choosing a particular picture book. All of them would like to find the green book (one that makes money above the cost of publishing). Very few publishers like in the past take direct submissions from new authors. So now you have written a children's book, how do you get it published? It is process that requires perseverance and grit. 

The first step is to compare your book to what's currently written. RESEARCH! Go to your library and read. Read in your genre, then read books out of your genre. But read current books. Water is Water by Miranda Paul is a perfect example of a nonfiction narrative that varies vastly from the expository/factual nature of picture books in the past. Books like I Talk Like a River explore the world of a stutter and address personal issues that kids face beyond friendship or bullying. So, read and find your mentor texts. Know your craft before sending the query letter. Reading for Research Month is a great site:

The second step is just like the first step: RESEARCH. Editors and agents get so many manuscripts that if they are not near perfect, they toss them. It's like a resume filled with grammatical errors or false information, it is tossed immediately. Research your agent, editor, or publishers. Make sure they are open to submissions in your genre.  I once found an agent's name through an interview she did with Kidlit. Publisher's Weekly provides a wealth of information that could be useful. Query Tracker helps to keep us with agents and the agency that an agent is associated.  

Then, participate in a good critique group. Not an online, never see your face type but a Zoom group. It makes people accountable for what they say and why. A picture book must allow the reader to know what you are trying to say, not telling them what you think. For young readers, you are helping to develop their imagination. A mind free to think will imagine, reason, and then decide to act.

I have made every newbie mistake in the book by sending my manuscript out before it was ready. Take your time, learn the process, research, get your work ready, then submit. 


Posted by RL Brown 27 Jul 2021 at 03:09
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