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Word counts, and examples of contemporary longer picture books

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Hello!  New to SCBWI boards.  I have been perusing the messages and see many questions about word counts, and have yet another to add. 

I am writing a high-concept picture book that will feature pop-up pages that are illustration-driven but text-heavy.  I plan to practice brevity and trim, trim, trim, but I fear that there is no way my word count will be under 500.  I realize that rules can be broken (and hoping that rule-breaking manuscripts can be published), so I am wondering a few things:

1.  Are there some contemporary examples of picture books that are successful in exceeding the 500 word standard? 
2.  When pitching in the future, is it possible/advisable to break my word count into narrative + pop-up text?   I am afraid of scaring away any chance at an agent simply with the word count. 
3.  Are there any suggestions for publishers/agents who may be more open to books with unconventional formats that are on the longer side?  I believe in my story and that it has a home somewhere. 

Many thanks in advance for any insight and advice!
Amelia
#1 - February 07, 2021, 08:06 PM

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Amelia, yes, longer books exist. Make sure the text contains only the words you need and not a word more. For 2 and 3, look for similar books in the book store and see who publishes them. You might find guidelines. These novelty books are sometimes produced or commissioned in house. You can also Google novelty books and books with paper engineering and see what comes up. I wish I could help more, but it's not an area I'm super familiar with. I'm not even sure you need an agent for these kinds of books. Good luck.
#2 - February 07, 2021, 08:34 PM
Website: http://www.debbievilardi.com/
Twitter: @dvilardi1

Thank you, Debbie!  Just the affirmation that longer picture books still exist helps me to persevere as I work through assembling my first draft!  I appreciate the tip of looking for "novelty books," I hadn't thought of phrasing it that way.  I've been using the curbside pickup at my local library (the only bookstore in our tiny town is closed for browsing!) and will see what examples are available there for my next large check-out order.  The librarians seemed to be amused with my last pick-up of 2 plastic bags full of children's books, so perhaps next time I will ask for their suggestions as well! 
#3 - February 08, 2021, 09:59 AM

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Amelia, novelty books--and yes, that's what these are called--tend to be very tightly written. They have to be because there's not much space for text given the constraints of paper engineering. That said, I have a couple of books by Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhard team on Dinosaurs and America the Beautiful that have pop up booklet within with more text. Salina Yoon has quite a few novelties (not wordy). So do take a look at these authors. I had visualized my own novelty Ten Easter Eggs with pop-up chicks from Robert Sabuda but I always submitted the text as a PB. So you can imagine my joy when it was picked up and the editor saw it as a novelty (plastic eggs and flocked chicks). I don't have an agent but I suspect that an agent who reps PBs will also rep novelties. Best of luck!
#4 - February 08, 2021, 11:23 AM
Little Thief! Max & Midnight, Bound, Ten Easter Eggs & 100+ bks/mags
https://vijayabodach.blogspot.com https://bodachbooks.blogspot.com

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I don't have an agent but I suspect that an agent who reps PBs will also rep novelties. Best of luck!

My understanding is that many don't because these are often sold in the mass market stores rather than the trade stores. Of course, that is partially because many novelty books are based on licensed characters.

It may be a good idea to submit as a regular picture book as Vijaya did. The novelty decision is often made in house at the trade publishing houses. This is because they are more expensive to produce. But there are specific publishers who only do novelty books. Good luck scoping them out. (Mass market retailers may be a good research spot too---these include Target and some grocery stores and the like.)
#5 - February 08, 2021, 06:07 PM
Website: http://www.debbievilardi.com/
Twitter: @dvilardi1

Thank you for the book recommendations, Vijaya!  Wow - the paper engineering on those stories looks incredible!  The dinosaur book looks like it is on the wordier side, so I will track that down for starters.  The pop ups for my story would be much simpler and sporadically spaced throughout the book, but good to know what is out there.  My daughter (2 years old) loves "Penguin & Pinecone" by Salina Yoon, so I am excited to see you recommend her and we will both look forward to reading some of her other stories!  :)  Very cool to hear how your story made its way to such a fun and unique format! 

Debbie, that does sound like a good idea to submit as a regular picture book; I will plan for that.  I would not have thought about checking out larger stores, but that is a creative solution!   Thank you both for fuel for the fire - I have already learned a lot from your insights and the research tips! 
#6 - February 08, 2021, 07:48 PM

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