SCBWI's Blueboard - A Message & Chat Board

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I totally agree with everything that  Debbie Vilardi wrote about concept books and nonfiction.  I will also add that author/illustrators will have an easier time trying to find an agent and that concept books that are at the forefront of a trend do very well too.  For example, when STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) became all the rage, books that dealt with STEM-related topics were in high demand.  Libraries and schools couldn't get enough of them.  A prime example is the pedantic book "What  Do You Do with an Idea?" by Kobi Yamada.  That book, which has no plot but contains beautiful illustrations, became a New York Times bestseller.  As a side note, I might add that as much as libraries and schools adore that book, I have yet to meet a child who actually enjoyed it.
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I think these postmodern books are hard to pull off and may be hard to sell for a first time author, but I don't know about that last part. A fantastic and unique concept with a comp title like one you mentioned could be just the ticket.

There is a category of picture book called "concept books." These expose readers to a concept. For example, alphabet books and books that show the seasons passing may not have plots, but some do. They teach the concept of letters and sounds, etc.

Expository nonfiction also lacks a plot. Those are the books that explain a topic in great detail or show a variety of topics, like kids' encyclopedias. The book you mentioned about what kids eat around the world would likely be in this category. You can dip in anywhere and start reading rather than having to go front to back.

Concept books have to be truly unique to sell. Your ABC book is competing with every other ABC book in the marketplace including the classics. But new ones do seem to come out every year. The goal with these and expository works is to have a unique concept or topic and pull it off well. Also note that expository books also sell in the school and library markets. The other books may be geared toward the trade (bookstores).

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I was just gonna reply to my own topic with a little bit of context I found. It seems that many of the types of books I mentioned would fall into a category called "Postmodern Picture Books."

"Postmodern picture books are a specific genre of picture books. Characteristics of this unique type of book include non-linear narrative forms in storybooks, books that are "aware" of themselves as books and include self-referential elements, and what is known as metafiction."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postmodern_picture_book

Examples I've seen include some of the ones I've already mentioned, along with John Scieszka's The Stinky Cheese Man and the True Story of the Three Little Pigs. Voices in the Park by Anthony Browne. and Wolves by Emily Gravett.

I'd still be curious if anyone has any thoughts on these types of books. Obviously it would probably take a master to pull something like this off well, as I only see about a dozen picture books categorized across the internet into this subsection.

What do you think an agent would think if someone submitted a non-linear postmodern picture book? Would they be drooling about something like this *if done well*? Or do you think the vast majority of agents simply want what they know sells?
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Hey everyone,

First off I just wanted to say I'm new to these boards and this is my first post! I look forward to interacting with you all.

I was going to start by asking if any of you all have ever written a picture book that doesn't have a conventional "Once there was a cat named Mosy, Mosy got sad because she had no friends, then it all worked out in the end" type of plot? Better yet, has anyone tried to write a picture book that doesn't have a plot at all?

Some of my favorite picture books are ones that "buck the norm" and try something different, such as Press Here, The Monster at the End of This Book, The Book with No Pictures, etc. Even some classics like Goodnight Moon don't really have a "plot" per se. I've also seen a lot of really beautiful picture books that just sort of, give information, such as leading the reader through some beautiful natural areas or showing what different kids around the world eat for dinner and study at school.

It does seem that the vast majority of picture books are simple-plot-driven with a named main character and a simple problem to solve. Does this mean agents would gravitate highly toward those from new authors? Is it only proven industry veterans that can pull off unconventional, non-plot-driven picture books?

Thanks for any thoughts you're willing to share!
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When the text is in the body of an email (rather than an attached file), agents often want only basic formatting -- with no indents, single spaced paragraphs and double spaces between paragraphs.

You may want to research the agent a bit and see their preferences. They may list their "pet peeves" someplace.
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Picture Books (PB) / Re: Audio book question
« Last post by Debbie Vilardi on July 12, 2022, 06:32 PM »
If your book is self published, you can do what you want with it. If not, make sure you own audio rights and mention the project to your editor. They may have good advice. Decide on your goals also. Is this a tool for marketing the book or something you intend to sell on its own? It could be free with the book or sold as a separate download.
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Contests and Challenges / Re: Haunted States of America Contest
« Last post by samantha-cassetta on July 12, 2022, 01:12 PM »
 I know. It seems like a long time to me too, and it's sort of weird that after the flurry of activity in April it's been silent again, but I'm new to trade publishing and don't know if this is just what deadlines are like in this world. Given how long the first round took I'd let a little more time pass before submitting out. It's probably a little late for October magazine deadlines at this point, anyway. Maybe someone with more experience can offer advice on the etiquette of this situation?

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Picture Books (PB) / Re: Audio book question
« Last post by Vijaya on July 12, 2022, 09:14 AM »
It sounds like a great idea. If you're selling your book directly from your website, you can have several different formats: physical book, ebook, audiobook. I don't know whether you could upload it to Amazon and Draft2Digital--you'll have to check their terms of service. Good luck!
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Picture Books (PB) / Re: Audio book question
« Last post by Ev on July 11, 2022, 05:59 PM »
Sounds like a great idea! I'm sorry I don't have any knowledge or help to offer you.  I hope someone else will.
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