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PB series vs Chapter book

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Hi everyone!

I find myself in a conundrum.  I love PBs.  It’s a bit of an obsession.  Pouring through the pages of PBs at a bookstore by myself is my idea of a fun evening.  I am one of those people who often prefer the longer PBs that are out of fashion, but I know and appreciate the current shorter books as well. 

Chapter books on the other hand...  I know nothing about.  I haven’t read a single one since I was a child myself. 

But I have gotten feedback regarding 2 PB manuscripts that I should really consider turning them into chapter books.  One of them has a pretty simple storyline, and while it is just a tad long at 600 words, I feel like it fits well within PB format and perhaps could be turned into a PB series if the publisher likes.  The other book has a more complicated storyline which I am squishing into 715 words and definitely leaves the reader wanting more.  I can definitely see how a chapter book format would help me make this work without feeling constrained by current PB trends.

As I know nothing about chapter books, I did some Googling.  The impression I got was that chapter books are much harder to sell as many are produced in house or based on pre-existing characters, make less money, have to be sold as a full series, and will generally just be a hard route to go down.  But of course, that’s just Google.  I have no idea.

So I have some questions...
1. Any tips on how to decide PB with series potential vs chapter book?
2. Is one harder to publish or less lucrative than the other?
3. How should I go about learning to write chapter books?  Reading list suggestion?  Other resources?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Signed, a possible chapter book author in denial 😆
#1 - April 13, 2019, 12:05 PM

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Sarah, I think the best way to get a feel for CBs is to read a lot of them and judge your work, whether the stories would work better as CBs.
Here's a link to a bunch of them: https://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?topic=87924.msg1095856#msg1095856

Happy reading and writing, V

#2 - April 13, 2019, 02:24 PM
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Author of over 60 books and 60 magazine pieces

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Vijaya,

Thanks for the link!  Reading list is very helpful.
#3 - April 13, 2019, 03:19 PM

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Chapter books are for the same age group as traditional picture books, give or take (ages 5-9). Stand-alone chapter books are very rare. They do exist, but they are hard to find. So if your book doesn't have series potential, see if you can simplify the plot for the PB market. When you sell a chapter book, you query book one, but you need to have an outline for at least two more books in the series and ideas for others.

If a series takes off, they can be very lucrative. Consider how many Magic Tree House books there are. Mary Pope Osborne has it made. My teen reads every new one because the characters are like old friends. This is why series are so popular. That's how the age group thinks of the characters too.
#4 - April 13, 2019, 06:13 PM
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Hi Sarah, I turned a PB into a chapter book series, and while it's not easy, it was definitely a great writing challenge and I would have found it worthwhile even if I didn't sell the book. My advice is to look at the descriptions of current chapter books on the market - anything from contemporary and realistic ones (JASMINE TOGUCHI) to fantasy (PRINCESS PULVERIZER), etc. and see if any appeal to you - then get as many as you can from the library. Figure out what works with the books (character development, humor, page turns, etc.). There are less chapter books acquired than picture books, but it's a growing category and I've found it to be more lucrative. Good luck!
#5 - May 01, 2019, 07:06 AM

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Thank you everyone for the advice and insights.  Great to hear success stories are out there Ariel!
#6 - May 01, 2019, 02:33 PM

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