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What do picture book editors want (lately)?

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I would add "young" to the list. I keep hearing that editors want picture books targeted at younger readers. This is one of the reasons they prefer a short word count and the use of refrains, etc.

Also, opportunities for audience participation and vibrant language.

Did anyone say "page turns" yet?

Finally, I think multicultural viewpoints seem to be highly desirable.
#31 - October 12, 2011, 05:22 AM
NED THE KNITTING PIRATE, GRIMELDA series,
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Thought I'd revive this thread.  Anybody hearing anything they'd like to share?
#32 - May 16, 2012, 03:12 PM
www.ellenjackson.net
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OCTOPUSES ONE TO TEN
THE MYSTERIOUS UNIVERSE
THE BALLAD OF BOOSTER BOGG
BEASTLY BABIES
TOOLING AROUND

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While I've heard all the same things and think this is all useful conversation, I'd also caution that following this list of guidelines would lead us to a world where picture books are pretty similar.  I wrote a picture book a few years back that I loved, but I knew it broke every rule in the book. It was short, yes, but it was also quiet without a distinct Fancy-Nancy type character, and with no conflict or problem. I sent it to my agent (whose favorite saying is "There is always a market for awesome.")  She sold it, and OVER AND UNDER THE SNOW has not only won more awards than any of my other books but also sells the most copies, hands-down. And it's not alone - think WATER SINGS BLUE, or BLACKOUT or ME, JANE - none of these follow the list of rules, but they are lovely and they do what they do perfectly. And that is perhaps, the most important thing of all when it comes to picture books, I think. Your book doesn't have to do what all the other successful picture books do - but it does have to do what it does so beautifully that it's impossible not to imagine it as a real book on shelves.
#33 - May 19, 2012, 04:14 AM
www.katemessner.com

OVER AND UNDER THE SNOW, Chronicle
MARTY MCGUIRE
CAPTURE THE FLAG
HIDE AND SEEK -Scholastic '13
WAKE UP MISSING- Walker, Fall '13

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"There is always a market for awesome."

I love your agent's favorite saying!
#34 - May 19, 2012, 01:48 PM

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Thanks, Kate.  I've read your book OVER AND UNDER THE SNOW, and it's a very charming picture book. 

I'm not looking for rules.  But sometimes editors will specify a certain theme that they want, and while it might not be my thing -- it's always nice to toss it out for someone else.  For example, (I think I shared this earlier on this thread) several editors were asking for ghost stories a while back.  I don't do ghosts, but I'm sure some of you do. Another nonfiction editor wanted American Revolution stories.  Again, not for me -- but someone else might benefit.  If nothing else, sometimes these tossed out ideas trigger a related thought.

I have been hearing that the sweet spot is still between 300 and 500 words.   

#35 - May 21, 2012, 10:44 AM
« Last Edit: May 21, 2012, 11:50 AM by Betsy »
www.ellenjackson.net
PICKY EATERS
OCTOPUSES ONE TO TEN
THE MYSTERIOUS UNIVERSE
THE BALLAD OF BOOSTER BOGG
BEASTLY BABIES
TOOLING AROUND

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Kate,
Thank you for sharing your experience. I love that.  :hearts
#36 - May 21, 2012, 11:42 AM

A definite plot arc with tension and resolution.
(Did someone say that already?)
#37 - May 21, 2012, 12:49 PM
CITY STREET BEAT (2014)
LOOK WHAT I CAN DO! (2013)
STORM SONG (2013)
SAMANTHA HANSEN HAS ROCKS IN HER HEAD (2008)

'Twas then that Fred the Frigidaire avowed
that verdant foes no more his drawer should crowd.
#38 - May 21, 2012, 01:15 PM

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Wow, you had better be careful, Jaina. You might be plagiarized if you put such gems on the net for all to see! :  )
#39 - May 21, 2012, 03:08 PM
I've Got Eyes! - Amicus Ink (August 2018)

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Loved your post, Kate!  Thanks for sharing your thoughts! :)
#40 - May 21, 2012, 03:14 PM
AN EYEBALL IN MY GARDEN, Marshall Cavendish Children's Books
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Two things I've heard lately are strong characters and books for younger PB age children.
#41 - May 21, 2012, 07:08 PM
Site - http://sruble.com
Twitter - http://twitter.com/StephanieRuble

picture book: EWE AND AYE (now available as an ebook!)

I keep hearing "strong characters" too.

--

Quote
'Twas then that Fred the Frigidaire avowed
that verdant foes no more his drawer should crowd.

 :dr Jaina, I can only offer one suggestion. Perhaps change "no more" to "nevermore". Then it would be perfect! I assume this couplet is the refrain?
#42 - May 21, 2012, 07:32 PM
NED THE KNITTING PIRATE, GRIMELDA series,
CITY SHAPES, DORIS THE BOOKASAURUS, ONE SNOWY DAY, PIZZA PIG, and more...
http://www.dianamurray.com

I was trying for iambic pentameter, but drawer is one syllable too many. "Draw'r" if you're Shakespeare, I guess.
#43 - May 22, 2012, 05:58 AM

Your meter is perfect. I was just trying to make a bad Poe reference. My suggestion actually throws the meter off.

Anyhow, I would certainly want to read more about Fred!
#44 - May 22, 2012, 06:12 AM
NED THE KNITTING PIRATE, GRIMELDA series,
CITY SHAPES, DORIS THE BOOKASAURUS, ONE SNOWY DAY, PIZZA PIG, and more...
http://www.dianamurray.com

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