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a few questions about board books

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Hello BlueBoard Buddies :)

I have a few ideas for board books, and I'll admit I don't know a lot about them. I've tried doing an internet search, and also searching the Verla Kay board and I'm not finding answers to my questions. I hope it is okay to ask, I thought Picture Books was the best section to put this. :)

How many pages does the "average" board book have? Is it like a picture book with 28?

I think some of the board books are assigned to writers and/or illustrators, done "in house" or work for hire. So you don't pick the topic or title I guess. But are there some that are published with the original idea proposed by the writer and/or illustrator?

I've heard that some publishers prefer to have board books done by someone who can both write and illustrate. Can you just write, or just illustrate and do board books?

Is there any way to find markets for board books, that a BlueBoarder would suggest? I'm happy to look through CWIM, wondering if there are any other ways.

I thank you for your time, and look forward to your thoughts!

:) Abigail
#1 - March 10, 2012, 05:01 PM
Top Dog Series - Rosen Publishing, 12 x 12 in 2012, fiction & stories published Stories for Children, Under the Juniper Tree and Kids 'Magination

This from the incomparable Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books:
"Board books are not an area of great opportunity for writers. It's not just that board books are so often converted from an existing picture book; even the originals being made are either created by an illustrator or written in-house by a publisher. Writers and illustrators should both keep in mind that many more true picture books are published, and no matter how much they interest you, the way into board books may be through picture books."
#2 - March 10, 2012, 06:23 PM

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I totally second LeslieG and the CIG.

Board and novelty books are very expensive to create compared to how much they retail for, so there is a very small profit margin. For this reason, you will typically find books that are either extremely simple concept books or similar written in-house or by the artist (so they only have to pay one person, and that, usually very little compared to picture books), OR, board book versions of existing picture books (in other words, the SAME BOOK, just shrunk), OR "spin offs" of existing popular picture book characters (like OLIVIA COUNTS or CURIOUS GEORGE ABC kind of thing).

There are VERY FEW text-onlys bought specifically to be board books. In fact... I can't think of ANY. Every board book I can think of was either written by the artist or editor, or is a spin-off or shrunken version of an existing picture book property.

If you are an artist, and you have an awesome idea for a novelty book or set of novelty books, this is a possibility. OR if you are just a writer and you make a name for yourself (and your characters) in picture books, that's a possibility. Otherwise it's a tough one.
#3 - March 10, 2012, 07:22 PM
twitter: @literaticat
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Leslie, thanks for the quote from my book!

Here's a rather rough article I did on board books--a while back, but I think that what I say about them is still true:

Writing and Publishing Board Books

As it says in the article, a board book is a format, and if you think you want to write a board book, it's possible that you just want to write a young picture book--which the publisher could choose to publish in hardcover, paperback, or board.

So read up on the different kinds of picture books. Here's a good resource for that: A Family of Readers by Roger Sutton and Martha Parravano.
#4 - March 11, 2012, 06:47 AM
Harold Underdown

The Purple Crayon, a children's book editor's site: http://www.underdown.org/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/HUnderdown

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Thanks for starting this thread and the excellent info which followed !
#5 - March 11, 2012, 07:09 AM

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Harold, very interesting info in your articles and a different way to think about board books. I knew they were difficult to produce, and now I know more of the reasons why. Thanks for the information!!
#6 - March 11, 2012, 08:17 AM
Site - http://sruble.com
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You're welcome, Harold.  Thanks for the follow-up detail in the article--and for writing such a quote-worthy book! :)
#7 - March 11, 2012, 12:31 PM

Wow! :) Thank you LeslieG, literaticat and HaroldU, so much for explaining more about board books. It sounds like I should work on this board book idea, make it a younger picture book!

I am SO grateful for the BlueBoards, I always learn here. I'll admit I don't post often, lots of times someone else has asked the question I would have. But I very much appreciate all of the thought, wisdom and kindness that is here. Thank you everyone!!! :)

:) Abigail 
#8 - March 11, 2012, 04:11 PM
Top Dog Series - Rosen Publishing, 12 x 12 in 2012, fiction & stories published Stories for Children, Under the Juniper Tree and Kids 'Magination

My book THIS TREE, 1, 2, 3 is an abridged version of THIS TREE COUNTS!, and I altered the text for the board book format.
The board book version is similar to my PB in that the covers are similar, but it's definitely it's own book--and about 600 words shorter.
I admit, it was a lot of fun to rewrite my original PB for this format.

I agree with Harold's advice to write your story as a picture book for the very young and let the publisher decide the format.
#9 - March 11, 2012, 05:06 PM
THESE THINGS COUNT! award-winning nature series Albert Whitman
TWIGS (YA)  Merit Press
www.alisonashleyformento.com

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That's an interesting example, Alison--sometimes the text and illustrations are altered for board book publication, and sometimes they aren't....
#10 - March 11, 2012, 05:41 PM
Harold Underdown

The Purple Crayon, a children's book editor's site: http://www.underdown.org/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/HUnderdown

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Interesting information about board books. Thanks! And Harold, I liked the article, "Writing & Publishing Board Books." I learned some new things!
#11 - March 14, 2012, 04:35 AM
Seasons of the Asian Pear Tree, Schoolwide Fall 2015
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My TOO books with Bloomsbury are all being produced in board book format. One is already out and the other two come out in the next two years. They have the same illustrations and text and number of pages. I think the key is to write something for the VERY young and submit. Then the editors, sales and marketing staff decide what to do with it.
Jean
#12 - March 14, 2012, 12:08 PM
Jean Reidy
Coming soon: Pup 681, Truman, When the Snow is Deeper Than My Boots Are Tall, Group Hug , Specs and Specs II.
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