SCBWI's Blueboard - A Message & Chat Board

Word Count for Picture Books

Discussion started on

New Poster
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region epa
My picture book geared to the pre-K to 1st graders is just over 900 words. I see a lot of people saying that current guidelines  are no more than 500 words. I can keep it to 32 pages. I really don't see a way to break it into chapters.

May I have your opinion / experience with current picture book word counts?

Thank you!
#1 - April 03, 2020, 03:03 PM

Reader, Writer, Teacher, Wife & Mother
Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region carolinas
Short and sweet sells--500 or less is correct. You'll be amazed at how much you can cut if you decide to focus on the bare bones and leave room for the illustrator to bring his or her own interpretation. All the best as you prune your story.
#2 - April 03, 2020, 04:53 PM
Little Thief! Max & Midnight, Bound, Ten Easter Eggs & 100+ bks/mags
https://vijayabodach.blogspot.com https://bodachbooks.blogspot.com

Children's writer
Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region australiaeastnz
I have found it useful to read a few recent picture books (there are many being read aloud, free on line at the moment), and then read my own manuscript. Suddenly all the extra words and superfluous descriptions leap out at me.
 
#3 - April 03, 2020, 05:10 PM
Odd Bods: The World's Unusual Animals - Millbrook Press 2021
Coming up: CSIRO Publications, Australia

www.juliemurphybooks.com

Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region longislandny
Have you had anyone critique the manuscript? You can find crit partners or post for a critique on the Blueboard. Often a second set of eyes can see where you have too many words.

Here are tips: Cut any detail that is visual. (Color words, for example.) Cut any word that hints toward feeling. (The wind whooshed instead of he heard the wind.) You need to show emotion and sensory detail but not visual ones. Cut adjectives and adverbs. Use stronger nouns and verbs. (She spoke quietly becomes she whispered.) Watch for places where you tell an action an then show it happening.

Those are all classic thinks we all have done and have to learn not to do, unless the story really needs them.

Set a goal to cut 200 words and see what happens. Good luck.
#4 - April 03, 2020, 06:19 PM
Website: http://www.debbievilardi.com/
Twitter: @dvilardi1

Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region easternny
That is all great advice. I spend most of my writing life chopping. That said, I recently got an offer an a picture book that was over 1,000 words, one I rarely sent out because I feared its length would kill it before anyone read it.
#5 - April 06, 2020, 11:40 AM

New Poster
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region epa
I so appreciate all the guidance here! I'm truly grateful for the advice.

I'm going to work on two versions of the book, a picture book with no more than 500 words and an early reader level 2 with more of the text intact.

If you think of anything else that would be helpful, please do let me know!
#6 - April 06, 2020, 01:17 PM

Reader, Writer, Teacher, Wife & Mother
Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region carolinas
:yay BonnieJoy!!! Yes, I do so adore some of the longer PBs. Please be sure to tell us when it comes out so that we can celebrate with you.
#7 - April 06, 2020, 01:20 PM
Little Thief! Max & Midnight, Bound, Ten Easter Eggs & 100+ bks/mags
https://vijayabodach.blogspot.com https://bodachbooks.blogspot.com

New Poster
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region epa
I agree with Vijaya, BonnieJoy!
#8 - April 06, 2020, 01:52 PM

Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region easternny
Thank you, Vijaya! It’s not time to celebrate because after working out terms, it seems contracts are on hold while the world is in turmoil. I’m only cautiously optimistic because a different PB manuscript (of a more acceptable length) got this far just when the recession suddenly and ruthlessly hit the publishing industry. We were all put on hold, but none of that batch ever went forward. But thank you anyway--I guess I’m celebrating having my work affirmed and that there are publishers out there who value story more than parameters, and of course celebrating the support of the Blueboarder community. By the way, I’m totally engrossed in a book you recommended somewhere on this site: A Suitable Boy. Talk about length! It took me forever to work up the courage to open it. I’m finally on page 1,200 and something, but I meant to thank you for a good recommendation.
#9 - April 06, 2020, 02:06 PM

Reader, Writer, Teacher, Wife & Mother
Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region carolinas
BonnieJoy, I hear you! I've had stories fall through at every stage of the contracts...and it's heartbreaking. I'm so glad you are sharing some of this joy here. And that's so great you're reading Suitable Boy! One of my favorites. He has another book I love--An Equal Music. Read about it here: https://vijayabodach.blogspot.com/2019/03/reading-writing-singing.html 

Crossing everything for a suitable outcome for you, BonnieJoy!
#10 - April 06, 2020, 02:59 PM
Little Thief! Max & Midnight, Bound, Ten Easter Eggs & 100+ bks/mags
https://vijayabodach.blogspot.com https://bodachbooks.blogspot.com

Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region easternny
Aw, thanks! Intriguing Seth book description. In case it's like A Suitable Boy, I'll start pumping iron so I can lift it.
#11 - April 07, 2020, 11:41 AM

Members:

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.