WRITING CHILDREN’S PICTURE BOOKS
When I first started writing Children’s Picture Books, I thought it would be reasonably easy. After all, I had seven children and many a night I told them stories and kept them entertained before bed. Little did I know how wrong I was. It will take many hours, lots of hard work and a good imagination. I hope this blog will help you get started because the end product is well worth the effort. Just imagine the smile on a little five-year old’s face when you read the story to them, and show how they can be a hero and make people happy. With that in mind, I will now tell you how I constructed my stories for children.
The first thing I needed to do was determine the age bracket for which I wanted to make my stories. That was not easy. Do you write for the age bracket of 1 to 4 which would be Alphabet books, Animal books, books about babies, etc. Or, do you pick an age group of 4 to 8 or older. This age group is more interested in having their heroes go on adventures, learn about the world and explore not only the world around them, but also the world of your imagination. I chose the age group 4 to 8. Once I had picked this group, I had to choose a hero for my stories. In my first book, I decided to make my hero a young boy in the same age group as the group I was writing for. I also had to decide what he would look like. I visited book stores and libraries and looked through many books to see what other authors had done when picking their heroes. After many hours and many trips, to the stores and libraries, I determined that I wanted my hero to look as realistic as possible. Now, since I am not an illustrator/artist, I had to find a person who would illustrate my books and also who was affordable. So, I went to the Internet. I looked up illustrators. I found quite a few, but all were too expensive. Then I heard about a website called “www.fiverr.com”. I looked up illustrators and graphic artists and found page after page of samples of their work. I spent weeks going through this site and after looking at almost 1000 illustrators’ drawings, I finally found one I thought could do the job I wanted. My illustrator is located in the Philippines.
I then had to explain to him what I wanted my hero to look like and also give my hero a name. Prior to all of this work, I had already written my story. I now had to determine what I wanted my cover to look like and what my hero should look like. Since I have 22 grandchildren, I thought it would be a good idea to have my hero look like one of them. I looked through some old pictures and found several, of my oldest grandson when he was between the age of 3 and 5. I chose several pictures of him and sent them to my illustrator. My grandson’s name is Sam. Thus, the name of my hero became Sam. When I sent my illustrator the pictures, I also indicated what I would like on the cover (the title, Sam walking down a path, etc.). My illustrator was a little different in that he did not want to see my story before he did any of the illustrations. All he needed was a list of illustrations and what I wanted on them. In another blog, I will give some samples of what I sent him. Below you will see the results of how the illustrator interpreted the photos and the final results of the cover. I was very pleased with the cover.
I can go into a lot more detail about what I had to do to negotiate price for each illustration, but I will leave that for another blog. Just let me say it was interesting and beneficial for both the illustrator and me. After I got all of the illustrations completed, I had to lay the book out and send it to the publishing company. I will cover what it took to layout the book and get it published in my next blog. It was a very interesting experience since the publishing company I chose did not have a template for children’s picture books. I now have one for all of the books I have produced. Because of the problems my wife and I have encountered in getting our books published, we have created a Publishing Company (COT Publishing.com) to help other authors get their books formatted and printed. I hope this blog has helped you aspiring authors of children’s picture books in looking at and thinking about what it takes to put a book together. It’s a lot of work but the end result is always well worth it. I have enjoyed my story time with the little kids and as I said in the beginning of this blog, “There is nothing like the smile on a little five-year old child’s face as you read them your story.”
One last thing. In February, we are having a Writers Conference called “Pathways to Independent Publishing.” We hope you can attend. Please go to our website, coastalauthorsnetwork.com and sign up for a great time and fantastic education.