“It is one of man’s curious idiosyncrasies to create difficulties for the pleasure of resolving them.”
-Joseph de Maistre
When I first set out on a venture to publish a children’s book, honestly?
I thought it couldn’t be that hard.
The part about finding a publisher and finishing your work? Yes. But the actual creation of a picture book? Natural creative talent and basic knowledge of construction should be enough, right?
So. Very. Wrong.
There is like, a whole other world, here. After attending a talk by a local children’s chapter book author, I realized that picture books have to follow a tried-and-true structure if they have hopes of being successful. It wasn’t just the necessity of an absolutely brilliant and beautiful story (ahem), but there are elements that are key:
If a story is too long, you likely lose the kid’s interest (they hold pretty fast to a 500 words-or-less rule).
There is a pretty consistent positive reaction to the “Magic 3” (a concept I have been trying to impart on Lucy, since she thinks things are funny when repeated umpteen-million times).
Not likely that you are able to come in brand new with your own illustrator, nor illustrate yourself (this sucked, I had an incredibly talented young lady I had in mind). The publishers would like to use their own people, not be given your idea of what the book should look like. They should be able to imagine your words brought to life in their minds.
By the way? There is a definite difference between “artist” and “illustrator.” Illustrators tell stories within the stories. They unfold a backstory, display emotion, and develop character that words may not tell. . .makes you truly appreciate a really great illustrator. I told this to my mom, and she murmured, “Well, of course!” Like, duh.
On that tack: there is a real difference between “show” and “tell” when writing your story. Emphasis given to “show.”
One of the last things the author stressed to us about publishers:
“These are incredibly gifted, intelligent people who have been in the business for many, many years. They know what they are doing. They will breathe life into your book, and turn it into something greater than you ever thought it could have been.”
Now, I know that self-publishing is an option. But I’m not going to consider that route.
Maybe it’s because I want my work validated by these “incredibly gifted, intelligent” mavens of the business. Could be ego. Maybe it’s the idea of having to manage all the marketing, of putting forward my own money and crossing my fingers, and of door-knocking. Hmmmmm. . . Sounds an awful lot like Real Estate. Which I just left. Because it was a constant disappointment despite my hard work.
I’m not totally oblivious to the fact that by putting myself out there, it’s essentially putting myself in the same position. But by going with an expert with resources and contacts and experience already in place, I feel like it is more of a team effort. Go team.
I anticipate an uphill battle. There are countless talented people out there, all trying to get their voices heard. But I’m going forward, realizing that I still have a ton to learn but a whole lot to gain if i make it.
And hoping someday, someone will be learning from me.