Story by Rebecca Sheraton
A picture book is a timeless classic. Readers remember picture books they loved as children. Their beauty is often in their simplicity and the joy of being shared by readers of all ages. Picture books look deceptively easy to write, but they are not.
Karen Tayleur, author and editor at The Five Mile Press, unlocked the ingredients to publishing a picture book. And there are many. Karen used funny cartoons to add a dash of humour to her presentation.
Some of the magical ingredients include:
- A good idea
- A pinch of good luck
- Strong voice
- Characters and situations readers care about
- Believable dialogue
- Solid narrative arc
- An opportunity for the reader to grow and learn something without being message driven. The story must come first.
That’s quite a list. Then it has to make it through the slush pile. Karen detailed the entire process of getting a book to print.
Karen noted that it is important to think outside the box on your subject matter or come up with a unique spin on recurring themes like grandparents or the death of a pet. Humour is always a winner, but it must be natural to the author, not forced.
Karen emphasised the need to target the correct publisher. It is also important to list your contact details on each page of the manuscript with your name, book title and page numbers. In your one-page cover letter include comparative titles and any qualifications you have that link to the topic.
In the publishing world, authors and illustrators need to be their own promoter. You need a website with a blog, that should contain teaching materials and relevant social media handles like Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Pinterest and Instagram. Be careful what you post, as people watch you online. Your social media profiles have two audiences: 1) people in the industry, 2) community of readers and schools. These are two very different audiences to reach.
One final tip! Karen spoke of the need for authors and illustrators to network. It is how you get into the industry.
Thanks Karen for sharing your industry secrets.
Karen Tayleur is the Editorial Manager at The Five Mile Press and previously at Black Dog Books. Karen is the author of 6, Hostage, Chasing Boys, the David Mortimore Baxter series and other titles. Find out more about Karen on her website karentayler.com
Rebecca Sheraton is a children’s writer and primary school teacher. rebeccasheraton.com