Creating a children’s picture book may seem easy – just pictures and words, right? However, creating a well-crafted storybook that is interesting, imaginative and fun is not the easiest task.
Have a look at these 7 tips for creating your amazing illustrated children’s book:
- Take the time to explore what’s out there – what peaks your interest, how do other authors round out their successful stories. This will help you develop a sense of what your story focus and flow should be.
- Consider the best length for your book – generally books published by authors of illustrated books that we work with find 32 pages works well. Majority of picture books are under 1,000 words and many are 250 to 750 words. Have a look at some of your favourites that have stood the test of time and be guided by what works. Also keep an eye out for our upcoming post on reading levels (or sign up for monthly news with links to articles).
- Be inventive – While having a look at what’s working for books past and present is a good start, coming up with a fresh perspective or new idea is a better way to stand out more. If you are writing about a well-covered topic then you are competing against more books, many of which may be the stars for that topic already.
- Write short but smart – short amount of text, short words, short sentences that is. Readability is based on lengths of words, phrases, sentences. This doesn’t mean you want to over simplify, children are smart. So write smart, keeping in mind the age/grade level of your readers.
- Don’t force it – Have you ever read a silly story that was silly because something had to rhyme and the author just couldn’t find the right word. Rhyming is difficult to do well and, in fact, there is no particular reason to rhyme as long as you have a good readable rhythm to your story. Read out loud and see how it flows, adjust where you get caught up in the words and/or it seems to stop the ebb and flow of reading.
- Illustrations lift up your story – They are not simply meant as an aside. For children’s picture books, illustrations should help move the story along, convey things that words maybe can’t, stimulate the mind. If you remember some companies conveying their how-to instructions in images only and how difficult some were to follow, you’ll see how pictures can sometime not be an asset. Also, make sure your illustrations are professional. An experienced illustrator will add value in suggesting imagery that will lift up your story and also make sure you have the proper files for print and online optimum production.
- Test and don’t be discouraged – The way an author reads their story and sees it might be different than their audience. The audience means kids and so you really should, once you have a sample book put together, have it read to your audience. Perhaps ask teachers or librarians to read to their class or community group (practicing safety protocols, of course), and sit back and observe. See what is working and what is falling flat. Whether you make a few minor tweaks or reconsider some part of your story, with feedback it will only improve. Don’t be discouraged, like anything worth doing well, it takes time and practice.
What tips have you found helpful in the past?