I'll admit when I first starting to write picture books I didn't approach it as I did when writing my non-fiction books. That is to say I didn't see my stories as a product that had to fit in a competitive market. However when I finally experienced that light bulb moment I quickly placed my first picture book, A Book For Bramble.
I started to research the market. I visited the local library and spent hours looking at picture books. As I read I took notes. I then visited the local bookstore and repeated the exercise (slightly more discreetly) to discover if there were differences between what was being published and what had been published (the books in the library). Armed with these notes I returned home and tried to discover if I could see patterns in subject matter, in the way subjects were covered, in the way sentences were constructed.
- Humour appears to play an important part in many books
- Tools such as repetition are used to help move the story along
- The magic number three appears in many books for example in The Gruffalo you'll discover 'three' hidden all over the place
Today I still continue to research the market and read picture books as often as I can. The receptionists at my dentist, doctor, optician and vets are used to seeing me rummage in the stock of picture books they provide to keep kids entertained. The assistants in the library and bookstore now take no notice as I read their picture books. Family and friends watch in amusement as I encourage their children to show me the latest addition to their bookshelf. Without this research I'd not be able to keep up-to-date with a changing market.
So if a new writer (of any genre) wants to become published my advice is research, research, research.
I have three new distance learning courses commencing in September via Women On Writing: