This past weekend I attended a talk by picture book author, Dev Petty, at my local SCBWI chapter meeting. Dev is the author of I Don’t Want to Be a Frog and I Don’t Want to be Big. As promised in my last post, here is a list of questions that Dev asks herself before sending her picture books to agents.
- What are my goals?
- Have I read current and popular picture books?
- If so, what have I learned about current popular flow, rhythm, and style?
- Have I considered writing in different tenses, points of view, and formats?
- Have I considered deeper options, metaphors, and ideas?
- What is the most interesting way I can turn my idea into a story?
- Does my story have a strong beginning and a satisfying ending?
- Does my story have an original voice?
- Did I leave room for the illustrator?
- Did I consider action on the page?
- Did I leave room for the reader to participate with the text/images?
- Do I get quickly into the action and story problem?
- Did I read it out loud? Many times? To different audiences?
- Is my story too long? (More than 900 words for a picture book)
- Is it rhyming? If so will that hinder my chances of getting published? Dev made a good point about the fact that rhyming texts are harder to edit for publishers. She also shared that agents/publishers tend to be more enthusiastic about signing picture books with prose than with rhyme.
- Is more than one beta reader telling me the same thing?
- Can I remove anything that isn’t adding to the story?
- Do I have a handful of other stories to show agents should the request them? (More on this question in my next post)
- Does my query letter voice reflect my writing voice?
- Do I have a social media presence?
So there you have it, the thought process of a published, successful picture book writer. I fully intend to ask myself all of these questions before sending manuscripts out in the future. Hopefully they’ll work for me (and for you!) like they worked for Dev.
Much love and keep writing.