So far this year I have read 500 picture books.
All of these books were published in the last 5 years. I’ve also read dozens of older picture books, and 20 or so middle grade novels, but my goal this year was to focus on the recent batch of picture books.
I wanted to see what the trends and styles are in the market today. Although I have many take-aways from reading all of these books I’ll just mention the highlights.
Same or different people as Author and Illustrator:
- Separate author and illustrator: 58%
- Author/illustrators: 42%
- Wordless – 3%
- Under 100 – 10%
- Under 500 – 60%
- Over 800 – 25%
- Over 1000 – 18%
- Animals: 29%
- Humans: 59%
- Creatures: 6%
- Inanimate: 5%
- Male: 68%
- Female: 32%
- Asian: 5%
- Black: 11%
- Hispanic: 4%
- White: 76%
- Not sure: 4%
- Fiction: 83%
- Non-fiction: 13%
- Both: 4%
- Rhyming: 15%
- Non-rhyme: 84%
- Both: 1%
For those of you who are interested, my 500th book was THE SNATCHABOOK by Helen Docherty and Thomas Docherty. I really enjoyed it. Great rhyme. Fun story, Great art. It reminded me a bit of one of my stories.
I have been working on an idea for quite some time now. By “working on” I mean that I thought of an idea for a story months ago but haven’t gotten around to writing it until now.
It was just a phrase I heard someone say. I didn’t know what to do with it, so I just added it to the list of many other ideas that I don’t know what to do with.
Two months ago was National Picture Book Writing Week or NaPiBoWriWee. The goal of NaPiBoWriWee is to write a new first draft of a picture book everyday for a week. By the end of the week you have 7 new first drafts to play with. I did OK. I wrote 5 new first drafts during the week. One of them was using the phrase I wrote of above.
I knew at the time it wasn’t very good, so I never went back to read it. Then this week I felt the need to re-explore the idea. I came up with two versions of how the story should go. Normally I would have brainstormed until I had what I thought was the best idea and then wrote that. This time I wrote both.
Now I have 3 stories based on the same idea. What I discovered is it is so much easier to decide which direction to go when you have something real. Three rough manuscripts instead of just three ideas. Now I can really see what works and what doesn’t. I can read them. See how they flow. Feel them on the tongue.
This method takes a lot longer, but I think in the end makes my decisions much clearer. What to use, what not to use, what to combine – I can see it right in front of me.
Now a little tweaking and it’s off to the critique group.