I recently received an Apple Watch for my birthday, which I am loving. Not because it keeps me in touch with the digital world -- in fact, I've turned off notifications for most social media and have decided NOT to check Twitter or FB via my Watch. I mainly plan to use it for fitness tracking as well as tactile reminders (it taps me on the wrist if I sit in my office chair too long) to get up and move around every once in a while.
As I hunted around for a place to put the charger, I couldn't help but think how ironic it is that the so-called paperless office often turns into a wire-laden office instead. In my case, I have lots of paper AND wires!
And once again, I am out of bookshelf shelf. AUGH. Gradually converting my favourite print books to ebooks (by giving away the print books, buying the digital versions) to make more room.
Except for picture books, which I still strongly prefer in print.
WILL SOMEONE PLEASE INVENT A BOOKSHELF TARDIS?
So many people think that short = easy, especially when it comes to picture books.
And while yes, it's easy to crank out a picture book manuscript in terms of wordcount, writing a picture book story that a publisher will want to acquire is an entirely different animal.
At this point, I can imagine a number of you leaping up and saying, "You shouldn't worry about the market! Just write the story that you were meant to write!" I partly agree.
However, if your goal is to be published, then I strongly advise you to go to local children's bookstore and "new children's book" section of your library; I guarantee you will save yourself much heartache and wasted effort. Familiarise yourself with what's being published. Let yourself fall in love with some of these picture books and then ask yourself why you enjoy them so much.
A few common mistakes that new picture book writers make:
- Talking down to kids, using a style and language that comes across as awkward and lecture-y.
- Writing what is basically a short story rather than a picture book text. If you don't know the difference, you need to read more picture books.
- Assuming that a picture book story HAS to rhyme. Writing a good rhyming picture book is very difficult. Dont use rhyme as a crutch.
- Not reading their story out loud to make sure it IS fun to read out loud.
- Automatically writing in the style of picture books that they remember reading as a child.
Do you disagree with any of the above? Do you have anything to add? Feel free to share in the comments section.
And yes, I'm a font nerd. And here's my favorite Comic Sans song ever:
I do most of my reading on my iPad and my Kindle; it's easier for traveling, especially since I always have multiple books on the go and angst too much about which one to take with me.
However, I still strongly prefer print when it comes to picture books.
Anyone else purposely slow down near the end of a really, really good book?
Also see my previous Keiko comics.
Another comic from the archives. 'Tis the season, after all...
Thanks to Pamela Ross for letting me turning her caption into a comic.
Just one reason you should always keep a notebook handy -- you never know when inspiration will strike!
A reminder: before you worry too much about a promo/marketing plan for your yet-to-be-published book, make sure your book is as polished as you can possibly make it. No matter what the format, how gorgeous the cover, how well-promoted....you need to have a good story and strong characters.
Take the time to hone your craft.
Whether I'm working on my own writing (including the 250, 500 and 1000 Words/Day Challenge) or an illustration project, I find I'm able to better focus and be more productive if I can create a mental space in which I feel safe enough to do my best work.
Perhaps safe isn't the right word. I like Shaun Tan's "bubble of delusion" idea, which I first heard in his talk at an SCBWI Winter Conference a couple of years ago.
Sean's advice: Set up a safe space in which you feel positive about yourself and your work, and in which you know that you WILL do great work. Surround yourself with positive, encouraging people. Try to avoid negativity as much as possible. Sean says he steers clear of reading reviews of his work, for example.
Part of the way I do this is trying very hard to STAY OFFLINE when I'm doing creative work. Even dropping in on Twitter or FB for a few minutes can end up being an energy-sucking black hole, often making me question whether I'm doing enough (especially in terms of promotion, networking, working on my craft, etc.) or doing it -whatever "it" is- the Right Way.
What do YOU do to create your own Bubble Of Happy Delusion?