The ins and outs of poems for childrens picture books

This topic came up in a forum recently so this is my experience.

I once wrote a poem as a picture book, I  did my own illustrations (I am an artist of sorts) and in the past some authors could be lucky and combine the two. But is is very unlikely unless you know the ropes, are known to a publisher and/or are a genius which I am not!

 Ann Perrin slide (280) DSCF0689 DSCF0724-002  DSCF9830 DSCF0841

Illustration is an art and each illustrator has their own style. The  pictures are intended not just to illustrate the story but add extra life, they sometimes add  little additions or quirks that make it more fun.

My booEPSON MFP imageEPSON MFP imagek jumped through a lot of hoops with Oxford University Press which took several months and they even seriously considered my preliminary illustrations. The two  here are with the text added later.. In the end they wanted an illustrator of their own but by the time I agreed the person I was dealing with had left! 

The moral of this story is to keep up to date, know the business, research current children’s picture books, not necessarily the ones you or your children once liked. 

Make sure you understand the format  even if you won’t be illustrating it because you need a certain number of pages, a double DSCF1620-001center page spread.

Picture books are expensive to produce and in rhyme format less likely to sell abroad due to translation problems, this is a big consideration for many publishers.

Self publishing If you self publish things in colour even with Lulu the copies will be really expensive, I did this with a  collection of poems but it was for family and friends. You could as I did later, do the collection with b/w drawings which did sell and still does!

Diversify You could  also  use a colour illustrations and use the poem as a card. You could try and make it into a film and put it on youtube one of mine is called  ‘The old dry stone wall’

Some publishers may be interested in a children’s prose poem but be warned they have there own in house illustrators. 

This is a jumble of sketches in different media. I have used two of them for my poems can you guess which ones? I love drawing, painting etc. so can’t give up even if it never goes anywhere!

tpastel sketch of cottage 1-P1030197-001 1-P1020169 1-P1000515 Ann Perrin slide (570)  WEAVING SPELLS ALTERNATIVE (2)-1

Other options A friend of mine makes gorgeous books for friends and her grandchild with handmade paper using various mediums to illustrate them.   She binds them in different ways using raffia.

My mother made  books for my children using ordinary scrap books.   She recorded their adventures in bold felt pen, often with rhythm but not in rhyme. She pasted in tickets, cut out pictures, the children’s own drawings, feathers and bit and bobs collected during the course of that particular day. The children loved them, the reminder of the trip, the  family featured in their own book and because they knew the story it helped their reading skills.

Writing and art is for many of us is simply a pleasure. (the answer to the sketches was 4 and 6)

The old dry stone wall on youtube


This entry was posted in Brighton - out and about, Cheer yourself up on a dull day, Creative writing courses - mainly Arvon, Photography, Poetry - Creative Writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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