Fresno, California area SCBWI members enjoyed an evening this week gleaning inspiration AND information from our own successful local girl – Joan Schoettler. Joan is the author of Good Fortune in a Wrapping Cloth, for which she received the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature as the best picture book of 2013.
Most of those in attendance were new to the world of picture book publishing. Others came seeking fresh ideas and encouragement. None of us were disappointed. We could not help but catch Joan’s love and enthusiasm for planting stories into the hearts of children. She presented succinct and practical ways to get started as novices or even as veteran writers, to press on through our own personal writing journeys.
Joan’s Nuts and Bolts
1. Know your genre. Learn the different categories and discover what type of story you are interested in telling.
2. Get educated about picture book structure. Thirty-two pages, word counts, illustrations, end pages, publisher information, title page, author notes – how do you fit it all in?
3. Sharpen your writing process skills. Brainstorm. Write drafts and drafts and more drafts. Revise, edit, revise, edit, revise and edit again.
4. Know your audience. Read, Read, Read! Listen to kids; observe them in action. Find out their likes and dislikes. Respect them. Appreciate their intelligence.
5. Research publishing guidelines. Decide if you will go the traditional route or if you will try avenues of self-publishing. Perfect your cover letters and queries. Reel them in with an intriguing “hook.”
6. Join a critique group. Dare to put your heart and soul out there for others to read and to give you honest feedback. Trust them.
7. Keep your writing time a sacred priority. None of the above will matter if you do not write the story!
And lastly -
Rejections happen. Use them as wallpaper and keep going!