Writing a Picture Book/Part Three - Building Blocks | Lisa Michaels | Skillshare

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Writing a Picture Book/Part Three - Building Blocks

teacher avatar Lisa Michaels, Pro Freelance Illustrator/Author

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Intro Class 3


    • 2.

      Let's Talk


    • 3.

      Solid Ground


    • 4.

      Tools of the Trade


    • 5.

      Construction - Tools in Action


    • 6.

      You, the Architect


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About This Class

In this series, award-winning and published author/illustrator, Lisa J. Michaels, shares over 15 years of experience in children’s publishing. You’ll study her process for writing a children’s picture book that kids will love! Once you’ve completed the series, you’ll be well equipped to confidently submit your own book to traditional publishers or you can self-publish with relative ease. 

In this class, "Building Blocks", Lisa reveals the components you'll need to build a great picture book story. She'll also share some simple-to-use formulas that have helped today's successfully published children's book authors to create the stories that kids love and parents want to buy.

Meet Your Teacher

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Lisa Michaels

Pro Freelance Illustrator/Author


As a published, professional illustrator and author of children’s literature, I am always looking for projects that will not only challenge me, but further my very enjoyable career. If you've written an awesome children's book that you'd like to see illustrated and published, please contact me at wscribbles@att.net and we'll discuss the possibilities.

I create my book illustrations using Procreate on my I-pad pro with an Apple digital pen. You can visit my children's book portfolio at www.ljmichaels.weebly.com. There, you can examine many of the illustrations that I've created for the published books of previous authors/clients.




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Level: Beginner

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1. Intro Class 3: welcome to writing a picture book, Part three Building Blocks. I'm Lisa Michaels, and in this series I'm sharing important information about how you, too, can write a Children's picture book. Once it's written, you can decide if you want to self publish or try submitting it to a traditional publisher . There are pros and cons to both, but we'll discuss that once we've got a great story written and ready for publication. Hi, Welcome back. I hope that you've taken part one of my class creating characters that kids love. If you did, I'm sure you've got a great character ready to come alive in a story. Hopefully, you also took my second class gathering story ideas, where I shared my secrets story stalking strategy. We talked about time management, preparing her writings face and finding story ideas that fit your target audience. We also learned how to bank picture book ideas for stories in the future that we don't have time to right at this very moment, it ensures that those ideas will not be for gotten in this class. We'll discuss the components you'll need to build a great picture book story as well as formulas that are commonly used to put everything together in a way that makes your story appealing, enjoyable and satisfying for young. Readers will also discuss the correct way to prepare your manuscript for submissions. Before you can write an entire picture book from start to finish, you need a good foundation on which to begin the process. It's sort of like building a house. You are the architect of your own story. And like any good builder, you need a professionally designed plan. If you want professional results on a house that can weather any storm first, don't like to think about this. But when your book is published and it's out in the world, it will be subjected to the scrutiny of teachers, educators, parents, reviewers, etcetera. And they will be looking for flaws. So I'm doing my best to give you what you need to weatherproof your work. Just like an architect, you can build a great story if you have the right tools and you stick to the plan brick by brick, we will build on our stories foundation, adding windows that give us a look at our characters, personalities and doors that will invite our writers in make them feel welcome and encourage them to stick around for the big reveal. I'm not only a published author and illustrator, I'm the daughter of a talented architect, and my dad taught me that inside every house there's a great story. I want to help you tell yours. Join me as we begin construction on the manuscript that will soon be introduced into the world off picture books. 2. Let's Talk: I hope that you took my first class, and you've picked out a unique, appealing main character for your story that is appropriate for young readers. I'm also hoping that you have discovered a wonderful new story idea. You know, they say there's been a book written on just about every subject imaginable. I don't know about that. But if you've come up with a fresh way of looking at your subject, then you're off to a great start. I have one important question to ask you. Why are you writing a picture book? While the answer may be clear to most writers, not every answer is a good reason for writing Children's books. Here are some of the good and bad examples that I heard over the years. I love Children's books. They remind me of my childhood and make me feel young again. I want to share this love with others. I believe the Children's books are the best way to teach today's kids the life lessons that I learned as a child. I can't imagine not writing Children's books. It's my passion in life. Now that I'm retired, I finally have time to write. I feel that it will be easier and less time consuming to write a Children's book. Does that sound familiar? In my opinion, the only reason to write for Children is because you feel that you have something to share the Children. Love as much as you love the books that you read when you were young, think back to your most favorite picture book. Did you love it because it taught you a life lesson? In most cases, the answer is no. In fact, the best books teach us in such a subtle way that we aren't even aware that we're learning something. If your main objective is to teach a lesson, be careful. Preaching to Children is a surefire way to scare them off when they get the first. With of your intention, they'll be off searching for another book that's clearly written for their enjoyment. It's true that a lot of Children's book writers are retirees and stay home moms. Those that have had successful writing careers realized early on that ready for kids is not super simple, and it's gonna take some time if you want to publish your best work. The average picture book manuscript is revised. Dozens of times before it is considered to be ready for submissions. Typically, a Children's book writer spends their first few years learning their craft and writing very little that is suitable for submissions. There are rules for writing Children's literature, including targeting age groups were accounts for Maddie consideration of subject matter, etcetera. The rules are constantly changing, so you have to stay on top of it and be prepared to change with them. It's quite a challenge, but if you keep your eyes and ears open, you could do it. Discovered through my relationship with other professional authors that Children slipped. Writers have an unwritten code of conduct by entering into the profession. They vowed to help each other to learn and grow, never steal the ideas, were words of others and treat each other with kindness and professionalism at all times. Now that you know these things, I believe you're better prepared to enter into the world of picture books. So let's talk about a subject that makes me grown word count. About 15 years ago, publishers were accepting picture book manuscript of up to 1000 words. That's right, 1000 words. Anything over that was considered to be a picture story book, which nobody bought because the belief waas and still is. But today's kids don't have the attention span to sit through it so fast. Forward now to 2000 and 15 and the rules changed. Publishers decided that picture books should not need more than 500 words to tell the story . That's right. 500 words to tell an entire story from beginning to end. It made our jobs even harder. But for long winded writers like me, adapting to the new rule taught us to write tighter and make each and every word. Can't simply said, If a sentence isn't absolutely necessary or doesn't add something to the story, then it shouldn't be there. 500 words or less rules still applies today, but I've noticed that it is easing up a bit with some publishers. If you go over a little, send it in any way unless the guidelines specifically states 500 words or less. If your story is so great that it can't be ignored, you'll hear from them. Okay, so rejection. I wanted to touch on this subject before we start writing, because everyone, I don't care who you are or how talented you are, you will get rejected. Everyone does throughout their entire writing career. I could lie in my kitchen cabinets with the rejections that I have received over the years , and so could most of the professional writers that I know. So brace yourself, Get tough. Don't let it rattle you. There's several ways of looking at rejection. Here we go. It keeps you from putting substandard work out into the world. It gives you the opportunity to improve and grow. As a writer, it forces writers to follow submission guidelines and eliminates those who don't increasing your odds for acceptance. Rejection forces you to move on, becoming more prolific and writing news stories that may have a better chance for acceptance. Finally, it's very humbling. Let's be honest. Most writers think that their ideas are brilliant. Oh, come on, you know it's true. That's one of the reasons we write it down. Rejection from our peers forces us to reconsider how our thoughts are preceded by the world . Becoming a successful writer isn't only about talent. It's about following instructions and knowing your audience determination and perseverance and a willingness to listen and learn and a plethora of other things. I love learning, and it's a good thing because I'm always getting school lastly, and this should be encouraging to you. Rejections from publishers aren't always what you think they are. Consider the fact that most publishers received thousands of manuscripts per month, and because budget restraints they only published 2 to 3 books per year. That means that thousands of manuscripts are rejected, but not because they are good enough. The 2 to 3 chosen works may have been picked based on subject matter as well as quality. So if you're subject wasn't the one that they needed, your otherwise perfect manuscript would be rejected. Finding a publisher for your work hinges on your dedication to following the submission guidelines. Your determination to keep improving and submitting your work and luck being in the right place at the right time with the manuscript that they can't ignore. When you receive a rejection letter, look it over carefully read what it actually says. If you received a quick response, it's more likely that the manuscript was actually read and considered not thrown into a huge slush pile for some intern toe. Look over and learn from read between the lines. In this rejection letter, my actual name was typed in. They included the title of my work rare for a standard rejection. They also said that the manuscript doesn't feel quite right, which also means that they read it and had to think about it because it almost is right. They also seemed very encouraging, suggesting that it may be good enough to be eagerly accepted elsewhere. When you combine all those things, that means that the manuscript was good enough to make it to the desk of a decision maker. It was not flatly rejected. This is a good example of a good rejection letter. It's extremely positive in every way, except for the fact that I didn't actually get an offer to publish. If you receive a standard form letter, your manuscript probably didn't get very far. It could be that you didn't follow something in the submission guidelines. Maybe your cover letter didn't draw their attention. Whatever the reason, the editor most likely never saw your manuscript before it got scrapped. But if you're a rejection letter is addressed to you, contains comments about your work and has hand written comments from the editor. Congratulations. You are very, very close to being accepted. Do everything that the editor suggests and resubmit it as soon as possible unless they tell you otherwise or immediately fix the problems and then submitted elsewhere as you are on the verge of making your dream a reality. 3. Solid Ground: Now you know how to deal with rejections. You also know your workout limitations, and you know that every work you choose must be used to inform the reader or move your story forward. It's time to begin establishing the foundation for your story. Okay, so I know that a lot of you have probably written stories already. Some of you may have even published a story or two already, but let's just assume for now that you're a novice picture book, greater and you've never done this before. Novice book writers mistakenly start their stories with a lot of narration. They think that it's the only way to set the stage so that the reader knows exactly what's going on and understands the premise of the story. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Here's an example of how not to start your story. Otis knew that Eastern was coming. He sulked in the corner, thinking about how much he hated it. Just then, Sophie walked into the room and noticed his scowl. Wanting to make him feel better, she reached down and scratched behind his ears. His back foot twitched and he arched his back. It did make him feel a bit better. While it's true that we have established the very beginning of our story and set the premise, the reader knows very little about the main character. If you want to hook your readers from the very beginning, let your characters show us who they are through their words and their actions. Let's try again on Lee. This time our characters will speak Instead of the narrator, Otis was in a snick. Easter is coming. He's salt all once a matter as Sophie I Hey, Easter, thought Kotis. Before it's over, she'll have me dressed in fuzzy pink bunny ears. It's so embarrassing. Sophie scratched pine his ears. There you go, buddy. That should make it all better. His back foot kicked with delight. It did help. Almost everything she did made Otis feel blissfully happy. Okay, so instead of feeling like we've been told, the story by a narrator, our readers now here the character's voices and the story unfolds more naturally. This is known as showing instead of telling you, feel like more of participants like you were watching it as it happened. When your raider becomes engaged from the very beginning, you capture their imagination and hold their interest. It's like being a fly on the wall. And what kid doesn't like Teoh secrets? In this sample, the character's voices are in blue and green, making them stand out. Do you notice that when there's very little narration? Ah, lot more emotion is conveyed. Your reader can actually learn more about your characters when they are the ones doing the storytelling. Now that we can hear our characters voices, we begin to feel us. If we know them personally, we feel for Otis and understand his embarrassment. We could almost feel that you're scratching ourselves right. Eli's way now have no doubt that they love each other at least as much Just l always and I do. Okay, so let's now go through our checklist of building blocks. We've established our protagonist. That's Otis. He's our main character, so if he's a secondary character, we haven't antagonised. We haven't adversary. Well, that's Easter pretty easy. One. Otis does not want Easter to come. We've established their personalities, Otis, maybe in a snit, but we know that he really loves Sophie, and Sophie loves him. We've pretty easily set up the problem. The problem is Easter is coming and he's going to have to wear fuzzy Peak bunny ears. If he doesn't think up something quick setting we have left up to the illustrator, you should always leave room for the illustrators imagination. As for our final building block, possible solutions will be developing that as we go along, Stay tuned. Now it's your turn. Using what you just learned, I want you to give it a try. Let your characters out to play, give them voices and show your little readers who they are. Painting a clear picture with your words. Don't forget to identify your characters problem so that your readers are hooked and eager to keep reading. Keep your writing tight and use on Lee the words that are absolutely necessary. I'll see you back here in a bit. 4. Tools of the Trade: Hi. Welcome back. I'm glad you're still with me. We're about to get down to the nitty gritty. There are a lot of tools that have been designed to help picture book writers to develop their stories. If I tried to show you all of them, we would be here all day without writing a single word. So I've decided to share the top two methods that I have found to be the simplest and most effective. So let's begin by taking a look at all the components of free tags. Pyramid, start with the exposition. It tells us the who, what, where and why of the story. It introduces us to the main characters, and often we use it for the secondary characters as well. The rising side of the pyramid. That's where we get the ball rolling with the exciting incident. Then our character attempts to solve his or her own problem at least three times and fails . Then we hit the crisis a dark moment when all is lost, our main character gives up, and the antagonist appears to have one, leaving our main character feeling deflated and defeated. The top of our pyramid is the climax something amazing or incredible has happened to turn the story around. The problem is solved by the main character, and all is well. Novice Writers often think that the climax is where you should end the story, but that's not true. There's still a lot to tell, and we have to let our reader down gently. Falling action ties up loose ends, reveals all truths and gives your reader ah moment to get happy. It leaves them with a very satisfying feeling. Finally, we arrive at the day New Ma a fancy French word for the end, a satisfying conclusion that leaves your readers feeling warm and fuzzy inside. Let's take another look at free tags. Pyramid. Now that you understand all of its components, you can clearly see that freight tags Pyramid is an important building tool for storytelling. The structure itself promotes a balance story from the beginning to the middle to the end and everything in between. Our next picture book building tool is commonly known as a plot clock, but I have taken a step further. I call mine a story wheel because I give you a lot more to work with to help you build your story. Start by getting out of salad plea and draw all the way around the edges. Your typical picture book is 32 pages long, so divided up accordingly. Her book will have Front better, consisting of the copyright page, the dedication page and 1/2 title page. The middle of your story will land on Page 20. The ending will wrap up around 27 28 29 ending on page 31 leaving 32 blank. Okay, so right about now, some of you might be saying, Hey, wait a second. My story is either way too short for 32 pages or way too long. How does that help me? While the answer is pretty simple, if you think back to my first class, I mentioned that we would be exploring both traditional publication and self publishing. Well, page Count is often one of those examples where they differ. If you are going to try to sell your manuscript to a traditional publisher, then you'll need to think about it a little differently. You must follow the rules of traditional publishing, which means that your book must be either 24 or 32 pages long. It set up that way because of the way that large printing companies operate and the equipment that they use to print books. However, if you choose to self publish, then you will be publishing your book on demand, which means that it will be printed with a digital copy when your book by her orders it. Digital copies don't have a required number of pages, so you can create your self published book with as many pages as you like. So if you're self publishing or that your plan simply add three pages to your page, count for the front matter and then and one pages back for that blank page at most printing companies require on, then divide that number into four even sections and place them around your story. Well, then paste your story in the same fashion that I have for my 32 page picture book. Okay, so that's gonna leave you with 14 to page spreads or 28 single pages to work with for your scenes containing action. Change in conflict. Always moving readers forward to a satisfying ending. Your main character should be the center of your story, and you should watch him or her grow. Use your senses to aid in your storytelling. Your 1st 8 pages will be used to define your characters. Who are they, and why should we care about them? What is the plot or reason for your story to find the problem and what your character wants or hopes to gain introduced any secondary characters. At this point. Over the next eight pages, your main character should begin to look for ways to solve his or her own problem. He should make his first attempt to solve the problem. Supporting characters chair him or her on offering help or assistance. The antagonist for the bully persists, driving the story forward over the next eight pages, the main character makes two additional attempts to solve the problem. Ending in disaster, the antagonised appears to be winning. Supporters fall away or give up. All appears to be lost, and the main character reaches his lowest point. In the next four pages, a glimmer of hope emerges. All is not lost in the main character, discovers the solution on his own and carries out a plan. Last three pages. Tie up all your loose ends. Everyone, especially your main character is happy. When the story ends, your little readers feel so good they want to hear the story again. As promised, I have now provided you with two of the most helpful tools available. Toe. Organize your thoughts and to build your picture book manuscript into the traditional 32 page format for publication. If you use these tools, it will ensure that your story has all the necessary elements of great storytelling, and it will increase your odds for successful publication and sales. My advice is still to stick to the 24 or 32 page picture book layout. Because the kids who read picture books today are ages 437 they have a very short attention span. Also, consider the fact that you might get lucky Kids your mind out the gutter. I don't mean it that way. You might actually have a publisher want your book after all. Oh, my God. If you stick to tradition that you've made your job easier and increase your chances for a sale, I can't believe I went there last But not least, I'm providing you with a 24 and 32 page storyboard that is commonly used by illustrators to lay out a picture book manuscript for illustration purposes. I believe that it will help you in imagining how your text would look from page to page, improving the pacing of your story. Try to imagine your child reader turning the pages and create a flow that makes it exciting . Remember, your reader doesn't know what comes next, so make it fun. 5. Construction - Tools in Action: Now that you have the tools, let's apply them to the manuscript and see how they actually assist in the story building process. Let's start by using free tax Pyramid and the exposition. Otis was in a snit. Easter is coming. He sulked. All once a matter as Sophie I hate Easter thought Otis. Before it's over, she'll have me dressed in fuzzy pink bunny ears. No self respecting punk should have to live through such humiliation. The question of who is answered by introducing us to the main character, Otis on the secondary character Sophie. Next question is what the answer is Easter. In this story, the Onley other character is Mom. We don't have a living, breathing antagonised. Easter is the thing that aggravates our friend Otis, and it's coming for him. Next comes the wear off our story. I've left that up to the illustrator. It saves on my word. Count the reader conditionally. See where Otis and Sophie are on the wear doesn't really matter to me at this point, so I let my illustrator use their experience and talent to decide what will work best. Then comes the why Why should we care to read on. Why should our readers care about Otis and Sophie? Answer to this question is the very reason why it's so important to give your character's voices at their own and let them pull your little readers into this story. Instead of the boring narrator, readers hear the voices of the characters they immediately begin to personally identify with them. You pique their curiosity and they want to Nome, or there is something that most kids look forward to. Yet here's a puppy who's all upset because Sophie, a child who similar to the readers themselves, is about to dress him up in fuzzy pink bunny ears. What kid doesn't giggle at the thought of a puppy in bunny ears? L always looks pretty cute and fuzzy pink bunny ears, don't you think so now that you've pulled them in and they want to see what happens? Congratulations. The exposition did its job. Next comes the rising action. It starts with e enticing or exciting action. Sophie scratched behind his ears. There you go, buddy. That should make it all better. His back foot kicked with delight. It did help. Almost everything she did made Otis blissfully happy. When Sophie came home from school, he bounced with joy and give her face a bath. When she practiced tumbling, he rolled beside her in the summer grass. When she did homework, he'd warm her feet and drool on her toes. Otis side I do anything for my Sophie. That last sentence says a lot. Don't you think it tells us that just about anything could happen? So do you see how we're building the story? And we're giving the illustrator lots of action toe work with. Imagine the comical illustrations of Sophie and Otis while he gives her face of bath with his slobbery tongue. I've seen so many kids and dogs do that. It just grosses me out every time. Can you just imagine Sophie and Otis rolling side by side in the warm green summer grass and Otis draped over her feet under the table? Is she does her homework drooling on her toes. The next part of the rising action is when your main character, that's your main character and no one else attempts to solve the problem all by his or herself, have to try at least three times and fail miserably. Perhaps it could miss Easter altogether, he considered she can't dress me of the farm, not here, imagining all the horrible things that might happen if he left Owed has changed his mind. If I gobbled up all the candy and Sophie's basket, he supposed that would keep beef stir from coming. Picturing Sophie sad face and imagining the awful belly ache that would follow, Otis changed his mind. I could wait for the Easter Bunny, he thought, and talked him out of the whole thing. The truth. Waas He had no idea when the Easter Bunny would arrive. I'll probably be snoring snug in my bed, curled in a tight little ball. It has changed his mind. Notice how I've used repetition to emphasize and tied together Lotuses attempts to solve the problem himself. It's important to add a bit of repetition to a picture book story because it's enjoyable to read, and it helps young Children to remember the story when you're not there to read it to them . Think about how often a child picks up a book, and there's no one available to read it aloud. To them. Repetition aids in memorization, allowing little ones to turn the pages and read by themselves even though they can't really read yet. Enjoying this activity independently builds confidence and a love for books that will last a lifetime. Next is the crisis where our character loses all hope on Easter morning while Sophie slept Otis Win Bird. The Easter Bunny had delivered a big basketball please for Sophie and a headband with funny Years Late right beside it. He rolled over, kicked this feet in the air and played dead. When my Sophie opens for big blue eyes, thought Otis, I'm doomed. I'll be wearing those silly years all summer. Then he got an idea. Now we've arrived at the climax. It's like an ah ha moment when suddenly the character knows what to do and begins to carry out his own solution to the problem. Quickest lightning. He bolted for the bunny years and scooped him up like a long lost to toy. The doggy door swung wildly after Otis pulled his run through full thump. His paws pummeled the dirt so fast it flew everywhere. Plop, plop! The bunny years flocked, tumbling into the deep hole. That should do it, Otis grinned, kicking back the last bit off earth. Let's take a look at that climax again because there's a few things that are noteworthy. I could have began the sentence with Suddenly he bolted. But I chose to make the sentence more powerful by adding words that describe movement. This is important for two reasons. Number one words like suddenly, instantly next, then, as should be stricken from your vocabulary. When you use these words to begin a sentence, it weakens everything that comes after it. Let's try that again. Then he bolted. Quickest lightning! He bolted. Do you hear the difference? The number two reason for using words that lend a sense of movement or action to your story is because illustrations as wonderful as they are, they don't move the capture of snapshot of the moment Onley. Your words can create an actual sense of movement, so use them wisely and craft that element into your story. Falling action is where we sew up all the loose ends and wrap everything up in a nice, neat little package. This ensures the reader that everything is going to end up happily, proudly high. Stepping into the kitchen, Otis heard Sophie cry out. Mommy, he forgot. She said he didn't leave any money years for my Otis. What replied Mommy. But I thought No. Som Sophie, they're not here seeing Otis. Sophie flew to him and hugged his neck. Easter is ruined with least I still have you. Otis is tail wag. But he felt ashamed. I had no idea that dressing me up meant so much to her. Maybe it won't be so bad after all. Besides, all that really matters is that my Sophie loves me. Finally, we arrive at the day New ma The satisfying conclusion brought about by a savvy main character who saves the day all by him or herself. After he'd washed away all Sophie's tears, Otis headed for the backyard. It was time to save Easter, and he knew just how to do it. On the last page, with no text, Otis is sitting on the floor looking at the reader with dirty bunny ears on his head. Muddy paw prints, dirt and grass are all around him. His head is cocked to one side with his tongue rolling out the side of his mouth wearing a silly grin. Now you've seen for a tax pyramid in action as it applies to an actual manuscript. You see how it helps to assemble every element of the story, ensuring that everything required by traditional publishers is present, boosting your chances for acceptance. Any writers find that using this method helps to cut down on their word count. As you identify each part of the pyramid, you pinpoint what is most important in your story, prompting you to eliminate what is not absolutely necessary, resulting in a tight story that constantly moves forward as it should. Once you've tightened up your story as much as possible in your word count is as low as possible. It's time to break it down even further. If you plan to self publish and you want to have complete control over what part of your text goes on each and every page, then I suggest using the story well. I'm a published, an experienced illustrating. I've designed and produced many picture books as you can see, and I'm at a point in my career when I expect clients to trust that I know what I'm doing based on my accomplishments, how much you will do as the author depends on the illustrator you choose. I asked my clients to send me the manuscript and allow me to decide what text should be on each page to accompany my vision for each illustration and promote interesting and exciting page terms. For example, if your manuscript is a true story about a mother duck who waddled gaily across a major road with her ducklings in tow to go for a swim in the fountain, then your illustrator needs to know that your main characters are ducks. Your manuscript should Onley refer to them by their names. So if you didn't tell me in advance, I might imagine them as baby orders. It would still be an adorable story, but it would no longer be the true story, and you would no longer be able to tie your book to the actual event. However, if the same story was fictitious, you should not tell your illustrator that you had ducks in mind because he or she might come up with something cuter. Better, more ingenious, like cute little clam shucking baby orders. No offense, duck people. If you share too much information with your illustrator, your risk losing out on their vision and the use of their imaginative ideas. Finally, if you don't like the direction that your illustrator is taking with that very first illustration, let them know right away. Speak up. All illustrators want to do is pleased the author that they're working with. Hey, I should know. I've worked with quite a few as we discussed previously. The 1st 3 pages of your book should consist a front matter such as the Copyright Library of Congress, information, your titles category, the I S P N number and the half title page. Self publishers can arrange them and whatever order they like, I suggest you look at other picture books as examples. If you've sold your manuscript to a publisher, they will make these decisions without consulting you. Page four is where your story should begin again. If you're self publishing a short manuscript, you may choose to add an extra page to your front manner and begin your story on page five . Instead. It's completely up to you. Your last page, Page 32 should be left blank if you are self publishing. This leaves you with 28 pages for both text and illustrations. As a self publishing author, you can choose to design your own book, choosing what part of the text goes on each page and how much of each page will be left for each illustration. But it can get rather complicated for a beginner. Best bet is to hire an illustrator who can design and layout your entire picture book for you. Choose someone with a proven track record who successfully done it before and can prove it by sending you samples of their completed and published picture book that is currently available for purchasing. Remember that if you are planning to submit your manuscript to publishers, you won't need to break it up into individual pages. The publisher who purchases your manuscript well not only hire and pay their own illustrator, they will do the design and page layout for you. If you're planning to self publish your book, you will need to choose and hire and pay an illustrator unless you can draw as well as you write. This book is your baby, so be prepared to dress it up pretty. Your dream deserves the very best that you could give it if you want it to succeed, don't demand publishing is almost cost free these days. 90% of the money that you spend will be four design layout and illustration. A professional illustrator will be able to do all three of these things for you at a reasonable fee. Make sure that the illustrator that you hire is able to create mawr. Just pretty illustrations. They must know how to send your work to the printer for you in the correct size and digital file format, or there will be no book. And you, my friend, will have wasted all your money. 6. You, the Architect: Wow, that was a lot to take in. I'm glad that you can watch these clips over and over. I have a feeling that I'll be seeing you again as you process everything that you just learned about writing and publishing a picture book pouring here right now. And I know you could probably hear the rain in the background, so I have to apologize for the background noise. But I wanted to get this video done as soon as possible because I know a lot of you have been waiting for it. I hope that I've been successful breaking everything down for you into easy to swallow little bite sized pieces. There are so many ways to go about writing, and every author eventually finds his or her own unique method that works just for them. We started out by talking things over, concluding that the best reason to break for Children is not to teach them a lesson, but to share something entertaining the kids will love. Any lesson should be so well disguised that your reader doesn't even see it at all. I hit you over the head with a few truths about writing for Children. You probably weren't aware of. Like the truth about revisions time most authors take before submitting their work to publishers. The fact that the rules are constantly changing and the vows that you should make to your peer professionals. We talked about word counts of old and the tight word count expected today. We went over rejection and the fact that we all go there. It's just part of the job that forces you to keep pushing yourself, and we learned that rejection letters aren't always what they seem to be. You now know that the formula for writing success is based on determination and following instructions to the letter. Talent helps, but it also takes perseverance to get published. Next, we laid the foundation for our story on solid ground by getting it off to a great start, giving our characters their own voice and the ability to tell the story themselves. We cut back on the narration so that our readers can become more personally engaged in the story that's unfolding, allowing them to feel like spies peeking through the window. I gave you some one of the most helpful tools with trade free tags. Be or pick my story real and to page layout sheets, which you can use to construct your story. I explained my story wheel in great detail, providing you with the fundamentals of picture book layout. You now understand the term front matter and what it consists off. You know where your story should begin and how to proceed around the wheel to create a forward moving flow through action, change and conflict. In my final video, we saw Freight Tex Pyramid in action As I built my own story. Otis is pride brick by brick from the exposition to the day New moth. We left no stone unturned, ensuring that we have all the elements of great storytelling. We talked quite a bit about the differences between self publishing and traditional publishing, and I hope that it will help you to decide what would be the best route for you to take. I'm going to say this one more time because there seems to be a lot of confusion about this subject of illustration on. I don't want you to be confused. There's a lot of stories that are out there. People have different opinions about it, but I have worked in the business now for 15 years, and I've seen lots of things happen, and I can tell you for effect if you write a story and it's purchased by a traditional publisher that they will pick her. Illustrate. That's right. They picked the illustrator. Once that illustrators chosen, you have no say in what happens to your manuscript. They're gonna illustrated the way that they see fit, and you will most likely not have any contact with that illustrator. The professional trained art director will oversee the project to ensure that the illustrations are appropriate. Hey, they've got the money to back it up. They can afford to hire the best. You can't, but they can. It literally cost thousands of dollars to produce a picture book. Let them pay it. They can get you the best. Doesn't your work deserve the very best? If you choose to self publish, you must carefully choose and contract your own illustrator. Don't expect free or cheap if you want Professional results. Illustrations sell books more so than the stories themselves. Your book's illustrations look poorly executed or amateurish because you hired an inexperienced illustrator you're in product will not sell. Here's a perfect example of what I mean. Although this illustration may seem cute enough to a novice picture book author, it didn't do anything to entice sales. It looked too generic and couldn't compete with professionally designed books when it was pulled from the shelf and re illustrated, the results were amazing. Now the books characters are relatable to its audience because they have the warmth and personality that they've been missing in the first version. So now you've got a decision to make. Are you going to self publish or are you going to go the traditional route and submit your manuscript to traditional publishers for publication? Don't be afraid. Just start writing. Do it. Remember that every time you write, you get better and you increase your odds for acceptance and publication. I've given you everything that you need and then some. But don't forget the real reason to write, especially when you're writing for kids. Do it because you really love it. Next time, I'll show you the professional way to submit your manuscript to publishing editors. I hope that you'll join me for part for the art of cover letters and submissions as we continue our journey into the world of picture books thing