Monday, May 26, 2008

Writing Picture Books is Easy -- Not


With all these celebrities dashing off picture books in less than an hour, the general public is being mislead into believing that writing picture books is easy. (On second thought -- people always think it is easy because they are short. But picture books are like poems. Every word has to be chosen carefully.)

Here is the actual time it took Jane Yolen, the award-winning writer of about 300 books, to write a picture book. It is probably the fastest time ever -- from first thought to purchase. Please note the number of revisions. The rest of us writers need months or several years to refine a picture book into publishable form.

From her public Journal, in May 2008:
"Good news first: Sold a new picture book with daughter Heidi: NOT ALL PRINCESSES DRESS IN PINK to Alexandra Cooper at S&S. Alex and I were chatting in her office several months ago, and as I was leaving, I asked her if she had any books she longed to see. She mentioned a few ideas, and one--with a sigh--was: "I am so tired of princesses in pink." "Well," I responded, as I walked out the door, "Not all princesses dress in pink.” We grinned at one another. We both heard its possibilities. “I'll see what I can do," I added.

At dinner that night, I told Heidi (her daughter) what Alex had said. And before you could say "Princesses in Pink" ten times fast, we had a first verse. Two months and seventeen full revisions later, we sold the book to Alex. That was speedy for us. Take that, Mrs. Bush and Jenna!"

Oh dear. My pink-loving, 8-year old princess is going to be crushed to learn that Not all Princesses Dress in Pink.

-wendieO

1 comment:

Ty said...

I hate the fact that cerleberties are writing picture books, why don't they try illustrating them then we can all really laugh in their faces.
Seriously it is very hard writing picture books, I'm an illustrator and a bit of a scholorly fan of picture books but that doesn't even qualify me to write them.
As you said its like a poem, and there is of course so much bad poetry in this world it almost hurts just as there are so many people with a "great" idea for a picture book.