Rosemary Wells' advice to Kids' Book Creators

Here’s something to know about publishing children’s books today:

For illustrators

There is huge competition out there from thousands of people who wish to do this and who send unsolicited manuscripts in to publishers and agents. Their desks are piled high.

Most of these writers have learned the basics of story arc, beginning middle and end.

They all populate their stories with children, animals that talk, leprechauns, monsters, ghosts and witches.

They all flavor their manuscripts with humor and dialogue.

You wish to be noticed among all these others.

The way to navigate this labyrinth is to write a book that none of those others can write because only you know it in a way that no one else knows.

It must be different, not because you choose to create rainbow colored frogs who speak French but because it says something that touches the heart rather than only the fleeting funny bone. Your book must tell us something about ourselves that we want to hear.

And to your chapter book writers:

The above holds true for all. In a chapter book which may be an adventure, science fiction or fantasy story, you hold your reader’s attention and make them read on, not with noisy dramatic action in the beginning, but with character, situation and suspense.

All good thriller writers for adults save the car wrecks and firestorms for the middle of the book.

Suspense holds us, not action.

Character wins us, not flash.

Begin again. Write the book only you can write.

If your story takes place in an imaginary world, introduce us carefully and make us believe it.

Read Phillip Pullman and Harry Potter. More important, read Time and Again. Jack Finney creates a world that we want desperately to be true. That's difficult! Everything well done is!

Thanks to Frances Plumpton, ARA NZ, for passing these thoughts on from Rosemary.