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How do they do it?

Improve your chances in our new Picture Book Prize with a look at what makes a successful picture book from author Amy Sparkes

WRITING FOR CHILDREN

‘If you want to write, first you need to read.’ You’ve probably heard this advice a lot – it’s the best advice you can get. When you read, you observe, you absorb and you learn. This month is the start of a two-part series, looking at published books by successful children’s authors and working out why the stories work and how you can use that information to develop your own writing. In part one we’re going to look at picture books.

Picture books

Aimed at 0-6 year olds, these are usually under 1,000 words. Although some authors illustrate their books, most are assigned an illustrator by the publisher.

Research

Visit your local library and browse through picture books. Search publisher catalogues online and visit bookshops for new releases – this will demonstrate the kind of books which are currently popular with publishers.

Picture books can have a short shelf-life in bookshops, allowing room for new stock, so check publication dates and note older books which are still stocked – these have stood the test of time. Read picture book reviews by professionals and readers (eg on Amazon) – what do they particularly enjoy or appreciate?

Analysis

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About Writing Magazine

What are the five secrets of writing a bestseller? And how do you grow your little seeds into big ideas? Find out how, in this month's issue of Writing Magazine. In our inspiring star interview, bestselling author Laura Barnett and leading singer-songwriter Kathryn Williams talk about their exciting creative collaboration, and describe how saying 'yes' to working outside your comfort zone can lead to extraordinary creative results. Keep up to date with the latest publishing opportunities and writing competitions in Writers' News!

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