Harold Underdown, on his website The Purple Crayon, offers a tremendous amount of information for children’s book writers. One piece of advice has stuck in my head these many months….to those of us who think we have “many manuscripts ready to submit,” Mr. Underdown gently points out that, we don’t.
What he means is we may have writing skills, we may have ideas, but unless we’ve spent hours reading and studying the specialized craft that is writing children’s books, our first manuscripts are likely exercises in writing practice. Very good, that practice is, but it has not produced material ready to submit to publishers.
I have been trying to rework one of my first PB manuscripts. I wrote it for Ray a dozen years ago, just for fun, a sweet, completely fictionalized tale of a boy who loved cookies and his mother who helped him learn the gift of giving. There is some truth and a whole lotta fabrication in this story. But it was fun to write. I even “illustrated” it by buying a half-dozen PBs and cutting them up, pasting the pilfered pictures onto my manuscript pages. It was a good project.
Lately I’ve been trying to rework it, tighten it, strengthen it, for the market I now know much more about. It’s been tough. It may be impossible. Poor Ray of my story may never see the light of a bookstore.
I hope he does. I’m very fond of him and his cookies.