Friday, February 20, 2015


When I first started writing, I began with picture books because I thought they were easier. HA! They are not. In fact, a clever picture book is one of the hardest things to write. More and more picture books have a "high concept." In other words, you know what the book will be about, just by reading the title. Check out these examples:

In comparison, one of my first picture books was called PIONEER STAR. The premise was that a little girl wanted to drive her grandpa's covered wagon in the Fourth of July parade. It was reminiscent of the bedtime stories I used to tell my little sister when we were growing up. See the difference in my idea and the ones above? The titles and concepts above are much more marketable.

However, nothing we write is ever wasted. I was recently working on a Middle Grade novel, and in one of the chapters, an older sister is telling a bedtime story to her younger one. I pulled out PIONEER STAR and used much of the text to build that scene.

My Middle Grade novel, (title still to be determined), is under contract with Scholastic. So PIONEER STAR will be published, just not as an illustrated picture book as I had imagined.

The path to publishing a picture book is much easier if you start with a "high concept," but I've learned not to throw away any of my stories--sometimes they can be repackaged!


  1. Picture books are quite the challenge, but worth the efforts if you can get them right! Thanks for posting this, Shannon.

  2. Picture books are indeed challenging. Good luck with the ones you're working on, Joni!