Research

IMAG0224_1_1 (2)This is my latest research.  I went through them all, tonight.  Read them out loud to the dogs.  It was kind of fun!

I started my writing career with poetry, at the age of eight.  I hit that pretty hard for the first few years.  While I started my first book shortly after, poetry was pretty much my bread and butter for a long time.  Then it sort of dropped off the radar.  I moved more solidly into prose.  Novels are my forte, now, with a sprinkling of short(ish) stories when I feel ambitious.  My poetry has not disappeared completely, but it takes more effort now than in the past.

Point: somewhere around two or three years ago, I had the first line of a poem pop into my head while I was mowing the yard. I still haven’t finished it.  In fact, I had forgotten completely about it until I randomly ran across the notebook in my car glove box.  But I’m closer.  It’s coming together.

And the best part is, it’s all geared up to be a children’s book.  Also haven’t done one of those for a while.  A LONG while.

My first attempt at a children’s book was when I was probably about nine or ten.  I had one of those big, fat, shiny pens with a like five different colors.  You know, the kind where you push down the different tabs.  I used that pen and crafted a little book for my little brother.  It was called Hiccup, the Blue Camel.  I don’t remember much about it.  There was Hiccup.  And he was a camel.  And he was blue.  And he had a friend whose name was Claire.  That’s about it.  The drawings were terrible.  The story probably was, too.  It was drawn and handwritten on computer paper and stapled together.  There was a follow-up, too.  I think it dealt with Hiccup’s dreams (that MIGHT have even been the title).

Several years later (probably five or six), I decided to start a series of children’s books.  I think they may have been inspired by Hiccup and his adventures.  The series was called Rainbow Buddies.  The plan was for me to write the stories and my friend to draw the pictures, as I had (have) no talent in that area and she was very good.  I believe I wrote two of the texts: Ricky the Red Rhinoceros and Oscar the Orange OstrichRicky  was the only one illustrated.  It was cute and fun.  But it ended there.  I don’t believe Oscar even got his illustrations.  And that was the end of the Rainbow Buddies.  There was one other illustrated book in there somewhere.  It was called Runt and was about a dog (I don’t remember the actual story line).  I did the illustrations on that one myself (which may have been why I then turned to those who have talent).

My only other foray into the land of writing children’s books was another series I started called the Bee-Attitudes.  Again, I believe I wrote two of them and had one illustrated (my mom this time, another very talented artist).

That brief (probably not brief enough) background leads me to where I am now: on the brink of having a children’s story I might actually want to try to do something with. And that’s when I realized: I have no idea how to enter that world.

I’ve been researching the publishing industry and how to “break in” for around 17 years now.  But, it’s all been related to novels.  A children’s book is a far cry from a novel.  Do I submit a query letter?  Do I determine how the pages should be broken up?  Who are the big name agents and publishers?  I know the rule about “don’t send in the illustrations, illustrators will be chosen if your book goes anywhere”, but that’s about the only rule I know.

So, I did the first thing any brilliant person does when they need to learn something and don’t know where to start: I Googled.  One of the first pieces of information I found was to know what’s on the market.  Well, I should have guessed that one.  But, much as I’m a fan of children’s books, it’s been a while since I’ve looked into what’s new.  And considering my idea is a rhyming text, I went back to the trusty Google and looked up top rhyming children’s books in 2015.  I made myself a handy list, and off to the local library (first round only; the other half is on hold).

Thus, the research.  I feel more confident about the idea of trying this for real after reading those.  Now, I just need to crack down on the last few line of the text.

If any of you have any experience in the children’s book market and can offer advice, websites or books, I would be grateful.  Happy writing, friends!  Read some rhyming kids’ books!

~S.D. Bullard

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~ by sdbullard on April 27, 2016.

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