Author Penny Lockwood introduces her newly released picture book for children aged 18 months to 7 years.
Although I’ve been writing stories for adults and older children since 1993, this is my first foray into picture book writing. It was definitely a challenge. It’s so easy to look at a picture book and think, as a writer, “Oh, that must be easy to write.” In reality, a picture book takes a lot of thought and effort.
Like any other book, when Boo was finished, I asked for first readers to give me feedback. I was fortunate to find several young mothers with toddlers willing to give it a try. The hard part, though, was there were no illustrations, so it was difficult for the little people to grasp this was to be a picture book. Still I did get positive responses and set about locating a publisher.
For several years, I have participated in the Muse Online Writer’s Conference where I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with publishers from several houses. One of the women I met was Vivian Zabel who is one of the owners of 4RV Publishing. I liked what I heard about 4RV and Vivian from other authors who have published books with her. They are a small house and only publish a few books every year. I was very fortunate that the acquisitions staff liked Boo’s Bad Day when I submitted it a few years ago. Vivian asked for a few changes, which I was happy to make, and I was rewarded with a contract.
I’m not sure how other houses handle authors and illustrators, but 4RV Publishing uses their own stable of illustrators. It’s my understanding this is common practice with picture book publishers. One of 4RV house rules is that authors and illustrators have no correspondence, so I had no contact whatsoever with Deborah C. Johnson, the talented illustrator who worked on Boo. She was given the manuscript and created the pictures, which in my mind are perfect. She captured the spirit of not only the book but Boo the cat as well, without any input from me.
Was it a nail-biting experience? Not really. At the same time the illustrator was working on Boo (unknown to me), I had been working on edits for my MG novels, Ghost for Rent and Ghost for Lunch, also scheduled for release from 4RV Publishing. I wasn’t even thinking about Boo when I received the galley proof to review! When I saw the illustrations Deborah did, I couldn’t have been happier. I didn’t see a need to change anything.
Deborah was able to bring Boo to life on the page. The expressions she uses for the different experiences Boo has are just delightful. I think she was able to make Boo come alive for the children who will read the story and added to the experience kids from around eighteen months to seven years will have when either the story is read to them, or they can read it themselves.
Authors interested in writing a picture book should explore sites on the Internet devoted to children’s writing such as the Children’s Book Insider Clubhouse. There are a lot of great articles available to the public even if you’re not a member. Writing World has an entire section devoted to children’s writing, including an article by me, “Eight Things Picture Book Editors Don’t Want.”
Penny, it's fascinating to hear of your experience towards publishing your picture book. I've always imagined finding a publisher and an illustrator would be an impossible task. Thank you, too, for sharing the sites above which will be enormously helpful for writers who wish to follow in your footsteps and get their picture books out to the mums and bubs.
Boo's Bad Day is available from the publisher
Find Penny at her website
Tomorrow April 23rd Penny is on Terri Forehand's Blog
where she'll tell us more about Boo's Bad Day.
Wendy, thanks again for hosting me. At the end of the tour, I will pick out one commenter’s name and send an autographed copy of Boo’s Bad Day to a United States address only. If the name I pick is someone who lives outside the U.S., I will send a PDF copy of the book. So remember, readers, be sure to leave contact information when you comment!