“I’ve Always Wanted to Write a Picture Book”-Getting Started

I have a lot of people ask me how I got a book published. Because . . .

They’ve always wanted to write. Or they have an idea for a picture book. Or their daughter has an idea. Or their mother always wanted them to write about the goose that lived in the shed across the street. Or they wrote a story years ago and they have a second cousin who could illustrate it.

I know other writers get asked the same thing. Many times I’ve found that the person asking is just making conversation. Because the minute I say “writing journey” they don’t seem quite so interested. I think they thought the “journey” was really just a “jaunt”. And then when I mention SCBWI (of course I say the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), their eyes glaze over. TMI! I know it’s time to stop.

There have been a few, though, that want more information. I email them links and information I think they would find helpful. Usually I don’t hear back. But, recently, I shared information with someone who has written professionally for years. Now she wants to write picture books. And she’s a member of SCBWI! She’s attended conferences. She’s serious, folks! And I had a ton of fun sharing resources and talking picture books. It reminded me that of all those who say they want to write, a few REALLY do!

It seems that most of the people who read our blog are already on their writing journey. But I imagine we have a few that visited this site who are just getting started. I know I visited this site regularly when I was new on my journey. So I thought I might address the “How did you get a book published?” question for those who are truly interested and would just like a starting point and places to gather information.

Note: There is no way to list every resource and website. These are only a few of the ones that were particularly helpful on my journey as they include challenges, etc. that inspired me to write. On top of these, I read many blogs. When you check out KidLit411 below, I will provide their link to a list of wonderful blogs.

SCBWI: Click HERE to browse their website. It is chock full of all things KidLit. I strongly advise becoming a member. My membership is invaluable. There is a forum available. To read all of the boards in forum, you have to be a member of SCBWI. You can get a taste of the valuable information on the forum without being a member.

Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo: PiBoIdMo stands for Picture Book Idea Month.This takes place in November. Each day you will be inspired by amazing posts by authors, illustrators, and other KidLit lovers. This challenge is free and if you participate you’re likely to end the month with a list of new ideas for picture books. You’ll also get a glimpse into the wonderful, sharing KidLit community. You don’t have to wait until November if you want to be inspired. Follow her blog and check out the archives for wonderful posts. You can find out more information HERE.

Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog: Susanna always has something going on over at her blog. I met her early in my writing journey and her blog has been a huge plus for me. Her Perfect Picture Book Friday series will clue you in to excellent picture books. The series features reviews by a variety of picture book lovers. Her Would You Read It Wednesday series focuses on picture book pitches which are extremely important for writers when they have manuscripts ready to pitch to agents and editors. Susanna also hosts amazing contests with amazing prizes. Click HERE to browse Susanna’s blog.

Julie Hedlund’s 12 x 12: This is a challenge to write 12 picture book drafts in 12 months. If you’re wanting accountability, community, and resources it is well worth the fee. Registration for next year will be in January. In the meantime, follow Julie’s blog and you will benefit. Find more information HERE.

Then there is the site of all sites-KidLit411: Elaine Kiely Kearns and Sylvia Liu have gathered KidLit resources from all around the Internet on their website. It is AMAZING. It includes all the sites I’ve mentioned and many, many more. Many more! HERE is the link to their list of Blogs to Follow. Click HERE for their home page and prepare to spend hours immersed in all things KidLit!

And, of course, follow us here at Emus Debuts where we were all once beginners. Join us as we talk about how, with hard work, our dreams became reality.

I’m far from the first person to blog about these resources. But I hope they’ll help someone on their writing journey.

penny edited

Penny Parker Klostermann’s debut picture book, THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHTis coming from Random House Books For Young Readers August 4, 2015. Also, coming from Random House Books For Young Readers is A COOKED-UP FAIRY TALE, Spring, 2017. You can follow Penny on on her blog, on Twitter, on Facebook, and on Pinterest. She is represented by Tricia Lawrence.



Filed under Advice - Helpful or Otherwise, Picture books

25 responses to ““I’ve Always Wanted to Write a Picture Book”-Getting Started

  1. kevanjatt

    I think they thought the “journey” was really just a “jaunt”.

    I love that, Penny!!
    This is a great post and one we should bookmark for when we are asked about how we got into the business. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lindsey Lane

    What Kevan said. Exactly.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. All of the resources you mentioned are terrific! And it is a journey, winding and up hill some of the time, but the twists and turns also make it intriguing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. tamaraellissmith

    Excellent compilation of resources and reality. Thank you, Penny!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Janet Fox

    Such a great compendium of resources, Penny!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great post, Penny! So helpful! I’m going to share it in case anyone in my beck of the woods needs some “getting started” tips. Thanks for the shout-out too 🙂 (Best line – “they thought the journey was really just a jaunt” – so true! :))

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great post, Penny! All of these are wonderful resources–and yes, this writing thing really is a journey (sometimes, a long and winding road! :)).

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you so much for a wonderful post, Penny! KidLit411 was born because of all of those “journey” questions! Sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Dang…I was hoping for a jaunt. Thanks for the jaunty links, Penny.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Robyn Campbell

    Amen, sista. 🙂 xo

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Jaunt-a short excursion for pleasure. Journey-an act of traveling from one place to another, a long and often difficult process of personal change and development. Here’s to the journey and to great traveling companions like Penny.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Great post Penny, and honored to have made the list. I hope people take your advice to heart and get ready for a journey! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Thanks for the great post, Penny. I’ve definitely had the same experience with people wanting to know the short-cut to getting published! Lol. I’ll now refer them to your post! I participate in all the groups you mentioned and they are indeed a wonderful way to learn and network and find support in our writing journeys!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Cathy Ballou Mealey

    If the eyes begin to glaze, it’s not the right journey. If the eyes begin to sparkle, YES! Brilliant Penny.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Great post, Penny! Can’t wait to share it!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. mariagianferrari

    And it can be a loooong journey, so we definitely have to enjoy the ride! Thanks, Penny!!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Hey all you “journey” people…thanks for you comments! It’s great to be on the long road with all of you! I feel you pushing me along with your “Hey, I know what you mean about the “journey vs. jaunt” thoughts!


  18. Mary McClellan

    Great post! Just today someone told me she knew an artist in need of an author. This was a new twist. (I think I was supposed to be flattered.) I’m always glad to find any new resource while on my journey, so thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Christine Hayes

    Such great info, Penny! I plan to put it to good use. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Pingback: Good Resources for Those Interested in Writing Picture Books | Anita Nolan's blog

  21. Sometimes after they hear the journey part it becomes the road less traveled. And sometimes it is a winner.

    Thanks so much for a great post, Penny! 🙂


  22. Great post, Penny. As long as people are up for a jaunt that takes 10+ years, they’re good to go. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Rob

    Very useable! Good post.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Pingback: For Illustrators Who Want to Know About Children’s Book Publishing – Wheeler Studio

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