Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Writing and Publishing Seasonal Picture eBooks and Apps

A few of years ago I wrote two picture book stories 'Where It's Always Winter' and 'The Perfect Christmas Tree.' As the titles suggest they both have a festive or seasonal link. Once I'd completed them I sent to various publishers who I believed (because I'd researched their previously published titles) might be interested in them. Again and again they were rejected, which is something you sort of get used to as a professional writer. However a couple of the publishers didn't send me the standard rejection letter. They told me they'd enjoyed the stories but were withdrawing from seasonal books so weren't in a position to take.

This is where my journey into becoming a publisher started. MadMoment Media Ltd was set up and with a very limited budget we had these two picture stories (plus a few others I'd received good feedback on) into apps for the iPhone and iPad. This meant a steep learning curve and a fair few hours spent in a recording studio, as yours truly narrated them.  By the end of 2010 they were ready and uploaded onto the iTunes store. A few months later we converted all of the stories into picture eBooks and uploaded onto Amazon (Amazon UKAmazon US). Our non-seasonal stories sell a few copies all year round. However although 'Where It's Always Winter' and 'The Perfect Christmas Tree' are seasonal we sell as many if not more of them than our non-seasonal titles.

Now you may be wondering why I'm sharing this with you. Well I wanted to demonstrate that just because a large publishing house doesn't see the point of selling seasonal picture books it doesn't mean there isn't a market for them. So if you have a book that's received good feedback but isn't marketable all year round why not give it a go yourself. It's worked for me it could work for you.

Lynne Garner 

I also write for:
The Picture Book Den - all things picture book
Authors Electric - covers digital self-publishing
Awfully Big Blogging Adventure - subjects connected with writing
The Hedgehog Shed - concerned with hedgehog rescue
The Craft Ark - craft how-to blog

My online classes with WOW starting January 2014:

Saturday, 5 October 2013

How To Pace A Picture Book

It doesn’t matter if you're writing a 70,000-word novel or a 600-word picture book you have to create a story with a good plot and that's well paced. Unlike a novel when writing a picture book you know how many pages you are working with as there are industry standards.The picture books I write normally adhere to the traditional 12 double-page spread formula. So when I start to work on a new story I take a piece of A4 paper and fold it to create 12 sections. To show you how I use this piece of paper to pace a story I'll describe how I wrote Captain and Nugget.

I knew the story was going to be about two dogs, Captain and Nugget. I had decided the theme was going to be about learning to share and I knew how this lesson was going to be learnt. So all I had to do was pace the scenes on my piece of paper.

On the first page I introduced one of the characters, being Captain. The next page I used to introduce both the second character, Nugget and the problem, Captain learning to share. I then skipped to the last page because I knew I wanted a happy ending with Captain realising that sharing has its benefits.

So by plotting the first two pages and the last I was left with nine. Having nine pages meant I was able to use the magic number three. Basically for an interesting story you can't have your character solve the problem on the first attempt, this would be boring. You shouldn't allow them solve the problem on the second go, you've not built up enough tension. Having them continue to fail would frustrate the reader so you need them succeed on the third. So I was able to split the nine pages into three sets of three, which allowed me to evenly pace the story.

I've used this method of pacing in many of my books and I'm sure I'll continue to use it, as it appears to work for me. In fact just this afternoon I grabbed my A4 note pad, created 12 sections and started to plot and pace out a new story.

When I'd finished this story I used it as part of an illustration course I was studying and at that time I also decided to turn it into an eBook ( - As I no longer had to stick to the rigid 12 double-page spreads I increased the pages to 23 and was still able to create a story I felt was well paced.