Book Reviews

So many books. So little time.

A Picture Book

A picture is worth a thousand words

Where art meets words

Other Books

Words can create pictures too.

The power of imagination.

Words, words, words

Where Conversations Begin

A good conversation is a good life

Where conversations begin

All About Writing

Random thoughts on the how and why of writing

Why write

Getting a Publisher to Say Yes by Randi Lynn Mrvos

You've written a picture book that you'd like to get published. So, how do you get an editor to say yes to your work?

I'm the editor of Kid's Imagination Train ezine. For many years, my manuscripts were passed over by book publishers. Because I desperately wanted to get a picture book published, I attended writer's workshops and conferences, took writing classes, and read books on the craft of writing for children in order to grow as a writer. My manuscripts won awards; but sadly, publishers still said no thanks.

I was disappointed, but became even more determined. The rejections prompted me to find out how other children's book writers got their works published. And this led me to the library. I analyzed several picture books. Then I focused on one of my favorites, Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown. What was it about this award-winning book that made it special, publishable? After studying the story, the answer became apparent. It had the four U's: a unique character, a unique quest, a unique voice and a unique resolution.

The protagonist, Mr. Tiger, is unique because he has a special want, a great need. This need sets him on a unique quest that only he can take, and in turn change and grow. The quest is fraught with problems. The prospect of unfulfillment creates an emotional impact that makes the audience care about this character.

I also discovered that the book has a unique voice—that intangible element of a story which creates mood. It's the special way words come together to tell the story. It's the song of the story. And finally, the conclusion of this story has a twist and ends in a unique and satisfying way.

Amazed and excited about this finding, I pulled out my favorite (and 50 times-rejected) manuscript, Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show-and-Tell. Maggie had a unique character and a unique voice. It did however, lack a unique quest and a unique resolution. After getting into Maggie's head, I figured out her personal journey and created a surprise ending. The manuscript was then submitted to five publishers. Within three weeks, Cactus Moon Publications expressed interest in publishing the story.

My dream of publishing a children's book became a reality. Now, I'm convinced that a unique character, a unique quest, a unique voice and a unique resolution made all the difference. These four elements elicited the aww factor publishers are striving to find. When you apply the 4 U's to your stories, a publisher may say yes to your work.

Randi Lynn Mrvos is the editor of the Kid’s Imagination Train e-magazine, a former consultant to Pearson Digital Learning, and a member of SCBWI. Her publishing credits include Appleseeds, Know, Nature Friend, and Highlights for Children. She has earned over thirty awards for her picture book manuscripts. In addition, she has taught writing classes at the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning in Lexington, Kentucky.

Visit her at Randi Lynn Mrvos