Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Nonfiction Fun

I know most of us writers write because we have a story to tell.  I think that's especially true with picture books. But in this specialized field, it is extremely hard to break into print, especially when writing fiction, even if it IS a good yarn.

Lots of professionals advise to try breaking into print through nonfiction.  I love nonfiction, especially books about animals.  And so do children.  But what you write must have a unique slant to it.  My favorite writers of nonfiction are Steve Jenkins, April Pulley Sayre, and Gail Gibbons.  They all write about animals.  And many of their books also include back matter.  Take Steve Jenkins' Actual Size, for example.  Each 2-page spread only contains one sentence.  But the back matter consists of 4 pages that include a full paragraph about each of the 18 animals listed in the book.  I ran across an article that I found a very interesting tidbit of information about the general word length and printing of picture books.  It said:
The picture book may have as little as one sentence, or just two or three words per two-page spread. The absolute maximum for a two page spread is 200 words. The ideal text is shorter.  
When you do the math, that puts a book with the typical 14 2-page spreads at 2,800 words!  It's no wonder that most publishers cap off the word limit at 2,000 (although usually 1,500 or even 1,000).  It totally makes sense!

One publisher in particular, Sylvan Dell Publishing, is well-known in the education world for their popular books about animals and nature.  The books they publish are not strictly nonfiction.  They are mostly fiction with numerous facts intertwined into the story.  The back matter in their books consists of a section called For Creative Minds.  One good book they published is Blackberry Banquet by Terry Pierce, among many, many more!  They always tie into the early elementary curriculum, too.

Well, on to writing.  I'm working on my non-fiction!  Woo-hoo!  Making leaps and bounds in my series proposal.  Thinking of sending it off for a professional critique, even.  Keep on keepin' on.

1 comment:

  1. I hope the non-fiction goes well! Thanks for telling us about Sylvan Dell Publishing. :)

    ReplyDelete

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