Editing and Revising Picture Books

Why edit and revise your picture book

One of the most difficult things for me to do as an author is to edit and revise my picture books. To delete words, sentences and even paragraphs is very challenging. Word count is very important when you are writing a picture book. Right now many editors are looking for picture books that are between 500 – 650 words. What is the reasoning behind these shorter book? Parents, who purchasing most children’s books, do not always have time to read long stories. Therefore, many writers need to shave their stories down to meet the word count.

Knowing what to edit and revise

As a writer, trimming or cutting things out of our stories is a critical part of the revision process. After I write the first draft, I go back through the story and look for places where I can eliminate redundancy, unimportant words, sentences or passages. In addition, I try to strengthen my story with “Show, not Tell”. I look for ways where I can eliminate wording where I am telling the reader rather than allowing the illustration to tell part of the story.

Getting help from your critique group

To help me with my editing, I often reach out to my critique group for their suggestions. A good critique group can be a valuable asset to a picture book writer. I have a wonderful critique group who make a point to share the positives in my story and writing. Then they suggest edits that I may have missed and really help me with my word count. Suggestions are made to where I am telling and not showing through illustrations. For me this is a very difficult step. I have recently learned that I can add art notes for the illustrator. I can let them know where I eliminated words and where they should add the missing detail in the illustration. Editing is also another great way to get back into writing is through revising and editing an older manuscript.

Additional editing resources

If you are not sure where to begin with your editing, you can check out this resource, Helpful Editing Resources for Children’s Book Authors. This article not only shares several guides for authors, but she includes digital solutions, and hiring a professional editor. Editing is a skill that authors need to develop. It is not an easy skill to develop, but I am learning. Remember, practice makes perfect.

Do you have any writing questions you would like me to address?

Let me know in the comment section.

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