BUT, there are ways to make it a little easier on yourself.
Here are a few tips I swear by:
- Read your manuscript aloud. This is important for all books, but crucial for picture books. You have to find the stumbly bits and fix them before it’s too late. You have to feel the words in your mouth and make sure they roll off your tongue the way you want them to. Picture books for the most part are meant to be read aloud. You have to give your manuscript several test drives when you are revising it.
- Kid test your manuscript. Oh, I know. Agents and editors say they don’t care if all the neighborhood kids love your book, but really, who better to judge if a book works for kids than kids themselves? Read your stuff to kids and get their feedback. They won’t pull any punches, but believe me, they will tell you things you want to know, like for instance, “It picks up after the beginning. I really didn’t get what was going on at first.” Yikes! (But don’t you want to know this before you send it off?)
- Trust your gut. Deep down, you know the parts of your book that really work and you know the parts you are unsure of. Listen to that little voice. It is worth more than a thousand gold coins. It KNOWS.
- Give yourself time. When you know there is a problem in your manuscript, give yourself time for solutions to present themselves. There is rarely a quick fix. But when it comes, you’ll think “Of course! It’s so simple! What didn’t I think of this sooner?”
Shelley Moore Thomas is the author of ten books for children including the much heralded GOOD NIGHT, GOOD KNIGHT series of easy readers. Her latest book, THE SEVEN TALES OF TRINKET (a middle grade novel with a strong Celtic influence), was released last September. TRINKET has received starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, and Kirkus. It was also Kirkus Review’s BEST BOOKS OF 2012.
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